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

(8-15-2016) Today’s Topical Currents chronicles Florida’s worst disaster:  the Hurricane of 1928.  In total, some 7,000 lives were lost, about 2,500 in Florida.

The storm tossed the waters of mammoth Lake Okeechobee into the marshes to the south.  In the aftermath, some 700 African-Americans were buried in a mass grave.

We learn more of the tragedy from reporter and historian Elliott Kleinberg, author of BLACK CLOUD.

(8-9-2016) In the Sunshine State, one would assume solar to be a dominant energy source. 

So why is Florida one of only four U.S. states without distributed consumer solar power?

Today’s Topical Currents reviews the state’s solar issues, including two state Constitutional questions:  Amendments One and Four.  Amendment Four is on the August 30th primary ballot, but Amendment One is slated for November.

We also discuss the latest in solar and “green” technologies.

(8-8-2016) Today's Topical Currents looks at the plight of captive animals, and the growing movement to free or retire them.

We visit with the founder and director of Animal Hero Kids, Susan Hargreaves, as well as activist Wendy King, and Dr. Ian Kupkee of Sabal Chase Animal Clinic in Miami.


Linda Gassenheimer celebrates the world’s tastiest bi-valve:  the oyster.  We’ll learn how they’re harvested—21st century style—and how to best enjoy.


Aug 4, 2016

(08-04-2016) Today’s Topical Currents features the two-way traffic app, WAZE.  It’s a citizen’s connection, which keeps aware of delays, as you drive.  Enter a destination . . . keep it open . . . and know about construction or accidents.  And help others, by pointing out delays.

(08-03-2016) Those who worry a lot have some advantages.  They’re on top of things.  And they aren’t surprised by change.

Today’s Topical Currents is with University of North Carolina medical school psychiatrist, Dr. Reid Wilson.  He’s the author of STOPPING THE NOISE IN YOUR HEAD.

His antidote for worry is counterintuitive:  to embrace it, and say “I actually WANT this feeling.”

(08-02-2016)  Today’s Topical Currents is an inside look at the plight of South Florida’s homeless, and what lifelines are available and effective.

We’ll have observations from experts with 24/7 street-awareness in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade.

Those without homes are at-risk for violence—including hate crimes—disease, and despair.

Homeless outreach contact info:

Miami - 877-994-4957

(08-01-2016) Today’s Topical Currents looks at how to best take advantage of self-directed retirement accounts.

Ten thousand “boomers” leave the work force each day.  Many will experience a dip in their standard of living.

Though many Americans distrust Wall Street, more than half of us have stock market investments.

So, listen for an “At Your Service” edition of Topical Currents. 

(07-28-2016) On today’s Topical Currents we talk about parks and the community.  If you live in Miami-Dade, your Parks Department goes back some 75 years, and still maintains some of the nation’s unique recreation areas.  We’ll visit with Parks Director, Jack Kardys.

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At Your Service - Traffic Control and Planning in FDOT District 4, which includes Broward and Palm Beach Counties, among others. Today's guests are FDOT District 4 Traffic Operations Engineer Mark Plass, and FDOT District 4 Transportation Systems Management and Operations Engineer Melissa Ackert.

With much recent attention on the L-G-B-T community—and violence against it—we discuss past struggles, of the 1970s, when what was termed “gay liberation” began gaining momentum.

This month is the 47th anniversary of the pivotal “Stonewall Riot” of 1969.

On today’s Topical Currents we speak with Connecticut College professor Jim Downs, who’s chronicled events from that decade in his book, “STAND BY ME:  The Forgotten History of Gay Liberation.”

This week’s Food and Dining: What’s New from the Fancy Food Show. Linda talks about new food trends and will bring in her favorite picks for Joe and Bonnie to taste.

Chocolate and booze were two ingredients found in many products.  Sweet and tangy Chocolate Balsamic vinegar was a favorite.  Or, here’s a hot one - sweet and very spicy Orange Hatch Vodka Jamalade (not a misspelling). The hatch pepper is hotter than a habanero one. Linda also liked a maple syrup aged in 12-18 year old bourbon barrels. Fred Tasker gives his wine suggestions.   

Dinner in Minutes:

7-20-2016 - Today’s Topical Currents explores how scientific research and conclusions are often viewed skeptically.

We’ll speak with science advocate, novelist and screen writer Shawn Otto, the author of THE WAR ON SCIENCE:  Who’s Waging It . . . Why It Matters . . .  What We Can Do About It.

How does scientific study become frontline in climate change, public health and economic debates?   

07/19/2016 (Re-broadcast from 01/26/16)  - South Florida’s Coral Gables is among the most historic suburbs in America. Its Mediterranean Style homes and buildings, local stone, the parks, waterways, pools—and the University of Miami campus—make it an iconic “planned city.” On Today’s Topical Currents, we speak with historian Arva Moore Parks about her new, definitive biography of Coral Gables founder George Merrick--the genius behind “The City Beautiful.” The book is “George Merrick, Son of the South Wind: Visionary Creator of Coral Gables.”