Matthew F. Smith

Producer, Vermont Edition

Originally from Delaware, Matt moved to Alaska in 2010 for his first job in radio. He spent five years working as a radio and television reporter, as well as a radio producer, talk show host, and news director. His reporting received awards from the Alaska Press Club and the Alaska Broadcasters Association. Relocating to southwest Florida, he spent several months producing television news before joining WGCU as a producer for their daily radio show, Gulf Coast Live. He joined VPR in October 2017.

Matthew studied English and journalism at Villanova University in Villanova, Pa., where he wrote for the school newspaper and other school publications. He taught English as a Second Language for several years in China and the U.S. before pursuing a career in journalism.

We're talking about the debate over life without parole in Vermont.
powerofforever / iStock

Live call-in discussion: Life in prison with no chance of parole is the harshest punishment possible in Vermont. Some see it as a necessary sentence for the worst crimes, others as an unforgiving punishment devoid of hope of rehabilitation. We're talking about what life without parole means for public safety, rehabilitation and deterrence, and for the cost of the justice system in Vermont.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, flanked by Sen. Jon Tester of Montana, left, and Senate Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, speaks at a February 2019 news conference amid border security negotiations.
Andrew Harnik / AP

Thursday in Washington, Sen. Patrick Leahy voted to block President Donald Trump's emergency declaration on the southern border. We're talking with the Senator about that resolution, security and humanitarian concerns at the Southern border, Sen. Bernie Sanders' 2020 presidential run and more.

On "Vermont Edition" we're talking about growing grains and hops, malting barley locally and how nearby farmers are increasingly contributing to brewing up Vermont-made beverages.
aetb / iStock

You've heard of farm-to-table. But what about farm-to-pint-glass?

Vermont Edition looks at locally-grown hops and grains used in some Vermont-made beers and spirits, why local ingredients can inspire — or bedevil — small brewers or distillers, and how Vermont's climate and soil can give hops and other ingredients distinctive flavors you can taste right in the glass.

Helen Lyons can be heard hosting mornings on "VPR Classical" weekdays between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m.
Matthew Smith / VPR

Morning listeners to VPR Classical likely noticed a new voice on the air over the last month.

Helen Lyons, a classically-trained soprano who’s performed in genres from opera to chamber music in the U.S., Europe and Asia, joined VPR in February as the new morning host.

Vermonters receive an estimated 145,000 robocalls every day. We're looking at what's behind the rapidly increasing numbers of robocalls.
Kirillm / iStock

Vermonters gets an estimated 4.5 million robocalls each month. Calls from scammers and marketers to an 802 number have doubled in just the last two years. We're looking at what's behind the rise in robocalls and ways you can protect yourself from the flood of unwanted calls.

A sample driver's privilege card from the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles. Losing the ability to drive can have far-reaching repercussions in Vermont.
Department of Motor Vehicles

Life in a rural state like Vermont can require a lot of driving, and a suspended driver’s license can be a significant hardship. But the demands of work, family and other obligations often mean that many still drive even when they're not supposed to. We're looking at what leads to a suspended license in Vermont and how getting a DLS charge can lead to more citations, larger fines and bigger trouble.

Col. Greg Knight was selected by legislators as the next Adjutant General for the Vermont National Guard in February.
1st Lt. Mikel Arcovitch / Vermont National Guard

Col. Greg Knight will be the new Adjutant General for the Vermont National Guard. He takes over the position on Friday, March 8.

Knight takes the helm of the reserve militia as it faces 400 empty positions and in the wake of a months-long VTDigger investigation alleging sexual harassment and other misconduct within the Guard.

Underhill residents gather at Town Meeting Day in 2018. "Vermont Edition" looks at how access to voting has changed in Vermont over time and how the question of "who gets to vote" continues to broaden.
Jim Beebe-Woodard

Town Meeting Day reminds Vermonters of how we vote in our unique form of local democracy, but the question of who gets to vote — in elections and at Town Meetings — continues to change. We're talking about how.

Rebecca Byars, left, and Peter Pardoe of Valley Improv perform at the Woolen Mill Comedy Club in Bridgewater. The ideas of improv are increasingly leaving the stage and being applied at work and with other large groups.
Collen Doyle / Woolen Mills Comedy Club

Improvisational comedy is about making it up as you go along, but the ideas of improv are increasingly finding their way to workplaces and other groups to increase teamwork, foster collaboration and spark new ideas. We're looking at improv in Vermont and how its ideas apply at work and in daily life.

With temperatures bobbing and weaving above and below freezing, Vermont's backyard sugaring is going strong.
Bakinbitz / iStock

This program originally aired on Feb. 22, 2018.

Vermonters catch a fever at this time of year. And it isn't necessarily the flu bug. It's the hankering to get outside and start hauling buckets full of sap to the sugarhouse or to wherever they do their boiling. It's backyard sugaring time. 

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would expand an employer's ability to administer drug tests to employees.
sercansamanci / istock

Vermont's laws on workplace drug testing make it difficult to test employees after they're hired. Now lawmakers are considering a bill expanding an employer's ability to test workers suspected of being under the influence on the job, or if they cause an accident. We're looking at Vermont's existing drug testing laws, the proposed changes and what it means for workers and employers.

Look for four inches of clear, black ice — enough to support a person walking — before enjoying ice fishing, officials from the Dept. of Fish and Wildlife say.
smiltena / iStock

Mid-February is prime time for ice fishing in Vermont, but a recent tragedy is focusing attention on the risks of the winter sport. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders, pictured here during the 2016 presidential election, announced Feb. 19 he'll again seek the Democratic nomination for president.
Rogelio V. Solis / AP

Sen. Bernie Sanders is officially in the race for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. We're talking with political scientists about Sanders' announcement, the crowded 2020 field and what it all means for Vermont.

The January 2017 women's march in Montpelier was followed by what organizers called a Unity Rally on the steps of the Statehouse. The march addressed issues like racism and civil rights.
Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR

The Vermont Human Rights Commission is a state agency whose sole mission is to protect and preserve the human rights of Vermonters. The small agency—just three investigators, an executive director and an executive assistant—works on discrimination in housing, state government, employment and in public spaces like schools and restaurants. Now the Commission's new executive director is pledging to take a more proactive approach to fighting discrimination. 

Vermont's suicide rate is among the highest in New England. The map above, using CDC data, shows Vermont's overall youth suicide rate between 2005 and 2016 was among the highest in the country.
CDC

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death in Vermont, claiming more lives every year than car accidents in our state. And Vermont's young people die by suicide at one of the highest rates in the country. We're talking with doctors and researchers about effective suicide prevention. 

Former Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets Roger Albee chronicles the national and local history around the founding of two dairy co-ops back in 1919. The co-ops are now celebrating their 100th anniversary.
Ric Cengeri / VPR file

Statistics surrounding Vermont's dairy industry over the last decade have been bleak: falling milk prices have shuttered many small dairy farms, which have dwindled from 27,000 farms a century ago to about 700 dairies today.

But there is some celebrating going on in 2019, as both the Cabot Creamery Cooperative and the St. Albans Cooperative Creamery mark their 100th anniversaries. Which made us wonder, what was going on in Vermont dairy back in 1919?

Lawmakers are drafting rules to regulate the cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis. But what Vermont's rules will be and if there's support to make them law remains an open question.
Seastock / iStock

Last year Vermont legalized the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana. Now Vermont lawmakers are drafting rules for a legal and regulated system to buy, sell and grow cannabis. We're looking at what's being proposed for commercial cannabis in Vermont.

Testimony is heard on the House floor.
Toby Talbot / AP

This week House lawmakers gave an extension to some—but not all—school districts that have yet to merge under Act 46, giving some districts as much as an additional year to comply with the state's school district merger mandate.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos discusses cybersecurity and priorities in the new legislative session on "Vermont Edition."
Matthew Smith / VPR

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos just returned from the National Association of Secretaries of State meeting in Washington, D.C. We're talking with Sec. Condos about what he learned at the NASS meeting about voting security and cyber threats facing states today, and discussing constitutional amendments in the legislature.

A lunch from Crossett Brook Middle School in Duxbury features whole-grain spaghetti with meat sauce, local apple, salad, broccoli, and a roll.
Vermont Agency of Education

Vermont schools offer free or reduced-cost meals to thousands of students every day. But how did schools become the venue to enact food policy? We're looking at school meal programs and the role they play in nutrition and education in school today.

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