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NCPR News Staff: Martha Foley

News and Public Affairs Director
Martha Foley joined the staff of WSLU as morning host in 1981, after a stint at The St. Lawrence Plaindealer. She helped found the news department in 1982, and has seen it grow, and shrink, and grow again. "I especially liked the 'grow again' part," she says, "it means working with really talented reporters, telling more and more stories from around the North Country."

Martha has won state and national awards for her reporting and editing. She has encouraged local news at public radio stations across the country as a member and director of Public Radio News Directors, Inc., an organization of over 100 local newsrooms. As a director of PRNDI for six years, she was responsible for The PRNDI Project, an annual training program for young reporters, and NewsWorks, training for station news departments.

Martha grew up on an Adirondack foothill in northeastern Saratoga County. She lives just south of Canton with her husband, boatbuilder Everett Smith, and her teenaged son, Emmett. Favorite pastimes: sitting, looking, and listening. E-mail

Stories filed by Martha Foley

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Donnie (in the foreground) and Didd on the bus leaving the North Country. Photo: Amy Finkel, for Gothamist, used with permission.
Donnie (in the foreground) and Didd on the bus leaving the North Country. Photo: Amy Finkel, for Gothamist, used with permission.

North Country inmates on the bus: free and nowhere to go

Every year, hundreds of men are shipped to prisons here in the North Country, to correctional facilities in Watertown or Malone, Moriah or Ray Brook. We've been telling the story of the region's prison industry with our Prison Time Media Project.
But every year, hundreds of men are also released back into society after serving their time in state or Federal lock-ups.

Often, former inmates are sent back downstate with little preparation and few resources for reentering society. Many begin their new lives with a bus ticket, a new set of clothes, and a small amount of cash.

Amy Finkel is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. She's working on a new project looking at reform and education programs in prisons and she recently published a photo essay in the online magazine Gothamist.

Her photos capture the bus journey that one group of men made from Saranac Lake after being released from prison back to New York City. She spoke about her work with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
43.7? Too cold. Amy says to wait for 50 degree (F) soil temperature before planting peas. Photo: <a href="https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3646/3601931725_066a0fe319_o_d.jpg">Stephen Cochran</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
43.7? Too cold. Amy says to wait for 50 degree (F) soil temperature before planting peas. Photo: Stephen Cochran, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

When it's right to plant peas

The sun is out. The air is warm. It's late April. The crocuses are up and the daffodils aren't far behind. So, time to plant some peas, and maybe some lettuce, right?

Maybe, maybe not, says Cooperative Extension's Amy Ivy. She tells Martha Foley there's an easy way to tell, and it isn't the calendar. Stick a thermometer two inches down in the soil and see what it says. If it isn't 50 degrees down there, it's still too early.

They also talk about ways to warm things up a little and coddle those early season plantings. Amy explains row covers, and says even just protecting new seedlings from the wind can help.  Go to full article
Spring surprise--voles at work. Photo: Martha Foley
Spring surprise--voles at work. Photo: Martha Foley

Why does my lawn look like a giant ant farm?

The spring thaw has finally reached dirt, revealing the winter damage underneath. On lawns, that could include dramatic networks of dirt-lined runways left under this winter's snow pack by voles.

Voles work the surface, tunneling through where the snow meets the lawn. They're vegetarians, and like to eat away at the roots of the grass. Horticulturist Amy Ivy says the lawn's probably too soft to walk on yet, and it's probably too soon to do too much in the way of repair just yet. When things dry out a bit, she suggests raking the damaged area lightly, to level the tunneled areas out. And have some grass seed on hand to reseed after the weather warms up.

Moles throw up bigger mounds of dirt from their underground tunnels. Rake those to spread the dirt around; those areas can be reseeded to grass later as well.

Amy says it's also time to do some remedial pruning where trees and shrubs were broken during the winter. And she talks about best practices for pruning flowering shrubs now.  Go to full article
NPR East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner, one-time NCPR host of "All Before Five." Photo: Pearl Gabel/NPR
NPR East Africa correspondent Gregory Warner, one-time NCPR host of "All Before Five." Photo: Pearl Gabel/NPR

Gregory Warner: there's no word in Russian to describe who he works for

The first story listed in the NCPR archive from Gregory Warner dates to April 2005. He came to the station to help us develop afternoon news, and host All Things Considered. Perhaps you remember his occasional impromptu accordion breaks during ATC? We do! Gregory moved on from NCPR after a couple years and many, many creative, touching, humorous, and vivid stories from across this region.

After freelancing from conflict zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Congo, and a stint as senior reporter for APM's Marketplace, he's sort of settled down. Gregory's now NPR's East Africa correspondent, based in Kenya, and we hear his reporting from all over a region of the world that's experiencing tremendous economic growth, and a rising threat of global terrorism. His stories are still vivid, touching, and engaging, and he continues to find the surprising, human stories behind the news of the day.

Martha Foley caught up with Gregory this morning at his home base in Nairobi, via Skype. He's just back from assignments in Rwanda, covering the anniversary of the genocide there 20 years ago, and Ukraine, where he was one of the first NPR reporters on the ground as Russia consolidated its control over Crimea.  Go to full article
Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/cafemama/3554624390/in/photolist-6q7nZq-9bWxWy-4FjXbD-48C15n-4B7ks-d33Bcu-4B1fJL-84PDiw-hos2oJ-kmJZQ-Po95f-9kkqg2-hovRDL-ahtbyB-ieJUqN-adLfQb-9Ak9XY-6vikT9-JVDMJ-dAKsT8-83YQcJ-6tNG25-6bCcDi-eh96Pz-6fGSZF-db5C2U-db5BxQ-db5BMC-NxEpj-a4sQ2N-8o4Pya-6f6qui-7PKvEd-4WbwDb-6KeovC-5ek7mn-4X8zQM-2kaEaN-5fgsDp-6jCjBC-7YiN6B-8sZy9F-d33BaN-d33Be9-dWehH-89JiNr-avWqyt-9LbTLM-81LwZ9-4LAwRo">Sarah Gilbert</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved
Photo: Sarah Gilbert, Creative Commons, some rights reserved

Gardening call in gleanings: potato scab, blueberry canes, green manure

Horticulturist Amy Ivy and Martha Foley takes up some odds and ends of questions listeners had during our Spring Gardening Call-in program. Issues covered include scab on beets and potatoes, care of blueberry canes, and what you can use in place of compost if you can't get hold of it.  Go to full article
Mature apple tree before and after pruning. Photo: W. Lord, UNH Co-operative Extension
Mature apple tree before and after pruning. Photo: W. Lord, UNH Co-operative Extension

It's time to prune fruit trees

This is the best time of the season to prune your apple and other fruit trees. Horticulturist Amy Ivy has the best tips and how-to information to help insure good production.  Go to full article
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar
Five Omar Mualimm-ak, speaking at St. Lawrence University earlier this month. Photo: Tzintzun Aguilar

Five Mualimm-ak: A voice out of solitary confinement

Last month, the state of New York made sweeping changes to its use of solitary confinement. The new policy, signed by a federal judge, prohibits anyone under the age of 18, women who are pregnant, and people with severe mental illness, from being locked away in solitary.

Five Mualimm-ak helped write the new protocol. He's a prison reform activist. Mualimm-ak spent five years of his life in solitary confinement, out of 12 years he served inside New York prisons on charges that were later overturned. He was in Canton last week for talks and events at St. Lawrence University, and sat down with Martha Foley.  Go to full article
Seed packet for a disease-resistant variety of cucumber. Photo: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20561948@N00/3472478600/">Cris</a>, Creative Commons, somew rights reserved
Seed packet for a disease-resistant variety of cucumber. Photo: Cris, Creative Commons, somew rights reserved

Disease resistant seeds? What's that?

It's a detail you don't want to miss, because planting "disease resistant" varieties of flower, fruits and vegetables could save a lot of heartache during the gardening season.

But, Cooperative Extension horticulturist Amy Ivy says, "being disease resistant doesn't mean it's disease proof." That said, planting, say, squash that resists powdery mildew can be a real advantage. It isn't a cure, but it's a preventive step that can help produce a squash harvest rather than a squash failure.  Go to full article
The Robinson Bay breaks Seaway ice back in 2001. NCPR file photo: Lisa Lazenby
The Robinson Bay breaks Seaway ice back in 2001. NCPR file photo: Lisa Lazenby

Seaway ice breakers coming, season opens March 31

In a press release yesterday, the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Authority announced ice-breaking will soon be underway in advance of the opening of the shipping season March 31.

Lori Curran, spokesperson for the agency, says it's hard to be specific about exactly when ice-breaking will progress upstream to the Eisenhower and Snell Locks near Massena. She said they're now waiting for a Canadian ice-breaker to clear the channel from the first lock in Montreal. She said it's expected to start moving upstream over the next couple of days.

Ice fishermen, snowmobilers, ATV riders are asked to stay away areas where ice has been cleared to avoid numerous open water leads and unstable ice cover caused by the clearing.  Go to full article
Fishing the Salmon River, one of the Lake Ontario tributaries stocked by the DEC. Photo: David Chanatry, New York Reporting Project
Fishing the Salmon River, one of the Lake Ontario tributaries stocked by the DEC. Photo: David Chanatry, New York Reporting Project

Lake Ontario sport fishery is a $110M business

A successful stocking program has led Lake Ontario to be one of the premier fishing destinations in the Great Lakes.

The Department of Environmental Conservation pumps trout and salmon into the lake each year. That brings out more than 2.5 million anglers to the lake and its tributaries.  Go to full article

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