WGBH Local Content and Service 2014
WGBH operates 10 public television services: WGBH 2, WGBH 44, ’GBH Kids, and Boston Kids & Family TV (a free educational service for Boston cable subscribers, in collaboration with the City of Boston); WGBH World and WGBH Create (localized iterations of the national multicast services that are WGBH collaborations); and four WGBY television services for viewers in Western Massachusetts.
WGBH operates three public radio services: 89.7 WGBH, Boston’s Local NPR; 99.5 WCRB Classical; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR Station.
These WGBH services offer a mix of national fare and locally originated content designed to serve the specific needs and interests of New England-area viewers.
WGBH provides comprehensive news coverage to our community via TV, radio, the Web, and mobile. Our local newsroom of experienced journalists offers perspective and analysis across media, allowing WGBH to reach audiences in multiple ways and to take advantage of each platform’s unique storytelling abilities. Alongside PRI’s The World and The Takeaway (both WGBH co-productions), WGBH partnerships with the New England Center for Investigative Reporting (NECIR), The GroundTruth Project, the tech sector news website Xconomy, and other key entities greatly expand our local news resources. Among the 2014 news events that benefited from this hyperlocal, transmedia focus:
- The 2014 gubernatorial election – A comprehensive examination of the candidates, issues, and ballot questions. Coverage included in-depth interviews with all candidates and experts across media via local Morning Edition reports, Boston Public Radio (our three-hour midday, weekday local news and talk show on 89.7 and streamed on wgbh.org), and Greater Boston (our weeknight local TV news and analysis program). WGBH also hosted a gubernatorial debate with The Boston Globe in our studios (the first debate held independent of a consortium) as a forum for the two leading candidates. Additionally, WGBH News utilized new assets, including WGBH’s The Scrum podcast and the team behind the blog Mass Politics Profs, to add more opinions and expertise to our election coverage.
- Coverage of the 2014 passing and legacy of former Mayor Thomas Menino, Boston’s longest-serving mayor.
- Market Basket feud and employee strike – A local supermarket chain became a national symbol of employee and consumer empowerment, and WGBH met the public’s appetite with ongoing, in-depth coverage.
WGBH’s transmedia approach informed a number of special news efforts in 2014, including:
- A yearlong multimedia news series chronicling the impact of busing and desegregation in Boston over the last 40 years. The project was produced in partnership with the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, with research assistance from the Boston Busing and Desegregation Project. It includes firsthand accounts from Bostonians, never-before-seen historical documents, and original reporting across radio, TV, and digital.
- A weeklong series, From Ferguson to Boston, exploring the issues raised by the tragic events in Missouri through a local lens.
- A revitalized and expanded WGBH Forum Network, a partnership with more than 50 local institutions to create a vibrant online library of videotaped lectures given by Greater Boston thought leaders in politics, the arts, science and technology, history, and the social sciences.
- Rediscovering the Middle Class, a yearlong multimedia series examining the state of the middle class in Massachusetts.
- On Campus reports and blogs exploring the future of higher education and the challenges and issues it faces, from trends in online education, to the crackdown on for-profit colleges, to the state of vocational education and college internships.
- 89.7 WGBH offers more than 30 hours every week of original local programming that brings our listeners a wide range of voices and opinions, including local editions of public radio mainstays Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
- Our three-hour midday radio program, Boston Public Radio (hosted by seasoned Boston journalists Jim Braude and Margery Eagan), provides a forum for lively dialogue on the day’s news and issues. The show is a can’t-miss destination for our region’s most influential policymakers, business leaders, and cultural mavens. Monthly one-hour, in-studio conversations with the governor of Massachusetts and the mayor of Boston (Ask the Governor and Ask the Mayor) offer citizens a regular opportunity to call in and connect directly with key leaders about community issues. In 2014, Governor Deval Patrick and Mayor Marty Walsh were enthusiastic participants, and just after his January 2015 inauguration Governor Charlie Baker followed suit.
- Our signature weeknightly news program, Greater Boston, marked its 18th year of providing insight into the stories and newsmakers that matter to our community. In December 2014, the program’s creator, executive editor, and host Emily Rooney stepped away from the anchor desk and Jim Braude came aboard, while continuing to co-host Boston Public Radio.
- Emily Rooney and a media-savvy panel of journalists on WGBH television’s Beat the Press review the news of the week every Friday night, holding the media accountable for journalistic lapses and giving a shout-out to local and national news coverage that gets it right.
- The longest-running program on public television in New England focusing on the interests of people of color, Basic Black has been at the forefront of merging social media engagement and broadcast by incorporating a simultaneous Web stream and chat with live TV. Basic Black has introduced dozens of new voices, tapping into the rich reservoir of emerging scholars, activists, and community leaders in our region. Highlights from its 2014 season include its Race and Ferguson Beyond the Headlines special, during which viewers could comment in real time via live chat and Twitter, as they watched on air or via a live stream.
- On Open Studio with Jared Bowen, Boston’s only full-time multimedia arts reporter pulls back the curtain on the creative process, with interviews and stories on area artists and arts organizations. Highlights of 2014 include visits to the newly renovated Harvard Art Museums; “Goya: Order and Disorder” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; “Calder and Abstraction: From Avant-Garde to Iconic” at the Peabody Essex Museum; and explorations of Fenway Studios and the Fruitlands Museum.
- On 89.7 WGBH, Under the Radar with Callie Crossley looks to alternative presses and community news for stories that often are overlooked by big media outlets. “In our roundtable conversations, we aim to examine the small stories before they become the big headlines with contributors in Boston and New England,” says the award-winning journalist (who also serves as a moderator/panelist for our local TV series Basic Black). Highlights from 2014 range from a look at newly elected Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera’s plans to fight crime without raising taxes, to a discussion of “Boston’s Student (and Teacher) Diversity Problem” with Boston Globe columnist Farah Stockman and bilingual journalist Marcela Garcia.
- On WGBH Radio’s Innovation Hub, host Kara Miller engages big thinkers in the technical, educational, scientific, and cultural arenas who are taking on the most challenging problems facing our region and our world. The program went national via PRI in 2014, and is finding a receptive audience on air and online: more than 800,000 fans, many hailing from New England, follow the series on SoundCloud.
- Part travelogue, part food show, our Neighborhood Kitchens series built on the success of WGBH’s La Plaza unit, with its history of reflecting Latino and multicultural perspectives. Each half-hour took viewers to one of the many ethnic eateries that enrich New England to explore Dominican, Armenian, Senegalese, Vietnamese, Polish, Indian flavors and more as viewers learned about neighborhoods, culinary influences, ingredients, and the guest chef’s journey.
COVERING CAPE COD AND THE ISLANDS
WCAI, a service of WGBH, gives listeners on Cape Cod, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and the South Coast their own NPR station—one infused with a uniquely local sound and sense of place. A partnership with the Cape Cod Times enriches the station’s news reporting. Highlights of this locally focused service:
- The Point with Mindy Todd provides lively and informative discussion each day.
- A special 10-part series, Power Source: The Future of New England’s Energy System, looked at finding a way out of New England’s energy crisis. The series also aired weekly on 89.7 WGBH’s Morning Edition.
- WCAI offered the five-part series Home Away from Home: Immigrant Stories of the Cape, the Coast, and the Islands and a two-part series on the history and modern uses of New Bedford’s textile mills.
- WCAI’s science/environmental Living Lab project provides a rich and deep on-air and online archive exploring the intersection of science and real life.
- Creative Life features local artists and personalities.
- Frequent sonic IDs offer an audio slice of life.
- And for the quintessential Cape experience, WCAI broadcasts the Cape Cod Baseball League All-Star Game each July.
- In 2014, WCAI’s turned its 2013 award-winning series, The Long Haul: The Future of New England’s Fisheries, into a book of the same title.
99.5 WCRB is our region’s only 24/7 classical radio station. Of its 168 hours each week, 164 are programmed, produced, and hosted by WCRB staff in our WGBH studios. WCRB devotes more time than any other station in the country to broadcasts by local arts organizations, with more than 100 full-length broadcasts by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, along with other concerts recorded and produced by WCRB of performances by the Handel and Haydn Society, the New England Conservatory, the Boston’s Children’s Chorus, Rockport Music, the Boston Lyric Opera, the Steinway Society Piano Competition, the Cantata Singers, and many other local ensembles and presenters.
WCRB is reaching out in innovative ways to expand its audience. In 2014, WCRB collaborated with Boston’s Groupmuse, a social network that connects young classical musicians to local audiences, to host WCRB/Groupmuse concerts that drew packed crowds of millennials to our studios.
WCRB also teamed up with the composition department at the Boston Conservatory to sponsor a competition for the creation of a new sonic ID for WCRB. The project resulted in 18 submissions and the selection of one final winning composition, which was then arranged in more than 100 ways by Conservatory students. Those distinctive IDs are now on our air.
WCRB is the first public radio station with an online music channel devoted exclusively to classical music for children: ClassicalKids.org offers online puzzles, games, videos, and other resources, and a continuous stream of the acclaimed Kids’ Classical Hour. Other WCRB online classical streaming channels include: BSO Concert, Boston Early Music, and Bach.
WCRB provides information about local cultural events, with a weekly report by arts correspondent Jared Bowen and three concert calendars each week that cover performances in our region. This is augmented by a weekly feature in which WCRB takes a musical look at what’s happening in and around Boston.
89.7 WGBH gets jazzy on the weekend, including nine hours with “the dean of the Boston jazz scene”: host, musicologist, and educator Eric Jackson. WGBH’s Live from Scullers partnership with a local jazz club brings the magic of live performances to Eric’s loyal fans.
89.7 WGBH reaches deep into this region’s sizable Celtic community (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Cape Breton, and more) with the weekly music program A Celtic Sojourn. Host Brian O’Donovan, born and raised in Clonakilty in West Cork, shares his love and deep knowledge of traditional and contemporary music from the Celtic countries and England. O’Donovan also is the host/master of ceremonies for some very popular events in the community; see “In the Community” for details.
EDUCATION AND EDUCATIONAL ENGAGEMENT
- WGBH’s High School Quiz Show is a televised competition that showcases and rewards the academic achievements of high school students in Massachusetts. Students go head to head as teams, answering questions correlated to state curriculum guidelines in literature, history, science, math, current events, and general knowledge. The series is endorsed by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In late spring 2014, the winners went on to compete in the Massachusetts vs. New Hampshire Governor’s Cup Challenge. In Fall 2014, WGBH opened the statewide academic competition to private and parochial teams in addition to public high schools, with impressive results: 120 high schools competed in the High School Quiz Show qualifying event in November, with 16 teams moving on to the 2015 televised competition.
WGBH leverages its position as a local broadcaster and the leading source for PBS TV and Web content, as well as its many educational and cultural partnerships, to mine the content of its productions and deliver practical educational resources directly into the hands of students, parents, and educators throughout the communities we serve. Highlights from 2014 include:
- As part of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge initiative, WGBH completed the development of Resources for Early Learning, a vast online library of more than 2,500 digital tools for teaching and learning. With a focus on children birth to five years old, this site features a standards-based preschool curriculum, media-based professional development modules, and enrichment tools that parents, caregivers, and teachers need to help children succeed.
- In partnership with the Massachusetts Parent Teacher Association, WGBH distributed more than 5,000 health-themed books and activities to chapters in targeted communities. WGBH and MA PTA kicked off this collaboration at their annual conference, where WGBH Executive Producer of Children’s Programming Carol Greenwald gave the keynote address and National PTA President Otha Thornton shared remarks.
- More than 8,000 rising kindergartners entered school not just ready to learn to read but equipped to do so, thanks to a donation of children’s books by WGBH. In collaboration with Countdown to Kindergarten programs in Boston, Lawrence, and Worcester, WGBH provided more than 8,000 new children’s books, activities, and kid-friendly giveaways to at-risk children.
- With a Ready to Learn (RTL) grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, WGBH is partnering with Imajine That (a Massachusetts early childhood and family enrichment initiative) to integrate RTL digital tools into their family play spaces, Parent University, and their extended-day preschool curricula in Boston and Lawrence. In 2014, WGBH hosted a series of family events in partnership with Imajine That in Lawrence attended by approximately 200 families with young children.
In collaboration with the director of History and Social Studies for the Boston Public Schools, WGBH hosted more than 300 high school students for two special screening events in our studios. Students viewed clips from PBS’s Latino Americans and The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross, then engaged in lively small group discussions and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers and community leaders, including the executive director of the Museum of African American History and the director of the Office of New Bostonians. Following these screenings, WGBH produced new related collections for PBS LearningMedia, the rich online library of K-12 multimedia resources developed by WGBH in partnership with PBS.
- Here in Massachusetts, PBS LearningMedia is a valued source for educator classroom and professional development content, with more than 7,600 new Massachusetts accounts created this year. WGBH has increased efforts to reach educators in our region through social media, and in only a year we have amassed a following of more than 7,700 users across four platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. We also reached more than 2.5 million educators this year with our email blasts and newsletters.
- WGBH’s partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education grew as we developed more than 200 videos and other assets about the creation, adaptation, implementation, and media-integration of standards-aligned curriculum. This project, part of the department’s Race to the Top grant, also included extensive promotion of the resources, the department’s Model Curriculum Units, and other department initiatives to educators across the state. At the end of the 2014–2015 school year, 1.5 million impressions about the DESE resources will have been made on Massachusetts educators.
- WGBH hosted, with PBS LearningMedia, our first Forum on Digital Media for STEM Learning. The September 2014 event was attended by more than 125 educators, curriculum developers, policy makers, and STEM-learning advocates. The panel of speakers included Chris Dede of the Harvard Graduate School of Education; WGBH’s Paula S. Apsell, senior executive producer of Nova; and Martin Storksdieck of the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning at Oregon State University. The event was streamed in real time across the country, and the event videos and Google+ page with supplementary materials have been viewed hundreds of times. The forum was emceed by WGBH’s Kara Miller, host of our national radio and podcast series Innovation Hub.
- WGBH served as media partner for two important state STEM events: Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Touch Tomorrow Science Festival in June, and the Massachusetts STEM Summit in October. At both events WGBH enjoyed a prominent presence with large exhibit spaces, and at Touch Tomorrow, a short Curious George stage show. The two gatherings allowed us to share WGBH science content and brands with a total of 5,200 young children, students, parents, teachers, educators, policy makers, curriculum developers, and STEM-education advocates from across our state.
- WGBH’s award-winning history series American Experience presented its new interactive educational tool, Tales from The Poisoner’s Handbook, at the National Science Teachers Association annual conference in Boston, attended by nearly 10,000 educators. Developed in conjunction with our January 2014 film The Poisoner’s Handbook, the digital graphic novel introduces high school students to the principles of biochemistry and forensics.
- American Experience presented the film Freedom Summer at the National Council for Social Studies Conference in Boston, attended by more than 4,000 educators. Attendees learned more about the documentary and how to teach issues raised in the film from filmmaker Stanley Nelson, Boston Public Schools Director for Social Studies Kerry Dunne, and Naomi Coquilllon, Manager of Youth and Teacher Programs for the Smithsonian Museum of American History.
IN OUR STUDIOS
A 30- by 45-foot LED screen alongside WGBH’s studios signals the spirit and content of public media for some half-million passersby each week, with one theme a day showcased through slow-moving images or animation. This “digital mural” also reflects the vibrancy of our region: images reflecting events and issues in our community are displayed on the LED, drawing attention to the cultural richness of the Boston and New England areas and to what’s on the minds of those in the neighborhoods we serve. Many community and civic organizations benefited from this high-profile, daylong exposure in 2014.
Some 116,000 visitors came through our doors or attended WGBH-sponsored events in our community in 2014. A representative sampling:
- American Promise screening and panel discussion – Local WGBH series Basic Black hosted a screening and discussion related to the POV film American Promise. The event was attended by 150 members of our community concerned about education, equal opportunity, and the achievement gap among students of color. The evening included a conversation with filmmaker Michele Stephenson, moderated by Emerson College professor and Basic Black panelist Kim McLarin.
- Asian Pacific American Heritage Month celebration – This special evening in our studios featured the documentary The Grace Lee Project, followed by a panel discussion with Karen Young, founder and artistic director of The Genki Spark, a pan-Asian women’s arts and advocacy organization, and Allistair Mallillin, executive director of the Asian American Resource Workshop, a group that works to empower the Asian Pacific American community within US society.
- “Examining the ISIS Threat” – At this forum in our studios presented by PRI’s The World (a WGBH co-production with PRI and the BBC), Frontline (our award-winning investigative series), and WGBH News, some 250 attendees and an online community examined the security threat, the role of religion, and the rapid growth of the militant group that calls itself the Islamic State.
- Green Media Innovation IdeaLab – Some 200 invited guests joined WGBH for a day-long focus on the environment, climate, and more with “Wrestling with Wicked Problems: Finding the Game-Changers.” WGBH’s Kara Miller (Innovation Hub) co-hosted with PBS NewsHour’s Miles O’Brien.
- Working with the National Association of Black Journalists and its annual gathering in Boston, WGBH hosted a reception for its founders and arranged for a student tour that included visits to our radio and TV studios and to the WGBH Newsroom.
- Nearly 150 WGBH supporters attended an event featuring PBS culinary icon Lidia Bastianich, who was interviewed by Boston Magazine food critic Corby Kummer.
- Nearly 100 WGBH supporters joined us for “Coffee and Conversation” with New York Times columnist and Independent Lens filmmaker Nicholas Kristof, who discussed his TV series and book, A Path Appears, exploring gender-based oppression and human rights violations, and solutions being implemented to combat them.
IN OUR COMMUNITY
Ongoing events in the communities we serve allow WGBH to connect directly with our diverse audience. WGBH personalities frequently serve as presenters, emcees, and judges at local events sponsored by such organizations as the Japanese-American Cultural Foundation, Boston Baroque, the Tanglewood Music Center, Rockport Music, New England Conservatory, Masterworks Chorale, the Boston Pops, Discovery Ensemble, the Cantata Singers, the First Lutheran Church, Boston Cecilia Society, the Boston Civic Symphony, the Boston Philharmonic, the All Newton Music School, and the Celebrity Series of Boston. 99.5 WCRB serves a media sponsor of the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, and WCRB announcers introduce its free summertime concerts. Selected 2014 community events include:
- WCRB Classical Cartoon Festival at Symphony Hall – Some 3,000 families flocked to Boston’s Symphony Hall for 99.5 WCRB’s 16th annual Classical Cartoon Festival, where kids of all ages enjoy their favorite Warner Bros. cartoons set to classical music on a giant screen, along with live performances and visits from PBS children’s characters.
- 2014 Boston Summer Arts Weekend and Arts Walk – For a third year, WGBH collaborated with The Boston Globe to provide the public with a free, two-day Summer Arts Weekend in the heart of the city. A crowd of 21,000 enjoyed musical performances from across the spectrum: jazz, blues, Celtic, folk, classical, and kids’ music. The weekend kicked off with an Arts Walk, a partnership with more than a dozen galleries in Boston’s Back Bay.
- A Christmas Celtic Sojourn concerts – 89.7 WGBH host Brian O’Donovan has created a beloved annual tradition, more popular than ever in its second decade, of bringing the best musicians, singers, and dancers from around the Celtic world to stages across New England. In 2014, these popular performances drew an audience of 12,000 in four locations over 14 shows. And O’Donovan’s popular St. Patrick’s Day Sojourn concerts played to more than 3,000 people in Boston and Worcester.
- WGBH and the City of Boston hosted a free community screening of American Experience’s Freedom Summer at the historic Strand Theatre in Dorchester, one of Boston’s most diverse neighborhoods. After the screening, WGBH’s Callie Crossley moderated a discussion with filmmaker Stanley Nelson and civil rights activists Bob Moses and Dave Dennis for a crowd of 150.
- A live taping of Innovation Hub with Kara Miller at The Modern Theatre in Boston drew a crowd of 200 and was heard by tens of thousands radio listeners.
- WGBH and the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film festival co-hosted the Jackson Hole Science Media Awards and Symposium in Boston, a three-day event attended by 350 leading scientists, filmmakers, and science media stakeholders, culminating in a Science Media Awards Gala Celebration at the New England Aquarium. Speakers, including WGBH’s Paula Apsell, senior executive producer of Nova, addressed topics ranging from science literacy to innovation, storytelling, and the impact of online media.
- WGBH and its new digital-original environmental project Plum Landing is partnering with the MassGeneral Hospital for Children and the Appalachian Mountain Club in an exciting initiative in which pediatricians are trained to write prescriptions for children to spend more time outside. Families who receive prescriptions join other families at a local park on a weekly basis, where an Appalachian Mountain Club instructor leads the group in exploring a Plum Landing activity, and families are urged to try Plum activities on their own at home. More than 90 people participated in the organized group outings at local parks between October through December 2014.
- WCAI served as the exclusive radio partner for The Nantucket Project, an annual conference focusing on art and commerce held at the White Elephant Hotel on the island. WCAI broadcast special excerpts and interviews from the conference on The Point with Mindy Todd throughout Fall 2014.
- This year’s awards ceremony for MassChallenge was emceed by Kara Miller, host of WGBH’s Innovation Hub, drawing a crowd of 1,700. The Massachusetts-based nonprofit celebrates and supports the world’s most promising startups. WGBH President serves on the organization’s board—among many active community roles held by WGBH’s public-spirited leadership and employees.