Bob Barrett

Host/Producer, The Best Of Our Knowledge

Bob has been a part of the WAMC family since 2001.  He currently produces and hosts National Production's The Best Of Our Knowledge.  Over the years, Bob has produced The Environment Show and The Health Show for National Productions and hosted weekend mornings on WAMC for a decade. He is currently a reporter and on air host at WUWF Public Radio at the University of West Florida in Pensacola. 

Ways to Connect

We’ve heard many times that the key to getting out of poverty is education.  But schools cost money…something that is in short supply in the most impoverished areas of the world.  That’s a problem that Jim Ziolkowski has spent the last 20 years trying to solve. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the beginnings of the non-profit called buildOn that is helping the poorest around the world find education…including here in the US.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with smokers and their families.

We’ve been searching for the origins of life for quite some time now…well, at least we have on this program.  Now, in order to get a better understanding of where that origin might me, there is work being done study the make-up…and origins…of planets.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astro-biology series returns with a look at the building blocks of planets…and the clues they hold about the building blocks of life.

We’ll also spend an academic minute confirming that if you have arms and legs, it’s a pretty good idea to live on land.

One hundred years after his inauguration, Woodrow Wilson still stands as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, and one of the most enigmatic. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from the author of one of the most complete biographies of the man who, among other things, led the US through World War One.

Then we’ll spend an academic minute finding out that size really does matter.

Remember the story of Johnny Appleseed...the man who legend says roaming the country planting his seeds wherever he went?  Well, Janisse Ray isn’t roaming the country planting seeds; she’s touring colleges and universities talking about the importance of saving different varieties of seeds before they are lost forever. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from Janisse about The Seed Underground.

There’s an awful lot of money involved in higher education…and that’s not even going into the cost of attending college for a student.  More and more, universities and colleges are becoming some of the leading economic drivers of their communities. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll find out the financial impact of college.

We’ll also hear about the latest apps for the classroom, and spend an academic minute with the question: “What’s the deal with hot lava?”

Believe it or not, some, if not most schools across the country have entire departments dedicated to nothing but playing games.  These games are called sports…and they seem to be pretty popular.  But seriously now…

As we begin another college and professional football season, there is still a lot of talk about how to rid the sports world of performance enhancing drugs.  All of the college and major sports leagues in the US have drug testing programs…but how exactly do those programs work?

Where can you find the smartest kids in the world? It’s not an easy question.  It’s probably not even a fair question.  But it’s a question that one journalist and author sought to answer by following three US students as they studied in countries with some of the best education outcomes in the world. Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, the search for the smartest kids in the world.

When searching for the origins of life on earth you’re going to need a few basic things in your toolbox.  One is patience.  Another is an understanding of the chemical make-up of life.

Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astro-biology series returns with a look at the chemical make-up of Earth…and how it compares to the earth of a few billion years ago.

We’ll also spend an academic minute with the really nasty chemistry that goes on the in box jelly fish near the Hawaiian Islands.

There’s an awful lot of learning and training going on in colleges and universities across the US, but according to a new book…not a lot of thinking.  Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear why some people in education are saying “why teach”.  We’ll also hear from the mother of a 14 year old literal genius…who was never expected to be able to tie his own shoes.  And spend an academic minute imaging an emotional brain.

As we get ready for the new school year, a lot of students are making plans for life after high school.  For the majority of those students that means trying to get into the college of their choice…and that means it time for another choice: the ACT or the SAT.  Today on the Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll talk to one of the authors of the book Ace The A.C.T, and find out some secrets for test taking happiness.

If you plan on going to school to become a physical therapist…you should probably plan on going to school a little longer than you planned. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about the new academic standards for physical therapists.

We’ll also hear what medical schools are, and are not teaching students about alternative medicine.  Then it’s off to DC where a University of Maryland art professor has the hottest class on campus…and we’ll spend an academic minute with a galactic hook up.

I think it’s safe to say that over the past few decades we have made enormous changes and advances in the way we communicate. Information is flowing at an amazing pace in almost every aspect in life.  However…there is one surprising hold out: the scientific journal. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation on the evolution, or lack thereof, of scientific journals.

For years here on TBOOK we’ve been running our Astrobiology series which, among other things, chronicles scientists’ efforts to discover the origins of life.  And it’s not just life on Earth.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear from a woman who is a scientist and an explorer doing a long distance search for life on Mars.

We’ll also hear about the discovery of a new species of fish in a very unusual…and dry…location.

We hear a lot about the amount of debt many students take on while attending college.  But how many of those schools are making sure those students know how to deal with that debt...or even understand it once they graduation? Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about one northeast school that now mandates courses in financial literacy for all their students.

We’ll also spend an Academic Minute trying to find a little financial sense in the cost of health care in the US.

The question of race is never easy...and it’s not going away anytime soon. This week on The Best Of Our Knowledge, a look at High Schools, Race, and America's Future.

We’ll also spend an academic minute looking at the evolution of skin color.

The Health Show #1317

Jun 28, 2013

1988 was an interesting year.  A presidential election was underway.  The Mets were in first place.  And a public radio station in Albany, New York decided to begin producing a weekly program on health issues hosted by Dr. David Carpenter called The Health Show.  

25 years, several hosts and producers and 1,317 episodes later, we come to the final installment of that show.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll look back at some of the segments of the show that we are most proud of.  

A subject we’ve hit on a lot here is the challenge of reviving inner city schools and giving those students equal opportunities with more affluent districts.  Funny thing...it’s happening right now. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear about some improbable scholars turning around a school system in New Jersey.

We’ll also meet a man who keeps a school system musical without playing a single note...hear commentary about keeping things fun...and spend an academic minute learning about yesterday’s climate on today’s Hudson River.

The Health Show #1316

Jun 21, 2013

Almost decade ago, Dr. Richard Besser...the chief medical editor for ABC News lost his sister while she was having elective surgery.  Since then he has been a vocal advocate for patients demanding information from their health care providers.  On today’s Health Show, we’ll hear about the book “Tell Me The Truth, Doctor”.

We’ll also hear about the health concerns being raised by the increasing popularity of raw milk cheese...and hear the story of two women dealing with breast cancer in two different worlds.

Although some high school students might disagree with this, science is not a dry topic.  In fact, studying life on Earth, or on any other planet for that matter has to begin in water.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, our Astrobiology Series returns with a look at the importance of water in the study...and the origins of life.

Plus we’ll spend an academic minute finding out why humidity makes it harder to keep your cold drink cold.

The Health Show #1315

Jun 14, 2013

If you had the chance, would you go back to being a teenagers again?  Before you answer think back to just exactly what that meant.  It wasn’t easy.  Now imagine living that portion of your life over with a parent who has cancer.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk to a father and daughter who co-wrote a book about that experience in the aptly titled book: “Cancer Sucks!”.

We’ll also hear from some musicians who continue making music...even though they are hearing impaired.

I don’t think anyone would argue with the fact that swift and amazing changes have taken place in this, the digital age.  But according to a pair a executives from Google, we ain’t seen nothing yet. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll hear a conversation with this pair of high tech execs about what they call the NEW digital age.

We’ll also hear about technology you can wear...and how it is improving the study of people with autism.

The Health Show #1314

Jun 7, 2013

What is it about Americans that makes solving the problem of drugs and addiction so difficult?  Addiction to drugs impacts almost every other problem facing the nation, from education to crime to poverty to health care.  What are the most effective ways to defeat addiction and how has the war on drugs made the problem worse?  These are the questions being tackled by award winning journalist and author David Sheff.  

Are schools killing creativity in today’s young people.  According to Sir Ken Robinson they are.  He has written about getting to most out of your talents and his new book continues the message. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, a conversation with Sir Ken Robinson.

We’ll also hear how budget cut backs have changed the lives of some teachers in Chicago and spend an academic minute hearing how family dinners are good for the soul.

The Health Show #1313

May 31, 2013

Clostridium difficile is not only very difficult to say, it can be deadly.  This gut infection has been in the news with outbreaks in hospitals and nursing care facilities in the US and Canada.  And now there’s a study that says if you are depressed, you have a much higher risk of getting infected.  On today’s Health Show we’ll talk to the lead author of this study and depression and infection.

Bullying in schools is no longer a dirty little secret.  As awareness of the problem grows, the call for answers gets louder.  So, what’s next?  What can be done to make bullying a thing of the past. Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, the final installment of our five part series on bullying.

We’ll also hear from a journalist who set out to write a book about the over-medication of today’s children...and wound up coming to a totally different conclusion.  And we’ll spend an academic minute exploring the surprising gender gap in college.

Skidmore College

When Igor Stravinsky’s work “The Rite of Spring” made its debut in Paris on May 29, 1913, it was called by some one of the most scandalous events in music history. So much so that the theater erupted in a riot. Fast forward 100 years to this coming Wednesday, 100 years to the day since that debut, when the work will be performed in a new arraignment by The Five Browns at the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College. 

The Health Show #1312

May 24, 2013

We hear an awful lot about “awareness” in health care.  The breast cancer awareness campaign has, over the years, made a huge difference in the way the public views the disease...and how women look at their own bodies.  But there’s another condition out there...one that millions of people are at risk for but have never heard of.  On today’s Health Show, a look at Lupus.

We’ll also spend time with a family of care givers...and take a trip down the weight loss yellow brick road.

If someone is going to make a joke about a college major, Art History is usually the first target.  But art history can be an important look at the social and political history of an era...and that was never more evident than the Renaissance.  Today on The Best Of Our Knowledge, we’ll take a look at the history of that historically creative time through the lens of two of its giants: Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo.

And we’ll spend an academic minute with another cultural giant: Dr. Who.

The baseball season has been under way for about 6 weeks now, but one of the most popular games in the country is on tap for next weekend in Cooperstown. New York.  The annual hall of fame classic attracts a large number of fans and former players alike. Here to talk about that game and a whole lot of other activities is Jeff Idelson, president of the national baseball hall of fame and museum.

The Health Show #1311

May 17, 2013

I’ve often said to colleagues that if I want to get a lot of mail...and usually nasty mail...I need to a story on either vaccines or Lyme disease.  So today let’s go for broke.  You may not remember this, but there is a vaccine for Lyme disease.  The catch: no one makes it anymore.  On today’s Health Show the story of the vaccine your dog can get...but you can’t.

We’ll also hear about a report on drug laws in New York State...and how getting treatment for offenders continues to be a problem...and we’ll talk to a man who bid a melancholy farewell to his prostate.

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