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.

Ways To Connect

Lottie Watts / WUSF Public Media

Refueling air crews from Tampa’s MacDill Air Force Base are flying daily support missions in the U.S. air campaign against the Islamic State.

The U.S. and Coalition their mission got more complicated this week when the Russians started flying airstrikes in the same Syrian air space.

Clinton Global Initiative

Former President Bill Clinton has announced a partnership to turn part of downtown Tampa into a more walkable, healthy place to live and work.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It was only a few years ago that the Florida legislature gave counties permission to create Veterans Treatment Courts as an alternative to criminal prosecution of former military members charged with misdemeanors and third-degree felonies.

Since, 23 courts have been created, but only nine have received state money, including Pinellas and Pasco Counties.

Others, such as the Veterans Treatment Court in Hillsborough County, get none.

Marine Families

Whether you hold a candle at a vigil, wave a flag along the route, or ride your bike in memory, Marine Families (formerly known as the Tampa Area Marine Parents Assoc., Inc.) is looking for help for its 8th Annual Run for the Fallen.

The two-day memorial event September 19-20 recognizes the nearly 400 “Fallen Heroes” from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and pays tribute to the Gold Star Families.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

A new medical director is at the helm of Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Medical Center. Joe D. Battle has only been on the job seven weeks but already has a long “to do” list.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The war on terror in Afghanistan is now the nation’s longest running war. But the United States has been involved in many more conflicts over the centuries.

Operation Neptune Spear. Operation Deny Flight. Operation Praying Mantis. The Invasion of Grenada. The Berlin Blockade. These lesser-known names are among the 26 conflicts noted on the Committed Forces Memorial, a collection of granite pedestals surrounding a bronze globe just inside the entrance to the Hillsborough County Veteran’s Memorial Park in Tampa.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Tampa’s James A. Haley VA Hospital is using cutting edge technology to help injured veterans rehabilitate.

One of the devices, at the Spinal Cord Injury Center, helping paralyzed veterans stand and walk again is the Exoskeleton.

Using a computer backpack, robotic leg braces and a walker, veteran Josh Baker demonstrated the Exoskeleton during the April 2014 ceremonial opening of Haley’s new Polytrauma Center.

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.