Commentary Series

Mon-Thurs 6:45 a.m. and 5:50 p.m.

More than 50 commentators provide perspective and opinion about current events, topics of interest, and often showcase the work of writers and storytellers. The VPR Commentary Series is produced by Betty Smith-Mastaler.

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Kalish: Accepting Help

Dec 20, 2018

According to the American Chiropractic Association, “back pain is the single leading cause of disability” worldwide. And like many, I’d “thrown out my back” before and knew back pain could be bad. But at the end of October, I became a real part of the statistic.

James Cumming

Like the Christmas story itself, it’s a mystery to me, how every year I buy and schlep a six foot tall balsam fir into my home and spend hours decorating it, while my British partner sits on the sofa drinking tea and egging me on.

I don’t exactly have a Vermont accent. My first language is German, and even though I started learning English in fifth grade, the accent sticks. It’s not a big deal; I can usually communicate just fine, to the extent that we humans can communicate with words and language – but that’s another story.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

A few years ago, I arrived at church on a December Sunday morning to find a substitute pastor who nervously smiled and introduced herself. She invited the kids to the front before sending them to church school, and as the regular copastors normally would, asked them a few seemingly softball questions.

Moats: Values

Dec 17, 2018
MarBom / iStock

Nobody knows the future, but in times of uncertainty like these, what we don’t know feels like an expanding universe of dire possibilities.

Anton: Social Contract

Dec 17, 2018
MachineHeadz / iStock

When we think of addressing societal problems like poverty and hunger, legislative solutions are usually discussed. But there are many groups working to deliver change, quickly and effectively - some even without political polarization.

Levin: Citizen Scientists

Dec 13, 2018
Gloria Towne (All Around Towne Photography / Vermont Center for Ecostudies

Science is the study of the world around us, and is not - definitely not – the sole purview of scientists. Anyone can do science.

Erin Jenkins

Two current exhibitions at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center are stunning – and very different.

huseyintuncer / iStock

Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger has called for a revenue-neutral Carbon Pollution Fee – meaning that all the fees would be returned to Vermonters through a system that is progressive and protects low- and moderate-income Vermonters.

Mayer: Unhealthy Climate

Dec 11, 2018
Pediatrician and author Jack Mayer at a book talk at Siena College in 2012.
Chip Mayer, Courtesy

In 1983, ticks were exotic creatures in Enosburg Falls on the Canadian border where I practiced pediatrics. My 8-year-old patient presented with a flu-like illness and a bizarre rash. I’d seen photos in medical journals of this unique, giant bulls-eye rash that could only be Lyme Disease. But there was no Lyme Disease in Vermont.

Keith Oppenheim

My wife and I went to Burlington’s Flynn Theater and watched as Joe Biden took the stage with author Jodi Picoult .


The nation was appalled by televised scenes on America’s southern border of ICE forcibly separating children from their parents after a Justice Department ruling that to do so was legal and would deter further migration. Americans reacted quickly and the separations ended after a few days, although some several hundred families still have yet to be reunited.


One of the slogans we heard often during the recent political season was the assertion by our governor that we do things differently in Vermont.

I was in Kennebunkport to interview George Bush senior for a book on presidents who fished. As former First Lady Barbara Bush waved cheerfully from the veranda, the former president was welcoming, and refreshingly candid.

Jennifer Krogh Photography, Brooklyn, NY 11211

Much has been written on the death of George Herbert Walker Bush. He was a statesman, a president, a kind man who loved his family, gracious and unpretentious to a fault. He forged personal relationships with dozens of world leaders who responded to him as a trusted friend and ally.

Ed Koren / Button Street Press

At Bear Pond Books recently, in the midst of what passes for a huge crowd in downtown Montpelier, Ed Koren, the New Yorker cartoonist who has lived in Brookfield for decades, was signing copies of his new collection of cartoons.

Suzanne Spencer Rendahl

Seven women – current and former students – have filed a class action lawsuit for seventy million dollars in damages against Dartmouth College for sexual harassment, assault, and discrimination. They claim the college did not take appropriate action regarding complaints against three professors in the psychological and brain sciences department.

Moats: Division

Dec 4, 2018

There’s a political cliche, frequently repeated, that’s creating the wrong picture of our country.

Richard Watts

The release of a new report on climate change underscores how far we have to go to reduce our emissions - and the kind of innovative thinking that will be needed to bring real solutions.

Kate Schubart

We just attended a family wedding in Atlanta. And it was the kind of rare family event that stays with one for a lifetime.