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.


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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Local News
3:00 pm
Sat December 8, 2012

Unemployed Homeowners Entitled to Assistance, but Many Don't Know About It

The Unemployment Bridge Program has $149 million in its coffers to help prevent Kentuckians who have lost their jobs from losing their homes as well. Indiana has $222 million in its Hardest Hit Fund for the same purpose. But each state has awarded just a small fraction of the available money, because not many struggling homeowners have heard that help is available.

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat December 8, 2012

Strange Fruit: Kasandra Perkins & Jovan Belcher; Sexual Assault in Communities of Color

Aishah Shahidah Simmons (top left), Gina McCauley (top right), hosts Jaison Gardner & Dr. Kaila Story

It's been one week since Kansas City Chiefs player Jovan Belcher shocked the football world by shooting his girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, then himself. In the intervening seven days, people have tried to make sense of his actions in different ways. Could he have suffered concussions during his time on the field, which made him prone to violence and poor impulse control? Some outlets speculated Belcher was angry at Perkins for various reasons. ESPN was criticized for airing a graphic in tribute to Belcher.

To try to make some sense of the story and resulting coverage, we called Gina McCauley, who blogs at What About Our Daughters. McCauley says all the speculation about the causes of last Saturday's events is offensive, and an avoidance tactic. "Why are we going out of our way to ignore the fact that the reason this woman was murdered is because of misogyny and sexism?" she asks. "She was murdered because he wanted to control her in some way. He couldn't, so he killed her."

Her post on the murder cites the CDC statistic that black women ages 25-29 are about 11 times more likely than white women in that age group to be murdered while pregnant, or within one year of giving birth. She had a lot to share with us about the disparity in those numbers and why the media doesn't talk about it in cases like this.

We also spoke this week with documentary filmmaker Aishah Shahidah Simmons, who directed "No! The Rape Documentary." In the film she examines sexual assault in communities of color, and unique issues surrounding survivors within our community. 

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Arts and Humanities
7:37 pm
Fri December 7, 2012

Kentucky Trumpeters Make Hollywood Debut in 'Lincoln'

"A half day of shooting for ten seconds of scene." That's how a member of the Kentucky Baroque Trumpets described his experience on the set of Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln.

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Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat December 1, 2012

Strange Fruit: A Black, Queer, Feminist View of Porn; AP Stylebook Nixes Word "Homophobia"

Pornography has long been a divisive topic among feminists. From Second Wavers who ended up in unlikely anti-porn alliances with conservatives in the 1980s to today's Third Wave feminists who call themselves sex- (and porn-) positive. But no matter whether you feel that porn is de facto exploitation, a liberating sexual tool, or somewhere in between, there's no denying that lots of porn is misogynistic, racist, classist, able-ist, and just about any other -ist you could name. 

Earlier this month, the New York Times hosted an essay debate called, "Should Porn Come Out of the Closet?" One of the respondents was Dr. Mireille Miller-Young, an associate professor of Women's Studies at University of California, Santa Barbara who's been researching the porn industry for a decade. She writes that performing in adult movies can be empowering to the women on screen, and that the typical argument against porn "ignores the diverse ways that women actually interact with it." We wanted to hear more about her work—and how her identity as an African-American, queer feminist shaped her opinion and research—so we speak with Dr. Miller-Young on this week's show.

Also this week, the AP updated its Stylebook to discourage use of the word "homophobia" in political and social contexts. Phobia, the reasoning goes, is a psychological term meaning an irrational, uncontrollable fear, often appearing as a symptom of an anxiety disorder. So to call an anti-LGBTQ remark homophobic may not be strictly accurate. Since the AP Stylebook is rightly-called "the journalist's bible," this move could have far-reaching effects on how LGBTQ issues are covered in the media.

Not everyone is happy about the change, especially since the AP apparently made the call without consulting any actual LGBTQ organizations or media outlets. It was just our luck we we scheduled to speak this week with a psychologist who specializes in anxiety disorders! Dr. Kevin Chapman is the director of the Center for Mental Health Disparities at UofL, and he joined us to talk about how anxiety tends to affect African-Americans differently than other population groups. While we had him in the studio, we asked him to explain what a phobia really is, and whether the AP was right in calling for the change.

Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat November 24, 2012

Strange Fruit: Racial Divisions & the Transgender Day of Remembrance; Being Black, Gay & Christian

Credit GLAAD

"I've been talking about this since 1998, and we still aren't any closer to having integrated LGBT organizations. I don't want the rest of this decade to drag along. We can't afford it anymore. We can't afford it anymore. Our people are getting slaughtered."

Those are the strong words we heard this week from TransGriot blogger Monica Roberts, an African-American transwoman who once called Louisville home. We called Monica for an impromptu interview for this week's show, and she was gracious enough to make some last-minute time for us. We were trying to make some sense out of Jai and Doc's experience at Sunday night's Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR) ceremony in Louisville.

Every year on the TDOR, we honor transpeople around the world who have been killed during the preceding year due to transphobia (of hate crimes against LGBTQ folks, transgender and people of color are disproportionately at risk). This year, 265 names were read as part of the ceremony—each the name of a lost brother or sister. Around 70% of those victims were black or brown people. Every single one of the 13 victims from the United States this year was African American or Latina.

But the Louisville TDOR was strikingly white. This phenomenon encompassed organizers, participants, and the audience—wherein the three people of color were all cisgendered, and two of them were Jai and Doc. Monica talked to us about the pervasiveness of segregation within trans activism and how the solution could lie in more trans people of color in leadership positions throughout LGBTQ organizations.

Later in the show we bring you the second part of our conversation with writer and activist Darnell Moore. This week we talk about being black, gay, and Christian. "I remember this evangelist saying she would rather her son be addicted to drugs than to be—she didn't use the word, she just did the broken-wrist type of gesture—than to be gay," he says. "I was mortified."  

But he reminds us that the black church is not a monolith, and there are also LGBTQ-affirming spaces within black Christianity. "I got to a point where I said if it means that my truth, the true person that I know myself to be, is something that will lead me to quote-unquote hell, then I would rather go to hell [...] for living in my truth than to go to heaven and live in a lie."

Strange Fruit
10:00 am
Sat November 17, 2012

Strange Fruit: Yolo Akili, Darnell Moore, Gay Men and Sexism

He's a poet, activist, counselor, wellness consultant, performance artist, and more. But this week, what got our attention about Yolo Akili was his article, Gay Men's Sexism and Women's Bodies. In it, he talks about incidents of gay men giving unsolicited advice about (and sometimes nonconsensually touching) women's bodies, and why it's often seen as more acceptable behavior in gay men than it would be in their straight brothers. We've talked before about how being gay doesn't give you a free pass to be racist; Yolo reminds us that it also doesn't give you carte blanche to make sexist comments or treat women's bodies like public property.

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Arts and Humanities
8:00 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

A Christmas Story's Jessica Wortham Tackles Perennial Holiday Question: "How Does a Piggy Eat?"

The holiday season is a time when our thoughts turn to how thankful we are for family and friends, peace and goodwill, and the Official Red Ryder Carbine Action Two Hundred Shot Range Model Air Rifle (with a compass and this thing that tells time built right into the stock).

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