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St. Pete Catalyst

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Sarasota's circus history

Craig Pittman is the award-winning author of Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, The Scent of Scandal, Cat Tale, Manatee Insanity and The State You’re In, and co-author of Paving Paradise. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature.
FLORIDA STATE
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Neil Simon’s ‘Rose & Walsh’ opens tonight at freeFall

In this Catalyst video interview, actors Stephanie Dunnam and Patrick Ryan Sullivan discussed their star turns in Neil Simon’s Rose & Walsh, opening tonight at freeFall Theatre. Originally published as Rose’s Dilemma, the 2003 play was the last – probably – from the prolific pen of the late New...
MOVIES

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Florida memorabilia

Our guest this week is a longtime collector of Florida related memorabilia and material culture and promoter of the annual Floridania Fest - which celebrates such things - Ken Breslauer. The Floridania Fest just passed its 30th anniversary and Ken joins us to discuss the event and the ongoing interest in collecting Florida.
FLORIDA STATE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Miami's founding mothers

Our guest is historian and author Cesar Becerra, who published an historical novel, "Orange Blossom 2.0," about Mary Brickell and the founding of Miami, to coincide with the city's 125th anniversary in 2021. Becerra's research has led him to believe that Brickell deserves at least as much credit as does Miami's more well-known founding mother, Julia Tuttle, when it comes to establishing the city. Why has Brickell been overlooked? What about the Tuttle-Flagler Orange Blossom myth? Cesar introduces us to a fascinating female Floridian.
MIAMI, FL

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: The St. Pete Pier

This week's episode is all about the St. Petersburg Pier where Craig Pittman was married! That was 30 years ago and took place at the "old" Pier, the inverted pyramid pier. This week, we're talking to Raul Quintana, St. Pete's city architect, who was instrumental in overseeing the planning, design and project management for the fabulous new St. Pete Pier which opened in summer of 2020.
FLORIDA STATE

Video interview: ‘Nunsense: A-Men’ at the Straz Center

There are seven shows in playwright Dan Coggin’s Nunsense musical comedy universe, and actor Matthew McGee can rattle off most of the titles: “There’s Nunsense II: The Second Coming, Sister Amnesia’s Country Western Nunsense Jamboree, Nuncrackers, Meshugga-Nuns …” the actor said in a laugh-filled Catalyst video interview.
TAMPA, FL

CWA: The Russo-Ukranian war and its impact on commerce

The Conference on World Affairs partnered with the St Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to present 2 distinguished speakers: Canadian Ambassador, Adam Blackwell and Mr. Fred Irwin, Honorary President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Berlin. Press the play triangle above to hear their insight on the economic impact of the Russo-Ukranian war.
BERLIN, DE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Healing waters

An innocent mistake or a devious plot to sell 18,000 acres of conservation land from under the nose of Florida residents without anyone noticing? You be the judge. Our guest this week is Florida author Rick Kilby, whose latest book, "Florida's Healing Waters: Gilded Age Mineral Springs, Seaside Resorts and Health Spas," details an era from the state's history where wealthy northerners would visit seeking the restorative powers of our springs.
FLORIDA STATE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Elvis in Florida

A new movie about Elvis Presley hit theaters this weekend. Our guest is Bob Kealing, author of "Elvis Ignited: The Rise of an Icon in Florida" which details the legend's time in Florida, including the critical period between 1955 and 1956 where a young Elvis was transforming from nobody to the biggest star in the world.
FLORIDA STATE

Racially-charged ‘Dutchman’ opens this week at American Stage

Click on the arrow above to watch the video conversation. Opening Friday at American Stage, Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman is a two-character allegory about race in America. Provocative and incendiary, it was written in the early 1960s, at the height of the Civil Rights Movement, and director Erica Sutherlin finds it unsettling that, on the whole, not much has changed in the 58 years since it premiered.
THEATER & DANCE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: John Muir in Florida

One of the fathers of the conservation movement, John Muir, set out on a nearly 1,000 mile trek across the South in 1867. He started in Indiana, entered Florida at Fernandina Beach, and concluded his adventure in Cedar Key. Dan Chapman has lived in Atlanta since 2000, covering environmental issues for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He decided to follow in Muir's footsteps to personally experience the ravaged ecological condition of the region. His book detailing the experience is titled "A Road Running Southward: Following John Muir's Journey Through an Endangered Land."
FLORIDA STATE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Watergate and Florida

With the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in upon us - an event which would lead to a fundamental change in American politics, society and media - we take a look at the numerous and surprising ways in which the Watergate scandal connects to Florida. Helping us do so is Garrett M. Graff, author of a new book sharing the full story of Watergate, which goes back much further than the break-in.
FLORIDA STATE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Florida's literary history

Our guest is Florida historian and author Jim Clark, whose latest book details Florida's astonishing literary history which dates back to the 1500s and includes Earnest Hemmingway, Robert Frost, Tennessee Williams, Zora Neale Hurston, Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Hunter S. Thompson, Jack Kerouac, John Grisham, Michael Patterson, Carl Hiasson and countless others. The book is called "Florida Literary Luminaries: Writing in Paradise" and was published in May of 2022.
FLORIDA STATE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: The 1928 hurricane

Craig Pittman is the award-winning author of Oh, Florida!: How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, The Scent of Scandal, Cat Tale, Manatee Insanity and The State You’re In, and co-author of Paving Paradise. Born in Pensacola, he graduated from Troy State University in Alabama, where his muckraking work for the student paper prompted an agitated dean to label him “the most destructive force on campus.” Since then he has covered a variety of newspaper beats and quite a few natural disasters, including hurricanes, wildfires and the Florida Legislature. His next book will be titled The State You’re In.
FLORIDA STATE

Craig Pittman's Welcome to Florida: Weeki Wachee mermaids

For our 100th episode of "Welcome to Florida" we finally discuss perhaps the most Florida thing of all, the Weeki Wachee Springs mermaids. Now a state park, Weeki Wachee Springs has a colorful history we learn all about from one of the very first class of mermaids at the park, Mary Fletcher, and mermaid historian and author Lu Vickers.
FLORIDA STATE

Welcome to Florida: Florida's lost communities

As much as Florida is recognized nationally and internationally for our tourist attractions and cities - Disney, Universal, Miami, Orlando - an equally important, and increasingly imperiled part of the state is rural, natural, farmland and small towns. That part of Florida is our focus this week. Our guests are Bridget Bihm-Manuel, Collections Coordinator for Florida History, and Hank Young, Principal Cataloger at the Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. The two recently wrapped up an exhibition at the library focused on Florida's lost communities (which can now be found online). Their research continues and they join us today to discuss what they've found.
FLORIDA STATE