The Globe’s opinion pages beef up

Joshua Green

A year ago, the biggest question at the Boston Globe was whether the New York Times Co. was serious about shutting it down if it couldn’t squeeze out $20 million in union concessions.

These days, the story is considerably more pleasant. Though no one thinks the Globe is entirely out of the woods (there is, after all, a revolution under way), the paper keeps expanding in modest but useful ways.

The latest initiative is coming tomorrow: a weekly column on the op-ed page by the Atlantic’s fine political writer, Joshua Green, who, according to Globe editorial-page editor Peter Canellos, will offer a Washington perspective from a non-ideological perspective.

“He’s a pure reporter and analyst,” Canellos says. “And I think that for somebody looking at the changing landscape of Washington these days, this is a happy meeting of a writer and subject, because it’s a fascinating time.”

This coming Sunday will mark a significant expansion of the opinion pages. For years, the Globe has published a third opinion page, reserved for letters, every other week. Now the paper will publish three and four pages on an alternating schedule.

Newish op-ed columnists Joanna Weiss and Lawrence Harmon will join standbys Joan Vennochi and Jeff Jacoby. Harmon, the Globe’s chief editorial writer on city issues, will continue to write his column once a week. Weiss will now write twice weekly, picking up Harmon’s Tuesday slot.

On weeks when there are four opinion pages, Canellos says, the extra space will be used for features such as “visual op-eds” by cartoonist Dan Wasserman and longer essays by columnist James Carroll and other writers.

Finally, Canellos says that a somewhat nebulous new online feature called “The Angle” will be beefed up with some definition and some original content as the result of a new partnership with “Radio Boston,” which WBUR (90.9 FM) is expanding from a weekly to a daily program next week.

Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

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.

Paul

Public radio’s new local focus

Good news for fans of quality local radio: WBUR (90.9 FM) is expanding its “Radio Boston” program from one day a week to five. Along with Emily Rooney‘s and Callie Crossley‘s new shows on WGBH (89.7 FM), that’s three hours a day of local programming on the city’s two largest public radio stations. Adam Gaffin has the news, and Adam Reilly has more.

WBUR’s other news and public-affairs programs, “On Point” and “Here and Now,” are excellent but lack a local focus, as they are both nationally syndicated. By going daily, “Radio Boston” plugs a hole at WBUR that was left in the 1990s, when Christopher Lydon‘s legendary program “The Connection” went national.

My disclaimer: I am a paid weekly panelist on “Beat the Press,” a WGBH-TV (Channel 2) program of which Rooney is the host and Crossley is a regular.

Public radio listeners will be the winners

Best of luck to my “Beat the Press” colleagues Emily Rooney and Callie Crossley, whose hour-long programs debut today on WGBH Radio (89.7 FM) — Emily at noon and Callie at 1 p.m.

Rooney is competing with one of my favorite people in radio, Robin Young, whose “Here and Now” is broadcast on WBUR (90.9 FM) from noon to 1. Crossley is up against syndicated fare on ‘BUR except on Fridays, when “Radio Boston” airs.

So I’m hoping the public radio audience expands and everyone wins. Including the listeners.