The latest announcements and updates from WBUR

WBUR to launch investigative unit

This post is excerpted from Current in an article written by Associate Editor April Simpson. See the full article on their website.

WBUR will launch an investigative reporting unit with a three-year, $300,000 grant from the Barr Foundation. The funding, announced last week, will enable the station to dedicate a team of journalists to investigative coverage, said Sam Fleming, director of news and programming. Up until this point, the newsroom has conducted investigations periodically and in partnership with other news organizations.

Investigations are time intensive and often costly, factors that have been deterrents for public radio newsrooms, especially at the station level, Fleming said. “We haven’t always been afforded the opportunity to do the kind of investigative work that newspapers, especially in their heyday, have been able to do,” he said.

WBUR plans to hire three journalists to tackle stories such as opioid addiction, climate change and immigration. With Barr’s funding commitment, WBUR is pursuing more grants of similar size, Fleming said, aiming to raise $1 million to assure three years of startup and operations.  The first hire will be an editor-reporter, followed by another reporter and then a journalist with multimedia and data skills.

WBUR works with NECIR, a nonprofit investigative unit that shares content with multiple partners. Those collaborations will continue “as opportunities arise,” Fleming said. NECIR maintains a team of skilled reporters with a clear focus and experience on the print side, Fleming said. Over the years of working with the center, WBUR realized that its investigative work hasn’t always translated to radio.

“The craft of  … storytelling in our particular medium is a specialized craft and not everybody in print is always able to realize the specialty of public radio and storytelling for audio,” Fleming said. “That’s one of the reasons … we wanted to create our own unit and work in partnership with NECIR and organizations like that.” WBUR wants to have more control over its investigative coverage and “what we were doing ourselves to take advantage of whatever it is that we find out.”

WBUR received a three-year, $1 million grant from Barr last fall supporting arts coverage, Fleming said, and the work that went into securing that commitment led to a conversation about the newsroom’s ambitions for investigative coverage. “It was that opportunity and working relationship that made them realize that we also had a very strong relationship with investigative work,” Fleming said.

The Boston-based Barr Foundation backed the WBUR unit as part of a special initiative to strengthen journalism and protect freedom of the press.

“We are at a time in public radio’s evolution where the need to do investigative journalism is really becoming more apparent all the time,” Fleming said. “We are really grateful to Barr and we see this as an opportunity for us to get in that game in a serious way, in a manner that will help WBUR and our listeners, but also will help the public radio system.”

WBUR’s Marathon Triumphs at the Finish Line

Here & Now Co-Host Robin Young fundraising.

After an exhilarating 26.2 hours, WBUR reached its spring fundraising goal. Thank you to all of our dedicated members, listeners and volunteers for helping us to raise a record-breaking $1.2M in the WBUR Marathon, a 26.2 hour fundraiser to help keep democracy running. Among the highlights:

  • With just 26.2 hours of live fundraising, WBUR raised $1,227,997 from 9,644 donors.  This represents a 22% increase in revenue and an 8% increase in the number of gifts over last year.
  • With active presences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and YouTube, the #teamWBUR hashtag generated 5,098,348 impressions that reached over 2M unique users (as of 1pm, April 6).   Our Facebook Live campaign generated 14.6K views.
  • See some behind-the-scenes photos taken by WBUR Photographer Jesse Costa in our WBUR Marathon album.

More than ever, WBUR would not be here without you and your support. Thank you.

Grant Award for Investigative Journalism

WBUR is proud to be named a $300,000 grant award recipient by The Barr Foundation as part of its 2017 Special Initiative to strengthen journalism and protect freedom of the press. The grant supports the creation of a new investigative reporting unit inside the local WBUR Newsroom. The full announcement from the Barr Foundation can be read on their blog.

 

In 2016, NPR Reached New Levels With Record-Breaking Weekly Listenership

Now, more than ever, NPR is critically important to the field of journalism.  Audiences are certainly feeling that way too.  With an increase of 13 percent year-over-year, NPR now reaches nearly 30 million weekly listeners across national programming — an all-time high, with Morning Edition reaching 14.65 million listeners.

NPR is now reaching younger and more diverse listeners as well.  NPR saw growth across all age groups, with listeners ages 25-44 gaining the most traction.

 

Will Corporation for Public Broadcasting Be Defunded? WBUR GM Responds

A message from WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz:

Yesterday President Donald Trump submitted a budget to Congress that defunds the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). Here at WBUR, my focus is naturally on public radio but I’m concerned for all of public media. At stake is:

  • $90 million for public radio and $355 million for public television
  • $.28 per citizen per year for public radio
  • CPB funding is .01% of the federal budget

It is, in short, a small investment with big impact. More than 41 million Americans listen to public radio each week, including more than 500,000 WBUR listeners here in Boston.

Public radio was born of a belief 50 years ago that every citizen deserves access to independent, public service, non-commercial, non-profit news and programming that enriches the American experience. From the largest cities to the smallest towns, public radio and television started with public funds — now supported additionally with private philanthropy — and embraced the highest standards of quality broadcasting.

Will the CPB be defunded? It is hard to predict, and history can be only a partial guide. This is not the first effort to eliminate funding for public media and each time those efforts have failed. What we know for certain is that partisan rancor and Congressional gridlock are more intense today than at any time since the CPB was created. The effort to defund public media is real. It’s not driven by any meaningful effort to balance the budget. The amount of money at stake is simply too small to make a difference in federal spending, but it is large enough to strike a blow to universal access to non-partisan, fact-based journalism.

While WBUR would be significantly impacted by the elimination of CPB funds, we will survive with your help. But hundreds of smaller stations across the country will be forced to drastically reduce their staffs or even close their doors. This would be a tragedy for journalism in America and a tremendous loss for countless communities that rely on NPR.

As one of the largest public radio stations in the country, and one that provides more hours of national NPR programming than any other station, WBUR is committed to universal access to our programs across the country. We need your help in assuring that Boston and the nation continue to be served by WBUR.

So what can you do? First, go to Protect My Public Media and sign our petition to Congress.  Your voice will be joined by millions of others across the country in support of public radio and television. Second, tell your friends and family that public radio may lose its funding if they don’t speak up in support of it across America. And finally, monitor WBUR and WBUR.org, where we will keep you updated on efforts to defund the CPB.

From its inception, public radio has been a collaboration between NPR, public radio stations and our listeners. That partnership is more important now than ever before.

I’ll keep you updated in the coming weeks. Together we can fight this effort to defund public radio in America.

You can email feedback to gm@wbur.org.

WBUR On Tap: Taste of Iceland

WBUR joined Iceland’s First Lady Eliza Reid in celebrating the Nordic nation’s rich storytelling tradition as part of the 8th annual Taste of Iceland in Boston festival. Reid, a writer and editor who co-founded the Iceland Writers Retreat, led a lively discussion at WBUR about what makes Iceland inspirational for lovers of literature while guests sampled authentic Icelandic food and cocktails.

Love, Modern Love

As a token of appreciation to our Modern Love: The Podcast celebrity readers, WBUR and The New York Times shared a little love in the form of a “thank you” care package featuring  Bonnie’s Jams,  Somerville Chocolate,  Barrington Coffee, Gamine Workwear, Westborough Wicks, Fat Toad Farm, OnHand, Fire Cider, Ursa Major, Marblehead Salt, McCrea’s Candies, Tonewood Maple products, Modern Moose Clocks, My Storytellers, and luxury knitwear from The Third Piece.  The Grommet—based in Somerville– helped us gather many of these New England vendors from their extensive network of makers.

We’re grateful to all of the immensely talented performers who’ve read Modern Love essays for our podcast including those who received this latest package: Rebecca Hall, Issa Rae, Ruth Negga, Mark Duplass, Megan Hilty, Kate Burton, David Harbour, Amy Landecker, Pamela Adlon, Sela Ward, Melanie Lynskey, Mykelti Williamson, Brian Tyree Henry, Emmy Rossum, Mireille Enos, David Oyelowo, Justina Machado, Ry Russo-Young, Paul Rust, and Malin Akerman,

Thank you to everyone involved — especially our devoted podcasts fans, for making Modern Love a top digital download. Listen today.

Salem Film Fest

We are looking forward to a fantastic week of documentaries at the Salem Film Fest.  Entering its 10th year, Salem Film Fest is one of New England’s largest documentary film festivals and presents a rich and diverse collection of the year’s best work from all over the world. For more information and tickets, visit their website. If you are looking to pick up some WBUR swag while seeing some amazing documentaries, come out and meet us in Salem.  We will be there all weekend long – follow us on Twitter @WBURExtra.

#trypod

For the first time, leading podcast publishers including WBUR and NPR have joined forces to introduce new audiences to podcasts. All this month, the hosts of hundreds of shows including Modern Love, On Point, Stuff You Should Know, Planet Money, Missing Richard Simmons, and Crimetown, will encourage listeners to introduce a friend, relative or coworker to a new podcast, and, show them how to listen if they don’t know how. Listeners will be asked to share stories of why they listen and their favorite podcasts using the hashtag #trypod.

According to Edison Research, one in five Americans listened to podcasts every month as of early 2016 – a number that has grown by double-digits for five years. Even though podcasts are growing quickly and are available in more places than ever before, some people still don’t know how to listen or where to start. Informally led by NPR, industry leaders including ESPN, Pineapple Street Media, Midroll, WNYC Studios and WBUR are working together to show new audiences how easy it is to listen.

“People come to podcasts for information and analysis to make sense of the world around them, to be entertained by excellent storytelling, to laugh and experience wonder,” said Israel Smith, NPR’s Sr. Director of Promotion.

Research conducted by comScore and Wondery suggests that listeners turn to podcasts when they’re feeling curious and then as a result of listening they feel more connected, intelligent and energized!  So, give it a try.  #trypod

 

 

 

WBUR Hires Brian Hardzinski as Associate Producer for

WBUR announced today that Brian Hardzinski has been appointed associate producer of On Point with Tom Ashbrook. He will work closely with host Tom Ashbrook to research show topics, develop daily program segments and coordinate guest interviews.

“We are so pleased to have Brian join our team,” said On Point executive producer Karen Shiffman. “As On Point expands its coverage to audiences around the nation, we seek ways to effectively provide listeners with poignant discussions on topics that resonate with them. Brian brings several years of experience in broadcast and production from the middle of the country, and I am confident that he will support On Point’s mission to continue to deliver new perspectives and thorough investigations of what’s happening today.”

Brian joins WBUR after 11 years at KGOU Radio in Norman, Oklahoma where he worked in a number of roles including host of Morning Edition, digital news editor, operations and public service announcement director, producer and host of KGOU’s Assignment: Radio and substitute host for All Things Considered.

Brain earned his bachelor’s degrees in broadcast journalism and history at the University of Oklahoma.

Modern Love: The Podcast’s Valentine’s Day Special

Lovers of love and lovers of podcasts, be ready for WBUR’s airing of Modern Love: The Podcast on Valentine’s Day!  To hear a clip of Modern Love: The Podcast as read by actor Colin Farrell click here.

Based on the New York Times Sunday Styles column, Modern Love: The Podcast features true stories read by top talent from the stage and screen.  An original soundscape and soundtrack brings the essays alive, exploring themes touching every element of the human condition.  The podcast has seen a tremendous audience response, passing the 20 million download mark and celebrating its one-year anniversary on January 21.

The radio special is hosted by WBUR’s own Meghna Chakrabarti (Radio Boston) and includes a trio of funny, romantic, and inspiring essays read by Colin Farrell (“The Lobster”) on a quadriplegic man who finds a love he thought he’d never have, Gillian Jacobs (“Love”) on falling in love with the help of a psychological experiment known as “36 Questions”; and Tony Hale (“Veep”) who wonders about breaking up and reading between the lines.  The radio special also features conversations with the essay’s original authors and The New York Times Modern Love Editor Daniel Jones.

WBUR will broadcast the Modern Love: The Podcast’s Valentine’s Day Special on Sat., 2/11 at 6 p.m., Sun. 2/12 at 8 p.m. and Tues., 2/14 at 9 p.m.

WBUR Appoints Yasmin Amer as Morning Edition Field Producer

WBUR announced today that Yasmin Amer has been appointed as WBUR’s Morning Edition field producer. She will work closely with WBUR Morning Edition Host Bob Oakes to produce and report daily news stories, interviews and special series.

“We are thrilled to have Yasmin join our team,” said WBUR director of news and programming Sam Fleming. “As we enter the new year, we are pleased to continue expanding our newsroom with members of the media who understand the essential role of high quality, substantive, nonpartisan journalism. With Yasmin’s experience, we know that she will be a great addition to our team who will help serve our local community by reporting on in depth stories that impact our lives.”

Yasmin joins WBUR after five years at CNN, where she has worked as an assignment editor on the international desk, as a news editor at CNN International NewSource, as a writer and producer on CNN domestic shows, and as a writer and producer for CNN NewSource.

Yasmin earned her master’s degree in human-computer interaction at the Georgia Institute of Technology and her bachelor’s degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, majoring in broadcast journalism and Arabic studies with a minor in religious studies.

This Moment in Cancer- A CommonHealth Special Series

WBUR and CommonHealth proudly present “This Moment in Cancer”, a special news series exploring what’s different and what we can expect from the groundbreaking cancer research happening here in Boston.  Led by Carey Goldberg, editor of the WBUR CommonHealth blog and former Boston bureau chief of “The New York Times”, with reporting from a team of journalists including Lisa Mullins, Rachel Zimmerman, Martha Bebinger and more.  Explore all the stories here.

WBUR Honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with 14th Annual Concert

“How I Got Over” is the title of a song performed by legendary gospel singer Mahalia Jackson as part of the program at the march on Washington, D.C. where Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was delivered.  It was Ms. Jackson who called out from her seat behind the podium to Dr. King: “Tell them about the dream, Martin!” which prompted King to go off script with his historic and inspirational words.

Reporter Delores Handy was on hand at Jordan Hall to introduce the Boston’s Children’s chorus at this uplifting, gospel-themed concert to honor Dr. King, the music associated with the civil rights movement and the spirit and passion of all those who marched with Dr. King on that monumental day in Washington.

 

Listen Up: An Evening of Exceptional Audio

Friends and fans gathered to listen and share in a little kindness and conviviality at the ICA for our annual Listen Up event. Here & Now host Robin Young and Kind World producer Erika Lantz shared audio stories of kindness during this special evening of listening together–in the dark. The shared listening experience was followed by an insightful conversation with Richard Weissbourd, co-director of the Making Caring Common Project at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Special thanks to the ICA and Boston Medical Center for their support in making this event possible. And be sure to listen to the new season of Kind World.

Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize: Call for Entries

daniel-schorrWBUR, invites public radio journalists age 35 and under to submit entries for the annual Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize. Eligible works will have been broadcast or published between Jan. 1, 2016 and Dec. 31, 2016. The $5,000 Schorr Prize – sponsored by WBUR and Boston University, and funded by Jim and Nancy Bildner – recognizes a rising star in public radio and seeks to inspire a new generation of journalists to stretch the boundaries of the medium.

Submissions may focus on any local, national or international news issue significant to the listening public. The work may be presented in the form of a produced news story, podcast, news feature, documentary, series on a single topic or an investigative report. Complete guidelines are online at wbur.fm/schorrprize.

The award is named after the late Daniel Schorr, who gave American journalism a lifetime of commitment through his insight, intelligence and integrity. Schorr believed strongly in supporting talented journalists as they rose through the ranks of public radio. The selected Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize winner will be honored at the annual WBUR Gala which takes place on May 15 at the Royal Sonesta in Cambridge, Mass.

Past winners include WAMU Reporter Patrick Madden (2015); Reporter Devin Katayama, now a reporter for KQED, San Francisco (2014); WBEZ producer Becky Vevea (2013); KUNC reporter Grace Hood (2012); NPR host David Greene (2011); NPR reporter Ailsa Chang (2010); reporter Chana Joffe-Walt, who covers global economics for NPR’s multimedia project “Planet Money” (2009); former NPR defense correspondent Guy Raz, now the host of the “TED Radio Hour” (2008); and NPR investigative correspondent Laura Sullivan (2007).

All entries must be received at or before 5 p.m. EST on Friday, March 3, 2017.

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Media Contacts:

WBUR

Karen Laverty

Phone: 617-275-6516

klaverty@greenoughcom.com

Modern Love Live- A Special Valentine's Event in Boston

emmyrossumWBUR and The New York Times are celebrating the one-year anniversary of their collaboration on Modern Love: The Podcast with a special live event at Boston’s Wilbur Theatre. Hosted by Meghna Chakrabarti (host of Modern Love: The Podcast) with Daniel Jones (editor of the NYT “Modern Love” column), the event will be a live recording of the hit podcast featuring Modern Love essays read by actors Emmy Rossum (Shameless) and Alysia Reiner (Orange is the New Black).

Modern Love Live will take place on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 7:30 p.m. at The Wilbur in Boston’s theater district. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, Dec. 23.

Modern Love: The Podcast transforms the popular reader-submitted New York Times Modern Love essays into an immersive weekly podcast experience that takes listeners on an audio journey, bringing the poignant, honest and hopeful stories to life. Each episode features a reading performed by actors, combined with music and an intricately produced soundscape. Episodes conclude with an update and follow-up conversation with the story’s original author, provoking deeper conversation about love and relationships.

Exploring the joys and tribulations of love, Modern Love: The Podcast debuted at #1 on the iTunes chart. The podcast launched on Jan. 21, 2016 with two episodes, featuring actors Jason Alexander and Lauren Molina. Since then, nearly 50 talented actors have read for the podcast, including Colin Farrell, Angela Bassett, Tony Hale, Ruth Negga, John Cho, Sarah Paulson, Sterling K. Brown and Sarah Silverman.

WBUR On Tap: Holiday Cooking With Kathy Gunst

img_2563Jeremy Hobson, co-host of Here & Now, moderated a discussion on holiday cooking with the show’s resident chef Kathy Gunst.

Guests drank wine, tasted some of Gunst’s favorite dishes and watched her prepare a recipe from her recently published book “Soup Swap.”

A book sale and signing followed the cooking demo and discussion.

img_2573Special thanks to the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts for hosting this event!

Kind World Returns to the Spotlight With A New Season

tile-kind-worldWBUR will launch a new season of the award-winning Kind World series beginning Tuesday, December 6, 2016. The three-part series will highlight stories of kindness and the profound impact a single act of kindness can have on an individual’s life. The series will air on Morning Edition (5 a.m. – 9 a.m.) on Tuesday, December 6, 13, and 20.

Kind World is part of WBUR’s commitment to telling stories across the human spectrum,” said WBUR Executive Director for Programming, Podcasts and Special Projects Iris Adler. “These stories reflect the good that lives within all of us and throughout our communities.”

The new season of Kind World on WBUR’s Morning Edition will spotlight extraordinary people who put the needs of others first, such as:

  • a grocery store worker with Down syndrome who goes above and beyond her job to help a mother and her daughter with Down syndrome;
  • a group of women who form the “Secret Sisters” society to help a friend through the death of her 6-year-old son;
  • a couple who, after seeing a cry for help on social media from a relative stranger, decide to help a woman struggling with a break up three days before Christmas.

“It’s wonderful to see how listeners react to this series. The moving conversations and comments show what an impact these personal stories can have,” said Erika Lantz, associate producer for the WBUR iLab who produces the Kind World series. “The stories coming up this season have each opened my eyes in a different way, and I can’t wait to share them.”

Kind World has won multiple awards, including a Sigma Delta Chi and a national Edward R. Murrow Award for feature reporting. The series was founded by WBUR’s then digital producer Nate Goldman (now at Wired), who proposed the idea to explore people’s experiences with acts of kindness to WBUR’s iLab, the station’s incubator for new projects. In addition to Kind World’s radio run, it is a podcast on iTunes and online at the Kind World website. Listeners can share their own stories and thoughts on the series on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #kindworld. Listen Up, a special Kind World live event, is scheduled at Boston’s ICA on Thursday, January 12, 2017. 

Major funding for the new season of Kind World comes from Boston Medical Center, proudly caring for Boston’s most vulnerable populations. Explore more innovative projects on the WBUR iLab website.

A letter from WBUR’s General Manager

Dear Members of the WBUR Community,

It has been three weeks since the election, enough time, I think, to give us all some perspective. I’m writing to share some thoughts on the future we face and the work of WBUR.

It is not a particularly insightful observation that we live in a time when our country is as divided as it has been in many generations. Nevertheless, we must acknowledge those divisions in order to address them and to understand the collective destiny of all of us as citizens of the United States of America.

The role of journalism in the functioning of the world’s greatest democracy is laid out clearly in the First Amendment to the Constitution.  Our forefathers understood that a free and independent press was essential to the country, both as a check against abuse of power and as a source of invaluable information for a citizenry that is invested with the responsibility of choosing its leaders. Two hundred and forty years later, that essential role is challenged by forces, both economic and political, that affect us all.

Here are some observations:

  1. Journalism is struggling for survival in almost every city in America and that is true for Boston, too. The advent of the digital age has undermined the business model that has supported journalism for hundreds of years. Tens of thousands of journalists have lost their jobs nationally and we have all collectively lost something precious in our lives. We can only speculate on the impact of that loss on the recent election.
  1. Fake news, masquerading as legitimate journalism, has spread falsehoods across the internet on countless sites, both large and small. The capacity of many consumers to differentiate between real and false news has been deeply compromised, even to the point where foreign entities may have used this confusion to attempt to influence our electoral process.
  1. We are living in a world where facts, apparently, are fungible. The label “fact-based journalism” itself seems to suggest that there is a legitimate alternative, which there is not. Some partisan news outlets have undermined our collective agreement on the essential information that we need to function as informed citizens.

WBUR, NPR and all of Public Radio stand as bulwarks against the forces that are challenging the essential role of high quality, substantive, nonpartisan journalism in all our lives. Here are just some of the things WBUR is doing to serve Boston and the nation:

  1. WBUR is investing more every day in our local journalism because all of us need information that informs us as citizens of the commonwealth. Our newsroom is among the biggest in all of public radio, reporting in depth on stories that impact our lives. Radio Boston, with Meghna Chakrabarti, is listening to Boston and Massachusetts every weekday, digging into the essential issues that touch our friends and families at home, in school and at work. We are doubling down on our hometown, providing the most insightful and important reporting in all of public radio.
  1. WBUR is investing deeply in our national programming. On Point with Tom Ashbrook just announced a national tour, “Listening to America,” in which we will broadcast from coast to coast and north to south across America, conducting the essential conversations that we all need now to understand each other, listen to each other and secure our common bonds.
  1. Here & Now, THE Midday News Program of public radio carried on 450 stations across the country, is exploring this challenging moment for the nation in collaboration with more than 30 public radio stations, bringing deeper understanding to all of us as the Trump administration takes power.
  1. In the year ahead, you will hear new voices, new programs and new podcasts emerge from WBUR’s iLab, our deep commitment to creative development of new content for all of public radio.

The respected international journalist, Christiane Amanpour, gave a speech this week before the Committee to Protect Journalists. She was honored with the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for “extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom.” Amanpour called on all journalists to commit themselves to the essential work of an independent press:

“I learned a long, long time ago … never to equate victim and aggressor. Never to create a false moral or factual equivalence. So I believe in being truthful, not neutral. And I believe we must stop banalizing the truth. We have to be prepared to fight especially hard right now for the truth.”

Now, more than ever, we understand that you rely upon WBUR and NPR, that Boston and the nation need our work. Our commitment to journalism is rooted in seeking the truth wherever it takes us, whatever the consequences and whoever might object.

I want you to know how much we appreciate the very special bond between our listeners and WBUR. It gives us strength. Our mission is to serve you and to listen to you.

Without you, there is no WBUR. As we have often said, UR WBUR.

ck_sig

Charlie Kravetz
General Manager, WBUR

 

 

 

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