I hope you can listen in for a Where We Live special on Friday morning as we pay tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook tragedy. We’ll be broadcasting from the magnificent Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford – and we’ll be joined by musical friends Kate Callahan, Stephen Haynes, Noah Baerman,Nicole Zuraitis, Mixashawn Rozie and others. We’ll talk about the healing power of music. But mostly, we’ll listen and honor the lives of those lost. We’ll observe a moment of silence with the rest of the nation at 9:30 am. Please join us.
Author Archives: jdankosky
by JD -
Dave Brubeck was the guy on the sleeve of my Dad’s records. He was the guy with the bulky glasses. A nerd who swung.
Dave Brubeck was the guy with the modern art on the cover. The guy who played piano but made me want to play drums.
Dave Brubeck was an old man in a golf cart. He rolled across the soggy lawn at the Goshen Fairgrounds to meet me. I was the guy who was supposed to interview him.
Dave Brubeck needed help getting up on stage, so I helped him. I was the guy who was scared to death, so he helped me. It was the Litchfield Jazz Festival in 2008.
My parents, whose record collection I had made my own, were watching in the audience. I started talking to this man – who didn’t really seem real – about the things he’d done. About how he could’ve been a rancher, or a vet. About how he was a soldier with a piano and a band. A band that let black guys and white guys play together in the Army. That was something that didn’t happen during World War Two.
About how his quartet used to go to clubs in the South, and how the club owners didn’t like the fact that that band was integrated too, and how he’d say “no thank you” to those gigs.
About how his quartet got another gig, to go to Europe and Asia in the middle of a cold war, to go behind the “Iron Curtain” and play for people who wanted freedom or at least a few hours of the freedom of jazz.
About how some places he wanted to play, he’d have to make a choice – because the people who’d come to hear him might get thrown in jail or worse.
He said those Poles thought he was heaven sent.
”They understood what they should be striving for to have this freedom.”
We finished that talk, and he left in the golf cart, and I smiled and took a deep breath.
He played that night and swung.
He died today and lived a life that you can’t make up.
by JD -
One of the ugliest outcomes of the David Petraeus sex scandal is the impact on his wife of 37 years, Holly. We read in reports that she is “furious” about his revelation of an affair between her husband and biographer Paula Broadwell. Well, that seems obvious. The scandal has also shed more light on how admired Holly Petraeus is for her work on behalf of military families.
She was in Connecticut to talk about that work last September, and she appeared on Where We Live. Her lecture was sponsored by the World Affairs Council of Connecticut who arranged the visit to our studio. We spent most of our interview talking about her job with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, helping to advise veterans on their financial lives – both while in the military, and after they’ve left. “What I really want to accomplish is to see service members not get into the bad deals that can set them back for years,” she said.
It was only at the end of the conversation that I asked about her famous husband, who had led military forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and had just started his new job as head of the CIA. I didn’t ask her to talk about him, but instead whether their dinner table conversations ever informed each others’ work. Her answer was uncomfortably blunt:
“Frankly my husband wasn’t really at my dinner table much of the last ten years,” she told me.
I nervously laughed at her response, a reaction to what I saw as deadpan humor. Listening back, that laughter sounds cruel and uncomfortable, but an honest reaction to a surprisingly terse answer. I followed up. I asked Mrs. Petraeus whether the voices she heard from troops dealing with financial troubles could resonate through her to her husband, the highest of military commanders. And, whether the insight he had gained over 37 years in the Army might help her do her job, too.
“Let’s just say we talk, yes. And I think that he would certainly be the first to say that he’s very happy that I’ve turned this into something that I feel I can work on, to advocate for our service members,” she said.
We left it at that.
According to timelines of the scandal, the same month Holly Petraeus was visiting Connecticut, her husband was settling into his new job in DC. And inviting Paula Broadwell to his office.
The Swiss Bank UBS, which employs thousands of workers in Connecticut, will cut 10,000 jobs globally over the next three years. But the company is disputing a report that 3,000 of those jobs will be lost in the state.
At the announcement of the worldwide job losses, company officials said that one quarter of those workers would lose their jobs in Switzerland – which has strict rules about disclosing such things – but gave no details on where the other cuts would come. Due to what company officials called an “incorrect extrapolation” of percentages during the conference call with reporters a number – 3,000 layoffs – was attributed to Connecticut. UBS now says that number is wrong – but won’t give details on how many losses are expected in the state or when that number will be available.
Sources tell WNPR that the number is more likely in the “low hundreds.”
The company has been floundering – and awash in controversy over a 2 billion dollar loss by a so-called “rogue trader.” UBS had just announced thousands of layoffs last August when it cut a deal with the state of Connecticut to stay in it’s massive downtown Stamford Headquarters - they’d been rumored to leave for Manhattan. Under the deal, only officially signed this May, UBS would retain a minimum of 2,000 workers in Connecticut over the next five years in exchange for a $20-million dollar investment from the state.
Company officials said today that no matter how many cuts eventually are made in Connecticut, they are committed to honoring that agreement. And Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, says she takes the company at its word.
“We do have to have to trust them to some degree during the time being. But so far, we’re not hearing anything from Stamford itself, from some of the residents and the people who work there that would indicate that anything other than the truth has been given to us so far,” she said.
The company does not disclose exact jobs figures in each of it’s many global offices, but it currently employs roughly 3500 workers in Stamford. By year’s end, an audit – as part of its agreement with the state – should reveal the true workforce numbers.
by JD -
Chris Murphy is in a tie with Linda McMahon, and trailing her in “favorability” rating. Now his campaign staff has backed out of a promise to come on Where We Live.
I expected McMahon to dodge our request for an hour-long call-in show - she’s been disciplined about avoiding the press and given her continued success in the polls, she has no reason to change course now.
Murphy’s another matter. He doesn’t have the funds to buy media attention whenever he wants, and he’s very good at “free” appearances on shows like Where We Live. In fact, along with fellow Congressman Joe Courtney, Murphy has appeared on our show more than just about anyone. When he’s on the show, Murphy is happy to answer tough questions and talk about policy, politics, whatever. He is, by all accounts, a fan of public broadcasting. And in this week of Big Bird bashing, we need all the help we can get.
But trying to schedule a sit-down with him for our “Where We Vote” series has been a nightmare. It finally ended last night when the campaign’s communications director Ben Marter flatly broke a promise to have his candidate appear for an hour on Monday October 8.
Marter gave me a “guarantee” that Murphy would appear for an hour on Monday October 8th after backing out of two previous dates that they had chosen. Yesterday morning in an email, Marter changed the terms, telling us that Murphy would be leaving at 9:30 AM. I asked Marter why, and he later told me “It was a scheduling issue.” I told him that’s not how it works.
But long before that, the writing was on the wall. In correspondence with producer Tucker Ives, Marter openly worried about planted phone calls from McMahon staff. I explained to him on two occasions that our policy is to screen all incoming calls, and to present a program that’s fair to both the candidate and listeners. Murphy himself knows this – it’s why he loves coming on Where We Live as a sitting congressman (more often than not, his appearances coincide with unsolicited requests from his office to come on the air). Despite their candidate’s demonstrated ability to handle himself on live radio, it now seems clear that Murphy’s staff:
- Has no interest in their candidate engaging in an open, long-form conversation with public radio listeners at this point in the campaign.
- Has no interest in honoring commitments made by top campaign officials.
- Is unnecessarily frightened by the specter of tough questioning from unfriendly callers.
Given that the campaign has so far allowed McMahon to paint him as a mortgage deadbeat, and serial skipper of committee meetings, you’d think that they’d make every effort to honor agreements and show up when scheduled.
And it’s not just Where We Live. As the Connecticut Mirror’s Mark Pazniokas tells us, he’s increasingly had to shout questions at Murphy from afar, and that the candidate now meets with the media only in “carefully chosen settings.” Reporters tell me that he’s still more accessible than McMahon, but not by much.
In this campaign cycle, journalists have increasingly become seen as a nuisance in a race to win at all costs, while informing the public as little as possible. But in this case, Murphy’s communications team denies his candidate a chance to describe McMahon’s own problems with her finances, and to paint a sharp contrast between her press inaccessibility and his openness. As one veteran political analyst told me: In a race this tight, if you’ve got some high ground, protect it.
Kudos to Elizabeth Esty and Andrew Roraback, who are running in an equally bruising race for congress for both having the guts and character to answer questions from their constituents on Where We Live. And, I’m looking forward to upcoming conversations with 4th district candidates Jim Himes and Steve Obsitnik on the show.
Meanwhile, I’m pretty sure that if a hypothetical President Mitt Romney decides to cut federal funding for NPR and PBS, public broadcasting will have the support of Senator Chris Murphy. But if that pledge comes from Murphy’s campaign staffers, I’m not gonna take their word for it.
by JD -
Well, we tried. Throughout this entire campaign season, dogged producer Tucker Ives has been trying to schedule Republican senate candidate Linda McMahon for our series on Where We Live called “Where We Vote.” We ask for one hour of the candidate’s time, in our studio, to answer questions from me and our listeners. We’d wanted to have her on during the primary against Chris Shays. Shays came on the show, she didn’t.
For weeks since then, we’ve tried again and again, and had our phone calls unreturned, and requests for dates unanswered. It’s a bit ironic, given the press release I got on September 19 with the heading “Will Murphy continue to stonewall and duck media questions for another 48 days?”
McMahon’s rival, Democrat Chris Murphy, will join us on October 3 (originally scheduled for tomorrow), and has also already been on the program once before, during the primary season. He’ll answer some tough questions that have been dogging his campaign, but also get to talk about policy issues and give voters a reason to elect him in November.
McMahon has appeared once before on “Where We Vote” - back in March of 2010 when she was running against Rob Simmons in another senate race. During that interview, McMahon suggested that I was asking too many questions about her company WWE. Obviously, questions about WWE were on the table again this campaign year, given the wrestling empire’s ongoing effort to scrub the internet of distasteful video “highlights” of past episodes of their “scripted entertainment.” And, for months, I’ve been wanting to ask her about the lack of access to her campaign by the press, and the feud that developed with newspaper editors over their characterization of WWE’s product.
And of course, we’d be talking about what has become the highlight issue in this campaign for Senate. No, not jobs or the economy, but as Colin McEnroe puts it, the burning question of “who’s the bigger deadbeat?” We’d ask questions about the creditors McMahon is only now paying back from her bankruptcy in the 1970s.
We’ve said it before: If you have the money to pay for your message, I suppose you can afford to avoid interviews on “free” media like “Where We Vote.”
If Linda McMahon still wants to join us, and there’s someone from the campaign reading this, we’ve got some open dates. Get in touch with Tucker. You know where to reach him.
by JD -
It’s been awhile since I’ve used this space for regular blogging. No excuses, just lots of other things happening. But no blogging bug bites me like the election bug. And so, you’ll be seeing regular contributions from me as we head toward November.
First things first. Here’s a tentative schedule for “Where We Vote” – our series of hour-long conversations with candidates. We give listeners a chance to ask questions on air or through emails (email@example.com), Tweets, or even on this blog. The ground rules are simple: We ask candidates to come to our studios, no restrictions on questions.
Senate candidate Chris Murphy joins us on 9/25, no date set yet for Linda McMahon. Murphy has been on the series twice this season, once in a Democratic primary debate with Susan Bysiewicz, once in studio. We’re hopeful that the GOP nominee will join us, but so far she has declined our invitations.
In the 5th District, Democrat Elizabeth Esty is on 9/26, with her opponent, Republican Andrew Roraback on 10/1. During the primaries, these candidates made news on “Where We Vote” – Roraback for his changing position on the death penalty, Esty for questions about companies her husband Dan regulates at DEEP. You can read a lot more about this race in a page put together by the Journal Register papers.
We’re also heading to our remote home, WVOF at Fairfield University for episodes with 2nd District Congressman Jim Himes (10/16) and his Republican challenger Steve Obsinik (10/11).
I’m also blogging here as part of my “Covering the 2012 Election” class at CCSU. You’ll see contributions from me, and perhaps some of my students as we slog through the election cycle. Colin McEnroe has his own class covering the election (at Trinity) with its own blog. Oh, it’s on…
A Panel Exploring the Presidential Campaign’s Most Memorable Moments to Date and an Insightful Look Ahead
WHAT: Funny, But True: Blogging the 2012 Election
WHEN: Wednesday, April 11 from 4:30 to 6pm
WHERE: Central Connecticut State University
Vance Academic Center 105
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
TICKETS: FREE and Open to the Public.
Facebook users may RSVP at https://www.facebook.com/events/419336234747758/.
Free and Open to the Public
The race for president has taken us on a long, eventful and often amusing road. From gaffes on the campaign trail to bizarre exchanges on the debate stage, the candidates have given bloggers and late night talk show hosts a goldmine of material.
Join reporters and bloggers from It’s A Free Country (IAFC), WNYC’s award-winning interactive politics site, and Comedy Central’s Indecision, the network’s digital extension of its politics coverage, for a whirlwind look back at the campaign so far – and some insight into what’s ahead. During the lively conversation, panelists will present their picks for the funniest and most illuminating video highlights of the race and take questions from the audience. The event will be recorded for future broadcast on WNPR.
The event will be hosted by JOHN DANKOSKY, News Director and Host of Where We Live on WNPR, and the Robert C. Vance Endowed Chair in Journalism and Mass Communication at CCSU.
· ANNA SALE, Reporter, It’s a Free Country – Sale covers the 2012 election for IAFC, with a focus on voter voices. She appears regularly on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show and The Takeaway, and has also contributed to NPR, Marketplace, Slate, Current TV, and NY1. Follow her on Twitter at @annasale.
· MARY PHILLIPS-SANDY, Editorial Producer, Comedy Central’s Indecision –Phillips-Sandy started writing for Indecision in 2008 and became the site’s full-time editorial producer in 2011. She has also written for the Awl, the Daily, LIFE.com, Bundle, Yankee Pot Roast, the Portland Phoenix and other places. Follow her on Twitter at @maryps.
· JEFF YANG, Blogger, It’s a Free Country – Yang is the Pop and Politics blogger for IAFC and also writes the “Tao Jones” column for the Wall Street Journal online. Follow him on Twitter @originalspin.
· KAROL MARKOWICZ, Blogger, It’s a Free Country – Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 Baby.
Wednesday, March 14, 7pm, Torp Theater, Davidson Hall, Central Connecticut State University, New Britain
With the Iraq War ended and withdrawal from Afghanistan imminent, the United States is seeing a flood of veterans coming home from war. Many are returning with physical, mental and emotional wounds that take time to heal and are little understood by the civilian population. And these vets are coming home to a nation still in economic trouble, where jobs are tough to come by. As part of a yearlong reporting project, WNPR is talking to Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans about their stories of deployment, conflict, return and re-integration.
In collaboration with Central Connecticut State University, this forum will bring together veterans from across the state to talk about their experiences, what is being done to help veterans in the state, and what more still needs to be done. This program will be recorded for broadcast on WNPR’s Where We Live.
John Dankosky is Robert C. Vance Endowed Chair in Journalism and Mass Communication, News Director of WNPR and host of Where We Live. He is the lead organizer for this event, along with Lucy Nalpathanchil – Correspondent and Host at WNPR and lead reporter on the Coming Home Project and Michael Zacchea, a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps who served in Iraq. Zacchea has received numerous military awards including the Bronze Star Medal for Valor (with gold star in lieu of 2nd award), and a Purple Heart. He now works at The University of Connecticut as part of their Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities. The program will include two panel discussions with groups of accomplished returning veterans who advocate for other military personnel.
Science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM): Connecticut’s strengths? Many of the state’s employers don’t think so anymore.
Where We Live concludes WNPR’s weeklong series on STEM education today. Here are links to the other stories in the series.