LISTEN LIVE

Bobbie O'Brien

Reporter

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

The year 2018 is almost over, and Florida Matters is looking back at the stories that made headlines in our region this year.


Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Florida’s citrus industry still contributes an estimated $8 billion a year to the state economy. That’s despite its longtime battle against greening - a bacterial disease that sours the fruit and is fatal to the trees.

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory.

This is citrus harvesting season in Florida, where oranges make up the largest part of an industry that contributes $8 billion a year to the state economy. Yet, few know that the citrus business owes much of its success to the U.S. military.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

There are plenty of veterans needing help with their denied VA benefits claims and a good supply of law student volunteers to help them. But what is in short supply at the Stetson Veterans Law Institute and Advocacy Clinic is space.

A few years ago, the institute opened in a small home across the street from the Gulfport campus with three law students helping on cases. Now, there are 15 law students in the same cramped quarters.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

As he transitions out of the military this fall, Justin Duhe is going into business for himself. The 28-year-old Army linguist and cyber specialist bought a five acre coconut grove in Homestead, Fla. last year - sight unseen. He knew nothing about coconuts at the time.

Veterans now make up less than 20 percent of Congress, compared with about 75 percent in the 1960s. Some high-profile candidates are trying to reverse that trend.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Voters are showing a lot of interest in Florida's 2018 Primary.

State officials report almost 2 million early voting and mail-in ballots have been received – surpassing totals from previous years.

FL AP Broadcasters

In recent months, journalism groups have been recognizing news outlets across the country for outstanding work done in 2017, and WUSF has garnered multiple awards.

This week on Florida Matters we highlight some of the award-winning journalism produced by our WUSF news team.


Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Department of Veteran Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie was President Trump's second choice to replace fired Secretary David Shulkin.

But the former Pentagon official is now running the VA said he's promised to protect the VA from politics and total privatization.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The VA is now mailing identification cards to veterans who want tangible proof that they served in the military. But after waiting almost three years for the new government-issued I.D., some veterans are not happy that the card contains an advertisement.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Every spring, a national military family support group called Operation Homefront honors outstanding children whose parents are serving in the military. Six were selected this year, one for each branch of service.

The 2018 Air Force Military Child of the Year is from Tampa. Eve Glenn graduated recently as valedictorian of Robinson High School. It was the 11th school she'd attended.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

It happens hundreds, if not thousands, of times a year nationwide. A veteran dies, but there’s no family nearby. So, the Department of Veterans Affairs steps up to handle the burial.

USN

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels will streak across Tampa Bay skies this weekend as the Goodyear Blimp motors along at a slower pace for the 2018 AirFest. Admission is free to the public, along with free parking, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Without leaving the comfort of his Ocala apartment, Joshua Lawhorn, 28, is getting help with his memory problems by learning to play the guitar.

VA Blog / U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

This Thursday marks the 50th anniversary of National Vietnam War Veterans Day. Hundreds of commemorative events are being held  nationwide on or around March 29, including some Tampa Bay remembrances.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Military retirees can camp, golf, and fish at hundreds of  military bases. It costs less than civilian resorts, making the bases popular vacation spots for thousands of former service members.

The waters of Tampa Bay lap at the marina boat ramp on the southern tip of the Tampa peninsula. Visitors can dock their boats at the slips, buy fresh and frozen bait, or spend a day on the water.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The Department of Defense estimates 14,900 service members experienced some kind of sexual assault in 2016 - its most recent report. But because of the stigma - many wait decades before they get help - usually from the VA.

So it’s no surprise, the average age is 45 for women and 50 for men for veterans entering the Bay Pines VA Center for Sexual Trauma Services in St. Petersburg.

BOBBIE O'BRIEN / WUSF PUBLIC MEDIA

Two Miami men are charged with stealing items meant for homeless veterans that were worth more than $300,000.

Four months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, FEMA analysis showed that only 1 percent of island residents still rely on emergency food and water to survive. So the federal agency plans to “shut off” those supplies on Jan. 31, 2018.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

Despite the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Atlantic Division losing to the Pacific Division in the National Hockey League All Star final game, there were some memorable moments.

There was the return of former Lightning player Brian Boyle, now a forward for the New Jersey Devils. He was a Tampa fan favorite while playing here (2014-2017) and was welcomed back with a standing ovation followed by thunderous cheers  every time he took the ice.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere rarely make the headlines nowadays. Yet, men and women in the United States military continue to serve there and some die there. 

Andy Lalino / WUSF Public Media

Professional ice hockey has been around for a century, but it’s only 25 years old in Tampa Bay. Yet a hockey culture is being built one generation at a time at the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, the official practice facility of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tampa is going to be a rather busy city on the weekend of Jan. 27-28. The city will host the 2018 National Hockey League All-Star Game during one of Tampa's biggest annual events, Gasparilla Pirate Festival.


Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

The National Hockey League is marking its 100th year by bringing the NHL All Star Game to Tampa Jan. 26-28, 2018. And the Tampa Bay Lightning is celebrating its 25th anniversary.

Staff Sgt. Carmen Fleischmann / Florida Army National Guard

Just like 2004 and 2005 – Florida will remember 2017 as the year of hurricanes especially Hurricane Irma. It was a year that the Florida National Guard learned some new lessons in disaster response.

Florida activated its National Guard troops days before Hurricane Irma made landfall on Sept. 10 in the Florida Keys.

Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles

A Florida driver’s license can show if a person has served in the military. But there’s a problem with the law that permits the “veteran” designation on the license – it doesn’t prohibit counties from charging veterans extra for that service.

Bobbie O'Brien / WUSF Public Media

December is a month of religious celebrations – there’s Chanukah and Christmas. It’s also a time when many service members are stationed far away from family and friends. Which leads to the question: How does the secular military take care of the spiritual needs of the men and women in uniform?

U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

Among the many bills to be considered during Florida’s 2018 legislative session is legislation that would offer alternative treatments to veterans with post-traumatic stress.

Sometimes when something is as universal, necessary and mundane as eating, it's hard to make "food" sound special. But not for the people on this Florida Matters.

WUSF has been talking to people who communicate their passion about food in particularly interesting ways. Food...as muse.


Naval History and Heritage Command / USDoN

A memorial inscribed with the names of 520 Hillsborough County residents killed during World War II will be dedicated Dec. 7, 2017 as part of a Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day ceremony. It's the 76th anniversary of the Japanese surprise attack that marked the United States official entry into the war.

Pages