Sammy Mack

Reporter

Public radio. Public health. Public policy.

Most days, Mack covers health care policy for WLRN – Miami Herald News. Her health care journalism is supported by a fellowship with the Kaiser Health News and NPR Health Care Reporting in the States project.

Like most folks who've worked at a member station, she's worn a lot of hats: interim digital editor during the re-launch of WLRN.org, assistant producer for The Florida Roundup, morning news producer, intern coordinator, party planner. She was one half of the StateImpact Florida education reporting team. 

Her stories have appeared on NPR, Monocle 24, the Miami Herald, Global Health, Health News Florida, Gambit Weekly, MAP Magazine, Gulfshore Life, Philadelphia Weekly, the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times) and other outlets.

Mack’s work has been honored with A Green Eyeshade Award for Investigative Journalism, and Florida AP Broadcaster and SPJ Sunshine State awards. She’s collaborated on projects that have won a Third Coast International Audio Festival bronze award, an Emmy, regional Edward R. Murrow awards, a Wilbur Award and a Dart Award. Mack was a writing fellow during the 2008 Poynter Summer Fellowship for Young Journalists.

She was recognized by her colleagues as the 2011 Herald Top Chef. She’s happy to share her recipe for garam masala macarons with lemongrass filling.

Ways to Connect

When Richard Blanco takes the stage Monday at President Barack Obama's second inauguration, the poetry community of South Florida will be paying especially close attention.

Blanco was born to Cuban parents in Spain. The family immigrated to the United States and settled in Miami when Blanco was a toddler. He trained to be a civil engineer but a class at Florida International University later launched his poetry career.

Blanco's poetry is full of images from a childhood in South Florida and a Cuban-American household. 

All this week, we're bringing you stories from the Key West Literary Seminar which runs through this weekend. Shayne Benowitz originally posted this piece on the KWLS blog.

alextorrenegra / flickr

Here at WLRN, we're big fans of interactive storytelling

Marzena Pogorzaly / geoffdyer.com

Welcome to the Key West Literary Seminar edition of Tweet Us A Story

Starting at 5:00, we'll be writing a story with KWLS author Geoff Dyer.

Dyer has graciously given us the first line of a tale. It's up to you to help us finish it.

You can join in on the storytelling in the space below. Check out the rules at the bottom of the page.

Alicia Zuckerman / WLRN

Here at WLRN, we are acknowledging one of the secret, insider joys of Art Basel week: the people-watching.

Yes, the art is the core of Basel and the satellite fairs. But the real showcase happens when you inject a mix of international artists, collectors and dealers with our usual mélange of tourists, club kids and local aesthetes.

Only in Miami. Only this week.

Which is why we are asking you to help us document it. While you’re out looking at the people art, send us your favorite only-in-Miami-during-Basel images:

duron123 / freedigitalphotos.net

Earlier this week, we asked you to help us tell a story—140 characters at a time—in honor of Miami Book Fair International.

We tweeted out the first line, given to us by Pulitzer-winning author Junot Díaz: “The dogs hadn’t barked all week.”

Broward County Supervisor of Elections / charlesvaz.jalbum.net/SOE-2011-New-Pictures/

Broward County is still tallying up votes in two recounts from last week’s election.  

In Dania Beach's close commission race, Chickie Brandimartie leads Mac McElyea by just 16 votes out of more than 4,000. In Hallandale Beach, it's even closer with Anthony Sanders leading Michele Lazarow by just 6 votes out of more than 7,000.

And the Sun-Sentinel reports that nearly a thousand uncounted ballots were discovered in a Broward warehouse on Monday.

flgov.com

Florida is considering its options while refusing to implement the Affordable Care Act.

Governor Rick Scott has been a harsh critic of the health care reform law. Under Scott’s administration, Florida lead the Supreme Court case against it.

But the Supreme Court upheld most of the Affordable Care Act and last week, Florida voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have banned the individual mandate. That leaves Scott in a tough spot for someone who would rather not implement the law.

Sammy Mack / WLRN

Here at WLRN, we get excited about book fairs the way some people get excited about Fourth of July parades or Christmas pageants.

So this week, as the Miami Book Fair International descends upon our region and makes South Florida the center of the literary universe, we’re doing something special.  We want you to help us tweet a story.

Doug Hanks

Tuesday may have been the second time Barack Obama won a presidential race, but Election Day was a day of many firsts here in South Florida.

We spoke to several first-time voters who were at the polls Tuesday. Some of the first-timers were young adults, finally old enough to vote in their first presidential election. Other voters were new American citizens.

Check out this slide show of first-time voter stories.

From South Florida's Polls To The Election Results: Get The Latest Here

Nov 7, 2012
Dan Grech

8:27 Ballot Measure and Big Races

Here are some things that happened at the top and bottom of the ballot last night.

First, 8 of the 11 ballot measures failed this year.

Only three of these ballot measures passed:

Chris Vicente on flickr

Miami is a finalist for Super Bowls in 2016 an 2017. Only problem: There are other finalists - San Francisco and Houston - and each has a younger, better-looking and better-equipped stadium. The possibility of hosting the big game, the Miami Herald reports today, may put some steam behind a drive for taxpayer-funded renovations to Sun Life Stadium.

The Miami Herald's Jay Weaver raises the curtain on a federal trial opening today. Allegations: Mobsters recruited sexy Eastern European women to separate men from their money at a series of Miami Beach clubs.

Reports that anti-Castro blogger Yoani Sanchez was arrested on her way to report on a sensitive manslaughter trial continue to come from secondary sources with no confirmation from the Cuban government. Supposedly, her husband and another blogger are also in custody.

The Consul

Oct 1, 2012
Kevin McGurgan

There is a loud explosion as the roof is torn off. In my two years in Florida, this is the first time I have felt cold.

 

 

Every morning at 10:00 a.m., congestive heart failure patient Marilyn Yeats of Naples conducts her own health checkup with the help of a computer.

Call it a virtual visit. She uses a home health guide to send her vitals to her nurse in Tampa Bay via the internet.

“This program is having your own private nurse,” says Yeats.

One Tough Little Girl

Aug 1, 2012
Luc Cohen

For Susan Holtzman, the really terrifying parts of Hurricane Andrew didn’t begin until the day after the storm.  Susan was nine months pregnant at Baptist Hospital in Kendall.  It was the day before she was due to give birth.

She compares what she saw to a movie:

A network of Florida facilities that supports people with disabilities will lose nearly $1.6 million this year – just as the social services provided by the network are needed most.

Last year, Florida legislators passed a bill privatizing the state’s Medicaid program, moving recipients into managed care plans – a model patterned on a pilot program that’s been running in five counties since 2006.

The statewide change still needs federal approval – and for one family already living in a pilot county, it’s a troubling prospect.

Sammy Mack

Fifty years ago, developers dreamed of turning a collection of isolated islands in the middle of Biscayne Bay into a resort destination. This year, the dream of Islandia quietly died.  The Miami-Dade County Commission stripped Islandia’s status as a city. In essence, they voted Islandia out of existence.

The city of Islandia is on Elliot Key. It was never populated by more than a hundred people.  Now the only people who live in Islandia are park rangers.

Patrick Meyers / Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Studies

Have you ever seen a green flash? It is said to happen as the sun dips below the horizon, creating an elusive green light that appears in the sky for a fleeting moment and then disappears. Many people believe the green flash is a myth, repeated for the benefit of tourists. Others swear by its existence. So is it real? If so, what causes it? Under the Sun reporter Sammy Mack – a skeptic when it comes to the green flash – headed to Key West to investigate this phenomenon.

No Simple Answer To Bullying In South Florida

Jun 9, 2011
Arvind Balaraman / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Bullying is not a new phenomenon. It has been around for decades, but schools across South Florida are reporting that the frequency and severity of the incidents are getting worse. In the past year alone, a West Palm Beach student was attacked in math class and a Deerfield Beach middle school student slipped into a comma after being kicked in the head.

Growing Up With HIV

May 29, 2011
digitalart / freedigitalphotos.net

At age 21, Jeff has legs like broomsticks under his nylon basketball shorts and his cheeks are hollow. Sitting at a table outside the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with two friends of about the same age, he looks young and fragile.

Jeff doesn't like telling people what's wrong. He doesn't like what they say when they learn he was born HIV-positive.

"They say, 'Oh boy, you gonna die,' " says Jeff, who doesn't want his last name used. "They call it 'die-slow,' you got that 'die-slow.' "

Sammy Mack

Journalist Frank Deford spends every winter in Key West with his wife. They rent a house, take long walks and breathe in the island air. Under the Sun producer Sammy Mack listens to Deford marvel at the view from his front porch, a relic of a bygone era. He loves the lushness of the island, so green and beautiful. To him, Key West is soft and peaceful. But above all, it is a warm escape.

National Park Service

Inspired by the peerless film Sahara (starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz), listener Michael Laas wondered about the treasure hunting possibilities in Biscayne Bay.   He submitted his question to us.

There are forty known shipwrecks in Biscayne Bay and hundreds more in the Keys.   Under the Sun producer,  Sammy Mack,  found out more about what lies beneath these attractive, but dangerous waters.

Teens Buddy Up With Quake Survivors

Jan 11, 2011
James Celestin and Michel Philco

After January’s massive earthquake, thousands of Haitians fled to the United States. More than 2,500 of them were school-aged kids who were quickly placed in classrooms across South Florida.

The new students were suddenly immersed in a foreign language, culture, and school system.  It could have been a bewildering experience.  But at Boyd Anderson High School in Lauderdale Lakes, the Haitian students who lived in South Florida before the quake took the recent arrivals under their wings.

Docs In Haiti

Jul 12, 2010
Dr. Dave Pitcher

Hundreds of medical professionals rushed to Haiti after the quake, working in miserable conditions to save lives, practicing what some called “Civil War medicine.”  Many still return to lend a hand, among them scores of Haitian-American nurses, doctors, and social workers from South Florida.

After The Quake: Patients And Healers

Jul 12, 2010
Dr. Dave Pitcher

This piece reconstructs an inspiring moment amid tragedy and pain, at a makeshift hospital tent in Port-au-Prince. In it, four medical professionals from South Florida recount their experience landing in Haiti after the Jan. 12 earthquake, and struggling to meet a desperate need for medical help.

One describes the situation as “a war zone.” Another describes a feeling of worthlessness, given the scale of the catastrophe.

Under the Sun listeners were introduced to students James Celestin and Michel Philco from Boyd Anderson High in our “Teens Buddy up with Quake Survivors” story.

Hurricane, I Mean Earthquake

May 13, 2010

Have you heard anyone slip up and say “the hurricane in Haiti,” when they meant to say “the earthquake”?  Hurricanes and earthquakes are both disasters, but could these words become interchangeable?

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