WBUR Staff

Tom Ashbrook

Host, On Point, WBUR

On Point host Tom Ashbrook is an award-winning journalist brought to public radio following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when he was enlisted by NPR and WBUR for special coverage, after a distinguished career in newspaper reporting and editing.

Tom’s career in journalism spans 20 years as a foreign correspondent, newspaper editor and author. He spent 10 years in Asia — based in India, Hong Kong and Japan — starting at the South China Morning Post, then as a correspondent for The Boston Globe. He began his reporting career covering the refugee exodus from Vietnam and the post-Mao opening of China, and has covered turmoil and shifting cultural and economic trends in the United States and around the world, from Somalia and Rwanda to Russia and the Balkans. At the Globe, where he served as deputy managing editor until 1996, he directed coverage of the first Gulf War and the end of the Cold War.

Tom received the Livingston Prize for National Reporting and was a 1996 fellow at Harvard’s Nieman Foundation before taking a four-year plunge into Internet entrepreneurship, chronicled in his book “The Leap: A Memoir of Love and Madness in the Internet Gold Rush.”

Raised on an Illinois farm, Tom studied American history at Yale and Gandhi’s independence movement at Andhra University, India. Before taking up journalism, he worked as a surveyor and dynamiter in Alaska’s oil fields, a teaching fellow with the Yale-China Association, a Hong Kong television personality, and a producer of international editions of Chinese kung fu films.

Recent stories

Tom Ashbrook’s Note From New Hampshire

February 09, 2016

Fresh off the New Hampshire Presidential Primary results, host Tom Ashbrook reflects on his trip to New Hampshire, and on what comes next in the race to the White House.

A Blockbuster At The Brattle? Thank Video On Demand for ‘Snowpiercer’

September 02, 2014

The Brattle Theatre hit paydirt this summer with “Snowpiercer.” Tom Meek describes how it happened.

Tom Ashbrook Remembers JFK

November 22, 2013

On Point host Tom Ashbrook remembers November 22, 1963.

Administration Warns Of Budget Cuts’ Impact

February 22, 2013

The Obama administration is painting a dire portrait of the many ways the public will feel the effects of automatic federal spending cuts due to begin March 1.

Inside Beethoven’s 9th Symphony

June 15, 2010
"Ludwig van Beethoven," by Karl Joseph Stieler (Art Archive/Beethoven House)

Deconstructing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, with its monumental “Ode to Joy.” We get inside the music, and the world that inspired it.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" at 50

June 02, 2010
Gregory Peck is shown as attorney Atticus Finch, a small-town Southern lawyer who defends a black man accused of rape, in a scene from the 1962 movie "To Kill a Mockingbird." (AP)

“To Kill a Mockingbird” turns 50. We bring back Atticus, Scout and Boo Radley in Harper Lee’s great novel of race and justice.

The Mexican-American War Revisited

May 18, 2010
A rendering of the 1847 Battle of Buena Vista, during the Mexican-American War. (Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division)

As tension simmers over immigration in America, we look back to beginnings, and the Mexican-American War.

America Without Offshore Drilling?

May 17, 2010
In this 2005 picture, British Petroleum’s Thunder Horse oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is seen damaged following Hurricane Dennis. The platform was located 150 miles southeast of New Orleans. (AP)

Could the United States live without offshore drilling for oil? As the Gulf Coast disaster unfolds, we ask the question. Plus, Al Gore to the class of 2010.

The Last Great Newspaper War?

March 03, 2010

Rupert Murdoch — master of Fox News and a news empire — is going after The New York Times. We’ll look at a clash of titans.

'Ardi' and Human Evolution

October 06, 2009

Move over, Lucy. Here’s “Ardi,” a 4.4-million-year old hominid skeleton — our new, oldest relative. We’ll get the story.

Can the U.S. Deter a Nuclear Iran?

July 28, 2009

Iran, nuclear weapons, and the Middle East. Is it never going to happen? Or is the US ready to accept, and put up what Hillary Clinton calls a “defense umbrella”?

How Cooking Made Us Human

June 08, 2009

We talk with primatologist Richard Wrangham about his theory that fire and cooking made humans human.

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