SC Features

Interviews, profiles, and and informational programming about the Palmetto State.

Arthur Erskine of West Columbia and friend.
Lauren Rivers

Most men don’t frequent beauty parlors, but Arthur “Cotton” Erskine of West Columbia visits his every day from Thanksgiving to Christmas to prepare his hair and long beard for a role he’s portrayed for years: Santa Claus.  “Santa Cotton,” as he is known, becomes the Jolly Old Elf for events such as Christmas parades, private photo sessions and store appearances, sometimes with as many as six appointments a day.  He is “Ho Ho” to his grandchildren, and here he discusses the fun of  dealing with children, and the unusual requests they sometimes have of Santa.  Erskine’s hairdresser and the co

Holiday depression is a real phenomenon for some South Carolinians.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Cries of “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy New Year” can ring hollow for those afflicted with the phenomenon known as holiday depression.  Psychologist Fred Medway says holidays are so charged with memories that if one experiences, for example, a loss or other unhappy event during the holiday season, it can trigger sad memories in future seasons.   According to University of South Carolina nursing professor Sue Heiney, symptoms of holiday depression can include sleeplessness, change in appetite, sadness and not being able to enjoy anything, even things a person once took pleasu

StoryCorps: Separated as Teens, Reunited After Decades

Dec 9, 2016
StoryCorps

Every day at StoryCorps booths across the country, ordinary people share extraordinary stories with friends and loved ones.  At the mobile booth in Columbia, high school sweethearts and current partners Ted Brooks and Jeanne Porter Ashley sat down to talk about their relationship, which began nearly 50 years ago.

StoryCorps will be recording in Columbia from November 17 to December 19. To make a reservation call 1-800-850-4406.

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Dec. 7, 1941. A small boat rescues a seaman from the 31,800 ton USS West Virginia burning in the foreground. Smoke rolling out amidships shows where the most extensive damage occurred. Note the two men in the superstructure.
Library of Congress/U.S. Navy, Office of Public Relations, Washington.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 brought the United States into World War II.  The Commander in Chief of the U.S. Fleet, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, was blamed for the defeat, demoted for dereliction of duty and forced into retirement, along with his army counterpart, Gen. Walter Short.  In 1944, the first of 10 investigations and hearings into the Pearl Harbor defeat effectively exonerated Kimmel, but his rank was not restored because the war was on.   

The world's hottest pepper- the Carolina Reaper, grown in Fort Mill.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Many people distinguish themselves in the worlds of sports, entertainment, writing and other endeavors.  Ed Currie of Fort Mill has distinguished himself in a much hotter manner:  he holds the Guinness world record for the hottest pepper on earth, his self-developed Carolina Reaper.  He grows many varieties of peppers for the food industry, but it’s the Reaper that makes some hot-sauce aficionados rethink how tough they are.  In addition to setting people’s insides on fire, however, Currie says the pepper has other uses in the paint, medical and defense industries.

StoryCorps: A Lawyer's Civils Rights Fight

Nov 30, 2016

StoryCorps is a unique oral history project that collects the voices of our times. Recently, friends and law partners Nekki Shutt and Malissa Burnette sat down to talk about their lives and careers, including their fight to bring marriage equality to South Carolina. Here, Nekki asks Malissa how she first became passionate about issues like Civil Rights.

StoryCorps will be recording in Columbia from November 17 to December 19. To make a reservation call 1-800-850-4406.

Each of these silver spoons has a story to tell, and Dawn Corley knows them all.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Dawn Corley of Charleston began collecting silver as a child under the tutelage of her great aunt.  As her collection grew, so did her expertise, until SCETV’s Beryl Dakers dubbed her the “Charleston Silver Lady,” a nickname which has stuck over the years.  Corley has presented programs on silver for U.S.

These Narragansett turkeys are raised by University of South Carolina professor Joe Jones.  Though he keeps his flock small, the quality of the meat is far superior to mass produced turkeys.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

From 9 to 5, Joe Jones of Blythewood is a professor of marine science and environmental science at the University of South Carolina.  After 5, he becomes a farmer, raising sheep, pigs, chickens, and especially Narragansett turkeys, which makes him popular around Thanksgiving.   He and his wife keep their flock small, preferring quality over quantity.  Jones and his wife Amanda talk in this story about the difference between homegrown birds and the corporate, mass-produced turkeys most people consume (hint: price and flavor have a lot to do with the difference).  There are challenges to rais

  Many people are fearful of a Zika virus epidemic because of the publicity the virus has received.  But South Carolina law enforcement officers are fighting a much-less-publicized epidemic – the growth of heroin addiction.  This problem, however, is largely rampant among middle class users, according to Frank Shaheen, director of the Recovering Professional Program.  

StoryCorps: White House Correspondents

Nov 23, 2016
StoryCorps

At StoryCorps recording booths across the country, friends and loved ones interview each other about their lives. Here Susanne Schafer and her husband Charles Bierbauer speak about their careers as journalists and their time as White House correspondents during the Reagan administration. A pioneer in her field, in 1989 Susanne Schafer became the first female Associated Press correspondent covering the Pentagon.

StoryCorps will be recording in Columbia from November 17 to December 19.

SCETV President and CEO Linda O'Bryon talks with two of StoryCorps facilitators outside the MobileBooth in Columbia.
Tabitha Safdi/SCETV

StoryCorps' mobile recording booth opened to story tellers in Columbia, SC, on October 18th, beginning its one-month stay. Columbia Mayor Stephen BenjaminSCETV's President and CEO Linda O'Bryon, and StoryCorps MobileBooth Manager Stacey Todd spoke to a crowd near Edventure near the SC State Museum.

StoryCorps in Columbia, South Carolina

Nov 18, 2016
The StoryCorps mobile recording booth outside Edventure in Columbia, SC.
Tabitha Safdi/SCETV

StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. They acheive this by recording and celebrating the stories of everyday Americans. They are partnering with South Carolina Public Radio to record, preserve, and share the stories of Columbia, South Carolina, from November 17 – December 19, 2016.

StoryCorps: Christmas on Daufuskie Island

Nov 15, 2016
Dr. J. Herman Blake and Dr. Emily Moore, Charleston, 2012
StoryCorps

StoryCorps is an oral history project based on the idea that the stories of everyday people are the most important and interesting of all. In 2012, the StoryCorps mobile booth came to Charleston. Here’s Dr. J. Herman Blake talking with his wife and co-researcher Dr. Emily Moore.

Poster for "Eight Days a Week."
Apple Corps

The recent Ron Howard documentary film “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years” highlights the cultural phenomenon of Beatlemania in the 1960s.  The movie captures America’s excitement as John, Paul, George and Ringo stormed the country at the forefront of the most popular musical revolution of the century, the British Invasion.   

Bela Fleck Talks About the Juno Concerto

Nov 10, 2016
Bela Fleck
Courtesy of the artist

Alfred Turner had a chance to talk with musician and composer Béla Fleck a few days before his visit to Columbia, SC, to perform his new banjo concerto, the Juno Concerto. Beck was scheduled to perform the work on November 13, at the Koger Center, with the South Carolina Philharmonic, under music director Morihiko Nakahara. Just in case you aren't familiar with Béla Fleck, there are some who say he's the world’s premier banjo player. 

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Richard Rothwell, via Wikimedia Commons

“Frankenstein” is a classic of fiction, movies, and other media, and also a Halloween staple. The novel has not been out of print in the two centuries since it was published in 1818. USC English Professor Paula Feldman, an authority on the life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, the author of “Frankenstein,” talks about the real- life tragedies in Shelley’s life that caused her to wish she could bring the dead to life again, and the dreams that inspired the writing of the classic book that is regarded as the first science fiction novel.

Narrative: "It's Like Starting All Over Again"

Oct 25, 2016
Margaret and Harry Plexico spent months trying to clean up and salvage their flooded home before decided to start over elsewhere.
Ryan Plexico

Margaret and Harry Plexico were away celebrating their anniversary the weekend of October 4th, 2016. They couple celebrated 36 years of marriage in Charleston. When they returned to their home in Irmo, they found it ravaged by flood. With no flood insurance, the Plexicos made the difficult choice to build a new home elsewhere, using their retirement savings to do so. Both Margaret and Harry had just retired.

City of Columbia Police Officers Erskin Moody (left) and Ivan Birochak.
Jennifer Timmons/City of Columbia Police Department

Sergeant Erskine Moody and Officer Ivan Birochak of the Columbia Police Department were assigned to a twelve hour night shift on October 3 and 4, 2015. They wondered whether the forecasted rain would "live up to the hype," and soon realized that it would. From managing barricades to saving families from their homes, a normal shift quickly became one to remember. 

These ladies have the responsibility of judging baked goods at the South Carolina State Fair, and they take their work seriously.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Eating cupcakes, pies, cakes, and cookies is a pleasure for most folks, but for judges at the South Carolina State Fair, it’s also a responsibility.  Judges Laurie Aker and Mae Wells say because baking contestants work hard to prepare their entries, they should also be diligent in evaluating each entry to get the fairest (no pun intended) and most accurate result in determining winners.  Here they give their criteria for judging food, and for a judge’s qualifications.      Aker lists some common mistakes made by some cooks, and judge supervisor Brenda Turner tells what impresses her in a ba

West Columbia's Elizabeth Gray is running marathons in all 50 states to call attention to the problem of domestic violence.   Her story has made her a finalist for the cover of Running World magazine.
Courtesy of Elizabeth Gray

Elizabeth Gray of West Columbia is a former Marine, but that didn’t protect her from domestic violence at home.  But as she escaped an abusive marriage, she discovered running, and as she crossed the finish line of her first marathon, she decided to use her running to call attention to the problem of domestic violence.  To that end, she has set a goal of running a marathon in all 50 states, and will be halfway to her goal by December.  Her efforts may gain her additional attention, as her compelling story has made her a finalist in a competition to be featured on the cover of Running World

Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio
Vince Kolb-Lugo/SC Public Radio

Rafting Creek is a quiet stream that winds behind a cemetery, under a road, then through the woods - it's idyllic. But when rain began last year during the historic flood, the Sumter waterway started to fill up. As the storm continued, the area began to flood, sweeping diagonally over the cemetery, road, and woods themselves. The ground under the cemetery became saturated; the pressure of it caused the caskets to pop out of graves. Three thousand-pound vaults with coffins inside were carried several hundred feet into the woods across the road.

2015’s Historic Flood: Past, Present, and Future

Sep 28, 2016
Rachel Larratt stands among the wreckage in her community after the flood of October 4, 2015.
Courtesy of Rachel Larratt

Over the course of the year since the historic floods of October 2015, South Carolina Public Radio has shared with you numerous stories ranging from repairing homes and businesses, fixing roads and dams, to the personal stories of loss and survival.

On 2015’s Historic Flood: Past, Present, and Future we’ll bring you up-to-date on some of the people we’ve met … and some of the stories we’ve chronicled.

All Stations: Fri, Sep 30, 12 pm | News Stations: Sun, Oct 02, 4 pm

Aiken County cotton farmer Carl Brown overlooks one of his field.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

American consumers buy nearly 20 billion new items of clothing a year, many of them made of Southern cotton, but 98 percent made overseas.  A University of South Carolina professor wondered about the journey of cotton from South Carolina to China and back, and produced a documentary film about the people who grow the cotton and make the garments.  In this story, Prof. Laura Kissel talks about what she learned about the cotton-to-cloth-to-clothing process while making the film, and Aiken County farmer Carl Brown discusses the changes in cotton farming over the course of his career. 

  Fire ants are a perennial problem in the South, and in South Carolina, but science is working to control them.  Aiken County Clemson Extension Agent Vicki Bertagnalli and former Richland County Clemson Extension Agent Tim Davis both have tested ant baits before they were marketed, and say they can be 85-90 percent effective in controlling fire ants when used in the spring and fall. 

Mopeds at Hawg Scooters, Rosewood Drive, Columbia. 2.	More South Carolinians are riding mopeds, and there are numerous reasons why.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    With the opening of the fall semester at colleges across the state, a multitude of students can be seen negotiating the streets on mopeds. But they are by no means the only riders. The use of these low-power scooters is exploding across South Carolina, and the nation. Today we talk with two dealers who explain the phenomenon, as well as a rider who tells of the advantages he gets from his moped.

Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea both experienced two flood evacuations with their respective children, pictured here.
Elizabeth Webb

        Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea survived South Carolina's flood last October before surviving a second massive flood in West Virginia this summer. Their children, who were with them in both evacuations, have struggled with trauma from these disasters, like so many of the elementary-age children that Elizabeth and Louise teach.

Tens of thousands of purple martins return to Bomb Island at dusk.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  Purple martins have roosted on Bomb Island in Lake Murray every summer for decades to prepare for their annual migration to South America. Numbering at least in the tens of thousands, if not more, the birds gather at dusk in great clouds around the island as they return from a day’s hunting for beetles, dragonflies and other high-flying insects.

Louise Cruea (left) and Elizabeth Webb took refuge in West Virginia after Webb's Lake Katherine area home was flooded in October, 2015. Then, in June, they found themselves victims of that state's record-breaking floods.
Olivia Aldridge/SC Public Radio

  Elizabeth Webb and Louise Cruea both experienced South Carolina’s “thousand-year flood” firsthand. Last October, both women and their families were evacuated from their Lake Katherine homes as the rain bore down on Columbia. They believed that they had lived through an once-in-a-lifetime disaster, but when Webb and Cruea went with their children to stay at a family home in White Sulfur Springs, West Virginia, they were caught once again in a devastating flood.

Just southwest of bustling Charleston, S.C., lies a lush and rural gem called Wadmalaw Island, one of the Sea Islands that dot the shoreline. This is the home of the Charleston Tea Plantation, the only large-scale commercial tea plantation in America.

Food tourists get good food and a history lesson during a food tour on Columbia's Main Street.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    While most folks know that tourism is South Carolina’s number one industry, many do not know that food tourism is a growing phenomenon around the state. Brian Cole operators a food tourism business in Columbia, and conducts his clients each weekend on visits to about six different restaurants to sample the fare and learn about the eateries’ specialties and history.

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