RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 12.28.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul reflect on the top 5 Pennsylvania stories of the year, as voted on by the Radio PA news staff. HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Radio PA’s Top 10 Pennsylvania Stories of 2012 – Part 2

As 2012 draws to a close, Radio PA is looking back at the top 10 Pennsylvania stories of the year as voted on by the news staff and other members of the statewide media. In this installment, we reveal stories 7 through 5, beginning with a groundbreaking election victory.

Click the audio players to hear Radio PA’s recap of each story.

#7 – Kathleen Kane & the Democrats   2012Top10-7FINAL
Pennsylvania had never elected a woman as state Attorney General. Pennsylvania had never elected a Democrat as state Attorney General. In one night, Kathleen Kane shattered both of those barriers. Kane’s victory on November 6th was part of a Democrat Party sweep of Pennsylvania’s row offices, as Treasurer Rob McCord won re-election and State Representative Eugene DePasquale was selected the next Pennsylvania Auditor General. Political analyst Terry Madonna of F&M College in Lancaster says the victories have provided the Democrats with a “deep bench” for future statewide elections. Kane says she hopes her victory can show young women throughout the Keystone State that anything is possible. During her campaign, Kane repeatedly said she plans to investigate Governor Tom Corbett’s role in the prosecution of Jerry Sandusky (Corbett was the Attorney General who launched the Sandusky case and opponents of the governor have been critical about the timing and handling of the probe). The stage is now set for a contentious relationship between Tom Corbett and his former office in 2013 and beyond, and Kathleen Kane’s groundbreaking election win is Radio PA’s #7 Pennsylvania story of 2012.

#6 – “Superstorm” Sandy   2012Top10-6FINAL
The convergence of multiple weather systems in late October brought back memories of 1991’s “Perfect Storm,” but forecasters went with a different term to describe this one as the term “Superstorm” entered the media lexicon. The main component of this dangerous mix was Hurricane Sandy. As it approached the Mid-Atlantic region, emergency declarations were declared and states braced for the worst. In Pennsylvania, there were more than a dozen deaths associated with the storm, but the Commonwealth avoided widespread flooding and other major damage as Superstorm Sandy weakened immediately after coming ashore. New Jersey and New York were not so fortunate, as the storm surge wiped out entire communities. Power was out in parts of Pennsylvania for more than a week, with over 1.2 million customers out at the height of the storm. Parts of New York and New Jersey were out even longer as utilities tried to rebuild the damaged power grid. “Superstorm” Sandy blows in as Radio PA’s # 6 Pennsylvania story of 2012.

#5 – The Death of Arlen Specter   2012Top10-5FINAL
The Warren Commission’s “Single Bullet Theory,” the Clarence Thomas & Robert Bork SCOTUS confirmation hearings, the impeachment of President Bill Clinton…name a major story of the past 50 years and odds are you’ll find Arlen Specter’s name associated with it. The longtime Pennsylvania U.S. Senator died on October 14th of this year after a third round with cancer. Specter was PA’s longest-serving Senator, having served from 1981-2010. His defeat in the 2010 primary election came about one year after his controversial switch to the Democrat party, but the Kansas native was always a political lightning rod, sometimes voting counter to his own Republican party’s interests during his 30-year career in Washington. The moderate used his farewell speech in 2010 to chastise his former GOP brethren, who he claimed were engaging in “sophisticated cannibalism” by targeting fellow Republicans who don’t vote with the party 100% of the time. Specter was 82 years old when he passed away, but he leaves a fiercely independent legacy in a time when political parties are drafting further away from the political center. The death of Arlen Specter checks in as Radio PA’s #5 Pennsylvania story of 2012.


Check back soon for stories #4, #3 and #2…


RadioPA Roundtable

Radio PA Roundtable 10.19.12

On this week’s Radio PA Roundtable, Brad Christman and Matt Paul are joined by F&M College political analyst Terry Madonna to reflect on the life and career of Arlen Specter. The former U.S. Senator passed away October 14th at the age of 82. You’ll also get an update on the new bills that are about to become law in Pennsylvania.

Radio PA Roundtable is a 30-minute program featuring in-depth reporting on the top news stories of the week.

Click the audio player below to hear the full broadcast:


Christman Blog: A Moment with Arlen That Didn’t Make It to Air

It was 1997 and a major event was unfolding in Philadelphia. General Colin Powell had brought together all living U.S. Presidents, with the exception of the ailing Ronald Reagan, for “The Presidents Summit for America’s Future.” It was the grand kickoff for his America’s Promise initiative. In addition to Presidents Ford, Carter, Bush41 and Clinton, Philadelphia was a virtual who’s who that week. I met movie stars, sports legends and even had a brief chat with Tony Robbins, which later resulted in his self-help cassette series being shipped to my office (not sure what he was implying with that).

Amid all the chaos of those 2 and a half days in Philadelphia, I met up with Arlen Specter near Independence Hall. President Clinton was about to speak to a gathering crowd and we were both seeking out some quiet time amidst a sea of people. At that time I had known Specter for several years, dating back to my days in local radio in Chambersburg and our many interviews together during his frequent stops at Letterkenny Army Depot and other Franklin County locales. My move to Radio Pennsylvania in 1994 allowed me to interact with the senator on an even more frequent basis and I think he had great regard for our network.

We were standing along a walkway back toward the Market Street section of Independence Mall and Senator Specter offered to be interviewed. He was standing just off to the side of the main foot traffic and I was facing him with my back to the sidewalk. We had been talking for about 5 minutes or so when I suddenly felt a hand in the middle of my back give me a not-so-gentle shove. Completely caught off guard, I stumbled into Senator Specter, who caught me just before we would have tumbled into some bushes. We both spun around just in time to see a group of very large men, formed in a circle, pushing through the crowd making sure not to stop for anything as inconvenient as other people. I stood on my toes to get a better look and I saw what they were so aggressively protecting. It was Oprah.

Yes, Arlen Specter and I had just been pushed aside, and rudely so I might add, by Oprah Winfrey’s entourage. I wish I had been thinking on my feet enough to fall to the ground writhing in perceived pain. Maybe I could have retired years ago.

Anyway, as I reflected on Arlen Specter’s life on the day of his death, that story brought a smile to my face. I have never shared that tale on the air or in writing before and I thought you might enjoy reading it.

Arlen Specter passed away yesterday at the age of 82.


[Brad Christman is the News Director of Radio Pennsylvania]


Notable Reactions to the Passing of Arlen Specter (1930-2012)

President Barack Obama:

“Arlen Specter was always a fighter.  From his days stamping out corruption as a prosecutor in Philadelphia to his three decades of service in the Senate, Arlen was fiercely independent – never putting party or ideology ahead of the people he was chosen to serve.  He brought that same toughness and determination to his personal struggles, using his own story to inspire others.  When he announced that his cancer had returned in 2005, Arlen said, “I have beaten a brain tumor, bypass heart surgery and many tough political opponents and I’m going to beat this, too.”  Arlen fought that battle for seven more years with the same resolve he used to fight for stem-cell research funding, veterans health, and countless other issues that will continue to change lives for years to come.  Michelle and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the rest of the Specter family.”


Vice-President Joe Biden:

Jill and I are deeply saddened. Arlen Specter was a great Senator who lived his life the way he died, with dignity and courage. He was my friend and I admired him a great deal.  For over three decades, I watched his political courage accomplish great feats and was awed by his physical courage to never give up.  Arlen never walked away from his principles and was at his best when they were challenged.  Jill and I are thinking of Joan at the moment – she was an incredible partner through his life journey. Our hearts go out to Shanin and Stephen and all who were deeply touched by his life.  


Governor Tom Corbett:

“For more than five decades, Arlen Specter lived a life devoted to public service on behalf of the people of Pennsylvania and the United States. Pennsylvania has lost a political figure whose career stretched from Philadelphia’s City Hall to the chambers of the U.S. Senate. We are saddened to hear of his death.”


U.S. Senator Pat Toomey:

“A man of sharp intelligence and dogged determination, Sen. Specter dedicated his life to public service and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. His impact on our state and public policy will not be forgotten. My wife Kris and I send our thoughts and prayers to Joan and the entire Specter family.”


Pennsylvania Republican Party Chairman Rob Gleason:

“The Republican Party of Pennsylvania extends its deepest sympathies to the friends and family members of former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter.  Senator Specter will always be remembered for his many years of dedicated public service.”


Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn:

Senator Arlen Specter was a true Pennsylvania institution whose record of fighting for our Commonwealth is unmatched. Senator Specter’s contributions to Pennsylvania and the United States will leave a lasting legacy. Our thoughts and prayers are with Senator Specter’s family during this difficult time.” 


PA Speaker of the House Sam Smith (R-Jefferson):

“Arlen Specter was always a fighter who loved the battle over public policy. He loved Pennsylvania, and he loved public service. While I did not always agree with some of Senator Specter’s decisions, he was always willing to listen about local problems and try to help fix them. He was a strong advocate for the state’s interests while in Washington, and the Commonwealth lost one of its most dedicated public servants today. I share my thoughts and prayers with Senator Specter’s family and friends at this difficult time.”








Arlen Specter Dies at 82

Former U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, who towered over Pennsylvania politics for decades, has passed away after an extended battle with cancer. Specter lost his fight after announcing last summer that he was once again diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. It was Specter’s third time around battling the disease.

From his work with the Warren Commission, to the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings, to his work in the U.S. Senate over 30 years, Specter’s role in American history can not be denied. He often served as a political lightning rod due to his moderate stances, culminating in his switch from the GOP to the Democratic party in 2009, after which he would lose a 2010 primary fight with Joe Sestak, essentially ending his Senate career after three decades.

Specter was first elected to the Senate in 1980 after serving as a prosecutor in Philadelphia and as special Counsel to the Warren Commission. Specter is credited with developing the controversial “single bullet theory” adopted by the commission in the JFK assassination. In the Senate, his position on the powerful Judiciary Committee placed Specter at the center of several high-profile nomination fights, including those of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Specter briefly ran for president in 1996, centering his campaign on a proposed flat income tax. The nominee that year would be Bob Dole, his fellow Lawrence, Kansas native. He was Pennsylvania’s longest-serving United States Senator and an avid squash player who often challenged high-profile opponents, including a match with the Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson.

Specter is survived by his wife Joan, two sons and four grandchildren.