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
3:13 pm
Tue April 28, 2015

What Austin's Police Chief Thinks We Can Learn from Baltimore

Protest at the Baltimore Police Department Western District building at N. Mount St. and Riggs Ave. on April 25, 2015.
veggies/wikimedia commons

From Texas Standard:

Television is supposed to draw people closer to the action and make them feel like they're there.

But it doesn't quite feel that way watching footage of the Baltimore riots. It's out there — distant — as we observe and decide for ourselves what went wrong from the comfort of our homes.

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Texas Standard
3:32 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

How the BP Oil Spill is a Prototype for Future Disasters

Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon in 2010.
Ideum/flickr

From Texas Standard

As we look back on the last five years since the Deepwater Horizon disaster, some big questions linger: What will the next disaster be, and can we prepare for it?

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Texas Standard
3:17 pm
Thu April 23, 2015

Will Police Harass More Blacks for Open Carry Than Whites?

A Texas lawmaker is worried blacks will be harassed more often for open carry than whites. His amendment may have opened a back door to unlicensed carry statewide.
Lucio Eastman/Wikimedia Commons

From Texas Standard

The open carry of handguns has gotten a thumbs up from the Texas Legislature this session – not too much surprise there.

But one unexpected amendment would prevent police officers from stopping those who carry openly just to check for the proper licensing. 

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Texas Standard
3:28 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Pre-K Funding Widens Rift Between Abbott and Patrick

Proposed legislation surrounding pre-K education becomes more than just parental rights this week.
US Dept of Education/flickr

From Texas Standard:

In a letter presented Tuesday, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick’s Grassroots Advisory Board called two pre-kindergarten enhancement bills in the Texas Legislature “a threat to parental rights.”

The letter also called out the bills for being “godless” and “socialistic" — a take that's at striking odds with that of Gov. Greg Abbott, who made pre-K funding a priority during his campaign.

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Texas Standard
2:14 pm
Wed April 22, 2015

Port Arthur Wants Filmmakers to Blow Up Its Old Buildings

texasbackroads/Flickr

From Texas Standard:

Tough economic times can stimulate creative ways for cities to save or raise money. Sure, you could trim the workforce, or raise taxes to help fund urban renewal projects, but one Texas town is thinking a bit bigger: They want to take it to the silver screen.

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Texas Standard
2:14 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Is the Tea Party Losing Momentum in Texas?

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio's announcement that he will seek the Republican Presidential nomination marks the third GOP candidate in the race so far with Tea Party ties.
Gage Skidmore/wikimedia commons

From Texas Standard:

The first three Republican contenders for president — Senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and now Marco Rubio, all have Tea Party ties. Rubio is the latest to announce candidacy and, despite being considered a Tea Party darling not long ago, his current views on immigration have driven a wedge between the two.

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Texas Standard
2:07 pm
Thu April 9, 2015

Rethinking Hazing Laws After a Horrifying Incident in Ellis County

Ellis County volunteer firefighters were charged with sexual assault this week in connection to a hazing incident.
Succo/Pixabay

From Texas Standard:

When a hazing incident makes the news, we usually think of college campuses – a fraternity rush gone wrong, or an initiation ritual for a sport team. But not always. That was the case this week in Texas.

Five members of the Ellis County Volunteer Fire Department have been charged with aggravated sexual assault. The incident allegedly occurred back in January as part of a hazing ritual for new recruits.

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Texas Standard
3:01 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

Houston Doctor Heads to Middle East to Prevent the Next Ebola

There are links between conflict and contagion, and one doctor thinks prevention is key.
Pixabay

From Texas Standard:

It wasn't too long ago when Dallas became the epicenter for what many feared could have been the beginning of a nationwide ebola epidemic. Since then, the U.S. government has fought to figure out when and where the next viral epidemic may come from.

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Texas Standard
2:32 pm
Wed April 1, 2015

November Madness: The 2016 Republican Presidential Bracket

Texas Senator Ted Cruz was is the first politician to declare candidacy for the Republican nomination for president. John Schnur, director of USC's Center for Politics, places Cruz in his 'Western Rebellion' bracket.
Gage Skidmore/flickr

From Texas Standard: 

Who will make it to the Final Four – and who will get bounced out?

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to the final four. It kicked off two weeks ago when 64 teams began competing to represent their region in the finals. And just like that tournament, the announcement by Texas Senator Ted Cruz tipped off the race for the GOP nomination for president.

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Texas Standard
4:21 pm
Thu March 12, 2015

Meet the Texan Who Traveled Overseas to Fight ISIS

Texan Patrick Maxwell on patrol with Kurdish security forces in 2014.

Wednesday was a fierce day of fighting in Iraq. The self-proclaimed Islamic State set off 21 car bombs in Ramadi as Iraqi forces gained ground in Tikrit, re-taking control of a military hospital there.

Back in the U.S., the debate continues about how best to deal with the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. But for some veterans the time for talk is over. Unknown numbers of American war vets have taken up with foreign fighters battling ISIS.

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Texas Standard
3:13 pm
Wed December 10, 2014

Interview: Steve Jobs Biographer Walter Isaacson on the Internet's Wild 'Innovators'

Patrice Gilbert

Tech maestro Elon Musk worries too much.

That seems to be Walter Isaacson’s conclusion – at least when it comes to artificial intelligence.

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Politics
2:27 pm
Fri December 5, 2014

How Same-Sex Marriage Could Come to Texas, Sooner Than You Think

Both Conservatives and Progressives took to the Capitol as the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing the DOMA and Prop 8 cases in 2013.
KUT

County clerks in Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio could keep their doors open around the clock, should the state receive a ruling lifting a ban on same-sex marriages in Texas.

San Antonio-based U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia is expected to deliver a ruling that could have thousands of gay couples rushing to gain marriage licenses before a higher court could overrule.

Texas Standard speaks with John Wright, freelance journalist and publisher of Lone Star Q, about what county clerks offices could see.

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Texas Standard
2:49 pm
Fri November 14, 2014

Riot Anxiety: How Ferguson Police Prep May Spark It

A vigil in support of Michael Brown occurs outside of the Ferguson Police Department. Ferguson police have been criticized for what some have called an overly miliarized response.
flickr.com/sierraromeo

The city of Ferguson, Missouri anxiously awaits a Grand Jury verdict for the officer involved in shooting Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

The incident has sparked widespread public outrage and conversation, culminating in a string of protests and demonstrations nationwide, some which turned violent. Another source of contention has been police response itself – particularly in Ferguson, where police were criticized for being overly aggressive and overly armed. 

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Politics
2:33 pm
Wed November 5, 2014

What's In Store For The Texas Legislature?

The Texas House of Represenative chambers
flickr.com/garyjd

Now that the elections are over the big question on everybody’s mind is – what now? What changes will we see coming in the state and what battles will be fought in the halls of the Texas Legislature? If Texas knows anything - it’s how to make legislative waves. In recent memory Texas gained national notoriety for a variety of topics ranging from its voter ID law to its much debated abortion restrictions.

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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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