Regionally Speaking

Monday - Thursday, 12-1 PM
  • Hosted by Chris Nolte

Addressing the most important local issues facing the Region during a daily hour of stimulating conversation with local news-makers.

A food pantry established at a Cedar Lake church almost three decades ago is now part of the entire south Lake County area. 

Project Love Food Pantry is part of the United Methodist Church's local mission of service.  Pastor Ken Puent was on "Regionally Speaking" on Wednesday to talk about the facility, who it serves and with what items and how it's grown so quickly.  That growth is, in large part, because the local economy's shrunken.

Today:  Cedar Lake United Methodist Church pastor Ken Puent joins us to talk about the Project Love Food Pantry, a 28-year-old operation that has grown over the years -- in part, because the northwest Indiana economy's worsened with factory layoffs and the like -- into a food pantry that now serves the entire south half of Lake County.

Governor's Office

Indiana's new Governor, Eric Holcomb, held his first news conference last week -- one month after being sworn into office.   Andy Downs of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics joined us on "Regionally Speaking" on Tuesday to talk about that first official meeting with the media. 

Gary-Chicago International Airport

Northwest Indiana community activist Ruth Needleman and a group of citizens attended Monday night's Gary-Chicago International Airport Authority's first public workshop on the Master Plan Update. She joined us on "Regionally Speaking" on Tuesday to talk about issues were brought up that weren't related to the Master Plan -- but affect the Airport and the community at large. 

IU Northwest

Today:  Northwest Indiana community activist Ruth Needleman and a group of citizens attended Monday night's Gary-Chicago International Airport Authority's first public workshop on the Master Plan Update. She joined us to talk about what issues were brought up that weren't related to the Master Plan -- but affect the Airport and the community at large.  Ruth also talked about efforts underway at the Statehouse to force Lake County precinct changes, even though the County Election Board promised lawmakers that they'd make the changes themselves.

Gary-Chicago International Airport

The Gary-Chicago International Airport is planning for the future -- at least, the next ten years or so -- and the first of a series of public workshops will be held tonight (Monday, Feb 13) at 6:00 p.m. at the Airport Terminal offices for a presentation of the work done so far on a Master Plan Update.

The chairman of the Airport Authority, Stephen Mays, was on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to talk about the need for a Master Plan Update, the company conducting the workshops and the impact that an updated plan will have on northwest Indiana.  Here's the conversation.

Indiana Economic Digest

Today:   The Indiana Gaming Commission says monthly revenue at Indiana casinos decreased in January.  "Indiana Gaming Insight" newsletter editor Ed Feigenbaum takes a look at why the northwest Indiana casinos didn't bring in as much. He also talks about a bill sponsored by State Rep. Todd Huston that -- if it passes and enacted into law -- would amend current law to eliminate the $3 floor admission tax.  That will mean a big hit in casino revenues to local governments.

Lakeshore Public Media

Today:  Mark Swiderski, Lake County's E-911 Director, joins us to talk about a new tool that his department is offering police and fire departments to give them more information about the kinds of calls their crews handle, based on the information that dispatchers receive.  He also tells us about the number of calls taken in 2016 -- you'll be surprised to learn how many.  He also says their new reporting software says their busiest hours last year were: 9 p.m., 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. on the Fourth of July.

Mark Hurt campaign

Today:  A conversation with central Indiana attorney and former Dan Coats aide Mark Hurt, who is -- for now -- the only Republican running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Joe Donnelly.  Hurt announced his candidacy last week. He stopped by northwest Indiana today.  I talked with him one-on-one and then sat in on a question-and-answer session that Hurt held with Marc Chase, Bill Dolan and Doug Ross of The Times of Northwest Indiana.  

My Fearless

A bill introduced by State Rep. Michael Aylesworth (R-11), who represents portions of Lake and Porter Counties, will come up for a House Environment Committee hearing on Wednesday in Indianapolis.

His measure would, if passed and enacted into law, eliminate some important state permit requirements for CAFOs in Indiana -- also known as "factory farms."  The Hoosier Environmental Council is concerned about the impact of these permit changes on Hoosiers who live near the facilities.

Joshua Claybourn - Vimeo

Today:  Josh Claybourn, an Indiana attorney, Republican and contributor to Howey Politics Indiana joins us to talk about his recent commentary about the first weeks of the Trump administration and its impact on the GOP.  He called it "a great fork in the road."


Today:   A conversation with Tami Silverman, the President and CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, on the  "op - ed" pieces that the IYI is encouraging Indiana media to run, to ask Hoosier legislators to support more pre-kindergarten programs.  It's one of the topics that is on the 2017 General Assembly agenda.

In the past week -- the chaotic implementation of a travel ban barring people from 7 majority-Muslim nations from entering the U.S. and a deadly attack on Muslims at prayer in Canada.  There have been demonstrations of support in Canada - complete with placards and signs --  but shadows remain in that country and in Victoria, Texas, a mosque was burned to the ground.

Knight Foundation

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is conducting its third annual Knight Cities Challenge, a national call for ideas to make the 26 communities in which Knight invests become more vibrant places to live and work.  One of them is the city of Gary, where the Knight brothers owned and published the Post-Tribune.

WBAA Public Radio

Today:  Cal Bellamy, the president of the Shared Ethics Advisory Commission, is in the studio to talk about the multi-county commission and its goals to train employees of governmental offices and other facilities in ethical workplace practices.  The SEAC just released its 2016 annual report and Bellamy talks about 2017, including its annual Ethics Summit in early April.

PICC website

A Hammond native and communication professor at Purdue University's West Lafayette campus is being recognized by a major media publication as one of the nation's top journalism educators.

Ambassador Carolyn Curiel was named by Crain's NewsPro as one of the top journalism educators in the nation.  Crain’s NewsPro selected Curiel from among educators nominated by top practitioners.

Purdue Univ. News Service

Today: A conversation with Hammond native Carolyn Curiel, a journalist and journalism professor, former Clinton administration staffer and former U. S. Ambassador to Belize.  She founded and is Executive Director of the Purdue Institute for Civic Communication. 

She talks about her roots in Hammond (she's a Morton High School grad) and how her professional experience guides young people into careers in journalism and more analytical thinking.

Trains Magazine

Riders getting on board Amtrak's Hoosier State Line passenger service between Chicago and Indianapolis beginning March 1st will notice that they're sitting in  Amtrak cars.  Iowa Pacific, the company contracted by the Indiana Department of Transportation last year to provide the equipment, is ending its agreement effective February 28th.  Amtrak will resume complete control of the service on March 1st.

WBAA Public Radio

Today:  Tom Pappas and Dave Clark from the city of Portage's veterans committee are in the studio to talk about tomorrow evening's monthly committee meeting with special guest Lynette Taylor.  She will explain the new "My VA" program and how it is designed to rebuild trust in the VA, improve service and quality of care for northwest Indiana veterans.

Post-Tribune reporter Meredith Colias talks about how a Portage man turned the discovery of a World War II veteran's dog tags found in his late uncle's belongings into a search for the family of the man who owned the dog tags.

EDC Michigan City website

Michigan City officials are joining citizens in supporting a proposal that, if approved, would transform a run-down section of Franklin Street in the downtown district into a public plaza.  It's a vision of  "a community space for concerts, shows, exhibitions, vendors, street musicians and other activities." 

A petition on is asking for citizen support of the project before the city's Redevelopment Commission.

EDC Mich City /

Today:  Clarence Hulse, Executive Director of the Economic Development Corp. of Michigan City, talks about a proposal to transform a section of Franklin Street in the downtown district into a public plaza,  "a community space for concerts, shows, exhibitions, vendors, street musicians and other activities."  A petition on is asking for citizen support of the project before the city's Redevelopment Commission.

Howey Politics

Indiana economist Morton Marcus reviewed U.S. Census data for northwest Indiana communities between 2000 and 2015 for a story in The Times of Northwest Indiana and he found, among other things, that cities and towns in south Lake County and Porter County are growing and north Lake County communities are shrinking.  Marcus talks about the reasons he sees for the changes, including migration between Indiana and Illinois. 

Today:  A conversation with Indiana economist, writer and speaker Morton Marcus about U.S. Census data that shows that communities in north Lake County are growing smaller and communities in south Lake County and in Porter County (including lakefront cities like Portage) are growing... and the reasons for the change.   

Marcus also talks about what he discussed at a recent public meeting in Crown Point, and he takes a look at the latest Statehouse debate about how to pay for funding road and bridge projects.  Morton says lawmakers are missing the point about it.

Eve Pytel, Delta Institute

Today:  an extended conversation with Eve Pytel of Delta Institute, the Chicago firm that created "Steel City Salvage" which works with specially-trained contractors to assess and deconstruct abandoned houses in the city of Gary and re-purpose the materials taken out of the homes. 

Pytel says there are more training sessions planned to bring more qualified Gary-based contractors into the program.  Right now, work is underway on homes in the Aetna neighborhood, but Eve says more neighborhoods will be targeted as contractors get trained. 

National Association of Realtors

Single-family home sales for the seven counties around northwest Indiana are reported very strong for both the month of December and the year 2016.   I asked Peter Novak, the President and CEO of the Greater Northwest Indiana Association of Realtors,  for his views on the reasons for the strong year-end and year-long sales and how 2017 is likely to appear as well.  Here's the conversation as aired on Tuesday's "Regionally Speaking" program.

Today:  We bring you the second of three finalists for the Knight Cities Challenge from the city of Gary: the Ball Park Plaza project.  It was submitted by the late Kenneth Parr and now taken over by the city of Gary. We talked to both Brenda Scott-Henry, the city's Director of Environmental Affairs, and Renetta Dubose, the step-daughter of Kenneth Parr, about a project that would take a city-owned lot across from the U.S.

IPB News

Northwest Indiana Forum CEO Heather Ennis says she and her colleagues met recently with the northwest Indiana legislative delegation in Indianapolis to promote the Forum's legislative agenda for this session. 

Ennis came on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to talk about what the Forum would like to see legislators enact this year, knowing full well that it is a budget-writing session as well. 

NWI Realtors

Residents in the town of Munster will likely vote on May 2 on a two-question request from the School Town of Munster to raise school corporation taxes to cover both a proposed $48 million facilities improvement program and additional operating funds to cover the anticipated impact of revenue cuts from the state.  The last time that Munster voters approved a school tax increase referendum was in 2013.

Superintendent Jeffery Hendrix was on "Regionally Speaking" on Monday to explain in detail what will be done with the additional funds, should voters approve the referenda. 

School Town of Munster Website

Today:   School Town of Munster Superintendent Jeff Hendrix joins us to talk about a proposed May 2 special election in his community, where residents will be asked to vote on two tax increase referenda: one that would support $48 million in school building repairs and improvements and another that would cover operating expenses in advance of anticipated revenue cuts from the state.  The last time that a school tax referendum was approved was in 2013.

Indiana Public Media

A mentor can have a life-changing impact on a young person, regardless of race.  But an upcoming Indiana Youth Institute-Urban League of Northwest Indiana mentoring workshop will focus on vulnerable black men and boys.

State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) is also co-sponsoring the event.  He will share his thoughts and experiences as a mentor with the two-day workshop on January 27 and 28.  It will be held at the Gary City Life Center, 225 W. 5th Ave.  I talked with him about this event on "Regionally Speaking" on Thursday.  Here's the conversation.