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Nashville's 55-Page Transit Proposal, Explained In 800 Words

Nashville is now less than a month away from the start of early voting on its mass transit referendum. Voters will decide whether to raise four types of taxes to create a dedicated funding stream for a multi-billion-dollar overhaul to public transit.

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Jumpstart Foundry

For the past five years, Tennessee entrepreneurs who wanted to launch a new business idea might have tried to catch the eye of Jumpstart Foundry.

Jumpstart is what’s called an accelerator in the tech world. It’s a company that helps other companies grow — playing the roles of mentor, shareholder and money matchmaker. Since its inception, it’s put about 40 fledgling tech companies through a sort of how-to-run-a-business boot camp, setting them up with seasoned advisors and showing them off to potential investors. And it’s been successful. Last year, an MIT business professor ranked Jumpstart the 14th best accelerator in the country.

TN Photo Services

Tennessee teachers are starting 2015 curious to know if it will be a second year without a pay raise. So far, state officials haven’t made any more promises.

WPLN pressed outgoing education commissioner Kevin Huffman when he didn’t even mention teacher salaries in his annual budget presentation.

“All the salary stuff – state employee salary and teacher salary – will be done through the governor’s budget release,” Huffman said.


For the largest automakers in the U.S., 2014 got them back up to pre-recession levels. For Franklin-based Nissan North America, the year set a sales record.

A string of record months resulted in nearly 1.4 million vehicles sold – an all-time high. The Nissan brand drove most of the gains. The company’s luxury line – Infiniti – just barely broke even on the year.

greeblie via Flickr

Tennessee drivers received 102,000 seat belt citations in 2014 — 30,000 more than the year before. According to the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the increasing enforcement of seat belt laws is part of its effort to bring down the number traffic deaths.

By the end of 2014, 952 people died in Tennessee as part of vehicle crashes, compared to 986 in 2013. It’s still too many, says Sgt. Bill Miller, a spokesman for the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

“They’re not numbers to us,” he says. “They’re friends. They’re family.”

Courtesy Father Ryan High School

The year 1965 was a strange one for black high school sports in Tennessee. The association governing black teams had folded into the white one, but African-American schools weren’t full members yet. They couldn’t play for the state championship for another year. The games were still segregated, but two coaches weren’t interested in waiting.

Grand Ole Opry

Since 1948, Little Jimmy Dickens was a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry, including a show he played Dec. 20 to celebrate his 94th birthday.

The 4-foot-11 singer was known for his sense of humor, even in songs, often cracking jokes about his stature.

“I’m puny, short and little but I’m loud,” he sang in one of his oldest hits.

Other tunes had lines like “may the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” A song called “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” won him the nickname “Tater.”

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

The happy new year was also a happy birthday for hundreds of refugees who now call Nashville home. Many asylum seekers are assigned January 1st when they can’t prove their date of birth.

Hussien Mohamud had more friends than he could possibly handle celebrating birthdays this week. “On my Facebook, 1,056 friends of mine get their birthday on that particular day, so it’s ridiculous,” he says.

voteprime via Flickr

For the second year in a row, murders hit a historic low in Nashville. There were just 41 criminal homicides in Nashville in 2014. That’s the smallest figure since the county and city governments consolidated in 1963, when police tracked 45 murders.

The highest year for murders in Nashville was 1997 when 112 people were killed.

Police chief Steve Anderson gives some credit to a recent focus on curtailing domestic violence. Just four of the murders from 2014 involved intimate partners. In 2013, there were nine.

Katy Campen / 100 Girls of Code

Technology companies in Middle Tennessee will be working more with high schools and community colleges this year, thanks to an $850,000 grant from the state. The goal is to get more students thinking about careers in information technology — that’s anything from coding computer programs to managing data centers or working at a telecomm company.

According to the Nashville Technology Council, which received the funding, only about 600 students currently take IT classes at local community colleges. That’s nowhere near the demand for jobs in the field, it said in its budget proposal.

TWRA via Facebook

Tennessee outdoor enthusiasts are resisting a proposal to increase the cost of hunting licenses in the state, even though it’s the first fee-hike in a decade.

Brian Brew is a taxidermist from Spring Hill who also runs several online forums for hunters. “I don’t know if I’ve seen one positive post made about it,” he says.


The Promise: Life, Death and Change in the Projects

This WPLN special series podcast explores life in public housing, in the middle of a city on the rise.

The Latest from Classical 91.1

Erica Abbey Photography / Courtesy of Jonathan Leshnoff

A city-wide initiative featuring performances, lectures and community discussions about the Holocaust will culminate this weekend as Giancarlo Guerrero conducts the Nashville Symphony and the Violins of Hope, instruments played by Jewish musicians in concentration camps during WWII. The program is anchored by the world premiere of Jonathan Leshnoff's Symphony No. 4, a piece the Nashville Symphony commissioned specifically for the instruments.

Kara / Nashville Public Radio

The Maharaja Flamenco Trio stopped by prior to an evening concert at Middle Tennessee State University, bringing with them a lively set of classic Gypsy jazz and original flamenco music. Helmed by MTSU alumnus Silviu Ciulei, who is trained in both classical and flamenco guitar styles, the trio includes Tony Hartmann on percussion and David Cobb on bass. 

Alex Ferrari / Courtesy of Intersection

Nashville is home to nearly 15,000 Kurdish residents, a population bigger than any other city in the United States. Most have found refuge here, having fled wars and dictatorships since the 1970s. This vibrant community was one point of inspiration for Kelly Corcoran, artistic director of Nashville's contemporary chamber ensemble Intersection. This Friday and Saturday, Intersection will present "From the Ancient Valley," a program inspired by Kurdish and Persian culture. 

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