Laura Ellis

Producer

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.

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat February 2, 2013

Strange Fruit: It's the Super Strange Fruit Bowl, Featuring Wade Davis

Huddle up, sports fans! It's time for the Super Bowl (or so we hear), and it's been a huge week for LGBTQ sports news!

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo has gotten lots of positive attention for being an advocate of LGBTQ rights, and for using the spotlight of the Super Bowl to get the word out. And Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried released an adorable video in praise of his two moms. Sadly, not all the news was good. Kwame Harris was essentially outed this week when he had to appear in court on charges he assaulted his ex-boyfriend (Harris had never publicly said he's gay, but for what it's worth, his former teammates say it wouldn't matter to them).

In what was probably the biggest LGBTQ-related story of this Super Bowl season, San Francisco 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver had a not-quite-progressive reaction when asked whether he'd be comfortable playing football with gay people. In the quote heard 'round the sports world, he said:

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat January 26, 2013

Strange Fruit: Gone to Atlanta, BRB (Also, More with Fairness Campaign's Chris Hartman)

Our fearless hosts, Jaison and Kaila, are in Atlanta this week for the National Conference on LGBT Equality: Creating Change. So instead of a full show this week, here's part two of the conversation we started last week, with Fairness Campaign Director Chris Hartman. Last week, we talked about Vicco. This week we broaden the scope a bit, and talk about fairness gains across the Commonwealth, and the country.

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Local News
2:03 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

The Rev. Bojangles Blanchard: Hopeful Sit-In, Arrest Inspire Calls for Change in Gay Marriage Ban

Maurice
Credit File photo

The Rev. Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard spent Tuesday evening in jail.

The charge? He and his partner, Dominique James, asked for a marriage license — and were denied —  at the Jefferson County Clerk's Office in downtown Louisville.

"We were told by the manager of the office that she was unable to provide that for us," Blanchard said in an interview Wednesday with WFPL

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Local News
10:00 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Baptist Minister Bojangles Blanchard Arrested After Applying for Marriage License

Credit File photo

 Reverend Maurice "Bojangles" Blanchard was arrested Tuesday evening after applying for a marriage license at Louisville's County Clerk's office. The arrest followed a protest and sit-in Blanchard called the Southern Satyagraha, which happened on West Jefferson Street near the Hall of Justice. 

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat January 19, 2013

Strange Fruit: Fairness in Vicco; Keen Dance Company Founder Returns to Louisville

Vicco, Ky., brought national attention to the state this week by becoming the smallest town in the United States to pass a fairness law. Like many of you (we're guessing), we'd never even heard of Vicco until the news broke. So we invited Fairness Campaign director Chris Hartman to join us this week and tell us more. 

"It's about three and a half hours east," Chris explains, "and several hundred feet up."

Hartman and others from the Fairness Coalition worked directly with Vicco leaders on the law. He said folks in Vicco are what we might call "non-traditional allies" who may not fit our idea of what LGBTQ-rights supporters are.

"But that may just be because we all have some inappropriate stereotypes about what rural Americans are like, about what Appalachian folks are like, and about what people who live in coal country are like," Hartman said.

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat January 12, 2013

Strange Fruit: Top Dog/Underdog Explores Black Masculinity; Who Can Use Gay Slurs?

Brian Lee West and Keith McGill in Top Dog/Underdog

This week the Strange Fruit team got to sit in on a dress rehearsal of a local production of Suzan Lori-Parks' play, Top Dog/Underdog. The play looks at a pair of brothers whose dysfunctional relationship provides a framework for questions about family dynamics and what defines black masculinity.

We spoke with the play's cast, Brian Lee West and Keith McGill, about working on the piece, and how their own lived experiences informed the choices they made on stage. McGill portrays Lincoln, the play's older brother. "When [director] Kathi Ellis first approached me with this play," he explains, "I read it, and I went, 'Oh my god, that's my brother and me.'" 

He says the play mirrors the real relationships between brothers. "Once you're the younger brother you're always the younger brother. Once you're the older brother you're always the older brother, whatever happens. And in certain situations, you go right back to those roles."

West says the play forces you to think about what shapes our self-identities. "How do you define yourself as a black man? Is it how many women you have, is it holding a steady job, is it being able to get it over on The Man and prevailing?"

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat January 5, 2013

Strange Fruit: Django Unchained; Puerto Rican Boxer Orlando Cruz Comes Out

Credit imdb.com

"At the university level, when I teach about sexism and racism, I insert humor into a lot of these things, because you have to point out the absurdity that is a part of racism. Racism, sexism, homophobia—these things are not logical processes of thought. These things are taught and socialized. They're not real."

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Byline
9:17 pm
Fri January 4, 2013

Legislative Preview; Sugar Bowl Victory; 'Insourcing' at GE: Today on Byline

1:06 - WFPL and KPR's Kenny Colston tells us what we can expect from the upcoming legislative session in Kentucky, and Joseph Lord looks back at this week's Sugar Bowl victory by the University of Louisville.

1:16 - Andrea Seabrook and DecodeDC explore the interplay of politics and the media, and how press coverage can feed into the negative, partisan bickering in Washington. Case in point: The Fiscal Cliff.

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Strange Fruit
11:36 am
Sat December 22, 2012

Strange Fruit: Going Home Gay for the Holidays

Transgender model Connie Fleming
Credit Candy Magazine

It's a story we heard several times during WFPL's Defining Fairness series: a young person leaves his or her rural town for college in a bigger city, meets other LGBTQ folks, and comes out! But for some folks, when the holidays roll around and they head home for Christmas... they have to go back into the closet. 

This week we spoke with Dr. Stephanie Budge from UofL, who recently taught a workshop on coping with the holidays as an LGBTQ person. She says while some families do overtly antagonistic things (like using the wrong pronoun for trans folks, or refusing to let their LGBTQ family member bring a partner to holiday functions), what she hears about the most is simply ignoring. A young person might come out as queer to their family only for the response to be silence, and an unwillingness to acknowledge their identity.

Dr. Budge gave us some coping strategies we can all use during moments of holiday stress and family conflict, how to take full advantage of your chosen family's love when your family of origin doesn't support you, and how to tell when things are so bad or unsafe it might be better to skip going home altogether. 

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat December 15, 2012

Strange Fruit: Filmmaker Tiona M on Telling Untold Stories; Louisville Author TeaRon Watkins

A young black lesbian woman waits for the results of her HIV test after having been cheated on by a partner. For the middle-aged, HIV positive gay black man in the waiting room with her, the clinic visit is more routine. These are the two characters in documentary filmmaker Tiona M's latest movie, Bumming Cigarettes

Tiona joined us this week to talk about her work, and how she's been inspired to make the kinds of films she would have benefited from seeing herself, as a young black lesbian growing up in the south.

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