WGBH vs. WBUR: midday lineups

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!)


WBUR has Fresh Air with Terry Gross; WGBH offers the Callie Crossley Show.

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.


15 thoughts on “WGBH vs. WBUR: midday lineups

  1. J. Boudreau says:

    If it were not for her father, would Emily Rooney have either of her shows?

  2. Nicole,

    First of all, I would really hope that you’ll give Callie’s show another listen before deciding that it’s not your cup of tea. I think she’s a wonderful woman who will touch on a lot of interesting topics in the future. Don’t let a guest like me deter you from enjoying conversations that you might potentially find insightful and worthwhile.

    To take you back to the moment when “Scott from Cape Cod” called, I was literally sitting in the recording studio flabbergasted by what I was hearing. Based on the sentiments he expressed, not only was he a luddite, he was a complete pessimist and borderline belligerent. There were so many ways he could have been more tactful in his commentary. That said, it only felt natural for me to laugh, not out of disrespect, but because it was my personal way of coping with the awkwardness.

    I have to go back and re-listen to the interview, but I’m fairly certain that his question wasn’t about whether millennials don’t write as well, but more so about the generation as a whole being “dumber”. (You’ll probably enjoy Mark Bauerlein’s book, “The Dumbest Generation” which I referenced on air) I’m not sure what types of specifics you would have liked to hear, but the “generalizations” that I cited in response to Scott included the following:

    1. Millennials are historically the most well-educated generation in history. The National Center for Education Statistics has a report that shows college enrollment in 2004 was 17.3 million, which was double what it was in 1970 (8.6 million.) If you look at college admission rates at tier 1 and tier 2 schools, they’re more competitive than ever. I also added that we’re seeing more millennials go to graduate school, something that I believe makes us over-educated, not less competent.

    2. Millennials offer diversity, connectedness, and a global mindset that sets us apart from previous generations. Our ability to maintain connections with individuals who extend beyond our geographic reach impacts our world outlook. You can also examine our DNA and you’ll find that statistically, we represent a larger population of minority or interracial Americans than generations past, all of which contribute to this notion that we are a more inclusive society. I’m not sure why you found my “we elected the first African-American president” comment so simplistic; my point there was to signify that change really comes with the next generation.

    3. I believe I used the words, “the need for speed”, but this is an attribute or value that I believe is a selling point for the majority of millennials. We embrace change (or at least the idea of it), and have high expectations for the world around us. Whether it be the products we consume or the managers/companies we work for, we want things to be a certain way and we want them now. This feeds into the stereotype that we’re an entitled/spoiled generation, but what’s so wrong about wanting to fix a world that is so clearly broken? And given our connectedness and use of online technologies, we have a significant opportunity to capitalize on accelerating change in ways that I’m not sure previous generations had access to. The fact that you posted this blog post at 5 PM this afternoon and I was able to read it, write this response, and engage in a dialogue with you already demonstrates just how important emerging media is. We are living in an age of the real-time web; we can communicate faster than ever, connect with complete strangers, and ultimately, share and exchange ideas that make us a smarter, better society.

    It’s unfortunate that you found it “painful” to listen to me, but I do hope that my comments here force you to re-examine the entire point of today’s radio show: we have nothing to gain by stereotyping others and do ourselves a disservice by making unwarranted assumptions.

    Before you let a 20 minute interview dictate your thoughts about a radio show or an entire generation, you might want to give things a second chance You just might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.


    • Nicole says:

      Hi Alexa,
      Thanks for writing. It’s taken me a while to respond because I wanted to give things some thought.

      First, regarding millennials: I’m either on the tail end of GenX or the beginning end of GenY, depending on the definition. I work in a relatively technical field where most of my co-workers are 20-30 years older than me and have an even greater technical knowledge than I will ever have. Obviously, I think technology has brought much benefit to society, but I also worry about certain aspects of modern technology (people texting while driving, kids who talk on the phone when they’ve got someone right in front of them, etc).

      Regarding the election of the president: Young voters (those under 30) accounted for 18% of those who voted in the 2008 election (compared to 17% in 2004). Electing Obama as president did not just come from the younger generation, though younger voters did vote for him overwhelmingly more than they did McCain. But my point wasn’t about electing the president – it was the implication that children these days are somehow going to be less racist by virtue of having a black president. I think we have a long way to go with race relations in this country.

      Regarding the younger generation being better-educated: The US population in 1970 was 178,826,495 (so – college enrollees made up 5% of the population); in 2000 it was 281,421,906 (college enrollees = 6% of the population). I don’t know whether one percentage point is statistically significant or not in this case.

      Regarding “wanting to fix a world that is so clearly broken”: This is not the first generation to feel that way, so I’m not sure where that comment is coming from.

      Regarding the “need for speed”: I think this isn’t just about being more connected, it’s also about the tools we used to be connected. I feel that the emphasis on having the latest and greatest gadget/cell phone/etc is equivalent to having the right brand of jeans in the 1980s or the right sneakers in the 1990s. I worry that the drive for better, faster, etc., also means that the divide between the haves and have-nots will become greater. And I worry that not a lot of young “haves” think about that.

      Regarding the caller: I don’t necessarily blame you for laughing, but this is talk radio. Kooks tend to call. This needs to be considered and treated in a respectful way by the host, period. This is public radio, not AM.

      I’ll try to listen to the program again to see if I get a different perspective, but this is not my favorite format, so it would take something pretty special for me to tune in on a regular basis.

  3. t-traveler says:

    relatively lousy theme song for Rooney
    gotta agree here, there are alot of great public (and non-public)
    radio shows where the theme helps to hook you in, perhaps the greatest “the conenction” under chris lydon, bbc world service, weekend edition sunday, all things considered, and of course others

    I heard a promo with Emily talking over a dropkick murphys song from the departed–overused but definitely that woud be a move in the right direction

  4. […] Posted by “Nicole” on nicolecommawoo.wordpress.com […]

  5. t-traveler says:

    will you be entering the “My World” mini documentary competition


  6. t-traveler says:

    I was surprised to hear that the Boston Herald and its website is the new sponsor of the Emily Rooney show!

  7. J. Boudreau says:

    Anyone interested in the “nationalization” of formerly independent public radio stations should be aware of a blog and its associated Facebook page that is aggregating information.

    Blog – http://keeppublicradiopublic.com/
    Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/pages/Keeping-the-Public-in-Public-Radio/107942542579499

    The mission of “Keeping the Public in Public Radio” is to inform and educate public radio listeners, to expose national programming trends taking place at their local public radio stations, and to support local listener groups in their efforts to restore listener ownership to their stations.

    The two local stations that have gone down this path are WGBH and WUMB, but these are but two in a trend that is national.

    • Nicole says:

      Thanks. I have to say that this post of yours was excellent, and I’ve very much appreciated your work discussing GBH’s removal of folk programming.

      • J. Boudreau says:

        Thank you.

        I feel like Phil Ochs during the time he wrote “outside a small circle of friends”. We are surrounded by homogenization and corporatization and suification, and few are taking notice, let alone action.

        I am open to suggestions how to spread the word, connect with the like-minded and inspire to action to TAKE OUR PUBLIC RADIO STATIONS BACK.

  8. M. says:

    I wish that WBUR aired all 2 hours of Talk of the Nation

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