Tut Underwood

Reporter, Producer

Tut Underwood is producer of  South Carolina Focus, a weekly news feature. A native of Alabama, Tut graduated from Auburn University with a BA in Speech Communication.  He worked in radio in his hometown before moving to Columbia where he received a Master of Mass Communications degree from the University of South Carolina, and worked for local radio while pursuing his degree.  He also worked in television. He was employed as a public information specialist for USC, and became Director of Public Information and Marketing for the South Carolina State Museum. His hobbies include reading, listening to music in a variety of styles and collecting movies and old time radio programs.

Ways to Connect

Jesse Colin Young still tours and records music, but a half-century after the Summer of Love, he's still proud of the Youngbloods anthem of peace, "Get Together."
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

June 1967 heralded the Summer of Love, when tens of thousands of America’s young people headed to San Francisco with flowers in their hair. The Monterrey Pop Festival was the first major rock event of its kind, and brought wider attention to emerging artists such as The Who, the Jimi Hendrix Experience and Big Brother and the Holding Company, with its electrifying singer, Janis Joplin. USC historian Lauren Sklaroff says San Francisco had long been a place where people who felt like outsiders could gather with others like themselves.

Not leaving a will is considered the biggest "sin" of estate planning.  Even an online form, not the best of ideas, is better than no will at all.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Perhaps as much as 50 to 60 percent of South Carolinians do not have a will.  According to attorney Bert Brannon, a will is a person’s last chance to say what he or she wants to happen to his/her possessions, so it should be taken seriously.  Brannon and Richland County Probate Judge Amy McCullough name some reasons why people put off making a will, and why not leaving a will is a really bad idea.  While It has no effect on the deceased at all, it can cause untold distress and trouble for those left behind.

Fire Ants
Marufish via Flickr [CC BY-SA 2.0]

    Fire ants are a perennial problem in the South, and in South Carolina, but science is working to control them.  Aiken County Clemson Extension Agent Vicki Bertagnalli and former Richland County Clemson Extension Agent Tim Davis both have tested ant baits before they were marketed, and say they can be 85-90 percent effective in controlling fire ants when used in the spring and fall. 

Drummer Paul Riddle
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

  

  Paul Riddle helped put Spartanburg on the musical map as the drummer for the original Marshall Tucker Band. Today he teaches drums in Greenville and can’t believe his good fortune that he’s able to work with young people while playing the drums all day. In this segment, the nationally esteemed musician recounts stories of the Tucker Band, and a longtime (20 years!) student and a fellow teacher comment on his remarkable skills and his commitment to music.

Megan Scharett, a new high school graduate from the Lowcountry, looks forward to a career in the food industry.  She has apprenticed with a prestigious restaurant in Charleston and taken many college courses at Trident Technical College through the Youth
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Today's job market is changing rapidly, and whether the field is health care, advanced manufacturing or information technology, there are high paying jobs for trained workers with a two-year associate’s degree from one of South Carolina's technical colleges. The Youth Apprenticeship Program at the state’s tech colleges acts as a "middleman" between businesses needing trained workers and students looking for meaningful careers. But not just college students.

Jovial Joe Pinner has been a familiar face, and voice, in South Carolina broadcasting for more than a half century.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Joe Pinner has been a fixture on South Carolina television since 1963. He's known from one end of South Carolina to the other - and beyond, not only as a weatherman and familiar children’s show host "Mr. Knozit" for 37 years, but as a commercial spokesman and emcee at scores of parades and festivals statewide. Today Pinner, who still pitches in at WIS-TV on Fridays at age 80-something, talks about his beginnings in radio, how he developed his familiar, booming voice, and the origins of the Knozit show.

Imperial storm troopers have become instantly recognizable "bad guys" in the wake of the phenomenal success of the Star Wars films.
Pixabay/gromit15

With indelible characters such as Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, Han Solo and R2D2, George Lucas’s “Star Wars” hit theaters on May 25, 1977, and the world of pop culture would never be the same.  The phenomenal success of the film has created an industry that includes books, toys, clothing and much more, in addition to a series of monster hit movies.  Looking back on the movie’s beginnings in this report, “Star Wars” aficionado Aaron Nicewonger relates how initial doubt about the film’s chances for success allowed Lucas to retain a large percent of the merchandising for the film, making him

The mandolin is a central of many Bluegrass groups. (Mandolin player with the Jeff Austin Band, on stage at the 80/35 music festival in Des Moines, July, 2016.)
Max Goldberg via Flickr [CC BY 2.0}

Bluegrass music has always been popular in South Carolina, but Willie Wells thinks it’s about to break out to a new, mass popularity.  Every Friday night, Wells holds a bluegrass jam at his store, Bill’s Music Shop and Pickin’ Parlor.  Fans and musicians enjoy a performance before getting out their guitars, banjos and fiddles to play country, gospel and bluegrass tunes with each other. 

This full-scale replica of Christopher Columbus ship the Nina serves, with its partner, the Pinta, as a floating museum and classroom, as it proved to students and tourists on a recent weeklong stop in Charleston.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Christopher Columbus's historic voyages have come alive through full-size replicas of two of his famous ships, the Nina and the Pinta, which sail the east coast and internal river systems of the United States as floating museums.  On a  recent visit to Charleston, school classes and tourists got a feel for what life would be like on such a ship, called a caravel, on a trans-oceanic voyage.  Romantic, yes.

photo of an old college campus in spring
David Mark, via Pixabay [CC0 1.0]

High schools all over the state graduate students at this time of year. But this time next year, Charleston County will begin graduating some students with a high school diploma and a college associate’s degree at the same time. Following a national trend already begun in other counties, Charleston has approved an “early college” program beginning this fall. According to Charleston County School District official Kim Wilson, the program will start with a class of 100 this fall and add 100 more each fall for the next three years.

The horn section of the band at Lee Correctional Institution.  Musicians work on original songs to perform with members of DeCoda, a New York-based chamber music group.   The annual week of collaboration is something new for everyone involved.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Lee Correctional Institution in Bishopville counts numerous musicians among its inmates.  Such is their talent that they have attracted the attention of DeCoda, a New York-based chamber music group.  For four years now, the prison has sponsored a program with the group in which DeCoda comes to work with the prisoners at Lee for a week to write and play music for an annual performance.

Elder law attorneys try to meet with their senior clients regarding services such as wills and powers of attorney before they are needed, so the clients' wishes are carried out without confusion when the need arises.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

May is Elder Law Month, which seeks to increase awareness of a relatively new area of legal practice.   Elder law came into being in the last 20 to 30 years to help senior citizens, and more recently, people with special needs, regardless of age.  Elder law attorney Lauren Wasson says the specialty often helps older people navigate the hurdles to qualify for Medicaid or VA benefits, but it also frequently involves services to seniors and their families such as wills, powers of attorney and guardianship/conservatorship.  Her colleague, Andy Atkins, also warns of the biggest legal problem fac

White-hat hackers keep up with the latest tricks of cyber criminals to help them fight these "black hats" and protect the information of businesses.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Hacking, whether it’s into a bank, insurance company or an individual’s records, is a serious, and growing crime in the 21st century.  The damages inflicted by hackers in the United States alone can reach into the billions of dollars annually.

Solar eclipse - November 13, 2012.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

On Aug. 21, a total solar eclipse will cover a 70- mile-wide strip of South Carolina from Greenville through Columbia to Charleston. University of South Carolina Astronomy Professor Steve Rodney is already making plans for the event. The last few days have seen the sun in the same place in the sky it will be on Aug. 21, so Rodney and his students can prepare well for the once-in-a lifetime event in the Midlands. They’ve located where the sun will be to make sure there will be no obstructions, and he’s got students scouting the best locations on campus for eclipse watching.

Robert Zander's West Columbia home was heavily damaged by the historic rains that produced the flood of October 2015.  With help from a nonprofit disaster relief agency.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

The flood of October 2015 damaged homes it didn’t even enter, as West Columbia resident Robert Zander discovered the hard way. The historically heavy rains soaked the ground in his yard, causing a large tree to fall through his roof. Rain waters soaked the interior and rotted sheetrock all over the house. After a frustrating six months dealing with FEMA, Zander was about to give up when Hearts and Hands, a non-profit disaster recovery agency, showed up. Together with its partners in Brethren Disaster Ministries, repairs were made, even exceeding Zander’s expectations.

Orders in hand, Navy Capt. Marc A. Mitscher, skipper of the USS Hornet (CV-8) chats with Lt. Col. James Doolittle, leader of the Army Air Forces attack group. This group of fliers carried the battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire.
U.S. Navy

75 years ago (April 18 1942) 80 brave men did what had never been attempted: they flew army bombers off a U.S. aircraft carrier on their way to bomb Tokyo.  The attack, which has become known to history as the Doolittle Raid, was America’s first strike back at Japan after the infamous sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that brought the United States into World War II.  In this report, Mount Pleasant author James Scott talks about the significance of the raid to the war, and its great psychological effect both on the American and Japanese publics. 

(April 21, 1972) Astronaut Charles M. Duke Jr., Lunar Module pilot of the Apollo 16 mission, is photographed collecting lunar samples at Station no. 1 during the first Apollo 16 extravehicular activity at the Descartes landing site.
NASA

On April 16, 1972, with the deafening blast of a Saturn V rocket, the Apollo 16 mission carried three Americans to the moon.   Five days later, Charles M. Duke Jr. of Lancaster, South Carolina became the 10th man of only 12 in history to walk on the surface of the moon.   In this report Duke, a retired Air Force general, talks about his historic mission, including the difficulties of landing and the advances in science made because of the space program, as well as his role as communications liason on the Apollo 11 mission, which put the first men on the moon.  

Golf club next to golf ball.
[CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Golf is an economic juggernaut for the South Carolina, accounting for a $3 billion economic impact on the state.  A large part of that will be felt in one week; the week between the Master’s and the Heritage golf tournaments.  Duane Parrish, director of the S.C. Dept.

Tim Tebow at a Columbia Fireflies press conference.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Former Heisman Trophy winner and NFL quarterback Tim Tebow has taken on a new challenge: breaking into baseball at age 29.  Signed to the New York Mets organization, Tebow has begun working his way through the minor league ranks beginning in South Carolina’s capital city.  Tebow has been assigned to the single A Columbia Fireflies, and the fans have turned out in large numbers.  Hopes are not only that Tebow will be an asset on the field, but the Fireflies’ president and a University of South Carolina sports management professor predict he will have a positive economic impact on the team a

Charleston School of Law student Tyler Gilliam rehearses his tax argument with Prof. Kristin Gutting as his partner Anna Boning looks on.  Gutting coached the students to the school's sixth consecutive tax moot court national championship.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

For a law student, winning a national moot court championship is like winning the Super Bowl.  And Charleston School of Law students recently did it an astounding six times in a row.  Teams of students argue cases in front of judges to simulate situations in a real courtroom – in this case,  it was tax law, though other disciplines of law have their own moot courts.  This year’s winners, Anna Boning and Tyler Gilliam,  have the distinction of being the first team to repeat the feat, and win the competition for the second time. 

This drone is ready to fly.  Drones have many applications ,but the law hasn't caught up with some of them yet.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Drones are becoming more and more common, with possibly a million or more sold in 2015.  As recreation, they’ve been used as an extension of the traditional model airplane.  Newer uses in business, government and other enterprises have seen them used for traffic monitoring, inspecting farm crops and even collecting information from whale spray.  In this report, law professor Bryant Smith talks about legal concerns brought about by the use of drones, and oceanographer George Voulgaris and graduate student Doug Cahl discuss the drone’s role in various areas of research.

Aiken County cotton farmer Carl Brown overlooks one of his fields.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

American consumers buy nearly 20 billion new items of clothing a year, many of them made of Southern cotton, but 98 percent made overseas.  A University of South Carolina professor wondered about the journey of cotton from South Carolina to China and back. Laura Kissel says she learned a lot about the cotton-to-cloth-to-clothing process while making a documentary film about the people who grow the cotton and make the garments.  

Aiken County farmer Carl Brown discusses the changes in cotton farming over the course of his career. 

USC Law School's Pro Bono program provides student volunteers for legal services throughout South Carolina.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

It’s tax season, and many people are working with tax preparers.  But some preparers are giving away their services for free to elderly or low income clients.  They’re tax law students in the Pro Bono program at the University of South Carolina School of Law.  The Pro Bono program provides volunteer services to many causes year round: clerks for pro bono lawyers, research, wills and other areas of the law. 

Poison Center operator Kelly Funderburg, a former emergency room nurse, answers a call and looks up information to advise the caller about a potential toxin.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

A child has drunk sweet-smelling shampoo.  A senior has taken his wife’s prescription by mistake.   A person comes to the emergency room after taking multiple medications at 3 in the morning.  What to do?  The Palmetto Poison Center is on-call 24/7 to help with cases from parents’ worries to questions from doctors unfamiliar with the effects of varying drugs taken together. 

Forester Chase Folk looks over a section of Sumter National Forest in Newberry County.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

For 90 years, the South Carolina Forestry Commission has fought fires and advised landowners on how they can best manage the woodlands on their property.   According to Forest Management Chief Russell Hulbright and Forester Chase Folks, forests can be managed for timber production, wildlife protection, aesthetics, soil and water preservation, or a combination of these outcomes.  Hulbright says the public benefits from trees just from the fact that they’re out there along the highways of South Carolina.  The state is blessed to have 13 million acres covered by public and private forests, acc

Edvard Tchivzhel, conductor of Greenville Symphony Orchestra.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

    Live classical music is widely available in the Palmetto State, thanks to orchestras in at least seven South Carolina cities. But even the same music can be approached differently by different orchestras and conductors. 

Tennis pro and Charleston native Shelby Rogers keeps up her practice on a recent visit home.
Tut Underwood/ SC Public Radio

Charleston native Shelby Rogers has risen through the ranks in women’s tennis over the last few years, currently ranking #48.  She started off the year in grand style, defeating the world’s number 4 player, Simona Halep, in the Australian Open.   As she looks forward to returning home to play the Volvo Car Open on Daniel Island this month, she took the time to reflect on the beginnings of her career, her practice routine, and the price she’s paid to be a professional athlete.  

A volunteer's transport van bears the slogan MAMAS on the Move.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

Many stray dogs from South Carolina are finding homes in other states thanks to Bamberg’s Mary Ann Morris Animal Society, also known as MAMAS.  The no-kill animal shelter has developed a transport system that shuttles dogs to willing owners by way of a “pipeline” of volunteers that relay the animals from North Carolina to Maine and Vermont.  The dedicated volunteers talk about their devotion to saving these pets for new owners who are excited to give them loving homes, and keep in touch with MAMAS to update staff on the lives of dogs they’ve rescued. 

kerttu/pixabay

As times and technology evolve, so does crime.  Members of the Midlands Gang Task Force, a union of specialists from the Richland and Lexington County Sheriff’s Offices, the Columbia, Cayce and West Columbia Police Departments and more, see the methods of area gangs change from drug and violent crime, increasingly to white collar crimes such as tax and insurance fraud and identity theft.

Mopeds at Hawg Scooters, Rosewood Drive, Columbia. 2.	More South Carolinians are riding mopeds, and there are numerous reasons why.
Tut Underwood/SC Public Radio

On any day in any college town across the state a multitude of students can be seen negotiating the streets on mopeds. But they are by no means the only riders. The use of these low-power scooters is exploding across South Carolina, and the nation. Today we talk with two dealers who explain the phenomenon, as well as a rider who tells of the advantages he gets from his moped.

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