Community Conversation

Join in a live "town hall" forum exploring topics of interest and importance in our local communities. Themes range from local government to food, from cultural to legislative issues. Host Crystal Sarakas invites guests and experts from the region and beyond to weigh in. Community Conversation formally ended broadcast in 2014, but we still air special episodes occasionally. Stay tuned for new episodes, and listen to archives here!

This year, 2014, marks the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As we look back on that part of our history, what progress have we made? While race relations have improved in some ways, echoes of that struggle still exist today. Some point to the election of Barack Obama as proof that we live in a post-racial world - is that true? Is post-racial something we should even strive for?


Kids today are part of a generation that can’t remember a time without cell phones and home computers. For some of them, even email is old-fashioned and falling out of use.

Some researchers have begun to look into the ways technology can affect attention spans, mental health, and physical health. And child safety advocates worry about how to best protect children in an era where everything seems to be public knowledge.

This program originally aired on August 27, 2013.


Juvenile Justice

Aug 13, 2013

 The number of juvenile offenders prosecuted in Broome County has declined in recent years, but there has been a sharp increase in the number of violent offenses. are also seeing younger juvenile offenders in court – some as young as 7 or 8 years of age. On this program, host Crystal Sarakas and guests talk about the juvenile justice system in Broome County, and about restorative justice.

Experts say that early child education sets the standard for later in life – but for many families, the costs for that education are increasingly out of reach. Research shows that early childhood education programs can impact the health in ways that ripple through into adulthood. On this episode of Community Conversation, host Crystal Sarakas talks about the impact of early childhood education on young children, their families, and their communities. 

The controversy around genetically-modified foods, or GMOs, has increased in furor recently. Consumer groups and the organic food industry want mandatory labeling for products that contain GMOs. Many in the agriculture industry are pushing back.

There are many myths and misconceptions about the Constitution that have become ingrained in our political culture? What exactly is a 'well-regulated militia?' Do we really understand free speech?  

The Fracking Divide

Jun 18, 2013

 The prospect of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in New York has highlighted a complex debate between two camps: those that support the economic benefits that gas drilling may bring to the region, and those who are concerned that the environmental impact of gas drilling will harm the natural beauty and sustainability of the Southern Tier. And, there are also those who belong to both camps. 

Urban Blight

Jun 4, 2013


The issue of urban blight is a familiar one to many Southern Tier residents. Empty warehouse and manufacturing buildings are a stark reminder of businesses and jobs that no longer exist. They’re more than just an eyesore - these vacant and abandoned buildings drive down market values, pose a fire hazard, and can be a drain on local resources.

After the War

May 22, 2013

Every day, an active-duty soldier is discharged from the military and returns home to start a new part of his or her life. Some return because their service has ended, others because of injuries obtained while serving. All of them will face a period of readjustment to civilian life.  

[View the story "Community Conversation: After the War" on Storify]


May 8, 2013

 Consolidation is a hot topic these days, one being pushed by Governor Cuomo as a possible solution to the fiscal crisis many local municipalities find themselves in. Whether discussing the consolidation of small towns and villages, or the merger of school districts, residents across New York State are divided on the issue.  Some believe that it could help lower the fiscal burden of the state.  Critics claim that consolidation will not save much money, and that community identity could be irrevocably lost in the process.