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 Rooney from noon-1pm, and Callie Crossley from 1pm-2pm), and here are my thoughts:
Noon to 1pm
WGBH’s new radio program with Emily Rooney debuted with a lot of big-name guests (Deval Patrick and Donald Carcieri, Red Sox President/CEO Larry Lucchino) and a relatively lousy theme song. I don’t watch Emily Rooney on TV (she conflicts with Go, Diego, Go!), so beyond catching her here and there a few times, I’m not familiar with her work. I think the emphasis with this and the Callie Crossley show is for WGBH to offer a bit more of a local alternative to what’s being offered on ‘BUR, and, if that’s the case, they certainly succeeded today.
The problem with the Emily Rooney program today was that she didn’t ask any hard questions of the politicians or have anything insightful to say (one of her suggestions: perhaps MA and RI can work together on renewable energy projects — like wind farms on the ocean — because they are next to one another); that I learned nothing of value from the discussion of political polls (news flash: no one’s thinking about the governor’s race!); and that I really don’t want to listen to a program to which two-thirds of the time is devoted to an executive at the Red Sox who seems to think that ticket scalping only began in the internet age.
Robin Young had much more going on in her show, with a bit more variety: Congress back in session, human rights in North Korea, an anti-homosexuality bill in Uganda, plus lighter fare (Jay Leno, accordion music). I went back and listened to Emily Rooney’s show (which I’d listened to live) to see if I’d missed a guest or a topic, but I hadn’t. Young is able to pack much more into one segment of her show, asking guests like Don Schmierer some tough questions, than Emily Rooney was able to do in a whole hour.
Advantage: WBUR, and not just because my husband thinks Robin Young is cute. Or because I love the accordion. (Roll out the barrel!)
I usually don’t listed to Fresh Air because I usually can’t deal with Terry Gross, but I listened today for comparison’s sake. Today, there was a discussion of civilian contractors injured in wars and a review of the new Mary J. Blige album. Typical Terry Gross: interesting topic with a good amount of time devoted to the guest, along with a touch of fluff.
From what I heard on Callie Crossley, I don’t think I’ll be listening again. Her first segment was on “generational shifts” and differences in the way boomers and millennials use (and are comfortable with) technology. The show does have a call-in component, and the first caller for this segment was an intense luddite. At first, I thought she handled it well (steering him to a question, moving to the guests when the caller began an anti-technology rant), but then she and the guests laughed at the guy. (Which was extremely ironic, considering Dr. Sarah Lawrence-Lightfoot later spoke about relating to one another in respectful ways.) The caller’s question – about how today’s youth don’t write as well as previous generations, which I thought was pretty legitimate – wasn’t answered. The “millennial” guest, Alexa Scordato, responded that her generation feels “connected” and they “get things done faster” (note, not better). By not responding to the caller’s concerns and by speaking in generalizations, she proved the caller’s point. Scordato proved to be a particularly poor guest, making simplistic statements about racial issues (“My children will never have to be taught that an African-American is a person [because we elected the first African-American president]”; around the 10 minute mark of the day’s broadcast). Crossley had some fluffy guests for the second half (a dancer who won So You Think You Can Dance!, an owner of a local bakery) who were much less painful to listen to; unfortunately, that wasn’t enough to redeem the show for me.
Advantage: WBUR, especially if you prefer a bit more “hard” news at this hour.
On a related public-radio note: Unfortunately for those of us in church on Sunday mornings, WGBH offers Bob Edwards Weekend Sundays from 10-noon; his guest at the beginning was Carl Kasell. I wonder if it would be possible for WGBH to carry the weekday show as some sort of competition to Morning Edition on WBUR, because I think they’d pick up a decent amount of listeners that way.