Author Archives | aab2198

New York Church Helps Ex-Convicts Find Jobs

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

HOST INTRO: Another way to help former inmates re-enter society is through religious groups. Re-entering society after imprisonment can be difficult on the former inmate and his or her family. Amber Binion visited Riverside Memorial Church where religious organizations met to discuss the most effective ways to help ex-convicts find jobs.

Posted in City Life, Culture0 Comments

News at the Half-Hour

Listen to the full piece

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Amber Binion reports on the national and international news of the day.

Posted in Newscasts0 Comments

New York’s Hippest House of Worship

Listen to the full piece

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

HOST: Among the things New York City is known for is being, well, a little impersonal. Many people are looking for a place where they belong, while others have found a home in a church. Amber Binion visited a fast gorwing church that is drawing a young and diverse crowd.

It’s a Sunday afternoon in April and at the corner of 52nd and Broadway, there’s a line wrapped around the block.

Nat Sound:

Me: What are you guys in line for?

People in line: Hillsong

(Street noise remains under narration)

They’re waiting for the 5pm service at Hillsong Church. On this Sunday there are just three services. Most Sundays they have as many as seven services. Yes, seven, and yes, they’re all packed. The people in this line look hip.


They’re young, well dressed. They’d fit into any of the city’s hottest neighborhoods. It’s just that here, they’re also carrying Bibles, traditional ones and the ones on their smart phones and tablets. It’s like church 2.0. Oh, and this isn’t a typical church, the service is at the Roseland Ballroom.

The line begins to move and a row of people welcome worshippers.

Natural Sound:

Greeters: Welcome to church…welcome to church.

(Ambient church noise remains very low under narration)

Since Hillsong’s first service in New York City two years ago, they have grown to more than 3000 members. And its still growing. Besides their Sunday services, they have about four others during the week. It’s a branch of a larger church in Sydney, Australia, and there are Hillsong churches in other big cities. This is the first in the US. Hillsong NYC doesn’t have a permanent location, so parishioners follow the church to venues like Irving Plaza, Gramercy Theater, a Lutheran church downtown, and today, the Roseland Ballroom.

Rock Music fades in…goes under narration

The ballroom fills quickly. After only a few minutes, all the seats are taken and it’s standing room only. The rock venue suits the vibe as the church band, Hillsong United, takes the stage.

Music comes up and fades down

Everyone stands, some with their eyes closed and hands raised in worship.

Ambient (applause)

The band finishes its song and a good-looking young man with a slicked back mohawk wearing black skinny jeans, and a fitted blazer walks on stage. It’s the senior pastor, Carl Lentz.

Natural Sound: Pastor Carl

If you came here tonight to have a church service, you can have that, but if you came here to meet with Jesus and have your life changed, that’s exactly what’s about to happen. So I’m going to ask you to stretch your faith out and pray with me because we believe that our God is going to great things (Fades down)

McClain: I feel like all the cool people in New York go to Hillsong.

Briyyah McClain is 23 and has been attending Hillsong for about eight months. She didn’t grow up going to church and when she did attend, she felt like she didn’t fit in, until now.

McClain: I feel like they accept everyone. Other churches might be intimidating, slash, boring. Some places you go, you feel like you have to be a certain type of person to attend church. It’s not like that here.

Freeman: I was like wow, this is a weird, weird place. But something about it makes me want to keep coming back.

Melvin Freeman is a 24-year-old business analyst. He joined the church over a year ago.

Freeman: I really just like the atmosphere. It’s the pretty much the polar opposite of everything else in New York. You pass thousands of people in New York City and nobody makes eye contact. Yet you go in this one place where you can’t walk by without them smiling and saying hello.

That friendliness is a characteristic of many large churches. Reverend Melvin McMickle is the president of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School in Rochester, New York. He counts Hillsong as a megachurch. That’s church with more than 2000 members. He says there are certain qualities to megachurches. Let’s go through them.

McMickle: There is usually a young energetic, charismatic visionary of a leader that is offering a sense of congregational life that is very different from what people have experienced in the past.

That sounds like Pastor Carl.

McMickle: There may be high tempo worship as opposed to traditional hymns.

Yep, that’s Hillsong United.

Music Fades up

McMickle: They may be located in a setting that is more inviting than an old fashion sanctuary.

Check. Roseland Ballroom is not your typical place of worship.

McMickle: Folks who are looking for something new may be drawn to that.

Megachurches aren’t new. There are a few that have been around since the 1930s, primarily African-American churches in the south. But today, there are over 1,300 megachurches in the United States. Rev. McMickle says large churches usually teach and preach on day-to-day spirituality and not religious doctrine, which is part why young people are drawn to them.

McMickle: Your generation wants a worship experience that reflects life as you know it for the rest of the week. It’s not out of step with your pace or rhythm. It speaks to the experience that you face everyday.

And when you see Pastor Carl talking to the congregation, he recognizes that they could be anywhere else in the city but they decided to be there in the presence of God for a higher purpose.

Natural Sound Pastor Carl

There’s a difference between singing and worshiping. You can go to a concert and sing along. You can go to a Christian karaoke deal and sing some words that feel good, but when you come to a church like this it’s a important that you realizes were worshipping a supernatural God. (fades)

That’s the message Tom Liden receives. At 52, he’s a bit older than a lot of people at Hillsong but he’s passionate about his closer relationship with God since coming to services.

Liden: The raw honesty. The lack of pretense. The fervent fire to seek God. You can feel it. I’m impressed with the preaching and the fact that young people are drawn to the gospel.

Whether it’s challenging their spirituality or the welcoming sense of community, people keep coming back and Hillsong keeps growing. Amber Binion, Columbia Radio News.

Posted in City Life0 Comments

Latest Developments In The Boston Bombings

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Amber Binion updates us on the latest developments in Boston at the top of today’s show.

Posted in The Globe0 Comments

Latest From Boston: Few Changes As Manhunt Continues

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Amber Binion gives the latest updates from Boston, including the police request to keep Dunkin’ Donuts running despite the lockdown.

Posted in The Globe0 Comments

New Bill Protects Genetically Modified Food Companies From Lawsuits

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


President Obama signed a continuing spending bill this week. One of the provisions protects companies that produce genetically modified seeds from being sued, even if they become a public health risk in the future. Amber Binion reports.

Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are plants that have been altered genetically to resist herbicides and pests. They also can be fortified to include nutrients like iron and vitamin A. It produces more sustainable food with fewer resources. More resistant plants allow farmers’ to do less work and harvest more crops. Alan McHughen, a plant biotechnologist at the University of California, Riverside. He says the law is designed to let big and small biotech companies recoup their investments. He is explains why the provision is beneficial.


Farmers are business people. They have to make business decisions about what kind of crops they’re going to grow. And one of the factors that come into that decision making process is whether the seeds they buy will produce a harvest of seeds they can sell. There’s some anxiety in the farming community that lawsuits against certain crop varieties may interfere with their ability to harvest and sell the crop.

Supporters call it the Farmers Assurance Provision. It bars the federal court from stopping the sale of genetically modified crops and allows agriculture companies to sell what they’ve made. The most common GMOs on American farms are corn, soybeans, cotton, and canola. In other words, these are the most profitable crops. That means there’s a lot of money at stake. Opponents say it’s large companies that are more likely to benefit from the law, specifically bio-tech giant Monsanto. At a farmers market on the Upper Westside, anti-GMO advocates call it the Monsanto Protection Act.


Why should the largest company, food-processing company, in the world be protected by the government? The small farmers and the individuals need to be protected by the government.

Houghman is the regional coordinator for Greenmarket in northern Manhattan. She sells locally grown and GMO-free vegetables. She thinks there isn’t enough scientific research on the long-term effects of genetically modified food.


Well, we just don’t know. It might not be anything real serious. It might be something that shows up in a generation maybe, 2 generations. We just don’t know. And the potential for it to get out of control is huge.

Michael Lapone, a farmer’s market vendor for Hawthorne Valley Farm is just plain uncomfortable with the idea of GMOs.


Children should not play with fire. And playing with genetic engineering is playing with fire and they don’t know the outcomes. They haven’t done the research.

But they have done the research says the plant biotechnologist, Alan McHughen


Some people who don’t have any scientific background are suggesting that there are harms. But the US National Academy of Sciences has conducted numerous safety tests on these genetically modified crops and foods over the years and every time they say there are just as safe as conventionally produced foods and crops.

One thing both anti-GMO and pro-GMO advocates can agree on is the proper labeling of food products. McHughen says all foods need to have labels based on their content, for nutritional reasons. Food advocate groups are now petitioning for the government to label genetically modified food for consumers. Amber Binion, Columbia Radio News.

Posted in Science and Tech, Uncategorized0 Comments

U.S. Food Aid Has New Starting Point

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

The Obama administration plans to change the way the United States sends food aid internationally. Instead of buying food from U.S. farmers and shipping it overseas, the administration says it will be more efficient to buy and distribute food grown locally in the countries that need it. Those lobbying against the change say this will hurt U.S. farmers. Gawain Kripke is the director of policy and research for Oxfam. He says the the bill brings a necessary change.

Posted in Interviews, Science and Tech0 Comments

Awkward, Awkward Love

HOST INTRO: We’ve all had our share of unrequited love and dating awkwardness. There was a moment when commentator Amber Binion thought all that was over.

I’ve never been good at dating. One time a guy broke up with me while I was
laughing hysterically at my favorite cartoon. He just looked over and said, “I don’
t think this is going to work.” Another time, I got a threatening call from a girl
who said she was the girlfriend of a guy I had been going out with. Actually that
happened twice. It’s been a struggle.

There was this guy in high school that I had a huge crush on. He was tall and lean
with movie star good looks and was a couple of years older than me. Imagine my
excitement when I ran into him at a bar. Now he worked as an elementary school
teacher. How dreamy, he cared about educating young minds and stuff like that. I
just knew seeing him again was a sign.

He came up to me smiling, “Amber!” he said.

He remembered me! This was perfect. We talked about high school. We talked about
our life goals. We talked for hours. All in this crowded loud bar. He must really like
me, I thought. He even introduced himself to my two girlfriends. Who of course, gave
me thumbs up and silly winks to show their approval when he wasn’t looking. One
of my friends even pulled me to the side and joked that I found my next boyfriend.

The night was winding down, and he walked up to me at the bar. He looked over
with a shy grin and asked, “Do you have a boyfriend?”

This is it! I thought. The heavens opened, a divine light shined on me, and a choir of
angels sang. I stayed calm; I flipped my hair and smiled coyly. “No.”

“Good,” he said. “Because my roommate thinks you’re cute.”

My jaw dropped, the singing angels came to a screeching halt. He gestured to his
roommate standing in the corner who smiled and waved awkwardly. I just said, “Uh,
I’m fine.” And slowly backed away. I grabbed my friends and high tailed it out of

In the words of the great philosopher, Albus Dumbledore, “Oh to be young and feel
love’s keen sting.”

I haven’t seen him since. But of course my friends love to remind me. “Amber,
remember that time you thought you were in love for 5 seconds?” Yeah… I do.
Thanks, guys.

Posted in Commentaries0 Comments

This Is Your Seafood On Drugs

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Traces of pharmaceuticals in waterways may change the behavior of fish. That’s the
conclusion Swedish scientists reached in a recent study. But scientists admit they
don’t know a whole lot more than that. Amber Binion reports.

It’s more than just fish that act funny. The Swedish study, published in Science
Magazine in February, found that the perch exposed to the anxiety drug, Oxazepam,
no longer stick with their school. Instead, they venture out by themselves. The
scientists speculate that the fish are braver because the drugs make them calmer.
Dana Kolpin, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey says that could
lead to a shift in the ecosystem.

ACT: Those kind of behavioral effects, even though they’re subtle, they
ultimately could have consequences to the organism’s ability to reproduce
and maintain their population levels.

Drugs enter waterways when medicines go undigested by humans or leftover
drugs are flushed down the toilet. Scientists have been studying pharmaceuticals
in waterways since the 1970s. A few years ago researchers from the US Geological
survey sampled streams near sewage plants that flow into the Hudson River for
pharmaceutical compounds. They found that concentrations, which included
painkillers like methadone and oxycodone, were less than 1 microgram per liter.
Doesn’t sound too dangerous, right? But USGS’s Dana Kolpin says researchers don’t
know the long-term effects of low-level exposure to these medicines for fish or any
other thing.

ACT: The real unknown is there human consequences. If we’re drinking
water with low-level of pharmaceuticals, is that something we need to be
concerned about or not?

Kolpin says there’s no good answer to that.

ACT: Certainly we should be aware. We still don’t know the consequences.
But I think we should put more research to see if there is more potential
human consequences.

But leading environmental groups haven’t been doing that research. Take
Riverkeeper, for example, which monitors the Hudson and other New York
waterways. Tracy Brown, their water quality advocate says for now the organization
is more concerned about other contaminants in water.

ACT: We have such a big problem already on our hands with dumping
untreated sewage. Because we haven’t seen evidence of acute impacts on our
wildlife, at this point its not one of our priorities.

Even if scientists concluded that there was a lot of contamination, Kolpin says it
would be difficult to keep it out.

ACT: There’s a lot of research looking into the various treatment
technologies to see which ones are better at moving certain compounds than
others. All these treatment technologies come with a cost. You’re talking
about multiple millions of dollars and when you do upgrade, they tend to be
more energy hungry.

For now, there is one a way to minimize to the problem. That’s to make sure people
dispose of drugs properly and not flush them down the toilet. In 2008, the New York
Department of Environmental Conservation began a campaign to accept unwanted
drugs in disposable bins at community pharmacies. But here in New York City,
it’s not so easy to find those bins. At a chain pharmacy on the upper west side of
Manhattan, employees weren’t even sure what they were.

ACT: Me: Excuse me do you have a drug disposal bin here?
Pharmacy Asst: No we don’t.
Me: Did you ever have one?
Pharmacy Asst. No.
Me: Do you know where I can find one?
Pharmacy Asst: Mmmm. No.

Instructions for safe disposal are posted in New York pharmacies. Dana Kolpin
of the USGS says the problem might be solved with greener and more degradable
pharmaceutical options. Amber Binion, Columbia Radio News.

Posted in Science and Tech0 Comments

Gluten-Free Doesn’t Always Mean Healthy

Listen to the full piece: 

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

It’s the latest dieters’ fad—gluten-free food. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, oats, rye and barley. The sale of gluten-free products is booming. But as Amber Binion reports, these gluten-free options may not always add up to a healthy diet.

Morton’s Supermarket on the Upper West Side isn’t a dieter’s paradise.

“Excuse me. Do you have gluten-free around here? A gluten-free section?”

Graduate student Luisa Navarro was diagnosed with gluten intolerance three years ago by her doctor. She sometimes has trouble finding gluten-free options.

“Yeah, if I’m at a grocery like this I definitely have to search for the gluten-free. Here’s the gluten-free bread! It’s really good gluten-free bread,” says Navarro.

Food retailers are capitalizing on the gluten-free craze. Gluten-free food sales surpassed $12 billion in 2012 and are expected to reach $15 billion by 2015. Navarro says she misses her favorite foods.

“This brownie, Oh man. I used to love brownies. The ingredients are water, evaporated cane juice, non alcholized cocoa powder, soy flour—there we go. Flour. So the minute it has flour. Nothing. See, I can’t do that,” Navarro says.

More Americans are gluten sensitive today than ever before. Scientist suggests this is because there are more processed wheat products with higher levels of gluten. Avoiding these products was once reserved for sufferers of celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder that makes gluten toxic to the digestive system. It’s a condition that affects about two million Americans.

“There’s an imbalance in the immune system that causes it to attack it’s on tissue.”

Andrew Amigo owns a holistic health company called Fast Healing.

“It seems like that gluten does a couple of things, one it causes the immune system to flare itself up. What happens is, when you have these flare-ups, it increases your systems and gluten causes a lot of tissue inflammation,” Amigo says. 

Navarro explains how it feels in her own body: “When I have gluten I get absolutely exhausted. I might get sick to my stomach. I might get a migraine and I feel like I can’t move.”

The fad has spread beyond people with medical conditions like Navarro’s, and there is a cyber community of gluten-free advocates. Ellen Allard is a holistic health coach who runs a blog called “Gluten Free Diva”. She has celiac disease but recommends being gluten-free for everyone.

“I think people need to start trusting their bodies more and really listening to their signals and not always trusting doctors. I love my doctor but I also think people should listen to their bodies. Why not try gluten-free? There’s no downside to it,” Allard says. 

But there may be a downside for dieters who aren’t paying attention to ingredients. Food producers are now making gluten-free junk food that can be just as fattening as processed gluten products.

“So if the food is gluten-free, it doesn’t mean that its healthy. You got to read the other labels and see what the contents are in the other foods as well. It still can be high in sugar; it could be high in fats, fast fats. It depends on the other ingredients,” Amigo says. 

Many nutritionists think that gluten-free diets are a trend and will eventually be reserved for people with celiac once again. Right now, however, food retailers are taking advantage of America’s diet fascination.

Posted in City Life, Health0 Comments