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NCPR News Staff: David Sommerstein

Reporter/ Producer
David Sommerstein, NCPR's roving St. Lawrence Valley/Fort Drum/Tug Hill reporter, began his career in radio, strangely enough, as a high school Spanish teacher in Buffalo. While drilling verb conjugations and teaching a love for Latino culture during the day, he sat in as a late night jazz and Latin DJ at Buffalo's NPR affiliate, WBFO. The radio bug bit, and David found his way to southern Colorado/northern New Mexico (the Taos/Santa Fe area) where he was Program Director, Music Director, Volunteer Coordinator, and "Just About Anything Else You Can Think Of" Director at NPR affiliate KRZA.

Since joining NCPR's news department, David has reported from the chilly deck of a St. Lawrence icebreaker, the power-chord filled stage of the High School Rock Band Festival, and the tense Albanian street market of post-war Kosovo with soldiers from Fort Drum. David also gets to fulfill his passion for music of all kinds when he spins world dance and groove music on editions of The Beat Authority. E-mail

Stories filed by David Sommerstein

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"Twisted": the Case of the Young Author

Educators are on high alert for signs of school violence in the post-Columbine era. Recently near Cornwall, Ontario, a high school student wrote a drama class essay called "Twisted". It's the story of a bullied teenager who plans to blow up his school for revenge. As a result of the story, the student was suspended from school and served over a month in jail. As David Sommerstein reports, the case has sparked a controversial and highly publicized debate in Canada.  Go to full article

Bob Thacker on Court-Ordered Bans and Free Speech in Canada

To learn more about the differences between Canadian and American concepts of free speech, David Sommerstein spoke with Robert Thacker, professor of Canadian Studies at St. Lawrence University. Thacker says the situation is complicated by a court-imposed ban on the publication of the case's details.  Go to full article

Mobile Home Replacement Program

For many, owning a home on a plot of land is the Great American Dream. And the quickest route to realizing that dream is often the most affordable option: the mobile home, or trailer. But a cheap price tag can also mean shoddy construction. Some mobile homes quickly become leaky and expensive to heat in winter, and can become fire hazards for their occupants. A successful Jefferson County program has helped families replace their old trailers with more permanent homes. And now the program is targeting substandard trailers in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties as well. But the quality and consistency of mobile homes has changed over the years, and dealers think the program gives mobile homes a bad rap. David Sommerstein has the story.

The North Country Affordable Housing Program is currently taking applications for mobile residents in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. They can be reached at (315)785-8684 or, toll free, (866)653-8724.  Go to full article

Appleton Arena 50th Anniversary

This weekend Washington DC was displaying its essential characteristics: fur coats and black ties, thousand dollar roasts, fleets of motorcades, and, of course, the inauguration of a president. At the same time, a North Country institution was preening in its own way. Saturday marked the 50th birthday of St. Lawrence University's venerable Appleton Hockey Arena. And Dartmouth, the same team that faced off against the Larries to inaugurate Appleton on January 20, 1951, returned to relive college hockey history. So did St. Lawrence alumni, former players, and former Saints broadcasters to share fond memories of a hockey arena with one foot firmly rooted in the past. David Sommerstein takes us to the wooden benches behind the glass for an appreciation.  Go to full article

Supreme Court Wetlands Ruling: the New York Effects

Last week, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that could remove protections from many of the nation's wetlands sent regulators and environmentalists scrambling to the lawbooks. In New York, around three-quarters of the state's wetlands are located in the St. Lawrence Valley and the Adirondacks. They function as a giant sponge to reduce flooding. They also act like nature's kidney, filtering pollutants out of water. And the food and habitat they provide make the North Country one of the most important migratory flyways in North America. David Sommerstein spoke with those who work with the region's wetlands to see how the Supreme Court decision could play out in the North Country.  Go to full article

Community Energy Services Debuts

A new non-profit working to make North Country homes and buildings more energy efficient held its first meeting yesterday. David Sommerstein has more.  Go to full article

State Senator Jim Wright Budget Reactions

There was little direct mention of the North Country in the Governor's proposed budget. To find out more on how northern New York fared, David Sommerstein spoke with State Senator for the 46th district James Wright. Senator Wright says the budget builds on Pataki's previous budgets featuring fiscal responsibility, including debt reduction, and budget surpluses. Senator Wright says it's now the legislature's turn.

New York State Senator James Wright represents the 46th district. He spoke with David Sommerstein from his office in Albany.
 Go to full article

Call of the Wild Sled Dog Race

After two false starts last winter due to warm weather and spotty snow cover, the Call of the Wild sled dog race sped through the woods of the northwestern Adirondacks Saturday. David Sommerstein was at the starting line and sends this audio postcard.  Go to full article

Youth Court: Teens Judge Teens in Real Life

Usually we think of peer pressure as a negative--urging young people to make fun of the short kid in class or to try that first cigarette. But in a growing phenomenon around the country, courts are using peer influence to keep teens on a positive track through life. Youth Courts have teens judging their peers in real cases with enforceable sentences. Youth Courts also reduce the heavy caseload--and costs--of higher courts that deal with more serious crimes. David Sommerstein visited the Youth Court in Watertown. He found a strong program that is nonetheless struggling to survive.  Go to full article

Corning Expansion

With the U.S. economy slowing, Governor Pataki's projections of an economic rebound for Upstate New York may be hasty. But there was good news for the North Country yesterday when southern-tier based Corning Incorporated announced it will expand its plant in Canton. The investment is expected to bring 125 new jobs to St. Lawrence County over the next three years. As David Sommerstein reports, Lieutenant Governor Mary Donohue was on hand to spread the message that the state is doing all it can to make growth and investment in Upstate New York easy for business.  Go to full article

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