WBZ News Radio Turns 90

By Jared Bowen   |   Monday, September 19, 2011
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Sept. 19, 2011

Watch the segment that aired Sept. 19 on 'GBH's Greater Boston. (Click for larger view)

BOSTON — With constant changes and closings, nearly any media milestone these days is something to be celebrated. A 90th anniversary though, which is what WBZ News Radio is celebrating this week, is something altogether different.

When WBZ NewsRadio first started broadcasting 90 years ago today, prohibition was in effect, the Boston Braves were the hometown team and the studio was a hotel. Peter Casey, Director of News and Programming at WBZ Newsradio, feels very good about the station's longevity.

"It's older than all the television stations, older than all the radio stations, the blogs, the websites, the cable, everything else. It's basically, The Globe was first and then we're second. That's a pretty good record of longevity," Casey said.

The station, which first broadcast out of Springfield, Massachusetts, has evolved over the years. It has always focused on news, like when it aired the 1925 inauguration of President Calvin Coolidge. But it has also broadcast writing instruction, college courses and even sewing lessons among its many incarnations.

WBZ News Radio offices. (via Greater Boston)

"When I was a kid growing up in this area, this was a rock and roll station. It really transitioned right through the 1980s and became a news radio station essentially back with the first Gulf War. When that happened, it seemed to be, like, why are we playing music, let's just do news," said Casey.

There aren't a lot of audio clips hanging around because when WBZ started broadcasting most things couldn't be recorded. Which is why in 1932 when they needed a lion's roar they brought in the real thing. And it didn't end well, Casey recalled.

"They brought the lion into the studio to kind of record on cue and something spooked the lion in the studio and it just ran amok and went through the window," Casey said.

Equally mythic are the WBZ talk personalities that became institutions in their own right. People like Dave Maynard and the late David Brudnoy.

"I call 'BZ a 'destination station,'" said Casey. "People come here 'cause they like the station, they like the rep it has, and they want to make a career and life in this area. They don't use it as they do a bunch of other media outlets — as a springboard to someplace else."

As 90 years on the air demonstrates, there's no "someplace else" WBZ, or their uber-loyal audience, wants to be.

Junger: Front-Line War Coverage 'Of No Use To Anyone'

By Jess Bidgood   |   Wednesday, May 25, 2011
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May 25, 2011

Journalist Sebastian Junger is seen in WGBH studios on Wednesday. (Jess Bidgood/WGBH)

BOSTON — For a long time, the name Sebastian Junger has been almost synonymous with the word “war.” 
The Belmont, Mass. native has covered conflict as a journalist for two decades. His May 2010 best-selling book bears the simple moniker, “War,” and from 2007 to 2008 he lived with a platoon in Afghanistan, working with photographer Tim Hetherington to make the film Restrepoabout the experience of life on the front lines.
But last month, Hetherington, who had become a dear friend of Junger, was killed in the Libyan city of Misrata as he covered a battle between rebels and forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Also killed was Getty photographer Chris Hondros.
Since their deaths, Junger has resolved to step away from covering war — and is now questioning the overall efficacy of dangerous front-line combat coverage.
On WGBH’s The Emily Rooney show Wednesday, a somber, introspective Junger explained that Hetherington’s death laid bare the true risks of his profession. “I’ve had a lot of near misses,” Junger said. “Until, it’s never cost me anything, my career. And now it has. And now I don’t want to experience that cost anymore.”
Junger said he used to love covering war. He and Hetherington were both drawn to it. He reflected on that in an essay in the June issue of Vanity Fair, published shortly after Hetherington’s death:  

You and I were always talking about risk because she was the beautiful woman we were both in love with, right? The one who made us feel the most special, the most alive? We were always trying to have one more dance with her without paying the price… We were terrified and we were in love, and in the end, you were the one she chose.  

Junger says he has continued to reflect upon risk and front-line combat coverage. Much of war, he said, is really about waiting, boredom and dread. “People think the drama is the point of war. And actually, a lot of war takes place at nights, and it’s dark, the patrol’s going out and you’re wrestling with your feelings,” Junger said.
But Junger said that’s not reflected in the war stories that make headlines and photo spreads. “It serves a crucial humanitarian purpose, but there’s a certain amount of war reporting which, really has to do with the excitement of front line coverage,” Junger said.
Now, he’s questioning the greater point of the work that encourages journalists to risk their lives.
“There’s no information on a front line that’s of any use to anyone. It’s very dramatic. I mean, if you shoot a photograph of a guy shooting a gun in a burning building, that photo will be on the cover of the New York Times. But in terms of information that the world needs in order to make wise decisions, it’s not out of the front line,” Junger said.
“It’s at the refugee camps. It’s on the boats that are fleeing Libya and sinking off the Italian coast. That’s where the real information is,” Junger continued.
Junger said bearing witness to war is crucial, but he's questioning the purpose of front-line drama.
“And those guys, I know what they were doing out there, they were plugging into adrenaline of a front-line situation. And that is different than covering a war, and it should be said,” Junger said.

This report was compiled by Jess Bidgood using an interview on WGBH's The Emily Rooney show, which is produced by Frannie Carr, Edgar Herwick and Jeff Keating.

Roundtable: NPR CEO Steps Down

By Jess Bidgood   |   Wednesday, March 9, 2011
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Mar. 9, 2011

BOSTON — The media world is reeling after news of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller's hasty exit from her post.

NPR CEO Vivian Schiller resigned Wednesday. (AP)

Schiller's resignation, announced this morning, follows Tuesday's news that NPR development executive Ron Schiller was secretly video-taped by conservative filmmaker James O'Keefe, making disparaging comments about the Tea Party and the Republican party. It also comes against a backdrop of Congressional debate over whether to continue to provide funds to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which supports NPR and PBS member stations across the country (including WGBH).

In January, NPR's senior vice president for news, Ellen Weiss, stepped down on the heels of a review saying she had mishandled the dismissal of NPR news analyst Juan Williams, who was fired from NPR last fall after making comments NPR said were disrespectful to Muslims on FOX News.

Whew. You got all that?

We asked several media experts to join us on The Emily Rooney Show to give us their take on this chain of events. Jay Rosen,  professor of journalism at NYU; Al Thompkins, a senior faculty member at the Poynter Institute; and TIME media writer James Poniewozik offered their analysis.

On Schiller's Tenure At NPR

Al Tompkins:

"She brought some great things to the NPR. I would say the single best thing that she brought was a real awareness of multimedia. The online site, the interactivity of NPR is so much better than it was when she got there two years ago. I mean, it's really dramatic. And she would have to be credited with bringing that awareness and that wonderful delivery online."

On Schiller's Exit

Jay Rosen:

"I think it was an act of cowardice by the board of NPR. I think they don't recognize that the people who did this to them want NPR destroyed, just as they want to destroy the rest of the mainstream news media. And that they are going to invite more surreptitious attacks and tricks like this. And that they failed to stand up for a visionary leader at a dangerous time in their history.

"People within NPR, devoted as they are to professional detachment and what I call the view from nowhere, fail to understand that they actually have political enemies in this culture. And they just allowed their political enemies to win. And that's why I think it's a dark day for NPR."

Al Tompkins:

"She was already on pretty thin ice here, and you just can't take that many hits.

"The fact of the matter is this: NPR relies principally on donations from the public and good will of the public, and anything that gets in the way of that is troublesome. NPR is fighting to keep federal funding... and if (Schiller) is battling for her name, it makes it more difficult for the larger organization to do the work that it needs to do.

On What's Next For NPR:

Jay Rosen:

"I think they'll probably bring a weaker person in. Somebody who is more pliable and she or he is going to preside over the organization where every single employee of NPR who has a conversation in a bar is going to have to think about whether they're being taped or not. And whether they'll get their bosses fired through what they're saying. I mean, they've just invited acts of intimidation on a massive scale by the cowardice that they've shown, and the lack of political insight."

On The Ron Schiller 'Sting'

Al Thompkins:

"There is a place for undercover journalism, but it follows a protocol. It's not the first tactic, it's the last tactic. There are a lot of questions that we ask before we go undercover... That's not what happened here. This is entrapment and, for what purpose? It's only to get the information, the side of your story, that helps to fulfill your point of view."

"You have to acknowlege that activists have done this for a long time."

On NPR And Politics:

Jay Rosen:

"Stop claiming that NPR people have no politics, have no view. Wean yourself away from the view from nowhere and instead, make a shift in the official philosophy of NPR to emphasize that it is a place with many voices, people who have many different views on all kinds of issues. And that, 'We are no longer expecting our people to pretend that they don't have political lives and political souls and points of view. But instead we are going to demonstrate in a variety of ways that the full range of voices in American culture is represented in our organization.'

"And if you do that successfully — which would be a very hard, very difficult transition to make, then the exposure of one person or another as somebody with a political life won't acutally hurt you."

James Poniewozik:

"One thing that James O'Keefe has an advantage over NPR in this situation is that he's allowed to say where he's coming from. And NPR, according to its traditions, isn't."

24-Hour News

By Kara Miller   |   Monday, August 23, 2010
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Bringing More Women To The Top Of The Business World

By Kara Miller   |   Friday, March 2, 2012
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From left: Liz Claman, Fox Business Network anchor (courtesy); Marissa Mayer, Google vice president (AP), Jennifer Siebel Newsom, filmmaker (AP)

This weekend, we talk to a filmmaker, a vice president at Google, and a national news anchor about the future of women in business.

The trailer for Jennifer Siebel Newsom's film, Miss Representation.

Just 3% of Fortune 500 companies are currently run by women, and, women hold fewer than 1 in 5 positions in upper management at these corporations.

Where do women fit in the changing world of business and technology? What do women bring to innovation in these sectors? And why is it that, in this day and age, the balance at the top of these fields is still so unequal?

We get insights from:

A Look by the Numbers

We ask a research expert to delve into the data. Who is happiest at work? How is balance acheived? Where can improvements be made?

We hear from:

  • Scott Marden, research director, Captivate Network

  • Hear the show this weekend, at 7 a.m. Saturday or 10 p.m. Sunday on 89.7 or online.

    Host Emily Rooney Talks About Her Father Andy

    By WGBH News   |   Monday, November 7, 2011
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    Nov. 7, 2011

    andy and emily rooney

    WGBH host Emily Rooney remembered her father Andy during her Nov. 7 radio talk show.

    BOSTON — Andy Rooney, the man CBS called “an American Original,” died on Nov. 4 at the age of 92. Calling in from her father's "60 Minutes" desk on Nov. 7, WGBH host Emily Rooney told stories and expressed her gratitude for the outpouring of support.

    "I want to thank so many listeners and viewers of 'The Emily Rooney Show' and 'Greater Boston' for contacting us. Believe me, I really, really appreciate it. I’ve gotten some very, very thoughtful notes. And I think my father would appreciate the fact that many, many people who have written recognize the fact that he wanted to be remembered as a writer and not an ornery television personality. And I thank those people who did," she said.

    Share your memories of Andy Rooney

    Indeed, Andy Rooney's talent took many forms, including 16 books, thousands of newspaper columns, writing jobs with the Arthur Godfrey and Gary Moore shows in the early days of television, a stint as a war correspondent during World War II. 

    For many years, he made time to be interviewed by his daughter on her show. In this excerpt from a television appearance back in 2000, he addressed one of the core questions about his public image. 
    Emily Rooney said, “People always say to me, and I know you get it all the time, too, ‘Is your dad really a curmudgeon? Is he really funny?’ And the thing that's really hard for me to describe to people, because I've always known you as my dad, is that you're thoughtful, first and foremost. And I guess I want to ask you, I know you consider yourself a writer, but — do you really want to be thought of as a curmudgeon?”
    Andy Rooney responded, “I don't like the name ‘curmudgeon.’ For one thing, it belongs to H.L. Mencken, who was a great curmudgeon…. I think of myself as a writer and reporter. I like the reporting profession. And I think any reporter is basically [a] skeptic, skeptical of things, doubtful, and you’ve got to keep pressing to get answers, as you well know. Because people don't want to tell you the truth. So you have to be curmudgeonly, if you're a reporter. Keep following up on things, and doubt everything.”

    Share your memories of Andy Rooney

    • Log into MyWGBH to comment on this story.
    • Post on the “Emily Rooney Show” Facebook wall.
    • Email us.

    CBS pays tribute to Andy Rooney's career.

    About the Authors
    Jared Bowen Jared Bowen
    Jared Bowen is WGBH’s Emmy Award-winning Executive Editor and Host for Arts. 
    Jess Bidgood Jess Bidgood
    Jess Bidgood is's news editor and producer.
    Kara Miller Kara Miller
    As a radio host, Kara Miller has interviewed thinkers from E.J. Dionne to Howard Gardner, Deepak Chopra to Lani Guinier. She is a panelist on WGBH-TV's "Beat the Press," as well as an Assistant Professor at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Her writing has appeared in The Boston Globe, The National Journal, The Boston Herald, Boston Magazine, and The International Herald Tribune.

    Podcast: iTunes | XML

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    WGBH News
    The WGBH News team comprises the WGBH radio newsroom, The Callie Crossley Show, The Emily Rooney Show and WGBH Channel 2 reporters and producers from Greater Boston and Basic Black. 

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