Rhonda Fanning

Producer, The Texas Standard

Rhonda  joined KUT in late 2013 as producer for the station's new daily news program, Texas Standard. Rhonda will forever be known as the answer to the trivia question, “Who was the first full-time hire for The Texas Standard?”  She’s an Iowa native who got her start in public radio at WFSU in Tallahassee, while getting her Master's Degree in Library Science at Florida State University. Prior to joining KUT and The Texas Standard, Rhonda was a producer for Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Texas Standard
12:47 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Girl in a Coma’s Nina Diaz Talks Sobriety and Flying Solo

Nina Diaz performs with David Garza at Pachanga Fest, 2012.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon

San Antonio native Nina Diaz first began performing at the age of 13. By the time she was 18, her all-girl, indie rock trio, Girl In a Coma, was signed to Joan Jett’s Blackheart Records.

Now, at age 26, Diaz embarks on a new path as a solo artist in addition to her Girl in a Coma duties – a project which will be released later this year. But, for the first time in her musical career, she is sober.

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke with Diaz about her musical and personal journey, opening up on the moment she realized she needed to get clean, why she has chosen to let the public in on her struggles and how sobriety has affected her songwriting.

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Texas Standard
2:04 pm
Fri September 12, 2014

What Allies Could Offer the US in the Fight Against ISIS

Around seventy five Iraqi activists staged an anti-terrorist rally with flags, costumes and theatrical performances in front of the White House, June 20th 2014.
flickr.com/photos/stephenmelkisethian/

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is touring the Middle East to press for cooperation in battling the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, following President Obama's announcement that the U.S would increase its efforts to "degrade and destroy" the group.

In the months leading up to Wednesday's announcement, Bloomberg News reports the United States has flown approximately 2,700 air missions over Iraq against ISIS. The AP reports France has already stated that it will dedicate efforts alongside the United States, but who else might?

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Texas
4:10 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

Why ISIS is Using a Texas Prisoner in a Bargaining Ploy

Protesters march in support of the release of Aafia Siddiqui.
flickr.com/forpeace

She’s been called “Lady al-Qaeda” for her obvious connection to the terrorist organization, but why is the self-proclaimed Islamic State now demanding the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in exchange for U.S. prisoners? 

Siddiqui is serving an 86-year sentence in a federal prison in Fort Worth for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon. Now ISIS is using her as a bargaining chip – but how did Siddiqui’s release become a negotiation tactic? 

Texas Standard host David Brown spoke to religious scholar Dr. Reza Aslan, who says the group is wagering Siddiqui's release to gain influence and ideological inroads in Pakistan. 

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Business
3:10 pm
Fri September 5, 2014

How Much of an Impact will an $18 Billion Judgment Have for BP?

Health, safety and environment (HSE) workers contracted by BP clean up oil on a beach in Port Fourchon, La. after the 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill..
US Department of Defense

A federal court in New Orleans found BP the primary culprit in the 2010 gulf oil disaster, ruling the company acted with "gross negligence" – a charge four times that of a simple negligence charge. So, how much will $18 billion ruling on the company?

Maybe not much, says Brad Olsen of Bloomberg news. He's been following the Deepwater Horizon spill and its fallout since 2010. He tells Texas Standard's David Brown that the company's already spent $30 billion on cleanup-related costs and "the tab is very clearly going to go higher.” Currently, the energy giant has about $26 billion dollars on their balance sheet. Olsen says, as the fines currently stand, BP can afford it. 

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Politics
4:40 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Interview: Rick Perry's Indictment is About More Than a Veto

During a press conference at the Texas State Capitol, Gov. Rick Perry called the indictment against him a farce and an "abuse of power."
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT

The indictment of Texas Gov. Rick Perry on criminal charges has gained national attention – particularly since Gov. Perry is being seen as a possible presidential contender.

In a speech given at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Perry defended himself by saying he was acting within the constitutional boundaries of his veto authority. While much of the debate has centered around Perry’s veto authority, the real legal debate is much more serious. 

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Texas Standard
4:12 pm
Fri August 22, 2014

Is ISIS a Real Threat to the Texas Border?

U.S. Army soldiers in the Qarah Cham village in Iraq, March 27, 2007.
Master Sgt. Andy Dunaway/U.S. Air Force

Texans are still talking about Gov. Rick Perry's statements this week on the growing threat posed by the Islamic State terror group, known by the acronym ISIS.

Gov. Perry told an audience at the conservative Heritage Foundation that "ISIS or other terrorists" could have crossed into the U.S. through the Mexican border. "I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that," Perry said. 

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Texas
4:05 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Why a Tanker of Kurdish Oil is Stranded by the Galveston Coast

A stock photo of a ship in the Port of Galveston
flic.kr/p/5p2Sdj

Tensions between the government of Iraq and Kurds in the northern part of the country have once again reached a boiling point. Now, Baghdad is cutting off payments to Kurdistan, because of a controversy involving a tanker off the coast of Texas.

The semiautonomous region of Kurdistan has successfully exported several shipments of oil this year.  Baghdad opposed those exports, claiming that the oil belongs to the Iraqi people, and the use of its natural resources should be decided by the central government. Most recently, Baghdad successfully filed for a court order to keep one million barrels of crude oil from being unloaded in Galveston.

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Life & Arts
10:23 am
Sat July 26, 2014

How Much Has Texas Shaped Modern Art?

Ben L. Culwell, Now II, 1960-1963.
University of Texas Press

When you think of modern art, does Texas come to mind? According to Katie Robinson Edwards, curator of Austin's Umlauf Sculpture Garden and Museum, it should.

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Sports
5:05 pm
Fri July 18, 2014

Is America Over the Tour de France?

Alessandro De Marchi, one of this year's competitors in the Tour de France.
flickr.com/aeroeths

This year's World Cup tournament captivated tens of millions of people around the country. Television ratings soared, prompting many to ask whether it was finally soccer's moment in America.

But there's another global sporting event taking place right now – one that years ago had folks saying the same thing about cycling.

The Tour de France, a three-week, 2,200-mile bike race through Western Europe, is past the halfway mark of its 21 stages – and headlines surrounding the event seem to have fallen off the sports pages of most American newspapers. 

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Islamic State
4:30 pm
Tue July 8, 2014

You Only Die Once: How ISIS Recruits Young Muslims

Rebels ride a motorcycle in northern Syria
flickr.com/syriafreedom

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, grabbed international attention of media this year after inciting a rash of violence throughout Iraq, gaining momentum and inspiring young Muslims to take up arms, even some right here in Central Texas

Oxford Brookes University modern history professor Roger Griffin tells Texas Standard's David Brown that ISIS, unlike their predecessor al-Qaida, has cultivated an international online brand that glamorizes jihad.

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Texas
11:01 am
Tue June 24, 2014

Listen: Texas Veterans on ISIS and the Future of Iraq

Members of the 1st Air Cavalry on patrol near Taji, Iraq.
U.S. Army, flickr.com/soldiersmediacenter

Last week, the Obama administration announced their response to the unraveling situation in Iraq. The U.S. is sending 300 military advisors to help government forces battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The Al-Qaeda augmented militants have recently taken control of much of northern Iraq. 

The White House has not ruled out air strikes, and the possibility of further military action is the talk of Washington. But what about the men and women who served in Iraq? The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with three veterans for a roundtable discussion of recent events.

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Life & Arts
2:46 pm
Fri May 23, 2014

New Reality Series Follows Two Austin-Based Classic Car Dealers

Antonio Brunet and Yusuf Johnson with their 1963 split-window Corvette.
Filipa Rodrigues, KUT

The latest in reality television isn’t coming to you from a Louisiana bayou. Duck Dynasty doesn’t have quite the same global reach as the Discovery Channel’s new series premiering tonight.

“Chrome Underground” hails from a classic car shop in Austin, but it will take you across the earth.

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Texas
4:43 pm
Wed May 21, 2014

How Drug Smugglers Are Taking Advantage of the Texas Oil Boom

Border agents seized a total of 580 bundles of marijuana – totaling 11,973 pounds – from a truck in Del Rio, Texas.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection

While fracking for oil along the Texas border has become a big business for petrol companies, a new entity seeks to tap into the lucrative market – drug smugglers.  

As infrastructure and activity increases to meet the demand of the booming industry, drug smugglers are starting to take advantage of the new roads and increased traffic, much of which is located on private ranch lands.  

“Because there are so many different companies, and so many different trucks going through that area, it provides a sort of way to blend in if you will,” National Journal writer Ben Geman tells The Texas Standard's David Brown. “Essentially what’s happening is you’ve got smugglers who are stashing marijuana, or other drugs, in trucks that are either 'cloned' to look like one of the industry trucks, or some type of truck that seems to fit right in driving around on these ranch lands.”

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Texas
4:40 pm
Fri May 16, 2014

Nolan Ryan's Recipe for Success - and His Big Tex Rib-Eye

At the ripe old age of 10, Nolan Ryan announced to his parents he was ready to get into the cattle business. And he did just that – buying his first calf from a local dairy farmer outside of his hometown of Alvin, Texas.

Fast forward a few decades, and most folks seem to associate Ryan's name with baseball. Pitching in the majors for 27 seasons, Ryan played for the Mets and California Angels before coming home to Texas, pitching for the Rangers and Astros and being inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.

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Texas
4:39 pm
Wed May 14, 2014

Austin Doctor Says Veteran Died Waiting for VA Treatment

The Olin E. Teague Veterans' Medical Center in Temple, Texas.
centraltexas.va.gov

Wednesday morning the San Antonio Express-News reported that a cancer patient died after waiting two months to start cancer treatment at a Veteran Affairs hospital in Temple, Texas.

The news comes after a series of revelations about secret waiting lists at VA hospitals nationwide, following an initial whistleblower complaint from a VA hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. 

The reporter who broke the story, Sig Christenson, said he's been in touch with the patient's physician, who was a subcontractor for the VA at the time, and wishes to remain anonymous. The Texas Standard's David Brown had a chance to speak with Christenson about the case. 

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Texas
12:01 am
Thu May 8, 2014

Willie Nelson Donates Stash of Personal Artifacts To Briscoe Center

Jeff Newman Southern Lights/Northern Cross Collection, Briscoe Center for American History

Even as he celebrated his 81st birthday – how else, but by getting his fifth-degree black belt in a martial art called GongKwon Yusul - legendary musician Willie Nelson does not show signs of slowing down.

It was, however, announced today that he has decided to donate a large portion of his personal collection to the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin.

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Transportation
4:28 pm
Mon May 5, 2014

When it Comes To Traffic, Everything's Bigger in Texas

Everything's bigger in Texas – or so the saying goes. But after years of population growth, many are worried the Lone Star State is experiencing the hidden costs of its prosperity.

The Texas Standard's David Brown recently sat down with Wall Street Journal reporter Nathan Koppel to discuss strains on state infrastructure.

"It's great for the state, and you'd certainly rather be Texas than other parts of the country that are losing population, but it is a challenge for Texas," Koppel explains. "Just the sheer pace of the population increase has been difficult to manage, particularly for cities which are just booming. "

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Texas Tech Climatologist Katharine Hayhoe
10:58 am
Fri April 25, 2014

The Texas Scientist Reconciling Climate Change & Evangelical Christianity

Ashley Rodgers, Texas Tech University

Time Magazine just released its annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. This year the list includes Texas Tech climate scientist and evangelical Christian Katharine Hayhoe.

For Time, actor Don Cheadle wrote "There’s something fascinating about a smart person who defies stereotype. That’s what makes my friend Katharine Hayhoe – a Texas Tech climatologist and an evangelical Christian – so interesting."

The Texas Standard's David Brown recently spoke with Hayhoe about science, her faith, and making TIME's list.

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What's Next For Ukraine
12:15 pm
Thu April 24, 2014

UT Professor Jeremi Suri: 'The Best Way to Think of Putin is Mussolini'

A 2006 photo of Russian President Vladimir Putin. "My prediction is that we'll see more Russian aggression, not less, in Eastern Ukraine," professor Jeremi Suri tells Texas Standard.

U.S. troops began joint military exercises in Poland this week, in response to Russia's continued incursion into Ukraine.  The Pentagon says troops will also be deployed to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday as a show of support for the pro-Western Ukrainian government. As he met with the nation's leaders he called on Russia to "stop talking and start acting" to defuse the crisis.

So far, that doesn't seem to be happening. 

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LBJ Civil Rights Summit
4:07 pm
Wed April 9, 2014

LISTEN: Texans Share Their Experiences in the Civil Rights Movement

Rosie Castro (second from right), as a Raza Unida candidate for City Council in 1971.
UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures

This week, civil rights leaders and politicians including President Barack Obama and three former presidents – Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush –  gather at Austin's LBJ Library and Museum to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.

The occasion also has many Texans reflecting on their own experiences growing up in the Jim Crow-era south.

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