Helen Chickering

All Things Considered Host, Reporter

Helen Chickering is a reporter and host of All Things Considered on Blue Ridge Public Radio.  She joined the station in November 2014.

Helen grew up in Texas.  Her broadcast career began in television news in 1985 at WLBT, the NBC affiliate in Jackson, Mississippi.  There she did everything from news to weather and found her niche in medical reporting.  Over the next 20 years she covered health and science news on both local and national levels, including 5 years in Charlotte at the CBS affiliate, WBTV.   In 1998, Helen helped launch the health and science desk at NBC News Channel, the network's affiliate news service.  She became the first journalist to serve as president of the National Association of Medical Communicators and was on the founding board of the Science Communicators of North Carolina.  

In 2012, Helen and her family moved to Asheville from Chapel Hill and she started working as a freelance producer and as a Montessori teaching assistant.  A longtime NPR listener, she was thrilled to land a job at Blue Ridge Public Radio.   Helen is an active member of the Asheville Science Tavern and a guest lecturer and an advisory board member at the University of North Carolina's Medical and Science Journalism Program.

Ways to Connect

Buncombe County Schools

At the first-ever Student Opioid Summit,  high school students across Buncombe County, Asheville City Schools and Madison County Schools spent the day learning about the drugs, everything from how the opioids affect the brain to how casual use can lead to addiction.    In the afternoon, the students held brainstorming sessions and were encouraged to come up with action plans to implement at school in an effort to increase awareness and promote prevention.  The inaugural summit took place at the Biltmore Park Campus at Western Carolina University.

March 14 is National Pi Day, a time to celebrate the mathematical constant, 3.14 and a good excuse to eat pie.  BPR’s Helen Chickering talked with UNCA Math Professor Sam Kaplan about why the irrational number deserves its own day, why math intimidates many of us, and his work in the community - outreach that uses math as a platform to help local students sharpen their leadership skills. 

Leonardo da Vinci may be best known for his artistic masterpieces, but he was also an accomplished engineer and scientist.  That mix of science and art helped inspire a local group of artists, scientists, teachers and citizens to launch the area’s first arts and science festival.  BPR’s Helen Chickering caught up with one of the organizers, biologist Jason York.

Asheville’s first Arts and Science Festival will be held on Saturday, March 31 from noon to 6 p.m. at the Salvage Station.  The event is free and welcomes all ages.

Climate City is just one of Asheville’s many nicknames.  A local nonprofit is working to elevate that moniker to a new level.  In March,  the climate innovation center,  The Collider, is kicking off ClimateCon 2018.  The business of climate is the headline event of the conference that organizers say – has something for everyone.  BPR’s Helen Chickering spoke with Megan Robinson, The Collider’s Executive director.

The 2018 Fed Cup brings international professional tennis competition to  Asheville  Feb. 10-11 for the USA vs. Netherlands World Group First Round.

The weekend competition features tennis star Venus Williams and her sister Serena, who is making her debut after maternity leave and who, on Friday, made an Asheville teen’s dream come true. 

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) —  North Carolina state officials are asking for input from residents about a plan to relocate three Confederate monuments away from state Capitol grounds.  Officials have established an online page to collect comments from the public about the relocation proposal. To comment on the plan: Click here.  

surfchex.com

It's not often that you see snow at the beach.  Check out live shots of NC beaches at http://www.surfchex.com/

Governor Roy Cooper declared a state of emergency Wednesday afternoon for all eastern and several central North Carolina counties as the state braces for snow and sleet along with bitter cold.

The post-holiday purge is underway as  people rid their homes of boxes, wrapping paper and trimmings.    Many of those items can go in the recycling bin, but not everything.   BPR’s Helen Chickering got some tips from Nancy Lawson, with Asheville’s Curbside Management.  

BPR News

The TV show Shark Tank matches charismatic investors with fledgling entrepreneurs who are hoping to snag a business deal.   Earlier this month, some students at UNC- Asheville got a taste of the reality show experience.  Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Helen Chickering has details.

BPR News

The holiday season is in full swing, and for many, that means it’s time to find a  Christmas tree.    Here in Western North Carolina, the experience is a bit like shopping for toys in Santa’s workshop.  The region produces the majority of Christmas trees for the state and is the second biggest producer in the country. 

One of the big issues in the GOP tax reform bill is the elimination of the health insurance mandate  - the requirement, under the Affordable Health Care Act, that all Americans get coverage or pay a fine.  ACA open enrollment is underway through December 15, and the impact of the tax bill is just one of many questions and concerns.   BPR’s Helen Chickering spoke with Jackie Kiger, managing attorney with Pisgah Legal Services

unfccc.int

Nearly 200 countries are wrapping up the annual United Nations Climate Summit in Bonn, Germany this week. Notably absent is the United States. This summer, President Trump declared he is pulling the U.S. out of the landmark Paris Climate Accord, which aims to reduce carbon emissions and holds countries accountable for limiting the rise in global temperatures.   But the move hasn’t stopped hundreds of climate scientists and researchers from participating, including Western Carolina University’s Rob Young, a geologist who directs The Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines.  Young spoke with BPR’s Helen Chickering shortly after he returned from Bonn.

Just over a month after Mission Health’s contract with Blue Cross expired, the two organizations have gone back to the negotiating  table.  A Blue Cross spokesman confirmed by email that talks are underway, saying, “Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina and Mission Health have entered into discussions regarding a future network participation agreement and will refrain from public comment until those talks are completed.”

globalchange.gov

If you suffer from allergies, you may have noticed you sneezed a little longer this fall.  But you may not have linked that extra sneezing to global warming.  Scientists and Public Health officials met in Asheville last week for a workshop on the climate health connection.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports.

Open enrollment for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act begins today amid continued uncertainty over the fate of the health care law.  Here in Western North Carolina, the recent split between Blue Cross and Mission Health adds another layer of confusion and stress for consumers.  

BPR News

The open enrollment period for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act is just around the corner, and uncertainty about costs, subsidies and what policies will actually cover is still growing.  Adding to the anxiety for consumers in Western North Carolina, the only insurer on the exchange is still at odds with the region’s largest health care provider.  BPR’s Helen Chickering reports

The flu season is officially here and the first report from the state health department, shows just under ten cases have been confirmed in North Carolina.  But health officials say that could quickly change and they are urging people to get vaccinated.    

As of Thursday, Mission Health says its contract with Blue Cross has expired and "essentially all Mission Health physicians and facilities are now out-of-network providers with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina."

BPR News

MANNA  Foodbank is partnering with several organizations in Buncombe County for a hurricane relief drive.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

NCSU Mountain Research Station

Hemp, Hops and Truffles – sounds like an ingredient list for a new craft beer  All three are being studied as potential alternative cash crops here in Western North Carolina.  BPR's Helen Chickering takes us on a field trip to the  Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. 

We’ve become accustomed to hearing the one to five rating for hurricanes, but do you know what those categories mean?  BPR’s Helen Chickering set out to find the answer and talked to a local hurricane researcher who thinks the rating scale is misleading.

The great American Eclipse is over.  For most, it was an amazing experience. But for a Macon county man, the astronomical event was a mile marker on a life changing journey.  BPR’s Helen Chickering stumbled upon his story while on an eclipse assignment at Southwestern Community College in Sylva.

BPR News

The August 21st Great American Solar Eclipse  was one of the most  watched and studied astronomical events in  history.  Western North Carolina was a great place to do both.   BPR’s Helen Chickering spent the day at the Pisgah National Research Institute in Brevard.   The former NASA tracking station was in the path of totality and hosted a day of stellar science for the public.

BPR News

The summer’s most anticipated celestial event is almost here.  Big crowds are expected here in Western North Carolina for Monday’s Great American Eclipse.  But as BPR’s Helen Chickering reports, people won’t be the only ones reacting to the dramatic changes in the sky

Southwestern Community College

On August 21, most of the country will pause and look up to the sky to observe the Great American Eclipse.  If you aren't able to make it outside for the astronomical event, no worries. NASA is planning to live stream the eclipse using cameras attached to high altitude balloons.  A local community college is part of the balloon project.  BPR's Helen Chickering has details. 

BPR News

The recent announcement that Brother Wolf Animal Rescue is planning to close its Asheville adoption center as the organization transitions to  a new facility has raised questions and concerns about the area’s ability to absorb the extra animals.   

BPR News

A local community college is going for gold.  The  five member culinary team from A-B Tech in Asheville won its tenth regional title and is now competing for the national honor. 

Asheville Tourists

“Good evening Asheville Hippies fans!  Welcome to McCormick Field!”               

That’s Asheville Tourist broadcast manager and radio announcer Doug Maurer, with a preview announcement of the upcoming game against  the Greenville Drive, and nope, that wasn’t a slip of the tongue. For one night, Thursday, June 29, the Asheville Tourists will be dubbed the Hippies, down to their tie dye uniforms. 

BPR News

So just what happens at science camp?  Blue Ridge Public Radio’s Helen Chickering stopped by the Summer STEM Academy at Southwestern Community College in Sylva to find out. 

BPR News

If you have some spare time this summer, the  U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could use your help.  The Asheville field office is on a mission to find an endangered species that hasn’t been spotted in Western North Carolina in more than a decade.  BPR’s Helen Chickering has details.

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