WGBH Local Content and Service 2015
WGBH operates 10 public television services: WGBH 2, WGBH 44, ’GBH Kids, and Boston Kids & Family TV (a free educational service for Boston cable subscribers, in collaboration with the City of Boston); WGBH World and WGBH Create (localized iterations of the national multicast services that are WGBH collaborations); and four WGBY television services for viewers in Western Massachusetts.
WGBH operates three public radio services: 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR; 99.5 WCRB Classical; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station.
These WGBH services offer a mix of national fare and locally originated content designed to serve the specific needs and interests of New England-area viewers.
WGBH provides comprehensive news coverage to our community via TV, radio, the Web, and mobile. Our local newsroom of experienced journalists offers perspective and analysis across media, allowing WGBH to reach audiences in multiple ways and to take advantage of each platform’s unique storytelling abilities. Alongside PRI’s The World and The Takeaway (both WGBH co-productions), WGBH partnerships with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR), The GroundTruth Project, the tech sector news website Xconomy, and other key entities greatly expand our local news resources. Among the 2015 news events that benefited from this hyperlocal focus:
- The WGBH newsroom was out in force delivering comprehensive coverage of the historic Massachusetts snowstorms and their repercussions for local communities.
- On May 15, 2015, the day Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to death, WGBH News produced and aired a half-hour special designed to keep Boston area viewers updated and informed on the unfolding verdict and its implications for the Massachusetts justice system. Hosted by long-time local journalist and Beat the Press host Emily Rooney, the special featured in-depth interviews and commentary from guests including one of the rescuers and one of the bombing survivors; a former federal prosecutor; the director of The Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard; and the former Massachusetts secretary of public safety.
- The WGBH News Higher Education desk commissioned a national poll on the role of community colleges in the United States, and analyzed the results for our audience.
- In-depth coverage of the rise and fall of Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid — and why it ultimately failed.
WGBH’s transmedia approach informed new efforts in 2015, including:
- The WGBH News Higher Education desk launched a five-part radio series that compared the German system of higher education to ours and explored whether the free model of Germany could work in the United States. A strong online component supplemented the series.
- WGBH initiated a new partnership with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences that resulted in two five-part series; one on the importance of water and the other investigating our changing food needs in the 21st century. These series included a multimedia approach.
- 89.7 WGBH offers more than 30 hours every week of original local programming that brings our listeners a wide range of voices and opinions, including local editions of public radio mainstays Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
- Greater Boston, our signature weeknightly news program, marked its 19th year of providing insight into the stories and newsmakers that matter to our local community. In March, Jim Braude, who has earned a reputation as one of Boston’s most thoughtful interviewers on both radio and television, took the helm as host and executive editor of the program.
- Boston Public Radio, our three-hour live midday radio program hosted by seasoned Boston journalists Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, provides a forum for interesting and lively discussions on the day’s news and issues. The show is a can’t miss destination for our region’s most influential policymakers, business leaders, and cultural mavens. Monthly, one-hour, in-studio conversations with Governor Charlie Baker, Mayor Marty Walsh, Attorney General Maura Healy, and Boston Police Commissioner Bill Evans offer citizens a regular opportunity to connect with local leaders about community issues.
- Emily Rooney and a media-savvy panel of journalists on WGBH television’s Beat the Press review the news of the week every Friday night, holding the media accountable for journalistic lapses and giving a shout-out to local and national news coverage that gets it right.
- On Open Studio with Jared Bowen, Boston’s only full-time multimedia arts reporter pulls back the curtain on the creative process, with interviews and stories on area artists and arts organizations. Highlights of 2015 include the only broadcast forum of local theater leaders discussing economic upheavals in their industry; the only televised interview with Matthew Teitelbaum, the new director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; and a conversation with world-renowned composer Philip Glass.
- The longest-running program on public television in New England focusing on the interests of people of color, Basic Black has been at the forefront of merging social media engagement and broadcast by incorporating a simultaneous Web stream and chat with live TV. Basic Black continues to be responsive to current events, providing a platform for local voices on national issues. Topics covered in 2015 included the Charleston, South Carolina massacre; being Muslim in America after the ISIS-influenced murders in San Bernadino; and the nationwide campus protests prompted by #BlackLivesMatter.
- By getting into the minds of today’s great thinkers and researchers, WGBH Radio’s Innovation Hub gives listeners a glimpse of the future in everything from education, to relationships, to healthcare, and the economy. Innovation Hub has expanded from Boston and now airs on more than 50 stations, and its podcasts are downloaded nearly 100,000 times each month.
- Under the Radar with Callie Crossley highlights material from alternative press and community sources, calling attention to stories often overlooked by traditional media. “The show engages with local reporters, authors, playwrights, and food and wine critics to examine the small stories before they become the big headlines,” says award-winning journalist and host Callie Crossley (who also serves as a panelist for two other TV series, Beat the Press and Basic Black). Two powerful stories from 2015 include how rising racial tensions between the Dominican Republic and Haiti affect Boston-area Haitian and Dominican communities, and the impact of the Massachusetts film tax credit on two non-film companies.
COVERING CAPE COD AND THE ISLANDS
WCAI, a service of WGBH, gives listeners on Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the South Coast their own NPR station—one infused with a uniquely local sound and sense of place. A partnership with the Cape Cod Times and the area weekly papers enriches the station’s news reporting. The station serves the community with unique programs that feature local personalities and topics specific to the cape and island region:
- The Point with Mindy Todd provides lively and informative discussion each day for local residents.
- Our weekly Local News Roundup invites up to eight local journalists onto the airwaves each week for an hour-long discussion of the region’s top news stories.
- Creative Life features local artists and personalities.
- Cape Cod Notebook features writer and Cape resident Robert Finch’s essays on nature.
- Poetry Sunday features a different local poet on the air each week.
- A partnership with the nonprofit group 20 Summers allows WCAI to record and air for listeners Cape-themed events hosted from the historic Hawthorne Art Bar in Provincetown.
- Bird Report highlights bird sightings and seasonal information on breeding and migration.
- Pelagic Report features the work of researchers off shore.
- WCAI’s science/environmental Living Lab project provides a rich and deep on-air and online archive exploring the intersection of science and real life.
- A 2015 special five-part series, Making it Work: Manufacturing on the Cape, South Coast and Islands, looked at innovative technologies creating new manufacturing and employment opportunities.
- Local Food Report looks at the local food scene.
- The Fishing News looks at who is catching what and where.
- For the quintessential Cape experience, WCAI broadcasts the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game for local fans each July.
99.5 WCRB is our region’s only 24/7 classical radio station. Of its 168 hours each week, 164 are programmed, produced, and hosted by WCRB staff in our WGBH studios. WCRB devotes more time than any other station in the country to broadcasts by local arts organizations, with more than 100 full-length broadcasts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, along with other concerts recorded and produced by WCRB of performances by the Handel and Haydn Society, the New England Conservatory, the Boston’s Children’s Chorus, Rockport Music, the Boston Lyric Opera, the Steinway Society Piano Competition, the Cantata Singers, The Boston Early Music Festival, Boston Baroque, A Far Cry, and many other local ensembles and presenters.
MassiveMuse at WCRB draws crowds of millenials to our studios for monthly music events designed to connect young classical musicians to local audiences.
WCRB is the first public radio station with an online music channel devoted exclusively to classical music for children: ClassicalKids.org offers online puzzles, games, videos, and other resources, and a continuous stream of the acclaimed Kids’ Classical Hour. Other WCRB online classical streaming channels include: BSO Concert, Boston Early Music, and Bach.
WCRB provides information about local cultural events, with a weekly report by arts correspondent Jared Bowen and three concert calendars each week that cover performances in our region.
89.7 WGBH gets jazzy on the weekend, including nine hours with “the dean of the Boston jazz scene” — host, musicologist, and educator Eric Jackson. WGBH’s Live from Scullers partnership with a local jazz club brings the magic of live performances to Eric’s loyal fans.
89.7 WGBH reaches deep into this region’s sizable Celtic community (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cape Breton, and more) with the weekly music program A Celtic Sojourn. Host Brian O’Donovan, born and raised in Clonakilty in West Cork, shares his love and deep knowledge of traditional and contemporary music from the Celtic countries and England. O’Donovan also is the host/master of ceremonies for some very popular events in the community; see “In the Community” for details.
EDUCATION AND EDUCATIONAL ENGAGEMENT
WGBH Education leverages our many award-winning programs and key strategic partners to bring educational content and engagement to students and educators, both inside and outside of the classroom, and to parents, librarians, and youth leaders throughout the communities we serve. Highlights from 2015 include:
WGBH’s High School Quiz Show showcases and rewards the academic achievements of local high school students who compete as teams, answering questions correlated to state curriculum guidelines in literature, history, science, math, current events, and general knowledge. The series is endorsed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The winner of High School Quiz Show competed against a New Hampshire team, bringing the competition to a wider New England audience. In October 2015, in anticipation of season seven, more than 130 public, private, and parochial school teams from across Massachusetts competed in the Super Sunday qualifying event, with 16 teams advancing to broadcast competition.
WGBH and Apprentice Learning, a Boston-based youth development initiative, partnered with the Boston Public Schools to host an intensive 12-session media apprenticeship for more than 20 eighth graders from the Jackson Mann K-8 School. Students came to WGBH for the second half of the program, during which WGBH staff from various departments led students in skills-based workshops. Staff also discussed their career paths and gave students practical suggestions for pursuing a career in media. The WGBH Apprenticeship capped off with a special "careers in media"-themed field trip to WGBH for more than 75 Jackson Mann 7th graders, giving them an opportunity to get behind-the-scenes experience in public media.
Led by Harvard’s Dr. Ronald Ferguson and the Black Philanthropy Fund, Boston Basics is a citywide campaign dedicated to promoting five simple strategies for parents, which, if used with fidelity, help prepare children to enter kindergarten ready to learn. As a media partner to Boston Basics, WGBH is visualizing the campaign’s five strategies for promoting healthy development in children, birth through age five, which include: Maximize Love, Manage Stress; Talk, Sing, and Point; Count, Group, and Compare; Explore Through Movement and Play; and Read and Discuss Stories. WGBH developed an overview video for Boston Basics and documented real families in homes, community playgrounds, libraries, laundromats, and corner stores to show how these simple strategies can be incorporated into daily routines. WGBH will produce the Spanish-language versions of these videos in 2016.
In 2015, WGBH Education celebrated the 50th anniversary of Head Start by bringing books, giveaways, and activities to close to 16,000 at-risk preschoolers and families throughout the Commonwealth. Book selections and hands-on activities focused on STEM, which enabled WGBH to promote family science exploration and to introduce young children to a variety of genres, including informational text.
With support from the Kendeda Fund, WGBH hosted a second Forum on Digital Media for STEM Learning, this one with a focus on Climate Education. More than 100 educators, curriculum developers, policy makers, and STEM-learning advocates with an interest in climate education attended. The panel of speakers included Dr. John P. Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy; Frank Niepold, NOAA climate education coordinator; and Dr. Lin Chambers, communication and education lead, NASA Langley Research Center. Tweets about and during the event using the hashtag #WGBHStemEd reached 1.9 million Twitter followers, thanks in part to tweets by the White House, NOAA, and NASA. The forum was emceed by Heather Goldstone, science editor for WCAI and WGBH Radio.
WGBH Education established a partnership with Accelerate, the social innovation lab at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. Undergraduate students from Accelerate chose WGBH’s Design Squad Global as the centerpiece of their summer project, researching and producing a set of design engineering competencies in innovation and entrepreneurship. Students then used these competencies to inform the development of a special series of hands-on activities for middle school kids that promote innovation and entrepreneurship. Design Squad Global plans to disseminate these resources to out-of-school-time programs in the U.S. and across the globe.
WGBH’s partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) continued as we completed our work on the creation, adaptation, implementation, and media integration of standards-aligned curriculum. This project, part of DESE’s Race to the Top grant, also included extensive promotion of the resources, their Model Curriculum Units, and other Department initiatives to educators across the state.
WGBH also has partnered with DESE to provide resources on PBS LearningMedia aligned to Massachusetts standards. More than 41% of Massachusetts educators are registered to use PBS LearningMedia, a higher percentage than in any other state. Additionally, due to our outreach, training activities, and partnership with the state, local educators spend three times as long on the site than educators in other areas.
WGBH also is a partner with DESE in its STEM Ambassadors program, which aims to support districts in developing implementation plans and illustrating curriculum and instruction resulting in student learning for the revised Massachusetts STE standards. The curriculum and instructional resources that WGBH has provided have served a dual purpose: to support the professional learning of the Ambassador community, and to be used by districts across the state in their own implementation and transition efforts.
WGBH Education is partnering with Brighton High School (BHS) physics teachers to produce and evaluate new models of digital learning resources to support English Language Learner (ELL) students and other students with language challenges. BHS students must pass the physics MCAS exam in order to graduate from high school. Working hand in hand with BHS teachers and ELL specialists, WGBH developed three digital learning toolkits for physics instruction, which will be evaluated in early 2016.
WGBH served as media partner for two important state STEM events: Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s TouchTomorrow Science Festival in June, and the Massachusetts STEM Summit in October. At both events WGBH enjoyed a prominent presence with large exhibit spaces and, at TouchTomorrow, hands-on exhibits for all ages were tied to continuous screenings of WGBH-produced STEM resources in an adjacent small theater. Two PEEP and the Big Wide World stage shows engaged the youngest attendees. At the Massachusetts STEM Summit, exhibits featured WGBH STEM brands for all learners. In addition to the exhibits, we partnered with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to present a special panel on the new science standards for Massachusetts, and the impact those standards could have on curriculum and teaching practice. The two gatherings allowed us to share WGBH science content and brands with a total of 5,400 young children, students, parents, teachers, educators, policy makers, curriculum developers, and STEM- education advocates from across our state.
WGBH also supported and presented at a strong list of local educator-facing conferences and events over the school year, including: MassCUE, Massachusetts Association of Science Teachers, Massachusetts Elementary School Principal’s Association, and the Massachusetts Reading Association. At the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics conference, which was held in Boston, WGBH held a special promotional event for Massachusetts teachers. And partnering with the DESE or other content experts, WGBH participated in six teacher training events.
With funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WGBH partnered with the award-winning Massachusetts-based education organization Imajine That, incorporating Ready to Learn (RTL) digital learning tools into existing curricula used in their family play space and extended day programs. Imajine That serves at-risk children in Boston and Lawrence, reaching more than 3,200 children and over 3,000 parents (through direct contact and via social media). WGBH customized hands-on trainings in media literacy for the Imajine That staff and raised awareness among parents, educators and policy makers throughout the Commonwealth of the value of developmentally appropriate media in early childhood through two summer learning celebrations, and regular social media posts.
IN OUR STUDIOS
A 30- by 45-foot LED screen alongside WGBH’s studios signals the spirit and content of public media for some half-million passersby each week, with one theme a day showcased through slow-moving images or animation. This “digital mural” also reflects the vibrancy of our region: images reflecting events and issues in our community are displayed on the LED, drawing attention to the cultural richness of the Boston and New England areas and to what’s on the minds of those in the neighborhoods we serve.
Close to 124,000 visitors came through our doors or attended WGBH- sponsored events in our community in 2015. A representative sampling:
- WGBH created its newest TV series Sing That Thing! to showcase the commitment and joy of New England’s singing community. More than 700 diverse peformers from Massachusetts and Rhode Island, including 50 singing groups, participated in the high school, college, and adult categories. Thanks to an amazing final performance, The Boston Arts Academy Spiritual Ensemble took the top prize. Three teams of Emerson University students were also embedded in the production to work side by side with WGBH professionals, and innovative one-minute “Master Class” segments featured local music luminaries giving advice about technique and performance.
- Nearly 200 guests, including many tweens and teens, attended “An Afternoon with David Pogue,” host of Nova ScienceNow and Making Stuff, who gave an entertaining talk on the state of science, TV, and humor in America.
- Nearly 200 guests attended a preview and discussion of Nova’s Making North America, a three-part series exploring our homeland’s tumultuous past through three fundamental questions: How was the continent built? How did life evolve here? How has the continent shaped us? Dr. Kirk Johnson, host of the series and director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, was a special guest at the event.
- In May, nearly 150 members of the Asian American Pacific International (AAPI) community celebrated Asian Pacific American Heritage month at WGBH. Guests viewed clips from unique films about Asians and Asian Americans being featured on WGBH/WGBX and WGBH World throughout the month. The event also featured a compelling panel discussion titled “The Bamboo Ceiling?” moderated by General Manager of Television Liz Cheng with notable members of the Asian American community: Rebecca Lee, partner at Lock Lord, LLP; HouNam Phan, assistant secretary of business development for the State Office of Housing and Development; and Dr. Sridhar Tayur, successful software developer and Ford distinguished research chair and professor of Operations Management at Carnegie Mellon.
- In 2015, WGBH introduced a special Insider program as a way to connect our members with what’s new in public media. The first Monday of every month, guests are invited to WGBH studios for panels discussions, one-on-one conversations, performances and/or screenings of new productions coming down the pipeline.
IN OUR COMMUNITY
Ongoing events in the communities we serve allow WGBH to connect directly with our diverse audience. WGBH personalities frequently serve as presenters, emcees, and judges at local events sponsored by such organizations as the Japanese-American Cultural Foundation, Boston Baroque, the Tanglewood Music Center, Rockport Music, New England Conservatory, Masterworks Chorale, the Boston Pops, Discovery Ensemble, the Cantata Singers, the First Lutheran Church, Boston Cecilia Society, the Boston Civic Symphony, the Boston Philharmonic, the All Newton Music School, and the Celebrity Series of Boston. 99.5 WCRB is a media sponsor of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and WCRB announcers introduce its free summertime concerts. Selected 2015 community events include:
- Summer Arts Weekend and Arts Walk – For the fourth year, WGBH collaborated with The Boston Globe on a free two-day Summer Arts Weekend in the heart of the city. A crowd of almost 36,000 enjoyed musical performances from across the spectrum of jazz, blues, Celtic, folk, Classical, and kids’ music. The event kicked off the preceding Wednesday night, with an art walk of galleries in Boston’s historic Back Bay and an inside look at the changing face of the city’s public art. WGBH partnered with over a dozen galleries in Back Bay and engaged with over 1,000 guests.
- A Christmas Celtic Sojourn concerts – 89.7 WGBH host Brian O’Donovan has created a beloved annual tradition, more popular than ever in its second decade, of bringing the best musicians, singers, and dancers from around the Celtic world to stages across New England. In 2015, these popular performances drew an audience of more than 12,000 in four locations over 14 shows. And O’Donovan’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Sojourn concerts played to more than 3,000 people in Boston and Worcester.
- Over 2,000 kids and adults celebrated Earth Day with indoor and outdoor earth-friendly happenings, hands-on activities, and entertainment at the EcoTarium in Worcester, MA. WGBH hosted episode screenings of PEEP and the Big Wide World and Plum Landing, provided families with outdoor observation activities, and invited kids and families to make a Plum Landing Eco-Pledge to help the environment. The Earth Day celebration was presented by the EcoTarium and the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts.
- In 2015, WGBH acquired and broadcast films from independent producers covering topics relevant to a Boston audience. Leonard Nimoy’s Boston featured the noted actor, who was born and raised here, returning to his hometown to tour his old neighborhood and reminisce about his youth with his son Adam, who produced the film. Nantucket by Nature celebrated the natural wonders of the island throughout four seasons, to the accompaniment of a score performed by local musicians. By special arrangement with the producers, Digging into the Future: Armenia gave viewers, including members of Boston’s large Armenian community, an advance look at a forthcoming national program about the history and culture of the country, aired in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. Divide in Concord followed the political battle over a bylaw banning bottled water in the town of Concord, Mass., the first law of its kind in the world.
- WCAI served as a radio partner for The Nantucket Project, an annual conference focusing on art and commerce held at the White Elephant Hotel on the island. WCAI broadcast special excerpts and interviews from the conference on The Point with Mindy Todd throughout Fall 2015.