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

Our two favorite automotive experts return to talk car sales, the latest on the VW emissions scandal, and to answer your car-care questions.  We’ll also hear from David Leach with the Maine Bureau of Consumer Protection.  He just wrote the “Downeast Common Sense Guide: Automobile Buying and Financing.”

Guests: Jamie Page Deaton, US Auto Editor, US News & World Reports. 

John Paul, AAA Master Mechanic and Manager of Public Affairs for Southern New England AAA.

David Leach, Maine Bureau of Consumer Protection

Body Image

Mar 7, 2016

The role of media, social media, photoshop, etc. in perpetuating negative body images and eating disorders at increasingly younger ages.

Guests:  Dr. Lisa Belisle, Family Physician, Host of LoveMaineRadio

  Andrea King, Owner, Aristelle

  Sarah Watkins, Visiting Associate Professor of History, Colby College

In the past twenty five years, Maine has gone from a place where it was impossible to find a latte, to a hot spot for high-end sustainably-sourced coffee.  What is the local and global impact of the coffee industry here and  what are the challenges of running a coffee shop in a world of Starbucks?

Guests:  Mary Allen Lindemann, Founder, Coffee by Design, Portland 

Bill Kitchen, Director of Development and Coffee Culturist for Bold Coast Coffee in East Machias

Click here to visit Coffee by Design website

After the votes on Super Tuesday are counted, we'll discuss who's up, who's down, who's out, and what's next in the race for the White House.


Guests:  Jeanne Cummings, Political Editor for the Wall Street Journal

Anthony Corrado, Professor of Government at Colby College and nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.


Ted Eytan/Flickr/Creative Commons

After Justice Antonin Scalia's untimely death, President Obama announced that he would appoint a replacement in a timely manner.  But Senate Republicans say they will not hold hearings until a new President is elected.  What is the future of the U.S. Supreme Court?


Dmitry Bam, Professor, University of Maine School of Law

Joseph Reisert, Associate Professor of Constitutional Law, Colby College

Jeanne Hey, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, University of New England

Tech Talk

Feb 23, 2016
Flickr/Creative Commons

Our favorite tech team answers your tech questions.  Plus, we discuss the battle between Apple and the FBI over encrypted phone data.


Andrew Rosenstein, Owner, Techport

Jarrod Maxfield, Owner, Necessary Technology

Janet McKenney, Director of Library Development, Maine State Library

By phone:

Sen. Angus King, Senate Intelligence Committee

Edward Sihler, Director of Technology, USM Cyber Security Lab

Brian Bechard/MPBN

NPR's Africa Correspondent Ofeibea Quist-Arcton joins us from the Portland Museum of Art to talk about her career and the latest news out of Africa.

Guest:  Ofeibea Quist-Arcton

Former Maine Congressman Tom Andrews joins us to talk about his life after Maine politics and his work to end genocide.

College Counseling

Feb 15, 2016

Why now is the right time for high school juniors (and sophomores) to start thinking about planning for college – navigating the application process, FAFSA, CSS and more. Guests: Anne Richardson, Kents Hill School's Director of College Counseling and Past-President of New England Association for College Admission Counseling (NEACAC)   Jared Cash, Vice President for Enrollment at University of Maine, Farmington, formerly at the George MItchell Center for Research and Bates College   Mila Tappan, College Access and Outreach Manager, Finance Authority of Maine

T.V. Viewing Options

Feb 11, 2016

TV viewing options are now almost as plentiful as TV shows worth watching. We’ll hear from two techies on ways to watch TV without having to spend a fortune on your cable bill.  Learn how to navigate the television options – cable, satellite, Roku, Apple TV, Amazon, Netflix or simply over-the-air? 

Guests:  Jeff Mahaney, MPBN

Rob Pegoraro, Columnist for Yahoo Tech and USA Today


Feb 9, 2016

People are inundated with information about healthful living in today’s media, but much of it is conflicting.  What advice is most important?  What can we ignore? What are small changes each of us can make to improve our lives and our future health?  We’ll also discuss the concept of wellness-based medicine. 

Guests:  Mike Noonan, DC, Dipl. Ac. (AACA) Noonan Wellness and Chiropractic  Old Town, ME, and columnist for Bangor Daily News.

Christopher B. Scott, Department of Exercise, Health and Sport Sciences, University of Southern Maine.

Literacy experts now encourage parents to start reading to their children every day as soon as they’re born.  We’ll discuss the lifetime impact of early literacy and what the state is doing to increase literacy levels in Maine, including the “Read to Me Challenge” underway for the month of February. Guests:  Lee Anne Larsen, Maine DOE Literacy Specialist   Shannon Schinagl, Early Literacy Consultant at the Maine State Library


Fire Safety

Feb 4, 2016

Despite years of fire prevention and education efforts, Maine people (from every socioeconomic group) still die in house fires every winter.  There have already been two fatal fires in Maine this year.  We'll discuss fire safety and prevention.

Guests:  Joseph Thomas, Maine State Fire Marshall

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Nationally, one in three girls in the U.S. have experienced physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner - far exceeding all other youth violence.  And yet only 19% of parents believe teen dating violence is an issue. Although 82% of parents feel confident they could recognize the signs if their child was experiencing dating abuse, only 42% could correctly identify the signs of abuse.

A look at Maine’s Fiber Arts industry, which has been growing in size and reputation over the past 15 years.  Thousands of people come from all over the country for Maine’s fiber arts tour and a chance to meet Maine artists.  Fiber arts – from knitting to spinning and weaving – are also increasingly popular hobbies.

Guests:  Linda Cortright, owner and editor of Wild Fibers Magazine.

Mim Bird , Owner of Over the Rainbow Yarn Shop and self-proclaimed knitting genius extraordinaire.