I’m a lifelong Penn State fan. It’s binary in Western Pennsylvania – you either root for Pitt or Penn State – and I was in a distinct minority among my friends. 

I’m not sure why. Nobody in my family went to Penn State. We’re diehards anyway, which also means Ohio State and Michigan are the devil.

In other news, Maddie got into Carnegie Mellon for musical theater. It’s a pretty big deal. 

The most exclusive program in the country, CMU only takes 6 women into its freshmen class. It perennially ranks as the first or second-best musical theater school, graduating Broadway stars like Leslie Odom Jr., Renée Elise Goldsberry, and many others who weren’t in the original cast of Hamilton, like Sutton Foster.

Also, Tara works at CMU. 

In recent years, the University of Michigan (boo!) began nipping at CMU’s heels as the preeminent MT program in the U.S. They’re now ranked #1 in landing alumni on Broadway – including pretty much the entire cast of Mean Girls. Not coincidentally, the chair of Michigan’s program is a CMU grad. 

Michigan accepts a whopping 12 women every year, but among many more applicants. This year, only three women nationally got into both CMU and Michigan and two of them are from Pittsburgh. One of them incessantly leaves dirty dishes in our sink, even when there’s an empty dishwasher sitting just 18 inches away. I digress.  

Pittsburgh punches way above its weight in the performing arts, if you didn’t know. We have the steel barons and their massive foundations to thank for that. Our venues are stellar, so touring shows stop here shortly after they leave New York. The CLO Academy, where Maddie has trained since she was 6, is unrivaled nationally. We’re lucky to be here.

I’ve been torn. As much as I hate Michigan and would love to have her just minutes away, I also know leaving home for Rollins was one of the greatest experiences of my life. Going to college ten minutes from home, where your mom works, doesn’t have the same ring to it.   

We left the decision entirely up to her. And she committed to Michigan. My Penn State-loving dad will roll over in his grave the first time I wear a “Wolverine Dad” shirt. 

Actually, no he won’t. He would’ve done exactly the same thing. 

Go Blue, I guess.

Thanks for letting me brag. I’ve written so much about it over the years, I figured I’d share.  

Here’s what we’re seeing:   

People care way less about the environment right now. A funny thing happens when you’re navigating a deadly pandemic, inflation, political upheavals, and global unrest – your priorities shift dramatically. And while the climate change crisis in the world is doing anything but subsiding, Americans are far less concerned about it than they were two years ago. This sucks, yes, but it is what it is. People worry about the here and now. Climate catastrophes are our kids’ problem. Sigh.

Weed should run for president. In my still very young 46 years on this Earth, there are two issues where public opinion has shifted by the widest margin. One is our collective LGBTQ+ support (whatever, Florida). The second is public acceptance of marijuana (I’m looking at you, New York). In observance of 4/20, which I’m told has particular significance among pot-lovers for some unknown reason, we published our latest study on the popularity of ganja among the U.S. population. A full 64% of Americans now believe herb should be legalized for recreational use – including 59% of Fox News viewers. Thirty-seven percent of people get high at least occasionally, with 13% doing it every day. Edibles are growing in popularity by leaps and bounds. What were we just talking about?


The pandemic sucked for terrestrial radio. I’m totally a statistic on this one. I was a vociferous drive-time radio listener in the before times, catching the pop radio morning show while driving Noelle to school and geeking out on sports talk on the way home from work. Now I barely do any of it. Indeed, remote workers and people who left the workforce during the pandemic are listening to less radio. Among radio listeners, the largest percentage by far tune in during the 6-9 a.m. window. Getting people back into their morning commute is critical to the industry. 

On that note, if people are braving morning rush hour again, it may not be by choice. Tucked away in our radio study was this little chart. It speaks for itself.

Going mask-less could make airplanes veer to the right. Americans are statistically divided on the news that COVID masks are no longer required on passenger flights. Twenty-four percent of people say it makes them more likely to fly. Twenty-four percent say it makes them less likely. The rest are in the middle. In the least shocking findings you’ll ever read, sentiment is heavily skewed by political tribe. Republicans are 4X more likely to say dropped mask mandates make them more likely to fly. Dems are 3X more likely to say they’ll fly less. If they put their airfare where their mouth is, this could have all kinds of implications by region and carrier. 


People are stocking up on outdoor apparel and equipment as nice weather (finally) approaches. Over two-thirds of Americans are planning some form of outdoor recreation this year, with hiking and general nature-viewing ranking first on their list. An even half of U.S. adults plan to purchase clothes and/or gear for their outside adventures in the next 3 months. That’s a lot of Patagonia, Columbia, Cabela’s, and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Just expect people to be shopping for deals in the current inflationary environment. Now, if it will just stop snowing this spring.

Our latest Trend Adoption tracker was released this week. Most technology categories – and oat milk – continue to grow. You can see the stuff we give away for free here. If you want to see the other 90% of the iceberg, send me a note. 

 More great content from the CivicScientists:

The top questions this week:

Answer Key: Sure; Definitely not; 50:50; Puns are the best; Almost always.

Hoping you’re well.


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