Florida Public Radio Launches Free ‘Florida Storms’ Mobile Phone App

Published: August 28th, 2015

IMG_0603Florida residents and visitors have a new resource to help them prepare for destructive storms and other emergencies. The Florida Public Radio Emergency Network (FPREN) today launched Florida Storms, a free, mobile weather application that offers a simple way to stay informed of potential weather and other hazards, backed by real-time credible information from the nearest Florida public radio station.

Using a combination of state of the art weather tracking and forecasting technology and the expertise of staff meteorologists at WUFT-FM, the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications public radio station and host to the FPREN StormCenter, Florida Storms helps deftly navigate weather-related emergencies, from preparedness checklists to storm updates to evacuation routes.

“Millions of people visit this state every year, and millions more have moved here since a hurricane last struck our shores ten years ago,” said Jeff Huffman, Florida Public Radio Meteorologist at UF. “Think about this: Twitter, YouTube, and even the iPhone weren’t around when Wilma made landfall back in 2005. To say there will be a lot of Floridians experiencing a potential disaster for the first time on social media or the smartphone is an understatement. We hope Florida Storms will help them cut through the noise and come to rely on a service that’s been proven for decades to be there in time of need, which is the backbone of public radio.”

FPREN communicates emergency information statewide through a seamless system of free over-the-air FM radio stations. The new mobile app extends the reach of the Florida station network with reliable and immediate accessibility on weather developments.

FlaStorms“The launch of the Florida Storms app is the natural next step into mobile distribution of the critical lifesaving information FPREN provides,” said Randy Wright, executive director of WUFT-FM and the Division of Multimedia Properties at UF’s College of Journalism and Communications. “The features of the app are groundbreaking and it’s very user-friendly.  Combine that with it being available at no charge equals what we believe will be an essential mobile tool for Floridians and visitors to our state.”

The iOS app, now available free in the Apple App Store, was developed in collaboration with mobile engagement provider Mobiquity. An Android version will be ready early this fall.

Among the features of the new app are:

  • Weather map: Clean and fast national radar with 1-hour past loop and future radar up to 48 hours, including current temperatures, wind speeds and lightning data
  • Radio streaming: Live stream of nearest FPREN partner station, with ability to customize based on desired location
  • News feed: Multiple feeds of real-time watch and warning information from various sources, with simultaneous advisory text and radar view
  • Emergency preparedness: Information for a weather disaster, including what to do before, during and after a storm
  • Push notifications: Customizable, from the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center.


Florida public radio stations joined forces with the Florida Division of Emergency Management to form FPREN in 2014. The FPREN Storm Center is operated by WUFT-FM at the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications providing local 24/7 weather, data and storm updates to all stations in the network.

FPREN stations collectively cover 99 percent of the state and are locally staffed and equipped to stay on the air even during times of massive power outages in order to deliver important information to local audiences before, during and after an emergency. In the event of a weather incident, the FPREN stations will continue to provide recovery information for as long as necessary. Working in partnership with the Florida Division of Emergency Management and local Emergency Operations Centers, listeners and users of the mobile app can be assured of having access to the most up to date information.

About FPBS

FPBS is a non-profit association of public radio and public television stations in the state of Florida. As the largest broadcasting network in the state, we reach more than 99 percent of Florida’s population through traditional broadcast, online tools and community engagement. FPBS stations are a state partner in education, emergency management and public affairs. Through our collaborative efforts, we identify and implement regional and statewide projects that enhance and sustain community initiatives that serve the citizens of Florida. For more information, visit the FPBS website at www.fpbs.org.

Category: College News

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Dodd Gives Advice to Teaching Assistants in Inside Higher Ed

Published: August 28th, 2015

Julie Dodd

Julie Dodd

Inside Higher Ed on August 28, 2105 published, “Tips for New Teaching Assistants,” an article by Journalism Professor Julie Dodd based on her presentation at UF’s Orientation for New Teaching Assistants.

Category: The College in the News

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Wanta Gives Anniversary Lecture at Dhaka University in Bangladesh

Published: August 27th, 2015

Mofizur Rhaman, Arefin Siddique, Wayne Wanta, and Akhtar Sultana.

Journalism professor Wayne Wanta is presented with a plaque commemorating his Anniversary Lecture at Dhaka University in Bangladesh. The Anniversary Lecture highlighted activities celebrating 50-plus years of instruction in the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism.

Pictured with Wanta, from left: Mofizur Rhaman, chair of the Department of Mass Communication and Journalism; Arefin Siddique, Vice Chancellor of Dhaka University; and Akhtar Sultana, professor and chairperson.

Category: College News

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2015 Bateman Team Wins FPRA Award of Distinction

Published: August 26th, 2015


From left to right: Nathan King, Valeria Yulee and Andrea Cepeda. Team members Trisha Tucker and Eliot Levy and adviser Deanna Pelfrey were unable to attend the awards event.

CJC’s 2015 Bateman Team won the Florida Public Relations Association Award of Distinction in the Student Projects in Public Relations Division Public Relations Campaign category for their “Imagine…a Place Called Home” project.

The team won second place in the Public Relations Student Society of America national competition for the same project.

The Bateman team includes seniors Andrea Cepeda, Nathan King, Elliot Levy, Trisha Tucker and Valeria Yulee. They were presented with the award in a ceremony on August 11.

Category: College News, Student Awards

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Clay Calvert Article Examines Content-based vs. Content-Neutral Regulations of Speech

Published: August 24th, 2015

Clay Calvert, professor of journalism and Brechner Eminent Scholar in Mass Communication and Director of the Marion B. Brechner First Amendment Project at the University of Florida, published an article in the Richmond Journal of Law and Public Interest titled Content-based Confusion and Panhandling: Muddling a Weathered First Amendment Doctrine Takes its Toll on Society’s Less Fortunate.


This article examines multiple problems now plaguing the fundamental dichotomy in First Amendment jurisprudence between content-based and content-neutral regulations of speech.

The troubles were highlighted by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2014 divided decision in McCullen v. Coakley. Building from McCullen, this article uses a quartet of federal court rulings from 2014 and 2013 involving anti-begging ordinances affecting the home-less as analytical springboards for examining these issues in depth.

Ultimately, the article proposes a three-step framework for mitigating the muddle and calls on the nation’s high court to take action to clarify the proper test for distinguishing between content-based and content-neutral regulations.

Category: Research News

New Fundraising Course Offered for First Time

Published: August 21st, 2015

Professor Kathleen Kelly lectures to fundraising management class. Joining CJC’s roster of graduate classes this fall is a new course on fundraising tactics, MMC 6936 (02EE)—Fundraising Communication Fundamentals (syllabus). The 2015 fall class is held Tuesdays, Periods 9 to 11, and is open to all current graduate students.

The course is organized into four modules of four weeks each covering different types of fundraising tactics, and each module is taught by a different CJC graduate faculty member – representing three of the Colleges four departments.

Dr. Julie Dodd, professor of journalism, leads off the course with her module on “Writing Effective Business Communication Tactics.” Dodd previously was named the College’s Teacher of the Year and twice received a UF TIP Award for outstanding teaching. She serves on the UF Graduate Student Teacher Awards Committee and the UF Faculty Senate. Her research focuses on pedagogy and technology use.

Dr. Amy Jo Coffey, associate professor of telecommunication, teaches the second module on “Mastering Interpersonal Communication Tactics with Diverse Publics.” Coffey’s expertise focuses on ethnic and non-English speaking audiences in the United States, audience behavior and preferences, and advertiser perception of ethnic audiences. Her teaching and research has earned her several UF awards, including being named a 2014-2016 UF Foundation Research Professor.

Dr. James Babanikos, associate professor of telecommunication, teaches the third module on “Producing Electronic Communication Tactics.” Babanikos has experience in writing, directing, producing and editing films and digital/video programs in virtually every genre, including drama, documentary, corporate, and television commercials. He has received production grants from various organizations, including the Independent Television Service, and his projects have won many awards in competitions.

Dr. Linjuan “Rita” Men, assistant professor of public relations, wraps up the course with her module on “Utilizing Digital and Social Media Communication Channels.” Men is a specialist on digital engagement, leadership communication, and employee relations. Her recent research on social media has earned her five awards from national and international communication conferences and associations. Men just joined the UF faculty this semester after three years at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

MMC 6936—Fundraising Communication Fundamentals is one of the two required core courses in the College’s new Graduate Certificate in Fundraising Management. The certificate, which requires just nine credit hours to complete, is one of only a few in the nation that qualifies for graduate credit. Students can complete the certificate in as little as two semesters, and its courses may be taken as electives to satisfy degree requirements – at both the master’s and doctoral levels.

The fundraising certificate program likely is the first in the United States that is co-sponsored by a university-affiliated foundation, the University of Florida Foundation. Upon completion of the certificate, students will be granted an exploratory interview with the Foundation for available employment opportunities.

Detailed information on the certificate program is available at www.jou.ufl.edu/fundraising-management. For more information on MMC 6936—Fundraising Communications Fundamentals, e-mail the coordinator of the program, Dr. Kathleen Kelly at kskelly@jou.ufl.edu.

Category: College News

Dodd Gives Presentation at UF Orientation for New Teaching Assistants

Published: August 20th, 2015

UF Teaching Assistant Orientation

Julie Dodd

Julie Dodd

Journalism Professor Julie Dodd made a presentation on “Your Syllabus and the First Week of Class” at UF’s Orientation for New Teaching Assistants. Four hundred new teaching assistants attended the orientation, sponsored by the Graduate Division and the UF Teaching Center.​

Category: College News

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Hank Conner’s last radio show featured in Gainesville Sun

Published: August 20th, 2015

Hank Conner

Hank Conner

Professor Emeritus Hank Conner is hosting his last radio call-in show, Conner Calling, on WUFT-FM on August 21, 2015. The Gainesville Sun features the occasion in the August 20, 2015 article, “Now 76, Hank Conner airs his last ‘Conner Calling’ show Friday.”

Linda Hon, Jungyun Won and Ah Ram Lee Receive PRSA’s 2015 Top Faculty Research Award

Published: August 20th, 2015

Linda Hon

Linda Hon

Professor of Public Relations Linda Hon and doctoral students Jungyun Won and Ah Ram Lee have won PRSA’s 2015 Top Faculty Research paper for their research on factors that influence individuals’ decisions to participate and remain engaged in online social issue campaigns.


“The Role of Situational Awareness and Participation Benefits on Motivating Publics’ Online Social Campaign Behavior Intentions: Moderating Effects of Social Ties Influence”

The digital era has raised a new and important question for public relations professionals: What factors influence individuals’ decisions to participate and remain engaged in online social issue campaigns? Research conducted prior to the ubiquity of the Internet and social media suggested that people tend to mobilize around issues for which they have strong situational awareness, that is, issues they care about, feel involved in, and feel they can do something about. This study builds upon this framework by introducing possible additional predictors that may be especially relevant for online engagement including perceived benefits of participation and the strength of a participant’s social ties to the issue.

A random sample of 491 U.S. citizens was contacted through Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing tool from Amazon. Participants responded to a survey that included a fictitious Facebook page designed to recruit supporters for an online campaign about animal welfare and protection. Results showed that an individual’s situational awareness about the issue and perceived participation benefits were significant predictors of willingness to engage in the online social campaign through activities such as sharing information, signing a petition, and donating.

The study also found that influence from social ties moderates the relationship between situational awareness and willingness to participate. Respondents with strong social ties to the issue through family and friends expressed more willingness to participate compared to respondents with only weak ties to the issue characterized by awareness gleaned from celebrities or authority figures who support the cause. However, in instances of high situational awareness, even weak ties can motivate participation. These results suggest that professional communicators should include strong appeals about participation benefits in their online campaign strategy as well as understand the potentially powerful influence of a participant’s social ties to the issue.

Yu-Hao Lee and Colleagues Receive Half Million Dollar Award from NSF

Published: August 20th, 2015

Yu-Hao Lee

Yu-Hao Lee

Assistant Professor of Telecommunication Yu-Hao Lee and colleagues from Oklahoma University and University of California-Santa Barbara, have been awarded $549,061 from National Science Foundation Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies program.

The two-year project will design and test a digital game to overcome reactance in training and teach professionals (especially law officials) how to overcome bias and problematic heuristics in deception detection. OU will be in charge of developing the game and Professor Lee will be involved in the design process and developing scales in year one. In year two, the team will conduct experiments at UF and at UCSB.


Teaching Bias Mitigation through Training Games with Application in Credibility Attribution

The Cyberlearning and Future Learning Technologies Program funds efforts that will help envision the next generation of learning technologies and advance what we know about how people learn in technology-rich environments. Cyberlearning Exploration (EXP) Projects explore the viability of new kinds of learning technologies by designing and building new kinds of learning technologies and studying their possibilities for fostering learning and challenges to using them effectively. This project will develop and study an interactive game entitled VERITAS for making players aware of their cognitive bias in decision making and attempting to mitigate its effects. The game focuses on detecting deception and many of the research participants are from law enforcement.

Heuristics are cognitive shortcuts acquired from existing beliefs and past experiences. Heuristics and cognitive biases affect virtually every judgment being made in daily life. Humans often perform no better than chance when attempting to distinguish truths from deception and tend to be over-confident in their ability to detect deception. They are rarely aware of their own biases and are resistant to traditional training efforts aimed at changing decision-making processes. There are few studies verifying our ability to mitigate cognitive biases.

This project will explore using game-based learning to make people aware of cognitive biases and reduce their reliance on simple heuristics. The project asserts that the experiential environment afforded by game-based learning should be particularly effective at facilitating the introspection necessary for learners to actively experiment with more systematic decision-making techniques. It will experimentally test the effectiveness of a game-based training program targeting law enforcement officials. This research integrates a theory-driven design using multiple research methods, including observation of behavior during game play, surveys, interviewing, and experimentation. This project will contribute to the understanding of how cognitive biases function within the context of deception detection and will advance understanding of how a game may be better suited than traditional learning methods at mitigating cognitive biases. Results will be disseminated through convention exhibitions and journal publications and the team plans to showcase this game at professional conferences with game developers, law enforcement officials, and the general public.