By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Tag: Paul La Camera

Veteran journalist Charles Kravetz to run WBUR

Charles Kravetz

Public radio station WBUR (90.9 FM) has chosen veteran television journalist Charles Kravetz as its new general manager, replacing Paul La Camera, who recently announced his retirement. La Camera will be sticking around for two years in the newly created position of administrator of public radio.

In turning to Charlie Kravetz, 58, the station has embraced yet another old Channel 5 hand. La Camera had retired as president and general manager of WCVB-TV (Channel 5) several years before coming to WBUR. Kravetz also worked at WCVB, helping to create the newsmagazine “Chronicle,” before embarking on a long stint at New England Cable News, which he helped launch and from which he was ousted as president and general manager when Comcast took it over in 2009.

Kravetz has been deeply involved in efforts to create a shield law that would offer some protection to people doing journalism — including independent bloggers who meet certain criteria — from having to disclose their confidential sources.

Kravetz, like La Camera, is a smart guy and a class act, and ‘BUR is lucky to be getting him. The station’s license is held by Boston University, and Rich Barlow has much more at BU Today.

The importance of being Paul La Camera

Paul La Camera

Congratulations to Paul La Camera, who last week announced that he’ll retire as general manager of WBUR Radio (90.9 FM) at the end of the year.

“I’m going to be 68 next month, and I think that’s an appropriate expiration date for someone to be running a dynamic contemporary media entity that increasingly has to surge into the digital world,” La Camera was quoted as saying in a story by WBUR’s Steve Brown. La Camera added that he plans to continue in an “ambassadorial role” for the station.

La Camera, the longtime head of WCVB-TV (Channel 5), took the helm of WBUR in 2005, as the Boston University-licensed public radio station was just beginning to recover from the financial problems that had ended the reign of his predecessor, Jane Christo.

The imperious Christo was a much-admired, much-detested executive who transformed ‘BUR into one of the best public radio stations in the country. But what La Camera did was at least as important: he calmed the waters, restored financial stability and expanded the station’s local presence.

“He was really the guy who brought stability back to the place,” Scott Fybush, editor of Northeast Radio Watch, told the Boston Globe’s Johnny Diaz.

In 2006 I profiled La Camera for CommonWealth Magazine. Noting that he had already retired once (from WCVB), he told me: “You can probably count on the fact that I won’t be here for 33 1/2 years. I haven’t given much thought to when I’m next going to retire. But whenever that time comes, I hope I’m going to be more successful at it than I was the last time.”

(Note: I’m a paid contributor to WGBH-TV/Channel 2 and an occasional unpaid contributor to WGBH Radio/89.7 FM, which earlier this year was retooled into a news and public-affairs outlet that competes with WBUR.)

La Camera is a great broadcasting executive as well as a good guy, and though he’s not going away, his day-to-day presence will be missed.

WBUR advances “Radio Boston” plans

Meghna Chakrabarti

Some news today about the debut of the daily “Radio Boston,” now set for Monday, May 3, on WBUR (90.9 FM). The “lead host” will be rising star Meghna Chakrabarti, although expect to hear other voices in the anchor chair as well. The executive producer will be Iris Adler, who’s returning to ‘BUR after many years at New England Cable News. And the hour-long program will air at either 1 or 3 p.m. — stay tuned for a final decision.

What follows is an internal e-mail from WBUR general manager Paul La Camera that Media Nation obtained a little while ago:

Title: “Radio Boston,” the sense being that we already have a great deal invested in this title and it says it all.

Premiere Date: Monday, May 3

Time Period: Either 1-2PM or 3-4PM. If its is the former, “Fresh Air” would shift to 2-3PM, Monday-Thursday. The first hour of “Talk of the Nation” would then be pre- empted those four days. However, on Friday, we would carry the full two hours of “Science Friday.” If we choose the latter scenario, we would pre-empt the second hour of “TON” all five days. If you have thoughts on this choice, please let us know.

Lead Host: Meghna Chakrabarti. Meghna, since her beginnings in 2002 as a producer on “On Point,” has grown quickly and formidably as a radio force and a radio voice, in just these recent days performing with skill and comfort the substitute hosting of the very challenging “Here and Now.”

Meghna will be the appropriately titled “lead host,” leaving room for many additional WBUR voices, including those of our unrivaled corps of reporters and young emerging voices lke those of Adam Ragusea and Andrew Phelps.

Leadership: We are pleased that Mark Navin will continue in his current role of senior producer and director of the new daily iteration. Mark deserves our full recognition and appreciation for how far his leadership has taken “Radio Boston” and positioned it for this major transition to a daily.

At the same time, we have created a new executive producer position for the daily “Radio Boston” and that will be filled by an individual familiar to many of us, Iris Adler. Iris is one of the most experienced and accomplished broadcast news and public affairs executives in our city. For the past 18 years, she has served New England Cable News, the nation’s pre-eminent regional cable news service, as both managing editor and executive editor. For the dozen years before that, some of you will remember Iris as a WBUR reporter, managing editor, and, from 1988-1992, the station’s news director. Iris will be joining us on Monday, March 22.

Other Staff: Weekly “Radio Boston” major players and key contributors Adam Ragusea and Jessica Alpert will be fill the respective roles of reporter/associate producer and assistant producer. And Tim Skoog will continue to apply his technical genius to the now daily production. Iris and Mark will soon be interviewing for a remaining unfilled associate producer position.

Geography: The expanded “Radio Boston” team will be housed in the current membership area next to the news department for all the obvious reasons. In turn, the membership group will move to a redesigned office area currently occupied by the weekly “RB.” This shift will take place the first week of April.

Let me also take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Jane Clayson who has been a critically important force in preparing, professionalizing and positioning “Radio Boston” for this exciting step forward. As Jane stated in her gracious and moving farewell at the conclusion of Friday’s program, her family life is simply not compatible with the demands of a daily program. However, I am thrilled to share with you that not only will Jane remain the host of “On Point” when Tom is not there but now will also be the voice who will complement Robin Young on “Here and Now.” So, even with her departure from “Radio Boston,” we and our fortunate listeners will hear Jane virtually to the same degree as we have these past few years. Simply stated, Jane will remain a very active and important member of the WBUR family.

I hope you join me in the excitement of these developments. I have been eager for WBUR to have a daily local program since I arrived at this wondrous place four and half years ago today. And now I just have to wait until May 3 for that dream to be realized.


Barnicle may be WBUR-bound

The Phoenix’s Adam Reilly has some rather startling news. Apparently Paul La Camera, general manager of WBUR Radio (90.9 FM), is thinking of bringing in former Globe and occasional Herald columnist Mike Barnicle to do commentary.

La Camera has done a great job of bringing stability to ‘BUR and of adding some local focus to a station that has long been admired for its national reach. But he’s just wrong when he tells Reilly that Barnicle was done in by “wild accusations.” Barnicle left the Globe in 1998 after he was caught plagiarizing and making stuff up, but those were only the latest in a quarter-century of similar, very credible complaints.

La Camera and Barnicle have a history: Barnicle is a contributor to “Chronicle,” a magazine show on WCVB-TV (Channel 5), the station La Camera used to run. It was La Camera who decided to keep Barnicle on “Chronicle” after his meltdown at the Globe, a decision that played to mixed reviews internally.

Barnicle already does commentary for WTKK Radio (96.9 FM) and MSNBC. His grumpy-old-man shtick does nothing for me, but if he’s good for ratings, then fine. But ‘BUR and the National Public Radio system are news organizations that take credibility and ethics very seriously. It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

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