Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter/Producer

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.

Ways To Connect

Jeb Bush Campaign video

Mention the words "email" and "presidential candidate," and Hillary Clinton immediately comes to mind. That’s because Clinton has faced constant questions about her use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State.

But PolitiFact Florida has found that Clinton isn’t the only presidential candidate to use a private email server while holding a government office.

“When I was governor of the State of Florida, I released all of my emails,” former Gov. Jeb Bush told a crowd at the Iowa State Fair.

Daylina Miller / WUSF Public Media

Whether it’s a full-blown hurricane or just a tropical storm - Erika has the potential to bring heavy rains and with that comes the potential of flooding.

So, here is information on who to call and what to do should you experience flooding. If your county is offering free sandbags, be sure to bring your own shovel.

Hillsborough County

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week, the Tampa Bay region lost one of its more notable World War II veterans, retired Judge John Germany. He served as an Army tank commander at age 22 and helped liberate a concentration camp on the German-Austrian border before being sent to the Pacific theater.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

This week on Florida Matters (Tuesday, Aug. 25 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 30 at 7:30 a.m.), we’re exploring some of the many beaches around Tampa Bay, with a look at parking, water quality and recollections of beach days gone by.

Saint Leo University

This week, Saint Leo University in northeastern Pasco County welcomed more than new college students to campus. The 126-year-old Benedictine bastion of learning has a new president after 18 years.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. General Dr. William Lennox Jr. stepped up July 1, 2015 to become the ninth Saint Leo president.

Lennox has a distinguished resume. A 35 year military career, a PhD in literature from Princeton, he served as West Point Superintendent from 2001-2006, and as a senior vice president at a Fortune 500 aerospace company for more than six years.

Port Tampa Bay

A new, 45-acre "vision" for Tampa’s downtown waterfront was unveiled Thursday by city and port officials.

The master plan for the eastern edge of downtown from the Florida Aquarium north to the old banana docks, is in addition to the Channelside re-development being worked on by Lightning owner Jeff Vinik's group.

Kiersten Downs

Women are the fastest growing group within the veteran population according to the Veterans Health Administration. Yet female vets may not identify themselves as a veteran or use their VA benefits.

Why women vets avoid mentioning their military service is one of several questions being explored by University of South Florida doctoral student Kiersten Downs.

Carol Highsmith, Jan. 10, 2010 / The Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

The Ybor City Chamber of Commerce is using renewed relations between the Obama Administration and government of Cuba to re-establish the link between the “Cigar City” and Havana.

Larry Wilder is chairman of the chamber.  He said Havana and Ybor are a natural fit since the Cuban capital pretty much gave birth to Tampa's cigar industry when so many cigar workers moved here in the late 1800s.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Take the single word – sacrifice – and turn it into a three dimensional sculpture that represents veterans, military service members and first responders like police and firefighters.

It’s a tall order. But a challenge that more than 50 Polk County high school art students took on for this year’s Platform Art competition.

Don Becker / U.S. Geological Survey

Residents living in flood prone areas of Polk County are encouraged to be proactive and fill up some free sandbags now.

Polk County Fire Rescue stations at 14 locations are offering free sandbags.  Each household can fill a maximum of 25-30 sandbags beginning at 2 p.m.

Be sure to bring your own shovel.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Studies show that only about half of the veterans who need mental health care seek treatment. And of those who get care – many drop-out before treatment is complete.

“So, we’re only reaching a third of people ultimately who need the treatment,” said retired Army Col. Dr. Charles Hoge. He works as a civilian at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center where he used to head up PTSD research.

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

This week women veterans from throughout Florida will meet in Tampa for the 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Conference. The goal is to sign them up for available benefits and resources.

This is the second year the state is reaching out to women veterans. The conference has expanded to two days, July 30-31, 2015, at the University of South Florida Tampa campus to accommodate demand.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The championship Tampa Bay Lightning is losing one of its own -- not to another hockey team -- but to the National Football League.

The Lightning's CEO Tod Leiweke resigned Friday to take over as the Chief Operating Officer for the NFL. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik said he's sad about losing his top manager who has helped to transform the Tampa team into a top hockey franchise in just the past five years.

While talking to reporters, Vinik fondly remembered his first meeting with Leiweke. He said they didn't talk sports or "power plays", they talked about community.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

More than 70 years after being exposed to mustard gas at boot camp – a World War II veteran’s claim for VA benefits is being reconsidered.

It was not until 1991 that the Department of Defense declassified information on its mustard gas experiments using U.S. soldiers and sailors in training.

Veteran John Tedesco was exposed to mustard gas in January 1944 at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station along with some of his buddies from his hometown of Erie, PA.

SMSGT Rex Temple / USAF

Florida has 160,000 women veterans living in the state, yet some of those women do not consider themselves a veteran and many more have never applied for veterans’ benefits.

Matching women veterans with available benefits, resources and support is the goal of the 2nd Annual Women Veterans’ Conference July 30-31, 2015 at the University of South Florida

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Florida’s new law that expands access for service animals used by people with disabilities has received the most attention of the 13 veteran-related laws passed this year.

House Bill 71 not only expands the protected right to use a service dog to people with mental impairments but it also allows for a jail sentence if a public business denies access. And the new law also makes it a second degree misdemeanor for someone to pass off an untrained pet as a service animal.

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.

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.

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.

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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