90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Hollowing Out America's Heartland
Storefronts in Calvert, Texas. (Flickr/rutlo; click for full image)

(Photo: Flickr/rutlo; click for full image)

For generations, small-town rural America was the iconic face of America. Main Street. Parades. Values. The heart of the nation. The ground beneath everything else.

Not now, says my guest today. Small-town rural America is hollowing out.

Corporate giants farm the fields. Small-town achievers run to the cities. And the heartland — the onetime backbone of the country — she says, is in trouble. Lights, going out. Leaders, leaving town.

Is she right? This hour, On Point: What’s going on with small-town rural America?

You can join the conversation. Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

Joining us from Philadelphia is Maria J. Kefalas, associate professor of sociology at Saint Joseph’s University. She’s author of “Working Class Heroes” and “Promises I Can Keep.”  Her new book, co-written with husband Patrick J. Carr, is “Hollowing Out the Middle: The Rural Brain Drain and What it Means for America.” Read an excerpt here.

Joining us from Des Moines, Iowa, is Ernest Goss, a professor of regional economics at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. He writes the Rural Mainstreet Index, a survey of key rural and small-town economic indicators, and is author of “Governing Fortune: Casino Gambling in America.”

And from Carroll, Iowa, we’re joined by Douglas Burns is a columnist for the Daily Times Herald in Carroll, Iowa, a newspaper owned by his family. He moved back after working in Washington, D.C. for four years. 

In a guest post on the On Point blog, Burns makes his pitch for why living in rural Iowa is better: “The time other people spend driving we spend living.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Dec 22, 2014
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks during his annual news conference in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014. The Russian economy will rebound and the ruble will stabilize, Russian President Vladimir Putin said. (AP)

A weak ruble and a turbulent economy. We look at Putin’s Russia and what its economic free fall means.

Dec 22, 2014
A sample of some of the costumes on display at the fall 2014 "Dance & Fashion" exhibition at New York City's Museum at FIT. (AP)

Couture fashion exhibits are drawing record crowds at museums. We’ll look at the beauty and the art behind the glitz.

RECENT
SHOWS
Dec 19, 2014
Soledad, and from left, Nina Pastori, and Lila Downs perform on stage at the Latin Recording Academy Person of the Year Tribute honoring Joan Manuel Serrat at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Wednesday, Nov. 19, 2014, in Las Vegas. (AP)

From crossover hits to hip-hop to soul, we look at a big year in the wide world of Latin music.

 
Dec 19, 2014
Alan Gross, waves as he and his wife Judy leave following his statement at his lawyer's office in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014. Gross was released from Cuba after 5 years in a Cuban prison. (AP)

Cuba reset. Russia’s rubble troubles. School massacre in Pakistan. Jeb explores 2016. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: December 19, 2014
Friday, Dec 19, 2014

Rage, shortlinks and things you people seem to be into, we guess. Also, Putin.

More »
Comment
 
Cosby Accuser Beverly Johnson: ‘He's A Black Man. I Had To Separate The Trayvon Martins, The Michael Browns From What Happened To Me’
Tuesday, Dec 16, 2014

Beverly Johnson accused comedian Bill Cosby of drugging her in a high-profile Vanity Fair column. She tells us why she waited so long to share her story, and why it was even harder to share now.

More »
3 Comments
 
Our Week In The Web: December 12, 2014
Friday, Dec 12, 2014

On listener engagement, the meeting of trans-Atlantic royalty and the elusive origins of the chicken. (We promise this feed hasn’t been taken over the BBC…yet)

More »
Comment