Joseph Cooper

Host Topical Currents

WLRN Radio's Joseph Cooper says producing and hosting Topical Currents is the most rewarding experience of his long radio career, which began at the University of Missouri School of Journalism in the 1970s.

"It's now an obsession, but I never thought talk radio would be in my future. The wide, wide range of topics, research and reading keeps me hustling all week," he says. "It's similar to a daily newspaper column because, essentially, we write an essay to frame each show before conducting the interviews and taking calls and then it all starts over again for the next day's program."

Topical Currents is put together by a small production team, which includes producer Richard Ives and technical director Bonnie Berman. Syndicated food and dining columnist Linda Gassenheimer frequents the program, as well as a handful of expert regular contributors and regional reporters.

Topical Currents is a sub-tropical blend of regional issues and politics, local profiles, author interviews, "At Your Service" programs, South Florida history and any topic listeners might banter about around the proverbial "water cooler." It was first broadcast in January 1999.

Cooper is often asked to name his "favorite" interview subject.

"Hmmmm," he says with the hint of a smile. "Not necessarily the celebrities or famous authors but the one I've just done. Well usually.

Ways to Connect

(10-20-2016, rebroadcast) Topical Currents Food & Dining with resident chef, author and syndicated columnist Linda Gassenheimer.

Linda gives a report of the big industry convention called the Fancy Food Show, a gargantuan event held each year in New York City.

It's where new trends in the food industry are most likely to begin.

(10-19-2016) Today’s Topical Currents is about Bonnie's favorite full-time pastime:  Cats.

If you love kitties as much as she does, don’t miss the nation’s most insightful feline observer, Pam Johnson-Bennet.  Her latest book about them is CATWISE:  America’s Favorite Cat Expert Answers Your Cat Behavior Questions.

You’ll learn her original “think like a cat” approach .

(10-18-2016) Topical Currents is our radio home for history, and Today’s fits the bill . . .

We visit with historian Dr. Paul George of History/Miami, and learn all about South Florida in the decade of . . . the 1950s.

Think “Ike,” post-war housing and air conditioning . . . plus the Interstate, hula-hoops, poodle skirts, and of course, rock ‘n’ roll.

(10-17-2016)  Today is our Topical Currents “Members Only” edition, when hosts Joseph Cooper and Bonnie Berman discuss the benefits of South Florida public radio membership.

We always have a good time chatting with many steadfast members who make our unique radio programs possible.

Lynn Parks Lynn Parks Photography via Miami Herald

(10-13-2016) Today’s Topical Currents is devoted to the South Florida restaurant industry . . . and why some establishments prosper . . . while some with admirable cuisines and service fail.

Chef, author and syndicated columnist Linda Gassenheimer visits with successful restaurateurs Steve Perricone and Chef Michelle Bernstein for a “Restaurant Survival” guide.

Dinner in Minutes:

Onion, Pepepr and Mushroom Pizza

Fred Tasker gives his wine suggestions.


(10-12-2016) Today’s Topical Currents profiles longtime WLRN staffer and folk music buff, Michael Stock.

There are few locally produced radio music programs with a history of some 35 years on the air, but his FOLK AND ACOUSTIC program spins each Sunday with a wide range of authentic music—both recorded and live.

So join us for a program of music and down-home fun with Michael Stock . . . only on  Topical Currents 

(10-11-2016, originally aired 7-27-2016) Most of Florida’s 20-million souls swear they live in the country’s goofiest state.

Forget about it California--the Florida peninsula attracts more nutty folks and ideas. 

Remember, we blew up a Presidential election.  We lead the league in Ponzi schemes, insurance fraud, and “stand-your-ground” gun defenses.

We speak with reporter Craig Pittman about Oh, Florida!:  How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country.

(10/10/2016) With a close Presidential election less than a month away, we visit with Hamline University political science professor, David Schultz. 

We examine the all-important “swing states,” so essential in the Electoral College.

There are ten vital swing states:  as a “purple state,” Florida has the most clout.  It’s voted for the Presidential winners in the past five elections.

(10-04-2016) Today’s image of South Beach is of uninhibited élan, wealthy young tourists . . . fashion models.

Back when, South Beach was decrepit buildings, elderly poor and transients.

But  a part of rebirth was Ocean Drive’s News Café, begun by Mark Soyka in 1988. 

“SoBe” had a root.

We profile the famed restaurateur on Today’s Topical Currents . . . (& learn more about his ventures).

(10-03-2016) Today’s edition of Topical Currents is “At Your Service,” with a focus on South Florida gardening and landscape.

Forget those “up-north” settings of changing leaves and sweater weather . . . fall means the start of the dry season. 

Well, perhaps . . .

And,  it’s a good time to begin growing tomatoes.

We have Florida master gardeners on hand . . . to take your questions.

(9-29-2016) Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop.  Linda Gassenheimer has the touching story of how a City of Miami fireman’s dream came to fruition with a store in Wynwood.

(9-29-2016)   Today’s Topical Currents features Miami civil rights and Coconut Grove pioneer, Thelma Gibson. 

She was a prime participant and witness to the desegregation movement from the 1950’s through the ‘70s.

(9-28-2016) Today’s Topical Currents features one of  Florida’s most beloved, irreverent and prolific Florida writers, Carl Hiassen.

Our state’s scams, stings, swindles, and freak factors give him priceless material for both his novels and Miami Herald columns.

We get his unique take on all things Florida of course, and take listener calls.

He has a new book out, called RAZOR GIRL.

(9-27-2016) A conversation, and listener calls,  with Daniel J. Levitin, author of A Field Guide to Lies: Critical Thinking in the Information Age.

(9-26-2016) Who hasn’t heard a horror story of protracted, emotional and destructive divorce? The battle may leave the lives of children scarred, and a couple in financial ruin.

Today’s Topical Currents looks at a more sensible, less adversarial split-up, with the “collaborative” divorce method.  Florida has adopted laws which help use non-litigated methods, and which may preserve family relationships.