Bobbie O'Brien


Bobbie O’Brien has been a Reporter/Producer at WUSF since 1991. She reports on general news topics in Florida and the Tampa Bay region.

Bobbie also produces the blog, Off the Base, and covers military affairs, veterans’ issues and military families. She was named a Rosalyn Carter Fellow in 2010-2011. She supervises WUSF’s news interns and frequently contributes to NPR programs.

Prior to joining WUSF, she worked at WTVT- TV as a researcher/segment producer, at the Tampa Tribune and at WFLA-TV. She attended Kent State University and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications from the University of South Florida in 1980.

Her work has been honored by the Society of Professional Journalists, the Radio and Television News Directors Association, Public Radio News Directors Inc., American Women in Radio & Television, the Florida Associated Press and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.


10:09 am
Thu July 2, 2015

FL To Get $3.25 Billion In BP Settlement

Florida will receive at least $3.2 billion  from an $18.7 billion settlement with BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BP and five Gulf states announced the massive settlement Thursday, resolving years of legal fighting over the environmental and economic damage done by the energy giant's oil spill in 2010.

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Off The Base
2:40 pm
Wed July 1, 2015

July Opens With Two Veterans Events

Credit U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

The Vice-Chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), is holding a Veterans’ Town Hall today, July 1, 2015 starting at 5:30 p.m.

The event is open to the public and will offer the audience a chance to participate.

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Off The Base
8:51 am
Fri June 26, 2015

Help Promised To WWII Mustard Gas Vet

John and Joan Tedesco stand before a wall of World War II memorabilia including John's Navy photograph and military ribbons and medals.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

This week - NPR revealed that 60,000 World War II veterans were exposed to mustard gas while training in the U.S. and some are currently living in the Tampa Bay region.

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6:48 am
Thu June 25, 2015

Tampa Bay Lightning Win Top GM Honor

Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman
Credit Tampa Bay Lightning

Although the Tampa Bay Lightning fell just shy of winning hockey's coveted Stanley Cup - the team's general manager captured top honors Wednesday night.

The Lightning's Steve Yzerman was voted the National Hockey League's general manager of the year and received the trophy at the NHL's Awards Show in Las Vegas.

The league's 30 club general managers, a panel of NHL executives, print and broadcast media voted on the award at the conclusion of the Second Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The final voting totals include points for first, second and third place.

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Off The Base
7:00 am
Wed June 24, 2015

Bay Area WWII Vet Says VA Denied His Mustard Gas Claim

WWII veteran John Tedesco holds up a 1991 newspaper story when he and three other Navy buddies filed a VA claim because they were exposed to mustard gas during basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Station in 1944.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

This week, NPR has revealed that the U.S. military conducted chemical weapons experiments on American soldiers and sailors during World War II.

It also found the Veterans Administration did little to help the thousands of veterans exposed to mustard gas.

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Off The Base
2:14 pm
Fri June 19, 2015

Off the Base: 7 Tips To Easier Military Moves

Credit U.S. Department of Defense

We are smack dab in the middle of the peak moving season for military families. Traditionally, it’s May through August. And it happens every two to three years --- to most all military families.

It’s called “Permanent Change of Station” or PCS.

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Florida Matters
10:50 am
Fri June 19, 2015

Storm Prep: Boil Your Eggs, Fry Your Bacon

Chef Don Pintabona, cookbook author and co-owner with Chef Michael Mina of Locale Market in St. Petersburg.
Credit Jeff Houck / Locale Market

Canned tuna, boxed apple juice, peanut butter crackers. What’s in your hurricane supply of non-perishable food?

Emergency response experts suggest that families have food and water to last from three to seven days.

But who wants to eat seven days of canned chili?

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Off The Base
10:19 am
Fri June 12, 2015

A Tale of Two Guide Dogs

An unidentified admirer pets Brittani who is retiring after 8 years of serving as a guide dog for wounded Marine Michael Jernigan.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

This is a story of two dogs serving their country’s veterans through the Southeastern Guide Dogs Paws for Patriots program.

There’s the “old girl” Brittani who has eased into retirement and the youngster Zak just graduated from “boot camp” still filled with puppy exuberance.

Brittani is a Goldador, a mix of Labrador and Golden Retriever, and was the longtime companion of Michael Jernigan of St. Petersburg, a Marine wounded by a roadside bomb in Iraq in 2004.

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Off The Base
9:01 am
Fri June 5, 2015

Brush Of Honor Paints Portrait of Fallen Pilot

Retired Major Gen. Robert Steel and his wife, Dee, with the portrait of their son, USAF Capt. James Steel, who was died when his F-16 crashed two years ago in Afghanistan.
Brush of Honor INSP Network

A father provides the stories and a professional artist the paint to create a portrait of Air Force Capt. James Steel, an F-16 pilot who was born in Tampa and killed in Afghanistan on April 3, 2013.

James and his twin brother Jonathan loved playing on the Bay Area beaches as their father, Major General Robert Steel, flew F-16s with the 61st Fighter Squadron at MacDill Air Force Base.

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Off The Base
5:51 am
Thu June 4, 2015

Fallen Tampa Pilot In 'Brush of Honor'

Air Force Capt. James Steel, 29, was killed when his F-16 crashed near Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in 2013.
Credit U.S. Air Force

A Tampa F-16 pilot -- killed in a crash April 3, 2013 while deployed in Afghanistan -- is the focus of a TV series called Brush of Honor which airs tonight at 9 on the INSP Network.

The episode features Air Force Captain James Steel who was born in Tampa while his father, retired Major  Gen. Robert Steel,  flew F-16s at MacDill Air Force Base.

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Off The Base
12:36 pm
Wed June 3, 2015

Former Ranger Finishes 405-Mile Run

Alex Estrella reached his final goal - the end of US 1 - on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, at 1:30 p.m. He started his trek May 21 around 11 a.m. from the main gate at MacDill Air Force Base.
Credit Monica Kim / Facebook

Alex Estrella, a former Army Ranger and Gulf War veteran, achieved his goal running 405 miles from the main gate at MacDill Air Force Base to Key West.

He optimistically hoped to complete the personal challenge in eight days. However, it took more than 12 days to reach the 0-mile marker on U.S. 1 which happened Tuesday at 1:30 p.m.

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Off The Base
5:04 pm
Mon June 1, 2015

Former Ranger About to Finish 'Run for Jamie'

Under cloudy skies, Alex Estrella leans against the 30-mile marker on US 1 in the Florida Keys on his way to the 0 mile marker and finish of the "Run for Jamie."
Credit Erin Thompson / Facebook

Around 10:30 Monday morning, Gulf War veteran and former Army Ranger Alex Estrella, was 30 miles away from his quest that started May 21, 2015.

He created the "Run for Jamie" from Tampa's MacDill Air Force Base to Key West to honor Air Force Reserve Captain Jamie Brunette, who committed suicide in February 2015, and to raise awareness for suicide prevention and PTSD.

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Off The Base
11:54 am
Fri May 29, 2015

Airman's Suicide Spurs 405-Mile Run

At a ceremony kicking off his run from Tampa to Key West, Gulf War veteran Alex Estrella holds onto the photo of Afghanistan War veteran Jamie Brunette who commited suicide in February.
Bobbie O'Brien WUSF Public Media

Air Force Reserve Captain Jamie Brunette is described by friends as a vivacious athlete with a huge smile who loved people and loved to run. 

Malia Spranger, an Air Force Reserve colonel, served with Brunette, was her friend and business partner. They were going to open a fitness center together in March.

But Brunette, an Afghanistan War veteran, took her own life February 9, 2015.

“She was (like) a daughter to my husband and I,” Spranger said. “She is obviously terribly missed by so many people out there.”

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Off The Base
8:17 am
Mon May 25, 2015

2015 Memorial Day Ceremonies in Florida

Credit The Patterson Foundation

You can locate a VA National Cemetery nearest you that is holding a 2015 Memorial Day Ceremony HERE.

MONDAY - MAY 25, 2015

Barrancas National Cemetery
Naval Air Station
1 Cemetery Road
Pensacola, FL 32508
(850) 453-4108 or 453-4846
Ceremony: May 25 at 9:00 a.m.

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Off The Base
7:46 am
Fri May 22, 2015

A Fallen Member of an All-Female Team

1st Lt. Ashley White was a member of the all-female Army Cultural Support Team. She was killed in Kandahar, Afghanistan in October 2011 while supporting a Ranger night mission.
Credit Ashley White Family / Memorial Page

Among those who will be remembered this Memorial Day is 1st Lt. Ashley White, a member of an all-female, all-Army Cultural Support Team attached to a Joint Special Operations Task Force in Afghanistan.

White is buried behind her family’s church in Ohio. It’s the same church where she was baptized and where she married Capt. Jason Stumpf six months before she was killed.

The family had the option of burying Ashley at Arlington National Cemetery,

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