Tag Archives: WGBH

Get ready for the 16th Annual Muzzle Awards

When The Boston Phoenix ceased publication in March, I started casting about for a new home for the Muzzle Awards — an annual Fourth of July round-up of outrages against free speech in New England that I began writing in 1998.

On Tuesday we made it official — the 16th Annual Muzzle Awards will be published on Thursday by WGBH News. I talked about the Muzzles on “Boston Public Radio” with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan. We gave a sneak preview of some of the “winners,” including U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis and Maine Gov. Paul LePage.

The Muzzles will also be published in The Providence Phoenix and The Portland Phoenix, which are still alive and well.

I think WGBHNews.org will prove to be a good home base for the Muzzles. Boston civil-liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate, who came up with the idea all those years ago, is continuing with his Campus Muzzles. Former Phoenix editor Peter Kadzis, who’s now at WGBH, was instrumental in bringing the Muzzles to the station and expertly edited them. Also playing key roles were Phil Redo, managing director of WGBH’s radio operations; Linda Polach, executive producer of “Greater Boston” and “Beat the Press”; and Abbie Ruzicka, an associate producer who handled Web production duties.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes …

Upcoming media appearances

I’m scheduled to talk about “The Wired City” on “Greater Boston” (WGBH-TV, Channel 2) with Emily Rooney today at 7 p.m., though I’m told I may get bumped for breaking news. I’ll update this if necessary.

Tomorrow at 1 p.m. I’ll be a guest on “Boston Public Radio” with Jim Braude and Margery Eagan (WGBH Radio, 89.7 FM) to talk about “The Wired City” and to unveil a collaboration I’ve been working on with ’GBH. Exciting stuff! Hope you can tune in.

Investigative reporting worth listening to

Phillip Martin

Phillip Martin

Earlier this year I listened to a remarkable investigative series by my WGBH colleague Phillip Martin called “Human Trafficking: From Boston to Bangkok.” Martin tracked the modern slave trade literally from Boston to Southeast Asia, interviewing victims as well as people working to end this horror.

I didn’t blog about it at the time, but I should have. And now I have another opportunity, because on Tuesday Martin received the Gold Award from the UN Department of Public Information. The series also was recognized as a Gold Radio Winner for Best Investigative Report.

If you haven’t heard the eight-part series, you should. I had to do some fiddling so that I could get it onto my iPhone, but it was well worth it. Martin told a harrowing story, and did what good investigative reporting is supposed to do — take an abstract problem and put human faces to it.

The press release from WGBH follows.

BOSTON, Mass. (June 20, 2013) — WGBH Radio earned two prestigious awards at the 2013 New York Festivals International Radio Programs and Promos Awards for the “Underground Trade” series. The eight-part investigative series on human trafficking, reported by WGBH senior reporter Phillip W.D. Martin, aired on 89.7 WGBH, Boston Public Radio, earlier this year. The series was selected by a special jury as the 2013 United Nations Department of Public Information (UNDPI) Gold Medalist. The series also was recognized as a Gold Radio Winner for Best Investigative Report for the same series. WGBH executive editor Ted Canova edited the series. WGBH senior engineer Antonio Oliart engineered the reports.

Martin was in New York on Tuesday evening for the awards ceremony.

“We are all very proud of Phillip. His energy, creativity and curiosity put him in the top ranks of his profession. We are all happy to have him reporting for WGBH and are proud to be associated with his work,” WGBH Radio general manager Phil Redo said. “I am very pleased that the New York Festivals and the UNDPI have recognized WGBH’s journalism. I congratulate Phillip and the entire WGBH News team for their continued commitment to telling the comprehensive, local stories that only local public radio can tell.”

The “Underground Trade” investigation and report was done in collaboration with the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ), the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and the Ford Foundation. During his investigation and reporting, Martin traveled in the U.S. and across Asia to explore the modern slave trade of human trafficking. After the original broadcast on WGBH Radio, Martin’s report was shared nationally on The Huffington Post.

Phillip Martin joined the WGBH News team in 2010. He is a Senior Fellow with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism and a 2012 International Center for Journalists Ford Foundation Fellow. He has received a number of journalism honors, including the 2012 PASS Award, the 2012 regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Ongoing Coverage (team award), the Margret and Hans Rey WGBH producer award, the 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting, the 2010 Asian American Journalists Award for National Radio Reporting, the 2008 Ruben Salazar Award and the 2005 MABJ Radio Documentary Award. He is an adjunct professor at Brandeis University’s Heller School of Public Policy.

Peter Kadzis to work as a special contributor to WGBH

Peter Kadzis

Peter Kadzis

Great news about my friend and former editor Peter Kadzis. What follows is a press release from WGBH.

Peter Kadzis, former executive editor of the Boston Phoenix, joined the WGBH News team today as a Special Contributor. Kadzis will work on specific enterprise reporting assignments and contribute to all of WGBH’s news platforms, including radio, television and digital.

“For decades, the Boston Phoenix asked the right questions to get at what was really happening in Boston. While we all miss the Phoenix, I am pleased to welcome Peter Kadzis to the WGBH News team to continue the Phoenix’s strong tradition of hard-hitting, comprehensive local reporting,” said Phil Redo, managing director of WGBH Radio. “There is no shortage of compelling local stories in our region. WGBH continues to grow and invest in local reporting. Peter brings more than 25 years of experience to our newsroom and will be a strong addition to all of our platforms.”

Kadzis, who was born in Brighton, raised in Dorchester and lives in Jamaica Plain, served a number of editorial roles at the Boston Phoenix over 25 years. During his tenure at the standard-bearing weekly, alternative newspaper, Kadzis oversaw the Phoenix’s groundbreaking, local coverage of the Catholic Church sex scandal. Kadzis also directed the Phoenix’s political coverage in Boston, Providence and Portland.

“I am very excited to join the talented and driven WGBH News team,” Kadzis said. “WGBH has shown an unrivaled commitment to local stories and provides a platform to pursue the types of stories we covered at the Phoenix.”

Kadzis provides weekly political analysis on Fox 25, writes for a number of local publications and tweets regularly. Before joining the WGBH News team, he was a guest on a number of WGBH Radio programs, including “Under the Radar with Callie Crossley,” which airs Sundays at 6:30 p.m. on 89.7.

Braude and Eagan to host WGBH Radio midday show

Jim Braude and Margery Eagan

Well, that didn’t take long. The only real assets at former talk radio station WTKK, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, have been hired by WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) to helm the midday news and public-affairs program “Boston Public Radio” from noon to 2 p.m. (I am a paid contributor to WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press,” where Eagan is a frequent panelist.)

Braude is also the host of “Broadside: The News with Jim Braude,” on New England Cable News, and Eagan is a columnist at the Boston Herald. Their hiring appears to be an attempt to give some definition to “Boston Public Radio,” which was created last June when Emily Rooney’s and Callie Crossley’s one-hour shows were combined. Rooney and Crossley will continue to be heard on “Boston Public Radio.”

Braude and Eagan already have a Twitter handle: @JimMargeryWGBH.

In other post-WTKK news, afternoon drive-time host Michael Graham popped up this week on stations in Worcester, Concord, Plymouth and Southbridge.

Here is the full press release from WGBH:

Jim Braude and Margery Eagan to join WGBH’s Boston Public Radio

Pair will anchor mid-day talk program on WGBH Radio 89.7; WGBH expands on commitment to local coverage, builds on Rooney and Crossley’s growth

BOSTON, Mass. (February 6, 2013) – Jim Braude and Margery Eagan will serve as the new co-hosts of 89.7 WGBH’s Boston Public Radio beginning Monday, February 25. The format change is part of WGBH News’s ongoing evolution and continued commitment to strengthening the region’s most dynamic local news team. The live local program airs from 12-2pm each Monday through Friday on 89.7 WGBH.

Braude and Eagan will lead two hours of local conversation that will continue to combine newsmaker interviews, conversation with experts, and listener call-ins. Callie Crossley and Emily Rooney, the awarding-winning veteran journalists who have led the consistent growth of Boston Public Radio, will continue to contribute to WGBH’s local, daily public radio talk show. WGBH and Boston Public Radio will also continue to include regular contributors Kara Miller, Jared Bowen, and Edgar B. Herwick III. As co-hosts of Boston Public Radio, Braude and Eagan will host a monthly Ask the Governor program on WGBH, a series they hosted in their former role at WTKK radio. 89.7 WGBH will make that monthly program available to any other Massachusetts station free of charge.

WGBH will announce other major contributors and regular guests from politics, press, and culture in the coming weeks.

“As WGBH Radio continues to develop and grow, we are excited to build on a strong foundation and serve audiences with the smartest on-air guides to the breadth of stories happening in our region and around the world. Jim and Margery are extremely talented broadcasters who will make our strong team even stronger. Like all of our Boston Public Radio contributors, they are smart and engaging and share our passion for local discussion and commentary,” said 89.7 WGBH Managing Director Phil Redo. “We are very happy that Governor Patrick will be resuming his regular appearances on radio, now here on WGBH. It is a genuine public service and an opportunity for residents of the Commonwealth to engage directly with their governor.”

For 13 years, Braude and Eagan co-hosted the Jim & Margery Show on WTKK 96.9FM. Braude, an Emmy-award winning journalist, started his career as a legal services lawyer in the South Bronx. Braude hosts Broadside: The News with Jim Braude weeknights on NECN. He founded and served as the first president of the National Organization of Legal Services Workers, a union representing staff in civil legal offices for the poor in 35 states. He published Otherwise, a magazine on American politics, and served as a Cambridge city councilor. Braude graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and New York University School of Law.

“We are excited to join the WGBH News team and to be staying together as a team ourselves,” said Braude.

Eagan, a columnist for the Boston Herald, grew up in Fall River, Mass. She is a graduate of Stanford University. Throughout her career, Eagan has written for a number of publications, including Boston Magazine. She has appeared on national and local news programs and is a regular guest on Greater Boston and Beat the Press on WGBH-TV.

“I’m a huge fan of WGBH’s Boston Public Radio and am thrilled to be joining the terrific journalists there,” Eagan said. “They’ve built one of the strongest local news teams around.”

“I congratulate Jim and Margery on this next adventure and look forward to continuing our thoughtful conversations on how policy touches people in their everyday lives,” said Governor Patrick.

Callie Crossley will continue to lend her signature perspective to the exploration of important topics, both local and national. Emily Rooney will provide a take on stories she is following for the WGBH-TV program Greater Boston. Kara Miller, who also hosts WGBH Radio’s Innovation Hub, will offer a window into the region’s most creative thinkers. Jared Bowen — Boston television’s only full-time arts journalist, a recently named Commonwealth Award winner and host of Open Studio, which premieres on WGBH 2 this Friday at 8:30pm — will continue to provide unique coverage of New England’s vibrant arts culture. Edgar Herwick, who developed the Web series One Guest, will continue to report on interesting and unusual topics that engage audiences.

The re-formatted Boston Public Radio program reflects the continuing evolution of 89.7 and the growing WGBH News team, which draws significantly on the expertise of staff across radio, television and the Web. Today’s announcement comes on the heels of schedule changes that more prominently feature unique local programming throughout the week, including the new timeslot for Innovation Hub, hosted by Kara Miller, now at 10am on Saturdays.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

WTKK and the ongoing collapse of corporate radio

Screen Shot 2013-01-03 at 3.02.51 PM

This commentary was previously published by the Huffington Post.

Update: I’ll be on New England Cable News on Friday at 7:15 a.m. to talk about WTKK and the future of radio.

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, Jim Braude and Margery Eagan signed off for the last time from the morning talk show they had hosted on Boston’s WTKK Radio (96.9 FM). A few minutes later, the station reemerged as Power 96.9, a faceless entity blasting out robo-music of some sort. And Boston found itself with just one full-time talk radio station. (The station was quickly redubbed Nova 96.9, apparently because of this.)

The demise of WTKK has been portrayed as another nail in the coffin of right-wing talk radio. The estimable D.R. Tucker calls it part of “a downward spiral for a key element of the conservative entertainment complex.” And, yes, that’s surely part of it.

But what we are really seeing is the demise of commercial radio in general, as corporate owners (Greater Media in WTKK’s case) attempt to squeeze the last few nickels of profit out of a medium that may be in its final stage of collapse.

By the end, WTKK wasn’t even a right-wing talk station. Braude, a liberal, and Eagan, a moderate, hosted a civil show that was more about entertainment than politics. Moderate politics and humor were the rule during midday. The only right-winger was afternoon host Michael Graham, whose idea of a good time was to make fun of people with dwarfism.

It was a far cry from the days when WTKK’s signature host, Jay Severin, would call Al Gore “Al Whore” and refer to Hillary Clinton as “a socialist” and “a pig.” Then again, Severin himself was long gone, having made the mistake of joking about sex with interns at a moment when his ratings were falling.

During the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, Boston was a terrific town for talk radio, the home of pioneers such as David Brudnoy, Jerry Williams and Gene Burns, among others. Yes, they leaned right, but their approach was intelligent and respectful (OK, Williams often wasn’t respectful), and they were immersed in the local scene in a way that few talk-show hosts are these days.

So now we are left with one full-time talk station, WRKO (AM 680), home to right-wingers Rush Limbaugh and Howie Carr, a local legend whose shtick descended into bitter self-parody years ago. (Limbaugh’s syndicated show recently moved back to WRKO from a weak AM station owned by Clear Channel.) It certainly hasn’t helped either WTKK or WRKO that their ratings pale in comparison to two full-time sports stations — a phenomenon that didn’t exist during the heyday of local talk.

The only bright light is Dan Rea, who helms a very conservative evening program on all-news station WBZ (AM 1030). Rea, a former television reporter, eschews the shouting and demeaning putdowns in favor of smart conversation.

What happened to talk radio in Boston? I would point to three factors. And I would suggest that none of these are unique to our part of the country. Boston may be on the leading edge, but these same trends could sweep away talk elsewhere, too.

Corporate consolidation. Since the passage of the lamentable Telecommunications Act of 1996, corporations have been buying up radio stations in market after market, transforming what was once a strictly local affair into a bottom-line-obsessed business.

As far back as 1997 I wrote in the Boston Phoenix that the rise of chain ownership would eventually kill local talk. We are now seeing that come to fruition. The automated music stations that are on the rise may not garner many listeners. But they are cheap, which means that their owners can bleed some profits out of them regardless.

“In our current media environment, corporate owners seem to have less tolerance for the station that is unusual, the station with the niche audience,” media scholar and radio consultant Donna Halper wrote for Media Nation earlier this year. “Part of what makes radio unique as a mass medium is its ability to befriend the listener. So losing a favorite station is much like losing a friend.”

The rise of public radio. Boston is home to an exceptionally vibrant public radio scene. Two stations with strong signals — WBUR (90.9 FM) and WGBH (89.7 FM) — broadcast news, public-affairs programming and (yes) talk all day and night, and enjoy some of the largest audiences in the Boston area. (Disclosure #1: I’m a paid contributor to WGBH’s television station, Channel 2.) Other, smaller public stations broadcast far more eclectic musical offerings than anything on commercial radio.

This trend is related to corporate consolidation, as it was the slide in quality on the for-profit side that sent many listeners fleeing to nonprofit radio. If anything, that trend will accelerate.

Technological change. Earlier this year The Phoenix sold the FM signal for its independent rock station, WFNX, to Clear Channel — but kept streaming online. The Boston Globe, meanwhile, hired a few of the people who were laid off when WFNX left the air and now streams its own indie rock station, RadioBDC. All of a sudden, we’ve got a war between two local music stations, neither one of which can be heard over the air. (Disclosure #2: I’m an occasional contributor to The Phoenix.)

These days it’s not difficult to stream Internet radio in your car, which is where most radio listening takes place. Pandora, Spotify and out-of-town music stations (WWOZ of New Orleans is a favorite of mine) are powerful draws, which gives the local flavor of online stations like RadioBDC and WFNX a considerable edge over computer-programmed corporate radio — or, for that matter, subscription-based satellite radio.

It is this last development that gives me reason for optimism. Radio has always been held back by the physical limits of the broadcast spectrum. In a world in which those limits don’t exist, “radio” stations must compete on the strength of their programming rather than their stranglehold on the AM and FM dials.

Seen in that light, the end of WTKK is just another step on the road toward what may be a brighter, more diverse radio future.

WTKK continues to inch toward the grave

Talk radio station WTKK (96.9 FM) continues to inch its way toward the grave. The latest word is that the operation will shuffle off this mortal coil on Wednesday as corporate owner Greater Media paves the way for robo-music of some kind.

Today I’m among those interviewed by Boston Globe reporter Callum Borchers on what went wrong. In a nutshell: lack of a clear identity in recent years, compounded by the rise of sports radio.

At the Boston Herald, Gayle Fee reports that WTKK’s principal remaining asset — the morning team of Margery Eagan and Jim Braude — may end up at former rival WRKO (AM 680) or at public station WGBH (89.7 FM).

Update: And it’s finally official.

Talking local news today on WGBH Radio

I’ll be on “Boston Public Radio” on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) today from 12:30 to 1 p.m. talking about local journalism in the post-newspaper age (hmmm … that could be the subtitle of a book) with host Kara Miller, Joshua Benton of the Nieman Journalism Lab and Tom Stites of the Banyan Project. Hope you can tune in.

Shuffling the deck at WGBH Radio

WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) has announced some changes to its schedule that suggest station executives are planning to up the ante in their competition with WBUR (90.9 FM) for the news-and-information audience on public radio.

Disclosure for those who don’t know: I’m a paid contributor to WGBH-TV’s “Beat the Press,” and appear occasionally on the radio station as well.

The most significant move is that “Eric in the Evening,” the daily jazz program hosted by Eric Jackson, is being cut back and moved to Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 9 p.m. to midnight. It’s a shame, but I suspect not many people listen to terrestrial jazz radio in the age of Pandora.

The individual one-hour local talk shows hosted by Emily Rooney and Callie Crossley will be melded into a two-hour block called “Boston Public Radio” that will be hosted by Crossley on weekdays from noon to 2 p.m. Crossley will be joined by Rooney, Kara Miller, Adam Reilly, Jared Bowen and others. “Boston Public Radio” will be rebroadcast Monday through Thursday from 9 to 11 p.m.

Two NPR staples are notably absent from the line-up: “Fresh Air” and “The Diane Rehm SEO Services Show.” (Update: The original schedule sent by WGBH had nothing listed for 10 to 11 a.m. Turns out that’s when “Diane Rehm” will be broadcast.)

The full text of the WGBH press release appears after the jump, supplemented by a few additions emailed in response to an inquiry. Continue reading

“NPR” is not a synonym for public radio

This is a mistake that comes up over and over, and today’s offender is the Boston Globe. The headline on an editorial about the Mike Daisey/“This American Life” debacle reads “NPR: Exposing Apple’s worm, and its own.”

The editorial itself refers to “This American Life” as an “NPR show.” It goes on to note that Daisey’s fabrications about his trip to China were unearthed by “another NPR reporter.” (“Another”? Daisey is not a reporter.)

If you haven’t figured out where I’m going by now, “This American Life” is not an NPR program. It’s produced by Chicago’s WBEZ Radio, a public station, and distributed by Public Radio International, a competitor of NPR’s.

Daisey’s assault on the truth was exposed by a reporter for “Marketplace,” which is produced by American Public Media, yet another NPR competitor.

But wait. Doesn’t “This American Life” appear on NPR stations? No. And here’s where it gets confusing. Plenty of public radio stations market themselves as NPR stations because it’s a name brand they can use to attract listeners and advertisers — oops, sorry. Underwriters. NPR itself does not own stations.

Both of Boston’s large public stations, WBUR (90.9 FM) and WGBH (89.7 FM) call themselves NPR stations. But WBUR’s license is held by Boston University, and WGBH is an independent nonprofit organization that includes radio and television stations. (Disclosure: I’m a paid contributor to WGBH.) NPR is just one of several services (albeit the best-known) from which public radio stations buy programming.

“In a just world,” Reuters media columnist Jack Shafer recently tweeted, “we could say ‘NPR’ to describe all public radio, just as saying ‘Kleenex’ covers Scott Tissues and generic brands.”

Shafer was kidding, of course. And it does get confusing. But NPR takes enough grief from its critics without having to get blamed for programming on rival networks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to send an email to CNN complaining about Sean Hannity.

Afternoon update: The headline and editorial have been rewritten, and a correction has been appended.

Photo (cc) by Raul654 and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.