Jennifer Rooks

Public Affairs Host & Producer

Jennifer walked into her college radio station as a 17-year-old freshman and never looked back. Even though she was terrified of the microphone back then — and spoke into it as little as possible — she loved the studio, the atmosphere and, most of all, the people who work in broadcasting. She was hooked. Decades later, she’s back behind the radio microphone hosting Maine Public Radio’s flagship talk program, Maine Calling. She’s not afraid of the mic anymore, but still loves the bright, eclectic people she gets to work with every day.

Jennifer joined MPBN in June 2007 after spending more than 13 years at WCSH-TV in Portland as a general assignment reporter and weekend news anchor. She has twice won a regional Edward R. Murrow award: in 1998, for coverage of Maine National Guard and Reserve soldiers deployed in Bosnia and Hungary, and in 2003, for the documentary Citizen King, about then-governor and former Maine Watch host Angus King.

For six years, Jennifer served as host, reporter and executive producer of Maine Watch with Jennifer Rooks. She has moderated more than 20 broadcast debates for Maine Public Television and has produced three television documentaries: Broken Trust: Elder Abuse in Maine and Winds of Change, both Maine Watch Special Reports, and A Matter of Duty: The Continuing War Against PTSD. Co-produced with Charlie Stuart, A Matter of Duty has been shown on PBS television stations throughout the U.S. and in multiple screenings, including at the National Sheriff’s Association national conference.

Jennifer grew up outside Atlanta, Georgia. She earned her B.A. from the University of Virginia and her master’s in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley. She worked at television stations in San Francisco and Monterey, California, before coming to Maine. She and her husband Mike have two teenagers.

Ways to Connect

We listen back to one of our most popular programs.  Learn which books should make your summer reading list.


Josh Bodwell, executive director of the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance

Is it possible that human beings may soon live to the age of 150? One of the nation’s leading longevity researchers says “absolutely.”

Dr. Steven Austad is speaking at the MDI Biological Lab at 7 p.m. Thursday. You can hear the entire Maine Calling interview with Dr. Austad and Dr. Aric Rogers by clicking here.

International financial markets, as well as markets here in the states, continue to process last week's economic implications of the Brexit vote.  MPBN's Jennifer Rooks asked Janine Cary, President and State Director of International Trade at the Maine International Trade Center, for her take on events and how they could impact Maine companies...

One in five women in the U.S. will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime.  We’ll discuss what are we learning about why this is, what is being done to address this shocking statistic, and how other cultures deal with issues of consent, assault and sexuality. We’ll also explore what is meant by the phrase “rape culture” and how it might be changed.


Guests:  Shana Natelson, Speak About It - Executive Director

  Doris Santoro, Associate Professor of Education, Bowdoin College

Recently, a personal finance website, Nerdwallet, named Maine the 11th most entrepreneurial state.  Its a particularly good place to grow start-ups from the "seed" stage, say advocates.  Yesterday marked the beginning of "Start Up and Create" week, and the theme is "Design and innovation". Jennifer Rooks spoke with. Charles Lawton Chief economist with Planning Decisions Inc, about why he believes Maine has emerged as an entrepreneur-friendly environment"

The personal-finance website NerdWallet has ranked Maine as the 11th “most entrepreneurial” state.  What are the right ingredients to encourage entrepreneurs and to help them succeed?  On the first day of the Maine ‘Start Up and Create’ week, we discuss entrepreneurship, creativity and innovation in the state.

A listen back to our earlier show about why Maine is home to so many great craft breweries -- and the science behind making a great IPA.  (This is a rebroadcast: no calls will be taken during the June 10th show.)

Guests:  Sean Sullivan, executive director, Maine Brewers’ Guild

Heather Sanborn, president, Maine Brewers’ Guild \ co-owner, Rising Tide Brewery

Lucille Benedict, Ph.D., associate professor of chemistry, University of Southern Maine

GOP Congressional Candidate Mark Holbrookwith Maine Gov. Paul LePage

A Your Vote 2016 interview with First Congressional District Candidate Mark Holbrook.

Tom Ashbrook, host of WBUR/NPR's 'On Point,' shares stories of hosting an award-winning call-in talk show, his career in journalism, and of his varied careers before becoming a journalist.

Click here to visit the On Point website. 

AARP's Scam Jam

Jun 1, 2016

Maine Calling will broadcast live from Spectacular Events in Bangor in conjunction with the AARP Fraud Watch Network to help alert seniors (and others) to identity theft, investment fraud and scams that rob millions of Americans of their hard-earned money every year. It is estimated that in the US, someone’s identity is stolen every two seconds. 


Judy Shaw, Maine Office of Securities

David Leach, Maine Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection

Jane Margesson, AARP Maine

AARP's maine phone number: 866-554-5380

An update on the race for the White House with Colby College’s Tony Corrado and the Wall Street Journal’s Jeanne Cummings 



Tony Corrado, nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and Professor of Government at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, where he teaches courses on American politics and political theory


 Jeanne Cummings, political editor for The Wall Street Journal

Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) is being used successfully to treat those who are addicted to opiates. How and why does it work better than other methods, and who is administering this treatment in Maine?


Dr. Mark Publicker, addiction treatment specialist in private practice and past president of the Northern New England Society of Addiction Medicine

Amanda, a mother recovering from opiate addiction

Dr. Jennifer Smith, DO, North Bridgton Family Practice (part of Bridgton Hospital)

Why are there so few women in engineering, science and tech field?  We'll discuss the root of the problem - and possible solutions - in advance of a AAUW state conference on the issue to be held at Maine Maritime Academy, Castine.


Dr. Kerry Whittaker, Bates College as well as at the Coastal Studies for Girls in Freeport  

Dr.  Dot McLane, AAUW, national office, American Association of University Women

Dr. Elizabeth True, VP of Student Affairs, Maine Maritime Academy

Medical Error

May 13, 2016

A recent study named medical error as the nation's third leading cause of death, behind heart disease and cancer. What does "medical error" include? It can include giving someone the wrong medicine to diagnosing symptoms incorrectly. How can our medical systems try to avoid mistakes and improve outcomes for patients?


Steven Michaud, President, Maine Hospital Association

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, FAAP, Vice President for Clinical Affairs, Director Center for Excellence in Health Innovation, University of New England (UNE)

Disrupt Aging

May 12, 2016

Internationally acclaimed longevity expert Dr. Bill Thomas and Lori Parham explain how what our culture tells us about aging – that it will change us against our will, and for the worse - is wrong and what we can do about it.  

Guests:  Dr. Bill Thomas, author, entrepreneur, musician, teacher, farmer and physician whose wide-ranging work explores the terrain of human aging. Best known for his health care system innovations, he is the founder of a global non-profit (The Eden Alternative) which works to improve the care provided to older people.