Boston’s WBUR announced today that Christopher Lydon will rejoin the station to host and produce a weekly hourlong show, Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Bostonians last heard Lydon on WBUR when he hosted The Connection, a nationally syndicated interview show, from 1994 to 2001. He and much of his staff left WBUR in a bitter public dispute over ownership of their show, and Dick Gordon replaced him in the host’s chair. Lydon returned to the airwaves in Boston earlier this year as a contributor on WGBH. The new WBUR program will launch in January, airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. and with a repeat broadcast on weekends.
WBUR in Boston, Northwest Public Radio in Pullman, Wash., and The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans, are among 10 recipients of this year’s Knight Community Information Challenge grants to strengthen community journalism and promote government transparency. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a total of $545,000 to the winners, each of which raised additional matching grants from community-based funders. With $50,000 from Knight and a matching grant from the Boston Foundation, WBUR will establish a statewide education reporting project, Learning Lab. The station partnered with Glass Eye Media, founders of the Homicide Watch D.C. crime blog covering murder cases in the District of Columbia, to develop the idea. Learning Lab aims to provide a forum for ideas to improve schools in Massachusetts.
WLRN in Miami won large-market radio Murrows for feature reporting and use of sound. Chicago’s WBEZ also won for news documentary and hard-news reporting. The award for investigative reporting went to KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting, both based in San Francisco, for “Broken Shield: Exposing Abuses at California Developmental Centers.”
More than 100 public radio stations have picked up the midday NPR news show Here & Now with its expansion to two hours July 1, many of them to fill the void left by the cancellation of NPR’s long-running call-in show Talk of the Nation.
Crisis coverage will stress several layers of a public station’s operating systems — from newsroom layout to editorial decision-making; from the flexibility of web-hosting services to interpersonal relationships among key staff members, each of whom will be asked to step up and work under conditions they have never faced.
In late May, WBUR published “Bad Chemistry: Annie Dookhan and the Massachusetts Drug Lab Crisis,” an online report on a former state chemist charged with falsifying drug test results for at least 34,000 legal cases.
For more than a decade, pubcasters have debated whether local stations can harness the power of the Internet. There has been no shortage of naysayers in this ongoing exchange, and, for a time, that side of the discussion seemed to be winning, for good reason.