On Point

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On Point
Genre News: analysis, commentary, features, interviews, specials
Running time c. 110 min.
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
Home station WBUR
Syndicates National Public Radio
Hosted by Tom Ashbrook
Created by Graham Griffith[1]
Recording studio Boston, Massachusetts
Original release 17 September 2001 – present
Opening theme "Everything Is Alright"
Website onpoint.wbur.org
Podcast Podcast / RSS feed

On Point is a two-hour call-in radio show hosted by Tom Ashbrook, a former The Boston Globe foreign editor and reporter, author and Internet entrepreneur. It is produced by WBUR in Boston and syndicated by National Public Radio. The show addresses news issues, as well as arts and culture, health, technology, environmental, and business topics.

It is distributed to over 290 public radio stations[2] across the United States by NPR[3] Major markets include New York City and Washington, D.C., as well as Ann Arbor/Detroit, Michigan, Miami, Florida, Nashville, Tennessee, St. Louis, Missouri, Des Moines, Iowa, Madison and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Hartford, Connecticut, Providence, Rhode Island, Tampa, Florida, Spokane, Washington, Eugene, Oregon, and parts of California. On Point averages more than 2 million podcast downloads[4] a month.

Past guests[edit]

The show has featured political guests such as former President Jimmy Carter; former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; former United States Secretary of State James Baker; and Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer.

Other guests of public note include Gloria Steinem, Bill Cosby, Camille Paglia and Noam Chomsky; music mogul Russell Simmons; Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike; Jack Welch, George Soros, Jeff Bezos, Tom Perkins and Eli Broad; and journalists David Remnick, Eleanor Clift, Trudy Rubin, Andrea Mitchell, Andrea Stone, Martha Raddatz, Clarence Page, Ron Brownstein, Chris Matthews, David Gergen, Ellen Goodman, Thomas Friedman and David Brooks.

The show also features a wide array of arts and culture programming. Musical guests have included: Joan Baez, John Mellencamp, Indigo Girls, Adam Yauch, Lou Reed, k.d. lang, Herbie Hancock, Martin Sexton, Gregg Allman, Ry Cooder, Jewel and Moby. Recently, actor Jeff Bridges was also featured as a guest.

Notable coverage[edit]

The show traveled to Shanghai, People's Republic of China, to broadcast a week of programming from April 14 to 18, 2008.[5] Topics ranged from the Beijing Olympics to Chinese cinema. Among the guests were leading China analysts, officials and journalists. A new website was launched to coincide with the trip.[6]

In the run-up to the 2008 presidential campaign, the show interviewed Barack Obama, John McCain, Mike Huckabee, John Edwards, Ron Paul, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd and Sam Brownback. Election commentators included Donna Brazile, Tom Brokaw, Bob Shrum, Dana Milbank, Tony Fabrizio, Joe Klein, EJ Dionne, Pat Buchanan, Peter Hart, and Hendrik Hertzberg. The show traveled to both the Democratic and Republican conventions, broadcasting live in the morning and at night.[citation needed]

Tom Ashbrook's medical and personal leave[edit]

Host Tom Ashbrook went on medical leave in November 2007, to undergo heart bypass surgery.[7] He resumed full-time broadcasting January 2, when he discussed his medical journey in a show with his doctors and nurses.[8]

On November 5, 2014, Ashbrook announced a period of personal leave to care for his wife, Danielle, who had been suffering from cancer. She died the next day, November 6, 2014, at age 60.[9] After nearly two months away, Ashbrook returned to On Point on January 2, 2015.[10]

Time and location[edit]

On Point is broadcast live from Boston, Massachusetts on WBUR FM (90.9 MHz) from 10 a.m. to 12 noon ET, occupying the former time slot of The Connection, and repeated from 7 to 9 p.m. Most frequently, each two-hour broadcast is divided into two separate hour-long standalone segments, with the first hour tending to be more serious and news driven, and the second often focusing on an entertainment figure or cultural phenomenon. Ashbrook interviews guests who are experts on topics being discussed, and listeners are invited to call in discuss their thoughts. The first hour segment of Friday's show almost always consists of an analysis of the previous week's news headlines.

In addition to Ashbrook, the Friday news analysis segments usually feature senior editor of The Atlantic Monthly and historian Jack Beatty as a news analyst, as well as, typically, two or three other guest commentators.

Jane Clayson, former CBS morning anchor and correspondent, is commonly the show's fill-in host; NPR's Jacki Lyden, John Harwood, Anthony Brooks, Jessica Yellin, James Hattori, and Ray Suarez have also hosted.

On Point was created by Graham Griffith,[1] and first broadcast on 17 September 2001, to provide special coverage in response to the September 11, 2001 attacks.[11] The show's popularity led to it becoming a standalone program, first broadcasting under the On Point name on 4 February 2002.

It is led by senior producer Karen Shiffman and directed by Eileen Imada.[12]

The On Point theme music, "Everything Is Alright", comes from the Four Tet album Pause.[13]


  1. ^ a b "Point Man". Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  2. ^ "About On Point with Tom Ashbrook". On Point with Tom Ashbrook. 
  3. ^ "About The Show, On Point". Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  4. ^ "About On Point with Tom Ashbrook". On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Retrieved 2016-04-06. 
  5. ^ "China and the Olympics". onpoint. 
  6. ^ "china.onpointradio.org". Archived from the original on September 12, 2008. 
  7. ^ "WBUR’s "On Point" Host Tom Ashbrook on Six-Week Medical Leave". bu.edu. 
  8. ^ "Back from Bypass". onpoint. 
  9. ^ "Danielle Guichard-Ashbrook, at 60; brought world of experience to MIT". Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  10. ^ "A Year End Note From Tom Ashbrook, On Point". Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  11. ^ "Tom Ashbrook". Trustees of Boston University. Retrieved 2015-01-07. 
  12. ^ "About the Show". On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  13. ^ "What are the theme songs for NPR's programs?". NPR. Retrieved 2015-01-07. 

External links[edit]