Edgar B. Herwick III

WGBH's Curiosity Desk

Edgar runs WGBH's Curiosity Desk, where he aims to dig a little deeper (and sometimes askew) into topics in the news and looks for answers to questions posed by the world around us. His radio features can be heard on WGBH's Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and he can also be heard regularly with Jim and Margery on Boston Public Radio. His television features can be seen regularly on Greater Boston. Each Friday, he takes 89.7 listeners back in time with his feature, "This Week in Massachusetts History."  

His radio debut came in second grade when he voiced a public service announcement urging drivers to watch out for "him and his friends" walking to and from school. Given the signal strength of WMBT radio in Shenandoah, Pennsylvania and the population density of his native Schuylkill County, it's possible — though not particularly likely — that someone other than his parents heard it. 

After stints as a bartender, photographer and actor — and a 5-year run at the Philadelphia Museum of Art — he joined the WGBH Radio family in 2007. Over the years at WGBH, Edgar has been something of a utility player — hosting live segments, producing features, specials and live music broadcasts; creating web features; and emceeing live events like the Boston Summer Arts Weekend.

He holds degrees in history and communications from Villanova University in Philadelphia and once lost big on an episode of the TV game show "Jeopardy!" Edgar prefers tea over coffee, late nights over early mornings and the Beatles over the Stones (though he's never understood why the Kinks aren't ever included in that conversation). When not at work, he can most likely be found playing, listening to, reading about or dancing to music. 

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News
5:08 pm
Wed January 28, 2015

MBTA Back On Its Feet After Blizzard Shutdown

MBTA were back on the roads on Wednesday morning following a blizzard shutdown.
Credit Edgar B Herwick III / WGBH

Thousands of folks were again moving throughout the region, as the MBTA got back into action Wednesday following a shut down for the blizzard.

As expected, there were some delays and cancelations across all modes of public transportation, but the MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo will take that any day.

Of the more than 100 Orange, Green, Red and Blue line trains running today, only six went disabled during the morning rush. Not bad given the conditions, the age of the system – and the 30-40 year red and orange line trains. 

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Local News
1:05 pm
Tue January 27, 2015

Utility Scorecard: What Works, What Doesn't, And What To Do

UPDATE 5:10PM: Some 29,000 area residents are still without power this evening, mainly along the coast and on Cape Cod. The entire island of Nantucket has essentially been without power all day, with hospitals and shelters there being serviced by generators. National grid, which provides electricity to most of the island has managed to restore power to some areas, but a spokesman for the company says that at this hour, Nantucket still faces a

potentially lengthy restoration. 

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
10:08 am
Mon January 26, 2015

Lynn Publisher Scores Making Super Bowl Programs

The program for Super Bowl XLIX
Edgar B. Herwick III WGBH News

This year, the team representing the AFC on the field in Super Bowl XLIX won't be the only part of the big game that hails from New England. A local publishing company's work will be in the hands of thousands of fans at the stadium on Super Bowl Sunday.

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
10:25 am
Fri January 23, 2015

The Original WiFi, Born On Cape Cod In 1903

Guglielmo Marconi works a device similar to the one he used to transmit the first wireless signal across the Atlantic Ocean.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

    

It couldn't be more commonplace today, but the idea that a radio signal could be both sent through the air — and received — was an astounding technological achievement. And a crucial step towards accomplishing it was taken right here in the Bay State.

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CURIOSITY DESK
2:44 pm
Fri January 16, 2015

This Week In History: The Great Molasses Flood Drowns Boston's North End

Firemen standing in thick molasses after the disaster
Credit Boston Public Library

First, let's get our heads around Boston's North End in the early 20th century. It was one of the most crowded residential neighborhoods in the whole world in 1919. 

40,000 people in a little over a square mile - four times today's population. And that’s just the residents. It was also one of the country’s biggest commercial ports, said Steve Puleo, author of Dark Tide.
 
"The tank was really plunked down in one of the busiest neighborhoods in all of America," Puleo said.

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Local News
12:02 am
Thu January 15, 2015

Is Boston's Olympic Bid Symptomatic Of An Edifice Complex?

The Boston skyline will soon(ish) change.
Credit Nelson48 / Wikimedia Commons

Developer Richard L. Friedman broke ground Wednesday on his 700-foot tower at 1 Dalton Street in Boston. It’s the tallest skyscraper to be built in town for more than 40 years. When completed, it will be the third tallest building in the city – after the 790-foot John Hancock Tower and the 749-foot Prudential Center. While we all know that size isn’t the only thing that matters, big buildings are certainly one way to gage how a city measures up on the world’s stage.

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CURIOSITY DESK
9:09 am
Wed January 14, 2015

New Ride-Sharing Regulations Are Only The Beginning Of A New Battle

Ride-sharing behemoth Uber will begin sharing anonymized data about every trip that begins or ends in a Boston zip code with city officials.

The move comes as new statewide regulations for ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are set to take effect this week. If it seems like this signals an end to a months-long effort by the city to determine how to best regulate ride-sharing in Boston, or a years-long effort by the taxi industry to shut them down, think again. It's a little more complicated than that. 

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
12:22 pm
Fri January 9, 2015

How Led Zeppelin Got Banned In Boston

Led Zeppelin plays Chicago in 1975, the year the group was banned by Boston Mayor Kevin White from playing in the city.
Credit more19562003 / Wikimedia Commons

On their record-breaking tours in the 1970s, rock band Led Zeppelin earned a reputation for excess and debauchery. One story even has their drummer riding a motorcycle through a hotel corridor. But it wasn't the band — it was their fans — that got them into hot water here in Boston.

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
11:52 am
Fri January 2, 2015

How Massachusetts Helped Launch The Golden Age Of Hollywood

From left, Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, and Louis B. Mayer.
Credit MGM

Much has been made in recent years about Massachusetts' foray into the film industry. Just this year, some 30 major TV and movie projects were made in the Bay State — with stars like Johnny Depp, Vince Vaughn, Naomi Watts and Matthew McConaughey. But in a way, Hollywood is simply coming home.

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Local News
12:53 pm
Wed December 31, 2014

Uber & Lyft Vs. Taxis At MassDOT Hearing

Supporters of taxi, Uber and Lyft drivers filled a hearing at MassDOT.
Credit Edgar B. Herwick III / WGBH News

The public got its first opportunity to weigh in on Gov. Deval Patrick's proposed plan for statewide regulation of new ride-sharing services life Uber and Lyft at a meeting this morning before the Department of Transportation and Registry of Motor Vehicles.

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
9:09 am
Fri December 19, 2014

This Week In History: The First YMCA In The U.S. Is Started In Boston

The YMCA building on Huntington Ave, circa 1920.
Leon H. Abdalian Boston Public Library

The YMCA is probably as well known for the Village People's 1970's disco anthem as it is for its wellness programs and job training services. But the Y has a much deeper story to tell — a story that starts right here in Boston.

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
10:57 am
Thu December 18, 2014

The Christmas Bird Count: The Original Crowdsource

The black-capped chickadee, the state bird of Massachusetts.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Wired Magazine introduced the term "crowdsourcing" to the lexicon in 2006 to describe a generation of new, user-generated websites like Wikipedia. But crowdsourcing was, by then, old hat for ornithologists, who have been using it — to great effect — for well over a century.

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
8:48 am
Fri December 12, 2014

This Week In History: 7 Million Gallons Of Oil Dumped Into Nantucket Waters

The Argo Merchant spills oil off Nantucket in 1976.
Credit NOAA

It's probably not surprising that the two largest oil spills in American history are the Deepwater Horizon disaster in the Gulf Coast and the Exxon Valdez in Alaska. The third largest, however, hit a little closer to home.

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Local News
10:14 am
Wed December 10, 2014

Relief Payments Coming For Tornado-Ravaged Revere

Tornado damage in revere, July 2014.
Credit WGBH News

Heavy rains and high winds swept the region yesterday and for residents in Revere, it was a reminder of the destructive tornado that ripped through their community in July — the effects of which they are still dealing with, five months later.

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
10:19 am
Fri December 5, 2014

Shunned By Churches, African-Americans Built Their Own Meeting House — 208 Years Ago

The African Meeting House on Beacon Hill, circa 1860.

By 1806, Boston already had its fair share of churches, but the modest, brick church that rose over Beacon Hill late that year was unlike anything the city — or America — had ever seen.

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
2:00 pm
Thu December 4, 2014

End Of An Era: Bay State Okays Hold-Open Clips At Self-Serve Gas Stations

Self-serve gas stations just got self-servier.
Credit Illustration: Brendan Lynch

The hands of millions of Massachusetts drivers are about to experience their warmest winter in a generation, and it has nothing to do with climate change — it's thanks to the Massachusetts Department of Fire Safety.

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Local News
5:22 pm
Mon December 1, 2014

Boston Taxi Drivers, Uber, Lyft Face Off At City Council Hearing

Lyft packed the Boston City Council chamber on Monday.
Credit Edgar B Herwick III / WGBH

Outside City Hall on Monday, Boston taxi drivers were making their voices heard. Inside a packed City Council chamber, however, Council President Bill Linehan made it clear that the day's hearing was all about listening. 

"This is about testimony," he told the chamber. "Hearing from all of you and then us gathering this information and coming away with a position. Maybe a regulation, maybe an ordinance."

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
11:49 am
Wed November 26, 2014

Why Most Mass. Restaurants Will Get Around The New FDA Mandate To Post Calorie Info

Boca Grande won't have to post calorie counts, but Chipotle will.
Credit Boca Grande: John Phelan/Wikimedia Commons; Chipotle: proshob/Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced sweeping new regulations Tuesday requiring all chain restaurants to post calorie counts "clearly and conspicuously" by November of next year. The regulations also extend to grocery stores, coffee shops, movie theaters, amusement parks, and other places where people eat — but there are plenty of places in Massachusetts that won't be affected by the new regulations.

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How We Live
3:31 pm
Mon November 24, 2014

VIDEO: Dr. M Sanjayan Explores Man's Impact On The Planet's Wild Spaces And Species

Dr. M. Sanjayan

For his latest PBS series, EARTH A New Wild, emmy-nominated documentary host and scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan traveled to more than 25 countries across all corners of the globe.

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
9:39 am
Fri November 21, 2014

139 Years Of Harvard-Yale Football — With A Bit Of MIT

A streaker, with MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) written on his back, makes his way down the field interrupting the Yale-Harvard college football game during the fourth quarter, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2006 in Boston.
Credit (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)

    

This weekend, the eyes of college football fans throughout the country will be on two teams from local schools that are usually grabbing headlines on the front page rather than the sports page. Harvard University and MIT are both undefeated heading into action tomorrow — and both have plenty on the line. MIT faces a division three playoff matchup with Maine's Hussan University and Harvard squares off with their old nemesis — a rivalry heavily steeped in tradition.

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Local News
5:48 pm
Tue November 18, 2014

Immigration Confrontation: What Are Presidential Executive Orders And How Do They Work?

Credit Mark Skroloba / Flickr Creative Commons

Obama is reportedly poised to sign an executive order that will allow up to 5 million undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation.

The news has set off a firestorm in Washington about whether such action is appropriate use of presidential powers. So, what exactly are executive orders, how often are they used, and for what?

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
10:03 am
Fri November 14, 2014

Hacking The Weather To Make Man-Made Snow — In 1946

Vincent Schaefer watches a snow-cloud being seeded in a lab.
Credit Courtesy GE

 Mother nature wasn't the only one producing snow Friday morning, as this week's low temperatures have allowed ski resorts in the area to start making their first snow of the season, too. That they can, is thanks in part to the work of a General Electric scientist — and his auspicious experiment in the clouds over the Berkshires.

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Politics & Government
8:33 am
Tue November 11, 2014

Judge Apologizes To Coakley After Suggesting Partners Deal Was Politicized

Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, left, and Attorney General Martha Coakley, right.
Credit Edgar B. Herwick III / WGBH News

After five hours of highly detailed — often dry — testimony on the proposed expansion of Partners HealthCare, an unusually spirited exchange erupted between Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders and Attorney General Martha Coakley, whose office has negotiated limits on the deal.

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Politics & Government
2:38 pm
Mon November 10, 2014

Judge Grills Partners, AG's Office On Merger

Credit Flickr, jdlasica

Suffolk Superior Court Judge Janet L. Sanders dove deep this morning into the details of a negotiated antitrust settlement agreement between Attorney General Martha Coakley's office and Partners HealthCare, as Partners seeks to add two hospitals, one on the North Shore and one on the South Shore, to their already expansive statewide network.

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
10:44 am
Fri November 7, 2014

In 1915, Mass. Rejected Giving Women The Vote In A Landslide

This 1915 Boston Journal ad advocated against giving women the vote.

This week Massachusetts voters faced four questions on the statewide ballot, deciding on a range of issues from the fate of casinos to the gas tax. Nearly a century ago, voters faced a single question, and it was a historic one: Should women in Massachusetts be allowed to vote?

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Politics & Government
7:53 am
Wed November 5, 2014

With Question 3 Rejected, A Casino Is Finally In The Cards For Everett

Balloons drop as Everett casino supporters celebrate the rejection of Question 3.
Credit Edgar B. Herwick III / WGBH News

Hundreds of area casino proponents gathered to watch the final chapter in the state's years-long quest to bring expanded gambling to Massachusetts in Everett, where, after yesterday's vote, casino mogul Steve Wynn's five-star resort is now all-systems-go.

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Local News
4:58 pm
Mon November 3, 2014

Red Sox Nation Bids Farewell To Menino

People lined Yawkey Way on Monday to watch Menino's funeral procession.
Credit Edgar B Herwick III / WGBH News

Shortly before 10:45AM, they began emerging from Fenway Park, donning Red Sox caps, signs in hand expressing their thanks to the longest serving mayor in Boston history.  

Tim Zue, Red Sox Vice President of Business Development, stood among the 150 to 200 front office Red Sox employees on Yawkey Way.  Zue said Menino was an enormous fan of the Sox. 

“Came to Fenway Park quite often I think for 30 years he had season tickets,” he said.  “As the procession comes by we just— if he’s watching above we want him to know that we thank him.”

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Local News
7:47 am
Fri October 31, 2014

Hyde Park Mourns Mayor Menino

Reporters wait outside the Menino residence in Hyde Park Thursday.
Credit Edgar B. Herwick III / WGBH News

In his 20 years as mayor, Tom Menino was known for transforming so many of Boston's varied neighborhoods. Yesterday, his own neighborhood of Hyde Park was itself transformed, into a symbol of the city's mourning on the day of his passing.

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THIS WEEK IN HISTORY FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
9:16 am
Fri October 24, 2014

Old Ironsides Celebrates Her 217th Birthday With A Harbor Cruise

On the top deck of the USS Contitution.
Edgar B. Herwick III WGBH News

At precisely 8 a.m., as it does every morning, a single shot rings out into the skies above Charlestown.

The gun on the world’s oldest commissioned war ship still afloat was fired Thursday by one of the U.S. Navy’s newest members, Seaman Apprentice Jacob Harned, just 12 days out of boot camp.

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FROM THE CURIOSITY DESK
1:44 pm
Wed October 22, 2014

Is It Time To Turn The Heat On? Fuel Prices Swing In Both Directions

This week, overnight temperatures in Boston dropped into the 30s for the first time this fall and residents throughout the region reluctantly found themselves facing that age-old autumn question: Is it time to turn the heat on?

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