Jennifer Rooks

Public Affairs Host & Producer

Jennifer walked into her college radio station as a 17-year-old freshman and never looked back. Even though she was terrified of the microphone back then — and spoke into it as little as possible — she loved the studio, the atmosphere and, most of all, the people who work in broadcasting. She was hooked. Decades later, she’s back behind the radio microphone hosting Maine Public Radio’s flagship talk program, Maine Calling. She’s not afraid of the mic anymore, but still loves the bright, eclectic people she gets to work with every day.

Jennifer joined MPBN in June 2007 after spending more than 13 years at WCSH-TV in Portland as a general assignment reporter and weekend news anchor. She has twice won a regional Edward R. Murrow award: in 1998, for coverage of Maine National Guard and Reserve soldiers deployed in Bosnia and Hungary, and in 2003, for the documentary Citizen King, about then-governor and former Maine Watch host Angus King.

For six years, Jennifer served as host, reporter and executive producer of Maine Watch with Jennifer Rooks. She has moderated more than 20 broadcast debates for Maine Public Television and has produced three television documentaries: Broken Trust: Elder Abuse in Maine and Winds of Change, both Maine Watch Special Reports, and A Matter of Duty: The Continuing War Against PTSD. Co-produced with Charlie Stuart, A Matter of Duty has been shown on PBS television stations throughout the U.S. and in multiple screenings, including at the National Sheriff’s Association national conference.

Jennifer grew up outside Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. She worked at television stations in San Francisco and Monterey, California, before coming to Maine. She and her husband Mike have two teenagers.

Ways to Connect

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is being used successfully to treat those who are addicted to opiates. How and why does it work better than other methods, and who is administering this treatment in Maine?


Dr. Mark Publicker, addiction treatment specialist in private practice and past president of the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine

Amanda, a mother recovering from opiate addiction

Dr. Jennifer Smith, DO, North Bridgton Family Practice (part of Bridgton Hospital)

Why are there so few women in engineering, science and tech field?  We'll discuss the root of the problem - and possible solutions - in advance of a AAUW state conference on the issue to be held at Maine Maritime Academy, Castine.


Dr. Kerry Whittaker, Bates College as well as at the Coastal Studies for Girls in Freeport  

Dr.  Dot McLane, AAUW, national office, American Association of University Women

Dr. Elizabeth True, VP of Student Affairs, Maine Maritime Academy

Medical Error

May 13, 2016

A recent study named medical error as the nation's third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. What does "medical error" include? It can include giving someone the wrong medicine to diagnosing symptoms incorrectly. How can our medical systems try to avoid mistakes and improve outcomes for patients?


Steven Michaud, President, Maine Hospital Association

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP, Vice President for Clinical Affairs, Director Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, University of New England (UNE)

Disrupt Aging

May 12, 2016

Internationally acclaimed longevity expert Dr. Bill Thomas and Lori Parham explain how what our culture tells us about aging – that it will change us against our will, and for the worse - is wrong and what we can do about it.  

Guests:  Dr. Bill Thomas, author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. Best known for his health care system innovations, he is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people.

Ticks & Lyme Disease

May 11, 2016

  Did the combination of a mild winter and a cool spring have any effect on the ticks in our region this year? We'll talk about whether it's time to beware of ticks, what to do if you get a tick bite, and what the latest developments are with Lyme disease in Maine.


Dr. Rob Smith, infectious disease expert at Intermed

Dr. Tom Mather, better known as ‘The Tick Guy,’ of the University of Rhode Island (via ISDN)

Chuck Lubelczyk, BS, MPH, Field Biologist, MMC Lyme & Vector-Borne Disease Laboratory

Diane Rehm

May 9, 2016

Diane Rehm, award-winning host of The Diane Rehm Show, joins host Jennifer Rooks to talk about her longtime radio career, her plans after she ends her hosting duties this year, and her recent book, On My Own, about the loss of her husband.

What you need to know about changes coming to your public radio station.  Join our classical morning host Robin Rilette, and Charles Beck, our Vice President for Content and Programming, to learn about all the changes that start this Monday.

Guests:  Robin Rilette, Director of Music and Creative Performance, MPBN

Charles Beck, Vice President for Content and Programming

Just ahead of Mother's Day, we talk with the author of "Maine's Remarkable Women: Daughters, Wives, Sisters and Mothers Who Shaped History" about astonishing Maine women in history - some of whom you've likely never heard of.  Sure, you know about Sarah Orne Jewett and Margaret Chase Smith, but what about Toy Len Goon of Portland, named "America's Mother of the Year" in 1952?  Or Cornelia "Fly Rod" Crosby of Rangeley, famous promoter of nature tourism in Maine?

Community Paramedicine is a new approach to expanding medical access to Maine’s communities. The goal is to use existing medial personal – think paramedics and EMS responders, to help those in need before they go to the local emergency room for help.  


Guests:  Kevin McGinnis, CP Program Manager for the National Association of State EMS Officials, and CP Chief for North East Mobile Health Services

Alyssa L. Miller/Flickr/Creative Commons

Who should consider long-term care insurance?  What are the pros and cons of taking out a long-term care insurance policy?  What are other options?  And what are some of the concerns about some long-term care policies?

Guests:   Eric A. Cioppa, Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance

  Kerry Peabody, CSA, CLTC, Long Term Care, Life & Disability Insurance Agent Clark Insurance

  Karen Milliken, Vice-President and Portfolio Mananger, RM Davis

David Goehring/Flickr/Creative Commons

Medical professionals say there’s an alarming shortage of psychiatric care in Maine.  What’s being done – and isn’t being done – to address this?


DR. GIRARD ROBINSON, Chief of Psychiatry at Maine Medical Center and Senior Vice President for Medical and Clinical Affairs at Maine Behavioral Healthcare

MARY JEAN MORK, Vice President for Integrated Programming for Maine Behavioral Healthcare

The latest on our understanding of autism and the perspective of two parents of adult children with autism.


Matthew Siegel, M.D., Director, Developmental Disorders Program, Maine Behavioral Healthcare; Associate Professor of Psychiatry & Pediatrics, Tufts University School of Medicine; Clinical Scientist - Maine Medical Center Research Institute; Center for Autism and Developmental Disorders

Derek Volk, President, VOLK PACKAGING CORPORATION, author of Chasing the Rabbit

The Importance of Storytelling for Young, Old and those in between.  – Why do humans have a need to tell stories? How does storytelling help young people learn? What are ways we all can all chronicle stories that are important to us or that we want to share?

The Latest Science on the Importance of Sleep. - A leading expert discusses the latest research on sleep, especially for teens.  

Guest:  Mary A. Carskadon, Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University

How big of a problem is food waste in Maine and in the US?  We’ll learn about the dimensions of the problem and get tips on wasting less and putting what we don’t eat to good use.

Guests:  Brett Richardson, General Manager of We Compost It!

Christine Beling, Project Engineer, Assistance and Pollution Prevention Unit for the EPA.  She’ll discuss the EPA’s Food Recovery Challenge. 

Jennifer deHart, Chief Sustainability Officer with Unity College