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. 

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Texas Standard
3:56 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Life in Dallas Goes On Despite Ebola Fears

Medical personnel transport an ebola patient in Dallas.
flickr.com/thespeakernews

The eyes of the country are on Texas, as the public continues to follow the progress of a small string of Dallas residents that have contracted the Ebola virus.

While the wide scale global and political implications have been inundating the news, the viewpoint from the ground in Dallas can easily be washed away in a sea of analysis and criticism. Helping us gain a little perspective on the situation is Robert Wilonsky, digital managing editor at the Dallas Morning News who paints a more nuanced picture of the scene there.

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Texas Standard
3:43 pm
Fri October 17, 2014

Op-Ed: The Hidden Danger of an Ebola Quarantine

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, exiting an Ebola treatment unit.
flickr.com/cdcglobal

Officials in Dallas are taking steps to keep health workers at home who were in contact with Ebola patients or their bodily fluids. 

75 employees of the hospital which treated Liberian Thomas Duncan have been asked to sign legally binding papers in which they agree not to go to public places or use mass transit. This move marks the first steps toward the use of official state power to control the outbreak of disease.

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Texas Standard
4:41 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Inside the Texas Poll Looking at Abbott, Davis and Obama

University of Texas

Texans will be asking themselves a lot of questions come November, when Texas heads into its general elections. Between the battle for governorship, an indictment, and growing concerns over immigration, Texan’s have a lot on their plate.

So where does the average Texan stand in the middle of the political whirlwind? Texas Standard’s David Brown speaks with University of Texas associate professor Darren Shaw, who conducted a poll on behalf of the non-partisan Texas Lyceum group. So after the numbers have been tallied, what do the polls show us?

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Texas Standard
9:05 am
Thu September 25, 2014

Author of Flagged Book Speaks Out Against Texas High School's Censorship

Flickr user: Catherine Tam, https://flic.kr/p/5MuD6o

‘The Art of Racing in the Rain" is one of the seven books flagged for review after Highland Park ISD parents objected to the book's content, which some viewed as explicit. Author Garth Stein argues the book contains life messages for young teenagers, adding that the book came under fire because of a scene involving  molestation. 

The Texas Standard's David Brown recently spoke with Stein about the temporary ban.

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Texas Standard at Tribune Fest
3:13 pm
Mon September 22, 2014

State Sen. José Rodríguez: 'Education is the Highest Priority'

Texas Standard Host David Brown, left, with Senator José Rodriguez (D-El Paso)
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

Even after a weekend full of panels and discussion of Texas politics and policy at The Texas Tribune Festival, many political wonks are looking to the main event: January's new legilative session. 

State Senator José Rodríguez, D-El Paso, sat down with Texas Standard host David Brown during the festival to discuss the upcoming legislative agenda, the state's budget surplus, the upcoming election for governor and more.

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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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