People & Profiles

Roman Totenberg: A Musical Life Remembered

By Nina Totenberg   |   Saturday, May 12, 2012
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Tim Gearan: Freewheelin' to National Fame

Tuesday, May 8, 2012
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May 8, 2012

Tim Gearan and guitarist Russell Chudnofsky perform "Money for the Train " from his new album Riverboat.

BOSTON — Steve Almond says Gearan is "poised to break out nationally" with his new album Riverboat, and likens Gearan's style to that of Randy Newman, The Band and Credence Clearwater Revival. "He's that good," Almond declared.

"I had pretty hip parents," Gearan said of his musical education and his early exposure to a wide variety of singer-songwriters' records from the 1960s and '70s.

You can catch Gearan for his live release of the new album this week at Atwood's Tavern in Cambridge.

Former Celtic Chris Herren Turns Boston Purple

Wednesday, April 25, 2012
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Boston's Prudential Center glowed purple to launch former NBA player Chris Herren's new campaign against teen drug abuse. (Photo: Purple Project/Facebook)
BOSTON — If you're wondering why parts of the Boston skyline glowed purple this week, we have your answer. Project Purple, an effort to rescue kids from the ravages of substance abuse, launched on Tuesday night. This initiative is the brainchild of someone whose own life was derailed by addiction.

Just a year ago, Greater Boston interviewed Celtics star Chris Herren, whose basketball career came to a halt when heroin abuse took over his life. He recounted his descent into hell and recovery in the book Basketball Junkie, and he traveled around the country talking about it.

"I'm on campus. I open my dorm room." Herren said. "There's two young girls sitting in my dorm room with my room mate, chopping up lines of cocaine. I've never seen cocaine, never touched cocaine. The two girls say, 'Chris just come sit down. It's no big deal. It's not going to hurt you.' I said, 'No thank you.' She said, 'I promise it's not going to hurt you. Nothing's going to happen.' I turned around, sat down in the chair, grabbed a dollar bill, snorted my first line of cocaine. That day I decided to snort cocaine, at 18 years old, opened doors for me I was not able to close for the next 15 years."

Then a strange thing happened on the way through his book tour. Herren's life became the subject of an ESPN documentary, and his story became the inspiration for young kids struggling with substance abuse.

Project Purple comes from The Herren Project, a non-profit foundation established by Chris Herren that assists individuals and families struggling with addiction. Visit their website to see the creative ways kids are sporting the color purple and get your own purple kit.

Senate Candidate Marisa DeFranco

By Jordan Weinstein   |   Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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April 18, 2012

BOSTON — In all the Elizabeth Warren/Scott Brown volleying, sometimes we lose sight of the fact that the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate is not yet set. Immigration lawyer Marisa DeFranco talked to WGBH News about jobs, taxes and the status of her campaign.

On being considered the underdog
I'd actually be happy if [the media] were reporting me as the underdog. But the problem is that they've mostly failed to mention my name or contact me! … It is so early still in this race. I mean everybody wants everything yesterday and I don't understand the desire to sort of close down the democratic, small-D democratic process where you actually vet the candidates and let the voters decide. And the media's not doing that because by completely failing to mention that there is another Democratic candidate in the race they foreclose the possibility of people learning about my candidacy.
On fundraising
[As a lowball estimate] all told I believe we've raised $40,000. The only thing is that we've been consistent every quarter. … My challenge as somebody who's a real person, who lives and works in Massachusetts but who doesn't have fame nationwide or that access to money, was to make sure that my campaign was founded in message. And quite frankly you can have all the money in the world but if you don't have a message and a plan to tell the people how you're going to fix these problem then it doesn't mean anything in my opinion. And I mean that specifically because neither Scott nor Elizabeth has a jobs plan as far as I can see.
On her jobs plan
I believe in investing federal money into putting Americans back to work. $100 billion over two years would create 2 million green jobs. It's a start to get us back into a thriving economy.
On the Buffett Rule
I support a progressive tax system where everybody pays their fair share across the board. The other thing, though, and this is going to be somewhat strange to hear from a Democrat, but I do think — the tax burden is carried by about 50 percent of the population and the other half doesn't pay anything … I do think even if it's $5, even if it's $10, I think everybody should be, as Americans, part of the system. Everybody should feel vested in the system. So I think it's important for everybody to pay taxes so we're all, as Americans, contributing to the system.
On the war in Afghanistan
We need to be out of there. I mean, my preference would be by the end of the year. I know that logistically, though, it could take until the end of 2013 [to do it] as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. But I think that by the end of 2013, that should be a hard deadline.

> > WATCH: Marisa DeFranco on Greater Boston (January 2012)


Get Some Fresh Air

Wednesday, April 18, 2012
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'No Dame Ever Ran No Marathon'

By Annie Shreffler   |   Saturday, April 14, 2012
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April 14, 2012


Katherine Switzer, of Syracuse, NY, found herself about to be thrown out of the Boston Marathon when a husky companion, Thomas Miller, threw a block that tossed a race official out of the running instead. (April 19, 1967 in Hopkinton, Mass. Photo: AP)

Listen to Morning Edition host Bob Seay's extended interview with Katherine Switzer.

BOSTON — As a student running with the men's track team at Syracuse University, Katherine Switzer challenged her coach to train her for the 1967 Boston Marathon, to which he retorted, "No dame ever ran no marathon!"

He may not have heard of Roberta Gibbs, who in 1966, hid in the bushes near the start of the marathon in Hopkinton, Mass., and completed the race—without a number—disguised in her brother's running gear. She was hailed after the event for disproving the position held by many sports officials that women were incapable of running such distances.

In 1967, when Switzer outran her coach over 31 miles, he declared her eligible to enter the Boston Marathon. He accompanied her, and even defended her, as she became the first woman to finish the Boston Marathon with a number: 261.

Not long after the start of the run, infuriated race official Jock Semple tried to pull Switzer off the course, establishing the infamous moment in race history and beginning Switzer's long career as a runner, author and advocate for women's athletics. She is now a well-known speaker and champion of Title IX, which 40 years ago made it illegal for any organization receiving federal funds to discriminate against women, and became the basis for starting women's high school and collegiate sports programs.

Switzer also helped to establish a women's marathon as an official event in the Olympic games. The first time women ran in an Olympic marathon was in 1984, and American Joan Benoit became the first women's Olympic marathon champion. Benoit returns to Boston to run this year in the 116th Boston Marathon.

In 1972, women were finally allowed to register for the Boston Marathon, and that year, Nina Kuscsik became the first woman to officially complete the race. The Boston Athletic Association, host of the Boston Marathon, paid tribute during this year's annual Champions’ Breakfast to the women who ran as official members of the 76th marathon forty years ago: Kuscsik, Switzer, Pat Barrett, Sara Mae Berman and Valerie Rogosheske, as well as poineering runner Robera Gibbs.

In the extended interview with WGBH Morning Edition host Bob Seay, you can hear Switzer recall how on that day 45 years ago,  she was frightened and surprised by Semple's reaction and took her coaches advice to "run like hell." Five years later, she and Semple buried the hatchet and went on to become friends. 

"Every day I thank Jock Semple for attacking me in the race because he gave me a fabulous vehicle on which to campaign for women's equal rights," Switzer said.

Switzer was a 2011 inductee to the National Women's Hall of Fame, which recognizes women whose work impacts and improves society and promotes equality.

About the Authors
Jordan Weinstein Jordan Weinstein
Jordan Weinstein is a news anchor for NPR's All Things Considered on WGBH, 89.7 FM in Boston.
Annie Shreffler Annie Shreffler
Annie Shreffler is a digital features producer, writer and photographer for She obtained an M.A. in Journalism from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism and kicked off her second career as a digital projects producer for The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC New York Public Radio.


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