Laura Ellis


Laura has been with WFPL since 2004. During her time with the station she has booked talk shows, produced news specials, engineered remote broadcasts, shaped the minds of impressionable interns, and even changed diapers for guests whose babies accompanied them to the studio.

When she's not making radio, she's making a spectacle of herself on stage (or making theatrical sound design) for any number of local theatre companies—most frequently Pandora Productions and Looking for Lilith Theatre Company. When she's not making theatre or radio, she might be found making Prohibition-Era jazz with Billy Goat Strut Revue, while burlesque dancers shake what their mamas gave 'em.

When she's not making any of the previously-mentioned things, she's usually making tiny dogs shake her hand in exchange for cookies.


Strange Fruit
12:47 pm
Sat November 22, 2014

Strange Fruit: Cosby Accusations Continue, Media Missteps Follow

"In the East End, there's dance everywhere. In the West End, you don't see that." John O. Keen, artistic director of Keen Dance Theater, is taking on the Ninth Street Divide (and the race divide, and the economic divide) in the world of dance.

After 11 years in New York, the Louisville native returned home to start his own dance troupe, with lessons affordable to low-income dancers, and a focus on diversity in casting and story telling.

Keen joins us this week to talk about how embracing dancers of difference races, body types, backgrounds, and training levels creates a stronger ensemble.

And in Juicy Fruit, Salon's Erin Keane sits in to talk about the allegations of sexual assault against Bill Cosby—and all the victim-blaming in their wake, both in casual conversation and in the media. CNN's Don Lemon, for example, questioned an alleged victim about why she didn't use her teeth to fight off Cosby after she's allegedly been drugged. When Janice Dickinson told her story to Entertainment Tonight, the first question we see interviewer Kevin Frazier ask is, "Were you trying to fight him off?"

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Local News
9:01 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Professor john a. powell to Deliver Annual Anne Braden Memorial Lecture Tuesday

Civil Rights educator john a. powell will be in Louisville on Tuesday to deliver the eighth annual Anne Braden Memorial Lecture.

He recently spoke with Jaison Gardner and Kaila Story, hosts of WFPL's Strange Fruit, about his concept of a “culture of belonging,” and the problems with a so-called colorblind approach to policy and interpersonal relationships. We posted a shortened version of the interview above.

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Strange Fruit
7:28 am
Sat November 8, 2014

'A Prison within a Prison': Advocating for the Rights of Deaf Inmates


"We call it a prison within a prison."

That's how advocates describe the lives of incarcerated deaf and hard of hearing people. The vast majority of correctional facilities have no ASL interpreters, and it's not unusual for inmates who rely on hearing aids to be denied the devices—or denied batteries to make them work.

Talila Lewis, founder of HEARD (Helping Educate to Advance the Rights of the Deaf, joins us this week on Strange Fruit to talk about the work the organization is doing to try to improve the lives and ensure the rights of incarcerated folks with disabilities.

Lewis says the ableism in mainstream society is magnified in the prison setting.

"If you don't respond to an auditory command, you get shot or beaten or put into solitary confinement," Lewis explains. "Everything around you is based on sound. So if you miss the bell at 4 a.m. to get up and go eat, you miss chow. That's it."

Click here for a transcript of this week's show.

Being deaf or hard of hearing in prison essentially means being unable to communicate with anyone around you.

"It's almost like being in solitary confinement," Lewis says. They're also more susceptible to physical and sexual assault, often asked to trade sexual access to their bodies for vital information from hearing inmates.

Because there are no accommodations in place to allow these inmates to communicate, it's hard to find them, count them, and make sure they're okay.

HEARD created and maintains the only national deaf and deaf-blind prisoner database, but without cooperation from departments of correction, accurate numbers are hard to come by. They estimate that deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing prisoners in the U.S. number in the tens of thousands.

We talk with Lewis this week about what we can do, and our local, state, and federal government could do, to protect the rights of this vulnerable population.

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Strange Fruit
6:22 pm
Sat November 1, 2014

Strange Fruit: Civil Rights Educator john a. powell; LMPD's Racial Profiling Study

Civil Rights educator john a. powell will be in Louisville on November 11th to deliver the 8th annual Anne Braden Memorial Lecture, and he joins us this week to talk about his concept of a "culture of belonging," and the problems with a so-called colorblind approach to policy and interpersonal relationships.

"Most Americans, including most white Americans, even if they don't see race or try not see race at the conscious level, the unconscious is seeing it and acting on it and processing it in a very robust way," he explains. "So in a sense we don't even have a choice."

And WFPL's Jake Ryan joins us to help unpack the results of the Louisville Metro Police Department's racial profiling study. The findings were called inconclusive, and they also only included traffic stops—perhaps missing more frequent ways black residents interact with police.

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Strange Fruit
7:00 am
Sat October 18, 2014

Strange Fruit: Unpacking White Privilege. Plus, Are These Really America's Favorite Desserts?

In the late 1990s, feminist and anti-racist activist Peggy McIntosh described white privilege as "an invisible weightless knapsack of assurances, tools, maps, guides, codebooks, passports, visas, clothes, compass, emergency gear, and blank checks."

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Strange Fruit
7:01 am
Sat October 4, 2014

Strange Fruit: Susan Sarandon on Muhammad Ali’s Legacy; Electric Lady Janelle Monáe

It's been a star-studded week for Team Strange Fruit! We spent some time recently on the red carpet at the 2nd Annual Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Awards, where we got to chat with celebrities and honorees about the Champ's civil rights legacy.

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IdeaFestival 2014
4:54 pm
Wed October 1, 2014

Janelle Monáe on Capturing the Perspectives of Outsiders

Janelle Monáe
Credit Marc Baptiste

Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Janelle Monáe says she’s part android—often singing from the point of view of her alter-ego, Cindi Mayweather. She was in Louisville Tuesday for IdeaFestival, addressing a capacity crowd of young people for the Thrivals 7.0 event.

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