The career of Jared Bowen ’98 is one that most aspiring broadcast journalists dream of, but the WGBH television and radio reporter says he never expected the double honor bestowed upon him in recent weeks.
Not only is Bowen hosting a new weekly TV show called Open Studio, which launches February 8 and focuses on the Boston and national arts scenes; he has also been chosen for a prestigious Commonwealth Award for his outstanding arts coverage.
“I will be very honest…it made me pause,” Bowen said of the honor. “I was completely baffled and humbled to be getting this award, with a history of it being given to [historian] David McCullough and [musician] Yo-Yo Ma.”
Bowen is Boston’s only full–time television arts reporter and is being recognized for his “exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities, and sciences” by the Massachusetts Cultural Council at a State House ceremony on February 19. Also receiving the award is actor and Massachusetts native Olympia Dukakis.
Bowen’s accomplishments come at a time when Boston’s TV news stations, except for PBS affiliate WGBH, have all but stopped covering the local arts scene—right when Bowen says it is expanding.
“These arts organizations are starving for ways to get their message out,” Bowen said. “The frustration here is we have this arts community that is expanding so robustly. We have the most amazing content that is drawing people from New York, especially to shows at the Huntington Theatre and the A.R.T. (American Repertory Theater), yet the coverage is diminishing.”
“I understand it’s about economics,” Bowen said of the lack of coverage, “but we [at WGBH] are in a position where we can really go forward and spotlight the arts.”
Bowen said there is an increasing number of international theater companies arriving in Boston and credits some of that to ArtsEmerson.
“I am so thrilled with what ArtsEmerson has done to the theater community here,” he said. “Just when you think you’ve seen everything…you have [executive director] Rob Orchard come in and show us all the things that you’re missing.”
Bowen has reported for the WGBH’s nightly news program Greater Boston since 2002; and also reports for WGBH-FM, an NPR affiliate.
In Open Studio, Bowen will continue reporting on the Boston arts scene, but will focus on stories of national appeal. Many of his segments will be aired on PBS stations across the country.
The premiere episode will feature the works of African American artist and Boston native John Wilson, which are on display at the Danforth Museum in Framingham and “trace a complex trajectory of the changing artistic and social landscape over the course of the last century,” according to the museum.
The episode will also include a profile of fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg; Joe Powers, a musician pushing boundaries with his harmonica; and a performance by poet Ed Lee Bok, who drafted, among other works, Ode to Bruce Lee.
Bowen, a native of Upton, Massachusetts, graduated from Emerson with a broadcast journalism degree in 1998. He won several Associated Press awards while working at Emerson’s WERS-FM, and held fellowships at the Poynter Institute and Dateline NBC.