Local public radio staffer earns national fellowship


POSTED: Thursday, May 14, 2009

Hawaii Public Radio general assignment reporter Ben Markus has been selected for a National Public Radio Fellowship program for economic and business news reporting.

He is among 20 chosen from 100 applicants from NPR member stations around the country.

Markus looks forward to “;being able to work with the people from NPR … it's a great opportunity.”;

He's also glad “;journalists' networking is more centered on what we do … because I can't play golf,”; he laughed.

Listeners will benefit from NPR “;taking an interest in the quality of member-station reporting. They easily could take that money and train their own,”; he said.

The allocation of funds and training also will enhance the overall NPR product, as it often uses reports from member-station news personnel.

Reporting complex business stories on the radio is a dicey undertaking, as radio newscasters do not have the luxury of printed or on-screen graphics to back up either their reporting or listeners' ability to track and absorb information.

“;People can't go back to the last paragraph and read it over again,”; Markus said. “;Once it's gone, it's gone. It has to be very straightforward and people-centered,”; he said.

NPR has doubled its listenership since Sept. 11, 2001, and some see the nation's financial turmoil as an “;economic 9/11,”; increasing the responsibility of the network and its member stations to bolster coverage of related topics, he said.

As it is, when Markus goes out on assignments locally, “;I'm the only radio reporter.”;

Markus begins his four-month training with a week at NPR West in Culver City, Calif., in June, on NPR's dime.

News “;has always been important”; to public radio, but its “;model is unusual in that it's such a two-way network,”; said Michael Titterton, president and general manager.

The network-affiliate relationship in commercial broadcasting is primarily one-way.

NPR, however, “;continue(s) to put a high premium on the training of professionals internationally, nationally and locally. It's a very sensible allocation of limited resources,”; he said.

While NPR may be able to add foreign bureaus, “;the strength of the network has always been 700 stations around the country, and many of them have their own reporters and news personnel. And as a national network, we have boots on the ground in every town — and that's just always been a priority. That's why we built up the news department as we have.”;

“;As you know, we're maniacally obsessed with doing good things that can't possibly make any money. It's just our little way,”; Titterton laughed.


David Paul redux

MIA on Maui for more than seven years, David Paul Johnson is back in Lahaina as chef-owner of David Paul's Island Grill.

The restaurant opened a week ago for 5 to 10 p.m. dinner service Tuesdays through Sundays, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

It can serve up to 90 customers in three distinct dining areas plus its bar — and offers as many as 60 wines by the glass.


Erika Engle is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Reach her by e-mail at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)