In the "Public Eye"  | American Journalism Review
 AJR  The Beat
From AJR,   March 1998

In the "Public Eye"   

Derek McGinty leaves NPR to join CBS' "Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel."

By Bridget Gutierrez
Bridget Gutierrez is a reporter for the San Antonio Express-News.     


Stop by WAMU 's Washington, D.C., studios these days and you might sense something's missing. Derek McGinty , a veritable staple of National Public Radio 's midday programming, is gone.

He's skipped town after seven years as host of the syndicated "Derek McGinty Show" and headed for the Big Apple to become a full time correspondent for CBS ' "Public Eye with Bryant Gumbel ."

This spring WAMU will name a successor to host the newly named "Public Interest."

Since October McGinty had been moonlighting for Gumbel while hosting the two-hour talk radio show. "It's been quite a balancing act," says McGinty. "I had to decide to do one or the other."

So in January McGinty, 38, opted for TV, which he'd dabbled in as a reporter for CBS' short-lived "Coast to Coast" and as host of "Straight Talk with Derek McGinty," a public affairs show on D.C.'s WETA .

CBS is letting McGinty stay committed to public broadcasting; he will still host "Straight Talk." And that was a big factor in his decision. "Public broadcasting is a place where you know commercial interests will not be an issue," he says.

Says WAMU producer Elaine Bole , "I cross my fingers that people like Derek will be able to thrive in the commercial press. I pray he goes there and can do what he did here."

CBS would like that. "We're looking to take the best from his radio experience and translate that to television," says Jonathan Klein , CBS News executive vice president. "He's a fantastic listener. Too many TV journalists these days are more interested in hearing themselves talk."

And McGinty – whose radio show avoided tabloid sleaze and media frenzies – says he wants to take TV journalism up a notch. "Scandal does not interest me much," he says.

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