Flyover:  Down the Mississippi River
Archived Episodes Available at

MPR News Host Kerri Miller begins the town hall discussion in the Larose Civic Center, "down the bayou" in Lafourche Parish.
Credit Misty Leigh McElroy

Last week WWNO took part in a one-of-a-kind radio series with Minnesota Public Radio:  a week of live one-hour radio programs about the waterway that unites Mid-America, the Mississippi River.  Originating from Minnesota, Iowa, and right here in Louisiana, “Flyover: Down the Mississippi River” introduced listeners to the issues and concerns that come with Americans’ intensive use of the great river, including agricultural runoff that causes the “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, to Louisiana’s vanishing coastal wetlands. 

All five segments are available now at

Alligator farmer Ted Falgout argues for the necessity of a "big picture" viewpoint if coastal wetlands are to be preserved at all. Falgout is the former executive director of Port Fourchon, and is a board member of Restore or Retreat, a local coastal advocacy organization.
Credit Misty Leigh McElroy

Early in the week, for example, Louisiana listeners learned about the good intentions of numerous farmers upriver to control the nutrient-laden rain runoff that creates the annual dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico.  We also learned about the obstacles to widespread adoption of the farming approaches that would reduce this river pollution.  Callers kept Flyover host Kerri Miller and her producers busy with phoned-in questions and opinions, and Louisianans were prominent among them.

Shrimper and fleet owner David Chauvin, explains his position that restoration or flood control projects that damage shrimp habitat and shrimpers' livelihoods are not fair.
Credit Misty Leigh McElroy

Later in the week, listeners up north learned how that dead zone interferes with the domestic seafood harvest and challenges the livelihood of Louisiana’s independent shrimpers, oystermen, and fishermen. And they also heard about coastal land loss—how an expensive and complicated plan for restoration and flood prevention cannot preserve everyone’s homes, businesses, and way of life, forcing relocation for a growing number of people.

The series culminated in a town hall discussion at the Larose Civic Center, deep in Lafourche Parish. MPR News host Kerri Miller moderated the discussion among members of the live audience, broadcast Friday July 20 on WWNO and KTLN as well as numerous stations Mid-America.  Four invited participants helped introduce the issues surrounding coastal land loss to the far-ranging listening audience:

Lance Nacio, a Larose native of Filipino and Native American ancestry who is a shrimper and coastal advocate

Chief Brenda Dardar Robichaux of the United Houma Nation describes the effects of rising water on her people, faced with the loss of their homes and traditional way of life. Listening at left are Dr Denise Reed, a UNO coastal scientist, and Donald Bogen, a community organizer who helps residents transition to new kinds of work or to new homes farther inland.
Credit Misty Leigh McElroy

Brenda Dardar Rochichaux, a Raceland resident and former chief of the United Houma Nation

Donald Bogen, co-director of Bayou Interfaith Shared Community Organizing, who grew up in Thibodaux on land now underwater

Dr. Denise J. Reed, a Montegut resident and internationally recognized researcher on coastal marsh sustainability who has played a key role in developing the State’s Coastal Master Plan.  

“Flyover: Down the Mississippi River” has been an innovation for all the radio organizations involved.  The series was  produced by MPR News and American Public Media’s “Water Main” initiative, in collaboration with New Orleans Public Radio and Iowa Public Radio. Local broadcast was  supported by Canal Barge Company and the Tulane University ByWater Institute.  WWNO’s coastal news reporting is supported by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Foundation for Louisiana, and the Walton Family Foundation.