WBUR Staff

Deborah Becker

Host/Reporter, WBUR

Deborah Becker is a Senior Correspondent and Host at WBUR.  Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.

Deb is also a substitute host on several WBUR programs and helps produce and report for various WBUR special projects. Deb also worked on the launch of WRNI, Rhode Island’s NPR News Station, where she served as Morning Edition host and host of the weekly show “Focus Rhode Island.”  Before coming to WBUR, she worked at Monitor Radio, the broadcast arm of The Christian Science Monitor newspaper. She also worked at several Boston area radio stations. Deb has received numerous awards for her hosting, newscasts, reporting, and investigative reporting from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTNDA), Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, National Education Writers Association, Associated Press, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Parent/Professional Advocacy League and United Press International. She has also completed several fellowships on addiction, mental health, juvenile justice and journalism and the law.

Deb studied journalism at St. Bonaventure University. She lives with her family in central Massachusetts.

Recent stories

‘Dealing With The Immediate Crisis': What It's Like For EMTs Responding To Overdose

September 28, 2015
Boston Emergency Medical Services Deputy Superintendent Edmund Hassan (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

These first responders often say they know most won’t get help after leaving the hospital following an overdose — and many will need to be revived someday again.

Expert: NFL’s ‘Deflategate’ Appeal Will Be An Uphill Battle

September 04, 2015

Northeastern University law professor Roger Abrams, an authority on sports and labor law, joined WBUR’s Morning Edition to review a judge’s ruling throwing out Tom Brady’s four-game suspension.

After Nanny’s Charges Dropped, Debate Over Shaken Baby Syndrome Goes On

September 02, 2015
Aisling Brady McCarthy leaves court proceedings at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn in July. (Keith Bedford/The Boston Globe/Pool)

The dropped charges for Aisling Brady McCarthy are just the second time since 2006 that the state medical examiner has amended the manner of death. The other time also involved the death of a child.

Amid Opioid Crisis, It’s Busy Work For Boston’s Needle Collection Team

August 26, 2015
A used needle is disposed of by John Canty, of the Mobile Sharps Collection Team, the city’s needle gathering unit, in Clifford Park in Roxbury. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

The state’s opioid crisis is visible in many public places, where syringes litter the ground. We tagged along for a sweep of a Boston park.

Air Force Secretary Praises Mass. Bases, Says Force Is ‘Turning A Corner’ On Sex Assaults

August 24, 2015
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James in the WBUR studios. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Deborah Lee James, the secretary of the U.S. Air Force, was in Boston recently for a conference about women veterans and entrepreneurship, and to visit with Massachusetts members of the U.S. Air Force. We talked with her about women in service, the intersection of business and defense, and the long-term future of bases in Massachusetts.

In Rape Trial, N.H. Prep School’s Sexual Culture Faces Scrutiny

August 20, 2015
Owen Labrie looks around the courtroom during his trial, in Merrimack County Superior Court on Tuesday in Concord, N.H. (Jim Cole/AP)

The executive director of SUNY Stony Brook’s Center for the Study of Men and Masculinities says that it appears male students at the school may have viewed their female peers as “a kind of currency by which men move up or down in a male hierarchy.”

Globe Columnist: Cherington’s ‘Being Fired’ And Notion He’s Leaving Red Sox Voluntarily Is ‘Absurd’

August 19, 2015

Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington has been with the team since 1999, according to Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, who says he has a contract with them at least through next season. Shaughnessy says Cherington is being fired and the suggestion that he’s resigning is simply “the way they prefer to parse out uncomfortable truths.”

From Money To Morale, Challenges Still Seem To Face Mass. DCF

August 19, 2015

Executive Director of the Children’s League of Massachusetts Erin Bradley discusses the state’s embattled Department of Children and Families in the wake of another death of a child overseen by the agency.

Health Worker Stresses Intervention, Not Punishment, To Help Those Battling Opioid Addiction

August 18, 2015

Massachusetts is one of 15 states joining a White House effort to bring together law enforcement agencies and public health workers in the response to the opioid epidemic.

Boston Poetry Marathon Kicks Off Friday

August 14, 2015
Jim Behrle, poet-wrangler of the Boston Poetry Marathon, with his poem, "Free Brady." (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

About 100 poets will read their work in eight-minute increments during the event, which will take place through Sunday at Outpost 186 in Cambridge.

After A Night Of Violence, Boston Streetworkers Say They’ll Focus On Young People Involved In Gangs

August 13, 2015

After Wednesday night’s violence, Boston’s streetworkers will fan out to respond and say they’ll focus on reaching out to young people involved with gangs.

State Looks To Reform Handling Of Involuntary Commitments For Substance Abuse

August 06, 2015
Judge Rosemary Minehan, of Plymouth District Court (pictured), says Section 35 requests to her court have gone from about 5,800 four years ago to 7,500 in the past year. (Mass.gov)

A process known as Section 35 allows relatives to request someone be involuntarily committed for court-ordered treatment — and its use is up as the state battles an opioid crisis.

As T.T. The Bear’s Closes, Bands And Fans Say Goodbye

July 24, 2015
As manager Kevin Patey opens the doors at T.T. the Bear’s, Jutes Leeden and Tina Forsyth inquire about ticket sales wanting to see the band Stop Calling Me Frank during the clubs final week of shows. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Many of the well known rock bands from Boston who got early starts at the club in Cambridge have been making farewell visits.

2 Historic Martha’s Vineyard Theaters Reopening This Summer

May 29, 2015
The Capawock Theatre first opened in Vineyard Haven in 1913. (Courtesy Max Skjöldebrand)

Some history is coming back to life on Martha’s Vineyard this summer.

Colleges Work To Prevent Suicide And Fight Stigma Around Mental Health On Campus

May 11, 2015
A training session for WPI’s Student Support Network. The group has more than 400 members, trained and known around campus for their ability to intervene and help students dealing with mental health issues. (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

With suicide the second-leading cause of death for people of college age, many schools are trying to determine what additional steps they can take to try prevent suicide among students.

Writing To Heal From Trauma: Women Pen Memoirs With Help From Michael Patrick MacDonald

March 27, 2015
Four of the women who took part in the "Close to Home" memoirs project, including Jennifer McCall, left. (Courtesy Crittenton Women's Union/Richard Howard Photography)

A program at Crittenton Women’s Union in Boston is helping women write their own memoirs as a form of healing.

Cambridge Choir School Charting High With Christmas CD

December 23, 2014
Practice at St. Paul’s Choir School (Courtesy of AimHigher Recordings)

“Christmas In Harvard Square,” by the St. Paul’s Choir School, is near the top of the classical Billboard chart.

‘Selma’ Is About ‘The Power Of Voice,’ Director Ava DuVernay Says

December 10, 2014
This photo released by Paramount Pictures shows David Oyelowo, center, as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Carmen Ejogo, right, as Coretta Scott King in the film, "Selma." (Atsushi Nishijima/Paramount Pictures)

In 1965 in Selma, Alabama, news cameras captured police using tear gas and billy clubs on civil rights demonstrators. Now that story is being told on the big screen for the first time.

Baker Taps Marylou Sudders To Lead Health And Human Services Department

November 21, 2014
Marylou Sudders (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

Several groups are praising his choice, citing Sudders’ work as the former state mental health commissioner and former head of the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

New MGH-MIT Partnership Marries Medicine And Tech

November 19, 2014
MIT graduate student Matthew Li, MIT engineering professor Michael Cima, and MGH nephrologist Dr. Herbert Lin with the portable device they’re developing to measure hydration state and blood volume using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR). (Jesse Costa/WBUR)

MIT and MGH are partnering with the goal of developing better technologies and methods to diagnose and treat disease.

UMass Medical School Sending Team To Fight Ebola In Liberia

November 10, 2014
Dr. Rick Sacra, a UMass Medical School faculty member who contracted the Ebola virus in Liberia, walks out of a media availability with Chancellor Michael Collins Sept. 4 in Worcester. (Stephan Savoia/AP)

The school recently received a $7.5 million grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation to send doctors and nurses to help care for Ebola patients and reopen health care facilities.

Study Raises Questions About Military Service Causing Chronic Suicidal Tendencies

October 23, 2014

A new study commissioned by the U.S. Army has found that the mental health of soldiers isn’t as different from civilians as the researchers previously thought.

Surgeon General Nominee Murthy Loses Support Of Key Backers

October 22, 2014
Dr. Vivek Murthy is an internist at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital. His nomination for U.S. surgeon general has stalled, largely due to his advocacy of gun control. (Charles Dharapak/AP/File)

One of the country’s leading medical journals is withdrawing support for a Brigham and Women’s Hospital physician President Obama nominated to become the next surgeon general.

Listen: MGH Chief Of Infectious Disease Discusses Ebola Preparedness

October 16, 2014

How prepared is Massachusetts for Ebola? That was the question during a hearing at the State House Thursday.

It’s Not Business As Usual In Ferguson, Missouri

August 26, 2014
Ferguson police are visiting businesses in an effort to communicate more. (Deborah Becker)

From barber shops to bike shops, WBUR’s Deborah Becker looks at what the protests have meant for businesses.

As Mass. Lawmakers Take Up Addiction Bill, What’s Most Effective Treatment?

July 29, 2014
Hydrocodone pills, also known as Vicodin. (Toby Talbot/AP)

As Massachusetts lawmakers take up the $20 million bill aimed at addressing the state’s opioid crisis, questions about the best treatments remain.

How Addiction Can Affect Brain Connections

July 10, 2014

A growing body of research shows that addiction is a complex brain disease that affects people differently. But the research also raises hopes about potential treatments.

Dookhan Was Drug Lab’s ‘Sole Bad Actor,’ Report Says

March 04, 2014
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

“However … deficiencies at the Drug Lab created an atmosphere that allowed for [Annie] Dookhan to commit her crimes,” the state inspector general wrote in his review.

Boston Doctor Chosen For New National Effort To Reform Forensic Testing

February 21, 2014

With the Massachusetts Inspector General expected to release his report on the state drug lab crisis any day now, a local doctor is part of a new national effort to reform forensic testing.

How Mass. Should Deal With Convictions Affected By Dookhan

January 10, 2014
Annie Dookhan leaves Suffolk Superior Court after being arraigned Dec. 20, 2012. (Joe Spurr/WBUR)

Matt Segal of the Massachusetts ACLU discusses the criminal cases that linger as the state investigates the drug lab scandal.

ACLU Asks Mass. High Court For ‘Comprehensive Remedy’ For Drug Lab Cases

January 09, 2014

The court is again being asked for guidance on how to deal with criminal convictions thrown into question by the state drug lab crisis.

Forensic Testing A Problem In Several States

December 31, 2013

Congress could take up legislation in 2014 aimed at improving oversight of the nation’s crime labs. Critics say lawmakers need to take action after several lab scandals.

Reviewing The Annie Dookhan Drug Lab Crisis

December 26, 2013

WBUR’s Deborah Becker, who has been reporting on the drug lab scandal all year, looks back on the case and at the unresolved legal ramifications of chemist Annie Dookhan’s actions.

Dookhan’s Lawyer: She Had A ‘Lapse In Judgment’

November 29, 2013

Convicted former chemist Annie Dookhan has never spoken publicly about the drug lab crisis. We speak with her lawyer, now that she’s in prison.

Forensic Testing Questions Remain After Dookhan Sentence

November 23, 2013

Former chemist Annie Dookhan began her first full day in prison Saturday, but lingering questions persist about state oversight of forensic testing.

Dookhan Pleads Guilty, Gets 3-5 Years In Prison

November 22, 2013
Annie Dookhan, in late 2012 (Steven Senne, Pool/AP)

Disgraced former state chemist Annie Dookhan is on her way to prison for a drug lab crisis that’s created turmoil throughout the Massachusetts criminal justice system.

Date Set For Dookhan To Change Plea

October 29, 2013

A former state chemist is expected to plead guilty to charges of falsifying thousands of drug tests and throwing the entire Massachusetts criminal justice system into a tailspin.

Portraits Of Boston: A Different Way To See Strangers

August 09, 2013
portraits of boston

Photographer Ivan Velinov says he looks for interesting Bostonians who look open to sharing their stories on his blog Portraits of Boston.

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