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.

13 thoughts on “Comparison of WBUR and WGBH morning lineups

  1. Tracy says:

    I somehow inevitably end up with Diane Rehms on when I’m coming home from Council or School Committee and I have to turn her off (there’s a 10pm replay, I think?). She puts me to sleep (admittedly, maybe she works out better earlier in the day!).
    I’m a big fan of the BBC, ‘though.
    And I still miss Bob Edwards!

  2. Nicole says:

    WBUR has her on at 10pm (see — there’s no competition there, either: Eric Jackson trumps Rehm). She is WAY too mellow for a nighttime broadcast.

    I am a big fan of the BBC as well — my husband keeps talking about buying an internet radio so he can listen to BBC and RTE to his heart’s content. That said, I was a more than a little disappointed when they did their last scheduling change and discontinued Reporting Religion with the totally awesome Dan Damon, and with the 15 minute storytime that would always go on at 3am on WBUR. As long as they keep Mark Coles employed in some way and I get my weekly Peter Day fix, I’m happy.

  3. t-traveler says:

    Mark Coles from the Strand? how about Bidisha?

    • Nicole says:

      Mark Coles from the Strand all the way. Bidisha is good, but Mark Coles is like listening to a friend who has singularly excellent taste in music and an encyclopedic knowledge to back it up.

      My husband also informs me that WGBH has Bob Edwards weekend on Sundays from 10am-noon; I wonder what would happen if they got licensing from Sirius to broadcast Bob Edwards on weekdays.

      Also — Dick Gordon hosts a nice show called “The Story” on North Carolina Public Radio. That would actually be better than Rehm, but it’s only an hour long.

  4. t-traveler says:

    On New Years Day heard Robin Young interview a guy about the Sensitive Female Chord Progression used in “What if God Was One of Us” and many other songs

  5. […] 11, 2010 at 5:02 pm (Uncategorized) When I previously wrote about the morning lineups, the WGBH noon-2pm slot was not yet ready.  Today was the first day of the new lineup (Emily […]

  6. jmstewart says:

    NPR president out after exec with same last name laughs nervously at sting featuring anti-semetic slurs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.