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Latest On SS El Faro; 2017 News Review; S. Florida's Mistletoe; Nutcracker Make Over

Close up of the Mahogany Mistletoe, the mistletoe species native to Florida.

The Puerto Rico-bound cargo ship SS El Faro sank in 2015, leaving a total of 33 deaths. The tragedy was the worst American disaster at sea in three decades.

The report from the Coast Guard’s Marine Board of Investigation into the sinking of the SS El Faro blames not only the captain and the shipowner, TOTE Inc., but also the ship’s inspectors and the Coast Guard itself for the accident.

On Thursday, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard accepted, partially or in full, almost all the recommendations made by a Coast Guard panel and announced a series of reforms that could mean broad changes across the American shipping industry.

Sundial’s senior producer Maeve Goran is producing an investigative podcast about the El Faro. She joined the program to talk about the last developments of the investigation and to help understand how the collection of negligent decisions sank the cargo ship.


2017 was the year of fake news, tumultuous storms, Harvey Weinstein and much more.

For the Sundial year-in-review, three South Florida reporters joined us to talk about their experiences covering all the headlines that made news this year. The panel included the Miami Herald’s David Smiley, Miami New Times’ Jessica Lipscomb and the Sun Sentinel’s Dan Sweeney.

The holiday season has a plethora of traditions including that of lovers kissing underneath the mistletoe. While the tradition and the plant is of European roots, there are mistletoe species in North America and one native to South Florida.

The mahogany mistletoe (Phoradendron rubrum), is a rare parasitic plant and needs a host to thrive. The host, West Indian mahogany (Swietenia mahagoni), is used in landscaping but deemed threatened in the wild. The mahogany mistletoe produces little orange berries that birds eat and help spread when the undigested seeds land on a tree branch. Mahogany mistletoe is found in the wild and its appearance is similar to the European mistletoe.

However, most people may not readily recognize it and it’s unlikely to run across it.  

Jimmy Lange joined us in the program for Thursday. He is a field botanist from the South Florida Conservation team of Fairchild Gardens. He talked about the origin of the mistletoe tradition and about the peculiarities of the South Florida mahogany mistletoe.

The Miami City Ballet has performed George Balanchine’s “The Nutcraker” since the mid-1980’s. This year, coordinators of the ballet decided to update the production, adding new costumes, sets and exciting production values. The makeover was the initiative of artists Isabel and Ruben Toledo and Wendall Harrington.

The Toledos worked to update the costumes and the sets, while Harrington added production values that replaced old static images with projective art displaying bright pastel color palates, that enhanced the reality of the various acts and gave it a Miami feel.

The updates are of great importance to the Miami City Ballet,  since the Nutcracker generates 30 to 40% of the company’s annual revenue. Also, for many people and especially children, the Nutcracker serves as an introduction to theater and dance.

WLRN’s reporter Wilson Sayre and editorial director Alicia Zuckerman joined us in the program. Sayre reported on the updates to the production, while Zuckerman recently experienced the revamped show. Together, they talk about the Nut Cracker’s make-over and what the audience can expect from the new show.