What I Learned From Blogs This Week

I’ve put up a couple of items on the Virtual Assignment Desk for the coming weeks.  I am going to the Council meeting, but won’t be able to make the inauguration.  I’m also thinking of keeping a scorecard of important Council votes for the next couple of years that could be spun into a voting guide, so I welcome any thoughts about what might constitute ‘important’ votes. 

Tracy reminds us to contact School Committee members with our thoughts on the state’s RTTT MOU.

Dee Wells posted some thoughts from Virginia Ryan on Worcester retirees’ increased Medicare costs.

Bill discusses more rumors of Best Buy’s impending move here and here, with Sam’s Club thrown in for good measure.  (Also, Worcester compared to the usual suspects here and here.)  More rumors about the former ShBooms site from Paulie.

Jeff on Pharmasphere; you can get more analysis from him for free than you can from the Telegram for a dollar.

Sean is going to begin regularly analyzing Robert Z. Nemeth’s columns; if he succeeds in convincing Rose to use spell check, however, I’m not going to have anything left to talk about!

 Daily Worcesteria (Jeremy) updated his pictures of North Lake Ave to show where it’s wearing away.

Cumberland Farms has an updated logo.

I would love to see more people blogging, especially about topics and events that the news media doesn’t cover.  (Yes, Emily, I’m talking to you!)  So, if you’re on the fence about whether to start a blog, consider taking an event from the Virtual Assignment Desk (or something from this wonderful list) and writing about it.  Be sure to contact Jeff so that you can be included in the Worcester Blogroll.

Comparison of WBUR and WGBH morning lineups

This is for T-Traveler, who recommended The Takeaway.


From 6am-7am, ‘BUR offers Morning Edition and ‘WGBH offers The Takeaway.  This is, however, before I wake up in the morning, so I’ll discuss The Takeaway when it appears again at 9am.


The ‘BUR and ‘GBH morning schedules overlap from 7am-9am (Morning Edition), so it’s really a matter of whether you prefer Jordan Weinstein or Bob Oakes (Delores Handy sometimes subs).  I think I can speak for all of humanity when I say that Delores Handy‘s continued employment at WBUR is proof that miracles exist, because nothing else can explain her presence in a medium that relies solely on clarity and quality of vocal presentation.  Also, I don’t understand why Oakes cannot pronounce his own last name correctly.  (My husband refers to him as “Bob Eukes.”)

Advantage: WGBH, because of the Handy factor.


At 9am, ‘BUR offers BBC Newshour and ‘GBH offers The Takeaway.  I tend to listen to the World Service for half the day via podcast, so the presence of Newshour on WBUR does nothing for me unless I’m in the car.  The Takeaway (also available by podcast, although I find their RSS offerings a bit confusing) is hosted by Celeste Headlee and John Hockenberry, though Hockenberry was on vacation this week, so I also listened to a show from last week in addition to a couple from this week.  The show has some interesting stories that are marred by one host or the other wrapping up a segment with, “So, what’s the takeaway?” or “The takeaway is…”  I get it.  The show is called “The Takeaway.”  Enough with the branding. 

But the frequent use of the word “takeaway” is a small price to pay for the quality of the content.  This program is what the blah Day to Day wished it could be.

This is a tie.  It really depends on whether you prefer a lot of world news in your day (BBC Newshour), or if you like an interesting take on the day’s news that will have 5-10 minutes of world news content (The Takeaway, which frequently uses BBC correspondents).  


From 10am-noon, ‘BUR offers On Point with Tom Ashbrook and ‘GBH offers The Diane Rehm Show.  I’d never heard the latter and actively avoid the former.  I also hate the interview-for-the-first-half-hour-and-then-take-some-callers-who-fawn-over-the-guest-and-add-nothing-of-substantive-value format of both of these shows. 

I never understood why WBUR chose a show hosted by Tom Ashbrook over a show (The Connection) hosted by Dick Gordon; I’ll just blame it on Delores Handy.  Alex Beam refers to Ashbrook as “yappy.”  He’s more like a know-it-all tween who interrupts the conversations of adults; occasionally he contributes something of value, but mostly he tries to prove how much more he knows than his guests, and he has none of Dick Gordon’s talent at drawing the best out of callers.  Where Dick Gordon would smoothly move a caller to some sort of point, Ashbrook can only cut off people mid-sentence and continue in a run-on fashion himself.  That I was able to listen to him for two hours for the past two days is a testament to the same will that has allowed me to listen to five minutes straight of Metal Machine Music.

Within the first few minutes of listening to Diane Rehm, I started wondering how old she was.  Her halting voice is due to spasmodic dysphonia, and she also has the best hair of anyone on radio.  I’d take her slowish speech and pretty interesting guests over the blowhard that is Tom Ashbrook, but I’m not a fan of this format, so I’d likely never listen to this unless there was a guest I wanted to hear more from, or unless I was in the car.

Advantage: WGBH, because of Ashbrook.  (In reality, this is the point where I’d start listening to Gareth Mitchell and Mark Coles on the World Service.)


Emily Rooney is going to be starting a radio program to compete with Robin Young in the noon to one slot, but in the meantime, you get to hear Radiolab.  Radiolab reminds me a little bit of This American Life, except it’s about science and the hosts aren’t annoying in the least.  (Sorry, not a TAL fan; every story sounds like urban legends told late at night in dorm rooms across the country: “Did you hear about that girl in the cafeteria who never had anything but chicken for dinner?”)  Radiolab is pure radio magic, and I’ve already put it my RSS reader in anticipation of Emily Rooney replacing it.

I’ll reserve judgment on this hour until Emily Rooney debuts, but she’s going to have a really tough time competing against Robin Young.  I think Robin Young’s warm voice and personality really work in the noontime slot, and I enjoy listening to her.  So — I’ll give you my review of Rooney in a few weeks’ time.