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

Egypt Today

Apr 5, 2016

Since the Arab spring, Egyptians have seen two presidents forced out of office.  Today, the military is in charge and there are few  signs of a democratic future. The latest on current events in Egypt.


Guests:  Ali Ahmida, Professor of Political Science at the University of New England. He is the author of Forgotten Voices: Power and Agency in Colonial and Postcolonial Libya and the editor of Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture, and Politics.


Apr 4, 2016

Gardening tips as we get ready for gardening season.

Guests:  William Cullina, Executive Director of the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

Barbara Murphy, a gardening expert with over twenty years of experience teaching the master gardener course.

A conversation about why Maine is home to so many great craft breweries.  And the science behind making a great IPA.  

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

What's in store for Maine air travelers in the future.  How the proposed privatization of the air traffic control system might affect Maine, why changes in the airplane industry affect flights available at Maine airports, how the Portland Jetport plans to expand over the next twenty years... and more.

Guests:  Paul Bradbury, Airport Director, Portland Jetport

Scott Wardwell, Airport Director, Northern Maine Regional Airport

Tony Caruso, Airport Director, Bangor International Airport

The latest advances in veterinary care and answers to your dog, cat and other critter questions.

Guests:  Dr. Ezra Steinberg, surgeon, Maine Veterinary Medical Center 

Dr. Katie Roberts, Associate Veterinarian, Biddeford Animal Hospital

Dr. Marc Ouellette, Casco Bay Veterinary Hospital

Maine’s Senior Senator joins us to discuss the latest news out of Washington.

Guest: Susan Collins was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996.

We discuss the latest news out of Brussels, the president's trip to Cuba, and their impact on the Race for the White House.

Guests:  Former U.S. Senator George Mitchell

Former U.S. Ambassador Laurence Pope

The host of the popular PBS Show Rick Steves' Travel joins us to talk about where considering visiting if traveling abroad this year.

Who’s up and who’s down after voters go to the polls in Ohio and Florida (and North Carolina, Illinois, Missouri).

Guests: Amy Walters, National Editor of The Cook Political Report where she provides analysis of the issues, trends and events that shape the political environment.  She is a graduate of Colby College.

Ron Schmidt, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Southern Maine.

We examine the refugee crisis in Syria as it enters its 6th year. 


Guests:  Professor Ali Ahmida, founding Chair (2000 – 2014) of the Department of Political Science at the University of New England.  

  Maple J. Razsa, Associate Professor, Global Studies Program, Colby College

  Holly Frew, CARE USA Emergency Communications Manager



Shakespeare in 2016

Mar 10, 2016

One of the most treasured books in all of literature, Shakespeare's first folio, is currently on display at the Portland Public Library.  We'll discuss the history of the folio... what it's like to perform Shakespeare on stage... and why the work of the Bard still resonates today.

Guests:  Sarah Campbell, executive director of the Portland Public Library

Dawn McAndrews, executive director of the Monmouth Theatre

Ben Bertram, Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine

Our two favorite automotive experts return to talk car sales, the latest on the VW emissions scandal, and to answer your car-care questions.  We’ll also hear from David Leach with the Maine Bureau of Consumer Protection.  He just wrote the “Downeast Common Sense Guide: Automobile Buying and Financing.”

Guests: Jamie Page Deaton, US Auto Editor, US News & World Reports. 

John Paul, AAA Master Mechanic and Manager of Public Affairs for Southern New England AAA.

David Leach, Maine Bureau of Consumer Protection

Body Image

Mar 7, 2016

The role of media, social media, photoshop, etc. in perpetuating negative body images and eating disorders at increasingly younger ages.

Guests:  Dr. Lisa Belisle, Family Physician, Host of LoveMaineRadio

  Andrea King, Owner, Aristelle

  Sarah Watkins, Visiting Associate Professor of History, Colby College

In the past twenty five years, Maine has gone from a place where it was impossible to find a latte, to a hot spot for high-end sustainably-sourced coffee.  What is the local and global impact of the coffee industry here and  what are the challenges of running a coffee shop in a world of Starbucks?

Guests:  Mary Allen Lindemann, Founder, Coffee by Design, Portland 

Bill Kitchen, Director of Development and Coffee Culturist for Bold Coast Coffee in East Machias

Click here to visit Coffee by Design website

After the votes on Super Tuesday are counted, we'll discuss who's up, who's down, who's out, and what's next in the race for the White House.


Guests:  Jeanne Cummings, Political Editor for the Wall Street Journal

Anthony Corrado, Professor of Government at Colby College and nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution.