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. 

Pages

Texas Standard
11:01 am
Wed July 1, 2015

Why One Texas Legislator Wants a Special Session On Marriage Equality

Revelers rallied in downtown Austin Friday after SCOTUS legalized same-sex marriage. State Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) says we should 'divorce marriage from government if we want to protect it.'
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon/KUT News

From Texas Standard:

Recent polls suggest the majority of Americans agree with the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, but opposition to same-sex marriage remains prevalent in southern states like Texas and Louisiana.

Just this week, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said that county clerks don’t need to issue marriage licenses if doing so goes against their faith. Paxton and other opponents of same-sex marriage argue that the government shouldn’t be allowed to interfere with how someone practices their faith.

Read more
Texas Standard
1:59 pm
Fri June 26, 2015

What the Decision on Same-Sex Marriage Means to One Texas Family

'I'm very excited,' says Ronald 'Ronnie' Macklin.
Texas for Marriage/facebook

From Texas Standard:

The Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage today. All 50 states are now required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Ronald “Ronnie” Macklin and his partner, Fritz Johnson-Macklin, are one of those couples. From the Austin suburb of Pflugerville, Ronnie joined Texas Standard to talk about his family’s story –  just minutes after learning about the Supreme Court decision.

Read more
Texas Standard
4:30 pm
Wed June 24, 2015

Family of Texas Kidnapping Victim Influences Shift in U.S. Hostage Policy

The Obama Administration announced Wednesday that families of hostages will no longer be prosecuted for raising ransom money.
barackobamainvirginia-august2nd/flickr

From Texas Standard:

Austin Bennett Tice has been missing since August 12, 2012.

The 33-year-old Texas veteran was working as a freelance journalist in Syria when he was kidnapped while reporting on the war. His whereabouts are still unknown.

To bring their son home, Tice’s father secured a meeting with President Obama. He had heard that the administration was going to review the U.S. hostage policy and wanted a chance to influence the President’s decision with his family’s story.

Read more
Texas Standard
4:52 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Scientists Find 'Alarming' Levels of Chemicals Around Barnett Shale

A recent study of water quality near fracking sites found that contaminated water remains a problem.
Credit cipher/flickr

From Texas Standard:

The Environmental Protection Agency recently concluded that contamination of drinking water from fracking isn’t as widespread as previously feared. But is the panic over water contamination a thing of the past? A new study is re-igniting the fears of some.

The recent study checked the water quality at 550 wells across 13 Texas counties along the Barnett Shale. It’s one of the largest independent surveys on water near fracking sites ever conducted in the U.S., and the conclusions are alarming.

The Barnett Shale, a gas reservoir located near the Dallas-Forth Worth area, spans at least 17 counties. It’s believed to have more usable natural gas than any onshore oil field in the country. But the shale in the area has a reputation for being naturally hard to drill into, so it was largely untapped — until hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, came along.

Read more
Texas Standard
2:49 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

Lawmakers Tour Immigration Detention Centers with Reform on Their Minds

The Karnes County Civil Detention Center is one of two centers in Texas holding about 2,000 women and costing about $350 a day per detainee.
Ilana Panich-Linsman/KUT

From Texas StandardNot all of the women and children that try to cross Texas’ Rio Grande Valley from Central America make it into the land of the free. Instead, they end up in one of three family detention centers that are used to house illegal immigrants. The centers are run by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and they currently hold about 2,000 women and children awaiting either release or deportation.

The detention centers are getting the spotlight in D.C., with calls to either improve or abolish the centers. Now eight Democratic lawmakers are making their way to privately run Texas detention centers in Karnes City and Dilley. Among the Texas contingent are Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) and Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio).

Read more
Texas Standard
11:46 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Is Texas the Center of the Universe? Neil deGrasse Tyson Says Yes, In a Way

nasahqphoto/flickr

Neil deGrasse Tyson may be the biggest celebrity astrophysicist working today. In addition to hosting the reboot of the TV series “Cosmos,” he is also active on Twitter, where he makes science jokes, ruminates on the universe, and offers up physics-related facts. Now, Tyson is taking his ideas on the road. He'll be appearing across Texas this month, and today, he spoke with Nathan Bernier about the upcoming tour.

Read more
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.

Read more
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?

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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.

Read more
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. 

Read more
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.

Read more

Pages