An Evening with Tom Ashbrook

Nov 28, 2017

Iowa Public Radio welcomed Tom Ashbrook of On Point with Tom Ashbrook to Ames, Iowa on Thursday, November 9. In a public Q & A with Iowa Public Radio's Morning Edition host Clay Masters, Ashbrook discussed growing up on a small farm in Illinois, working as a foreign correspondent, and joining NPR following the attacks of September 11. 

Ashbrook, known for his hard-hitting questions and a deep understanding of what's going on in the world, hosts two hour-long live radio shows five days a week. 

"I'm not trying to prove any particular point, I'm not trying to justify any preconceived ideology," said Ashbrook. "I'm trying, along with my expert guests, and along with my listeners and callers to get to what's really and truly going on."

Before attending Yale, and later working in Asia for ten years, Ashbrook was raised in rural Illinois, which he would jokingly describe as "sort of Amish with tractors." Following the attacks of September 11, WBUR asked Ashbrook to be on-air during emergency coverage.

"Now it's 16 years later and I have fallen so deeply in love with the medium of radio," said Ashbrook.

During the Q & A, Ashbrook shared memorable stories from his years in radio, such as when Spike Lee arrived 20 minutes late to a live radio show, as well as a behind-the-scenes glimpse of preparing for a show.

"Every night, and this is the hard part, it's the discipline part... I actually do the work," said Ashbrook. "I immerse myself in all the research that my producers have done, so that when I come to the show the next morning I am well-versed in it."

Ames was the last stop on On Point's 2017 National Listening Tour. Ashbrook said the tour has allowed him to feel close to the country, see people face-to-face, and hear what people are thinking. 

"We stay informed and we pay attention to what people seem to respond to," said Ashbrook. "We look for things that seem like, 'Wow, that's interesting.'"