Posted on: June 16, 2020
Air Date: 6/16/2020
Jennifer walked into her college radio station as a 17-year-old freshman and never looked back. Even though she was terrified of the microphone back then — and spoke into it as little as possible — she loved the studio, the atmosphere and, most of all, the people who work in broadcasting. She was hooked. Decades later, she’s back behind the radio microphone hosting Maine Public Radio’s flagship talk program, Maine Calling. She’s not afraid of the mic anymore, but still loves the bright, eclectic people she gets to work with every day.
Jennifer joined MPBN in June 2007 after spending more than 13 years at WCSH-TV in Portland as a general assignment reporter and weekend news anchor. She has twice won a regional Edward R. Murrow award: in 1998, for coverage of Maine National Guard and Reserve soldiers deployed in Bosnia and Hungary, and in 2003, for the documentary Citizen King, about then-governor and former Maine Watch host Angus King.
For six years, Jennifer served as host, reporter and executive producer of Maine Watch with Jennifer Rooks. She has moderated more than 20 broadcast debates for Maine Public Television and has produced three television documentaries: Broken Trust: Elder Abuse in Maine and Winds of Change, both Maine Watch Special Reports, and A Matter of Duty: The Continuing War Against PTSD. Co-produced with Charlie Stuart, A Matter of Duty has been shown on PBS television stations throughout the U.S. and in multiple screenings, including at the National Sheriff’s Association national conference.
Jennifer grew up outside Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her BA from the University of Virginia and her master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. She worked at television stations in San Francisco and Monterey, California, before coming to Maine. She and her husband Mike have two teenagers.
In the episode:
1:03 – While in college, Jennifer describes how her career in broadcasting began after being “hired” by Herb Ivy as a DJ on her college’s radio station and interning at CNN.
8:43 – Jennifer talks about her connection to Maine and how she got to know news directors to get her first job in Maine.
12:00 – Nancy talks about the parallels her career has with Jennifer’s.
16:23 – With such a tremendous following, Jennifer shares what she does to increase brand engagement, including diversity.
19:34 – Jennifer gives a how-to tip for PR professionals pitching Maine Calling.
26:26 – Jennifer answers what makes a good call-in radio show.
30:58 – Jennifer and Nancy Bob Elliot’s legacy.
36:20 – Jennifer describes how she realized that the difference between public and traditional media is service.
42:09 – Jennifer describes how her network has grown on its own.
44:06 – As one of her most useful resources, Jennifer tells how important her dictionary is.
“We’re kind of the opposite of every other organization that I’ve worked at. We’re not really doing a news story. We’re not doing stories. We’re having a conversation about something.” – Jennifer Rooks, host of Maine Calling on Maine Public Radio
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Categories: Public Relations