Betsy Kaplan | Connecticut Public Radio
WNPR

Betsy Kaplan

Senior Producer

Betsy started as an intern at WNPR in 2011 after earning a Master's Degree in American and Museum Studies from Trinity College. Prior to that, Betsy worked as an intensive care registered nurse in several Connecticut hospitals.

While taking time off from nursing to have fun with her three young daughters, she was elected to three terms on her town's Board of Education and worked at a local museum. 

She's produced shows for Where We Live and the Colin McEnroe Show, several of which have won local awards.

She is currently the senior producer for the Colin McEnroe Show

Yash Mori / Creative Commons

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died Friday evening, breaking the hearts of generations of women - and men - who have benefited from her work guaranteeing our rights to equal treatment under the law. 

That same evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, announced that a Trump nominee to replace Ginsburg would receive a vote on the floor of the Senate. By Saturday, President Trump was claiming he had an "obligation" to replace her, "without delay." The loss is larger than either man could understand. 

Olgierd Rudak / Creative Commons

We produced our first show on masks in the spring of 2020. It was when most of us were isolated at home to sidestep the life-threatening illness we've come to call "Covid." The show was about how rapidly masks had become a statement of political identity.

The intensity of the mask battles has begun to calm as we've acclimated to the pervasiveness of masks in our lives. Like them or not, they're here to stay and they've begun to leave a lasting imprint on our culture.   

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

Black Americans are more likely to be infected from COVID-19, be incarcerated, live in poverty, and/or be killed by the police than white Americans. It took a pandemic and the killing of George Floyd to crystallize those facts.

Joe Amon / Connecticut Public

In the wake of resistance to Black Lives Matter protests against racial injustice in cities like Portland, Oregon; Kenosha, Wisconsin; and others, we decided to take a look at race relations in the small towns and suburbs of Connecticut. What we found was disturbing. 

Maggie Hallahan / Wikimedia Commons

Hillary Clinton has spent a lot of time in the spotlight. We know her as a First Lady, a U.S. Senator from New York, President Obama's Secretary of State, a candidate in the 2016 presidential election, and as the wife of former President Bill Clinton. 

Yet most everything we know about Hillary as an individual separate from Bill has been filtered through the media, through President Trump's Twitter feed, and through the many conspiracy theories linked to her name. 

The Placebo Effect

Aug 31, 2020
Christian Schnettelker / Creative Commons

Placebo treatments have been making people feel better since long before Franz Mesmer was run out of 18th-century Vienna for "mesmerizing" a young pianist into regaining her eyesight after doctors had given up on a medical cure. 

Doctors often dismiss the placebo effect as inferior to conventional medical treatments - even when studies show that placebos can reduce the pain of arthritic knees as well as in some surgical procedures like arthroscopy

Vlad Povorny / Creative Commons

Officials in the Trump Administration last week videotaped both a naturalization ceremony held at the White House and an HUD official's interview with four New York City tenants on housing conditions. They then  played selected parts from each video at the Republican National Convention without the knowledge of the participants. 

The CDC updated testing guidelines last week to say that people who have been exposed to the virus but who don’t have symptoms or underlying risk factors, don't necessarily need to be tested. After public health officials complained that asymptomatic carriers are more likely to spread the virus, we learned that the recommendations came from the White House Coronavirus Task Force.  

Wisconsin Historical Society

America has long been attracted to charismatic demagogues who master the media of their time to tap into America’s insecurities. Long before Donald Trump descended a golden escalator in 2015 to announce he was running for president, anti-communist zealot Joseph McCarthy took America by storm.

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday authorized the emergency use of convalescent blood to treat people hospitalized with Covid-19. Sunday's decision comes on the heels of a presidential tweet that may have put pressure on the FDA to authorize it prematurely. We talk about this and more news on Covid. 

Also this hour:  The Republican National Convention begins this week, a few days after former Vice-President Joe Biden accepted the nomination to represent Democrats in November's election. We talk about last week's convention, how this week's convention might play out, and other political news from the weekend.  

Andrew Malone / Creative Commons

The pandemic has led to national shortages in testing supplies, PPE, and now, coins. 

We’ve been predicting a cashless society and the demise of the penny for so long that we may be underestimating how much people still use coins in places like laundromats and coffee shops, and the occasional parking meter. 

And about eight million households are “unbanked” and rely on money orders, pawnshops or payday loans instead of banks. So, where are all the coins?

Also this hour: The world’s earliest coins date back to ancient Greek and Roman culture. And each coin contains information often not found anywhere else in surviving relics of the ancient world. Some numismatists consider ancient coins one of the most important discoveries to fuel the Renaissance. 

Cindy Shebley / Creative Commons

The FDA on Saturday authorized emergency use of a rapid and inexpensive saliva test that could increase testing capacity. It’s quick, less expensive, and doesn't need the chemical reagents that are in short supply.

Jernej Furman / Creative Commons

As of this weekend, the number of people in the U.S. infected with SARS-CoV-2 topped 5 million, just 16 days after passing the 4 million mark on July 23. This weekend's motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota, portends that those numbers will continue to rise. 

Three potential vaccines against the virus have entered phase III clinical trials, in which safety and effectiveness is tested on thousands of healthy people. 

This stage can take months or years depending on how quickly researchers can detect a difference between the two groups, but some doctors believe that we'll have a vaccine sooner than later. Are we expecting too much from a vaccine? And, what about the expanding group of people afraid to trust any vaccine developed at "warp speed?" 

Is it time for another lockdown to get things under control until a vaccine is ready?

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

Jimmy Webb was possibly the most successful songwriter of the 1960s and 1970s. Classics like "Galveston," "Wichita Lineman," "Up, Up, and Away," and "MacArthur Park" were recorded by hundreds of artists from Glen Campbell to Donna Summer. Webb wrote the songs that others made famous.

Sasa Tkalcan / Jimmy Webb

We're reairing this show from September, 2019, when our team traveled to Glen Cove, New York, to interview legendary songwriter Jimmy Webb

We waited a long time for this interview and it was worth every minute of the wait. It was a special day. We broke bread together, met kind people, and enjoyed a day of music and stories from Jimmy Webb's decades of making music. 

The Burkhart Family / Doubleday

Native Americans have been getting forced off their land for a long time.  Although Thomas Jefferson promised they shall know the United States as only "friends and benefactors," he forced them from their ancestral home in 1804 after he signed the Louisiana Purchase.  

Reddit

​On Tuesday's Colin McEnroe Show: How we define what it means to be a hero depends a lot on the values shared by the group that's in power at any given time.

We're seeing it today in the push and pull over the statues of men whose values no longer reflect the values of a changing community.  And time tends to wash away the nuance and complexity of heroes that stand as a symbol of a prior generation. 

Yet, America loves their heroes,  even if only for a time. But ​we have a way of using the language of “heroism” to sacrifice the very heroes we admire.  Many of the essential workers we deemed heroes of the pandemic had to choose between their health and a paycheck. They didn't choose to be heroes. Some didn't want to be.  Others were silenced or shamed for speaking out about unsafe conditions .

Multiculturalism / Creative Commons

Race is a myth; racism is not. I'm stealing this line from Gene Seymour, one of our guests on our show today. 

We're reairing a show with three people who discuss what it's like to be Black in America. The show originally aired in 2017.

We chose to reair it today to coincide with the memorials this week for Congressman John Lewis, who will be the first Black congressman to lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda, after fighting his entire life for social justice.

Do You Speak Corona?

Jul 23, 2020
EpicTop10 / Creative Commons

It took two years for the word AIDS to get from coinage to dictionary. It took COVID-19 thirty-four days. The pandemic has inspired a thousand new or repurposed words, slang, nicknames, and neologisms.

It has changed the way we speak.  

Erich Ferdinand / Creative Commons

Religious scholar Elaine Pagels trusted the Gospel of Thomas to get her through the almost unbearably painful years after the death of her six-year-old son -- born with a congenital heart defect -- followed one year later by the unexpected death of her husband. 

Colin Gillette, Bradford County, PA

The number of people testing positive for coronavirus continues to rise in many parts of the U.S., with sharp rises in places like Florida, Nevada, Alabama, Texas, and Puerto Rico. Yet, President Trump continues to attribute the rise to more testing -- despite the rise in hospitalizations and deaths -- and he wants to reduce federal aid for more testing, tracing, and for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also this hour: The ABC News/Washington Post poll released Sunday shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading President Trump by 15 points among registered voters, 55% to 40%. A majority of respondents are not happy with the president's handling of the coronavirus, among other things.

Alyssa L. Miller / Creative Commons

Our ancestors viewed sleep as a highly sensual and transcendent experience. Today, about a third of adults have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or feeling rested. We're becoming a nation of insomniacs.

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

The number of people being infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus is rising in 48 states. We're testing more, but the rate of positive tests, hospitalizations, and in some states, deaths, is also rising.

Walking with Dante

Jul 12, 2020
FreeParking / Creative Commons

"Dante's Inferno" is the most famous section of Dante Aligheri's 14,000 line epic poem, The Divine Comedy. But it's only the first part of Dante's long pilgrimage through the afterlife. He first enters the circles of hell, filled with beasts and sinners doomed to the Inferno for crimes like gluttony, lust, and treason. 

Bufi at de.Wikipedia / Creative Commons

Is it safe to say that we're not yet ready to kiss and make up with the banks whose reckless behavior led to the 2008 financial crisis? A little contrition would go a long way to helping us forgive and forget. That's not happening, at least not with Deutsche Bank, the preferred bank of Donald Trump and Jeffrey Epstein.

Sandy Cole / Wikimedia Commons

The Argus Pheasant is a lifelong bachelor. He mates with multiple females but has no further contact with his mates or the baby pheasants he sires. By human terms, not much of a feminist.

Yet, he stages a chivalrous courtship on moonlit nights on a forest stage he clears with meticulous care. He sings and dances and pecks. He encompasses his 'date' in a cape of intricately-colored four-foot-long feathers. He ends with a bow.  

Evolutionarily, there's no purpose for the spectacular feathers on the Argus Pheasant - unless you consider they may have evolved to satisfy the sexual preferences of the female Argus.

Creative Commons

You're shopping for groceries. Out of the blue your heart starts to race, your knees feel weak, you feel like you can't breathe, like you might be having a heart attack. You wonder if you're losing your mind -- but you're not. You're having a panic attack. 

About 1 in 4 people have had at least one panic attack during their lives, yet few like to admit it. Because panic manifests through physical symptoms that can mimic a heart attack, a lot of people feel shame when they go to the ER and find there's nothing wrong with them. In the absence of a test that defines panic, a lot of people worry they might be losing their mind.  

Joe Giron / www.pokerphotoarchive.com

Maria Konnikova, best-selling New York Times author and a regular contributor to The New Yorker, has long been interested in understanding the balance between skill and luck. How much of her life could she take credit for and how much was the luck of her draw? So, she took a year away from work to become a professional poker player. 

Image Catalog / Creative Commons

Your sex life doesn't have to suffer just because you're cooped up at home every day. Researchers say that sex is a healthy way to calm the anxiety of pandemic, even if you live alone. Virtual dating, masturbation, and coronavirus-related porn are more popular than ever.

David / Creative Commons

There are just over 10 million cases of coronavirus globally and almost 500,000 deaths. U.S. deaths recently rose to 125,000.

Yet, the Trump Administration continues to downplay the seriousness of this pandemic. The White House Coronavirus Task Force met Friday for the first time in two months, with Vice-President Pence acknowledging the surge in several states but insisting, "We're in a much better place," than we were two months ago. 

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