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.

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United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed hundreds of special operations forces from 90 different nations at a Gala Dinner Wednesday night in Tampa. It's part of the International Special Operations Forces Week held every four years. You can hear her full 25 minute speech unedited by clicking on the icon above.

A “Smart Power Approach” is what U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the combined civilian and military partnership aimed at diminishing “the appeal” of terrorism for the next generation.

Secretary Clinton spoke for nearly half-an-hour Wednesday at the International Special Operations Forces Industry Gala Dinner held at the Tampa Convention Center.

Bobbie O'Brien

Special Operations Forces like to be known as the “Quiet Warriors.” Yet, it was anything but quiet Wednesday as special forces teams from several countries held a “hostage rescue” demonstration as part of the International Special Operations Forces Week in Tampa.

“Obviously getting to fire a 50 caliber was pretty cool, the ultimate boy-toy,” Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said after volunteering to be the “hostage” during a mock rescue by dozens of special operations forces.

Tampa Police Department

Tampa police have arrested a third teenaged suspect linked to the unprovoked attack of a soldier in South Tampa last week.

A security camera captured the beating and robbery by four young men that left the victim, an Army sergeant, with a broken nose and a knocked-out tooth. The black and white grainy video went viral and was picked up by national news media.

Sergeant Johnny Aparicio, based with Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base, was walking home after his car had broken down during the early morning on May 13th.

Photo courtesy of

Today in Tampa, JPMorgan shareholders will get a first-hand explanation on the reported "trading error" that cost the country's largest bank $2 billion.

JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon came to Tampa planning to talk about rebounding profits and expansion plans in Florida.

Instead, he’s facing Occupy Tampa protestors outside and upset investors inside today’s shareholder meeting.

National news media are lined up on the sidewalks outside the meeting place and police are providing tight security because demonstrators are expected.

CNN iReport

You might remember the Tampa vs. Miami Cuban Sandwich smack-down. Now, it’s a showdown between national political convention host cities.

CNN iReport is sponsoring the “City Smack Down” between Tampa, host city of the Republican National Convention, and Charlotte, N.C., host city of the Democratic National Convention.

Photo courtesy of US

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is coming to Tampa next week. She will be the keynote speaker for a gathering of international military forces.

Military delegates from 96 countries have been invited to the Special Operations Forces Week conference organized by Adm. William McRaven, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command based at MacDill Air Force Base.

The conference focuses on “Building the Global SOF (Special Operations Forces) Partnerships.”

Small businesses in the Tampa Bay region are hoping the Republican National Convention will be a financial boon. The 2012 Host Committee just published an online small business directory to help.

Florists and janitorial services, limousines and staffing agencies are among the 500 certified small businesses listed in the business network online directory.

But, some local vendors have yet to see any convention business come their way

Florida House of Representatives

Florida is looking for a few good trustees for its new public university, Florida Polytechnic in Lakeland. The state's twelfth university was created by the legislature and approved by the governor April 20th, 2012.

Late Monday, the governor's office sent out a press release calling for a national search for potential trustees and state residency is not a requirement as the press release points out:

Lance Shearer/Special to the Daily News

Jeb Bush, the brother and son of two former U.S. presidents, tells reporters Saturday he is "not going to be vice president."

The Tampa Bay area is home to a large concentration of veterans and active duty military which prompted the  Stetson University College of Law to establish a Veterans Law Institute.

Part of the institute’s mission is setting up a Veterans Advocacy Clinic to help veterans seeking government benefits as well as assist those appealing decisions denying benefits. It will also partner with other organizations, including Legal Assistance for Warriors, to provide pro bono legal services for active duty personnel and their families.

Photo courtesy of the Tampa Bay Rays.

There's a perception in Major League Baseball that fans in the Tampa Bay region are not supportive of the Rays and don't come to the ballpark. So far, attendance at Tropicana Field for 2012 tells a different story.

The Tampa Bay Rays are averaging 20,017 which on its own is not great - 28 out of 30 teams. Cleveland (14,624) and the Chicago White Sox (19,911) are averaging fewer fans at home games.


Some Tampa Bay Rays baseball fans might be envious of the Miami Marlin's new ballpark with its retractable roof and real grass. However, the grass isn't always greener on the other side. In fact, the grass is brown and the roof leaks.

Florida House Photo

On Florida Matters this week, I talked with the state’s 45th governor about Florida Polytechnic, the Republican National Convention, and whether Florida is the most veteran-friendly state.

Five things we learned from our interview with Governor Scott:

1.  That Scott thinks a 12th University “makes sense.”

“I want to make sure, if we’re going to have a 12th university, that we can afford a 12th university,” Florida Gov. Rick Scott said during the legislative session when he was asking all the other public universities to dip into their reserves to cover budget cuts.

Scott signed legislation creating Florida Polytechnic as a fully funded independent university beginning July 1, 2012. He defended his decision to WUSF, but was short with specifics on how he will measure if the cost will be worth it to taxpayers.

Here’s five reasons Scott said Florida Polytechnic “makes sense.”

Photo by Steven Brooke

Credit the surging economies of South America and increased passenger routes -- Miami International Airport welcomed more international passengers between January and March of this year than any other U.S. airport according to the Sun-Sentinel, overtaking New York’s JFK airport, officials said.

Photo courtesy of FLGOVSCOTT

The state will likely appeal Thursday's ruling by a Miami federal judge that blanket drug testing of Florida state workers is unconstitutional -- saying it violates the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable search and seizure.

Gov. Rick Scott, during a visit to WUSF's studios, said the court ruling makes no sense because random drug testing is common practice in the private sector.

Florida consumers are a little more pessimistic this month according to a survey released Tuesday by the University of Florida. Rising gas prices get part of the blame for the slip in consumer confidence from a January high of 77 percent to 73 percent in April.

Yet, the Governor and Florida Cabinet heard some encouraging news, car purchases from January through March are up in 2012.

Two cities -- Tampa and Miami -- are locked in a battle to claim the Cuban sandwich as its own. Last Thursday, the opening salvo was fired by Tampa City Council when it officially renamed it the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.”

Downtown Tampa will be seeing stars, four stars to be exact, in about two years when the Old Federal Courthouse is converted into a luxury hotel.

Tampa City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a lease with for the city-owned building with Tampa Bay Hotel Partners, LLC.

Bob McDonaugh, administrator for Tampa’s Economic and Urban Development, negotiated the 60-year lease. The hotel will rent the property for $1 a year for the first two years as the 106-year-old building is being renovated. But, the rent never goes higher than $15,000 a year.