Tag Archives: WSHU

Roundup: WestportREADS, Orphenians Sing, Playhouse Plays …

For over 20 years, the Westport Library has offered one book for the entire community to read — and celebrate — together.

This year’s WestportREADS selection is “Firekeeper’s Daughter.” Angeline Boulley’s young adult novel features 18-year-old Daunis Fontaine, a Native teen who must navigate family tragedy, new relationships, and an FBI investigation to root out the corruption in her community.

The author will deliver a keynote address on February 16, in the Trefz Forum. Events leading up to her appearance include:

  • PageTurners Book Club discussion (January 17, 11 a.m., Westport Library)
  • WestportREADS skating afternoon (January 21, 1 to 5 p.m., Westport PAL Longshore rink)
  • Healing Legacy Trauma (February 1, 7 p.m., Westport Library).
  • WestportREADS book discussion (February 2, 7 p.m., Westport Library).

More events will be announced soon.

Boulley is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan. She served as her tribe’s education director, and assistant executive director and on the board of regents at Bay Mills Community College before becoming director for the Office of Indian Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

At the age of 54, she recently published her first novel.

Angeline Boulley (Photo/Marcella Hadden)

“Firekeeper’s Daughter” is a #1 New York Times bestseller, and a Reese Witherspoon Hello Sunshine Book Club YA Pick. It is being adapted by Netflix for TV with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Ground.

Copies of the book are available for borrowing now at the Library. It is also available as an e-book and audiobook. For more information on WestportREADS, click here.


A longstanding Westport Rotary Club tradition returned yesterday. The Staples High School Orphenians performed a holiday show.

The half-hour  a cappella concert was held in the acoustically resonant sanctuary of Green’s Farms Congregational Church. From “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairies” to “Silent Night,” it was a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays.

Conductor Luke Rosenberg leads the Orphenians at the Westport Rotary Club holiday show, in Green’s Farms Church. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)


Mark Yurkiw writes:

“Yesterday was the last day to donate equipment for a shipment to Ukraine. The response was fantastic. Three more generators showed up, and a dozen sleeping bags, and more.

“But yesterday I got a message that the shipping departure date is postponed until next Wednesday.

“There were many people who wanted to donate but couldn’t do it in time. They now have one more week.”

Donations can be brought to 190 Cross Highway and left by the barn. For questions or pickup arrangements, call Mark: 646-873-0050.

Donations for Ukraine — in the country’s familiar blue and yellow colors.


“06880” is “where Westport meets the world.”

Lake Gallery is where talented local photographers show stunning large-scale images, taken from around the world.

Westporters Ron Lake and Nancy Breakstone host an opening reception this Friday (December 16, 6 to 8 p.m., 33 Elm Street) of their work.

This is Ron’s second gallery, after opening Focus in 2020 in Woodstock, Vermont. Nancy has curated shows at Earthplace, the Carriage Barn in New Canaan and Rene Soto Gallery in Norwalk.

(Photo/Nancy Breakstone)


When COVID shut the Westport Country Playhouse, they reached audiences with a new/old idea: Playhouse Radio Theater.

The curtain has risen again. But the innovative series continues.

Next up: a holiday audio play. “A Merry Little Christmas Carol” — with original music and clever sound effects — airs on WSHU on Christmas Eve (December 24, 6:06 p.m. following the news). It will be rebroadcast Christmas Day (December 25, 1:06 p.m.).

Click here for the livestream. Click here for frequencies and locations. Click here for the link via the Playhouse website (available through January 1).

“A Merry Little Christmas Carol” is written and directed by Mark Shanahan, adapted from his play of the same name, and based on “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. Shanahan is curator of Playhouse Radio Theater, in addition to curating the Playhouse Script in Hand play reading series.

WCP artistic director Mark Lamos narrates, with noted Playhouse actors like Paxton Whitehead (Scrooge). Running time is 2 hours.

Bah, humbug!


Longtime Westport Public Schools director of personnel Nancy Bonvini died peacefully last week. She was 88, and lived in Fairfield.

Following her retirement in 1999, she volunteered at Black Rock School, and was a tutor at Mercy Learning Center.

She enjoyed listening to good music, was an avid reader, and enjoyed time by Long Island Sound and surrounded by nature.

A service will be held tomorrow (Thursday, December 15, 11 a.m. Spear-Miller Funeral Home, 39 South Benson Road, Fairfield). Interment will follow in St. Michael’s Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, friends may consider a donation in Nancy’s memory to Mercy Learning Center, 637 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.


An almost-winter day showcases Westport’s stark beauty, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature. This beach is on Saugatuck Shores.

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)


And finally … on this day in 1782, the Montgolfier brothers first flew an unmanned hot air balloon in France. It floated nearly 1.6 miles.

(“06880” is seldom filled with hot air. Please click here to support your hyper-local blog. Thank you!)




The Amazing Wy-Master: The Sequel

Last fall, “06880” reported on Wyatt Davis. “The Wy-master” — as he calls himself — has cerebral palsy. He speaks only through a computer — but that doesn’t stop him from hosting a weekly show on Staples radio station WWPT- FM.

Each show has a special theme. Wyatt picks it, and the music — and introduces every song.

Today WSHU — the NPR station based at Sacred Heart University — took note of Wyatt’s accomplishments. Listening to it (click here) might be the best 4 minutes you’ll spend today.

And then — from 12:30-1:30 this afternoon (Tuesday, May 1) — click here to tune in to 90.3 FM, and hear the Wy-master live.

Wyatt Davis, at the WWPT-FM controls.

Mark Herz’s Murrow

To many Americans, Edward R. Murrow is a vague name — a pioneering journalist or something.

To Mark Herz, he’s a professional inspiration — and the name on an award that Herz just won.

Herz — a Staples graduate, WSHU Public Radio reporter and local host of “All Things Considered” — has won a prestigious 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for a story called “Policing the Mentally Ill.”

Mark Herz (left) accepts his Edward R. Murrow Award from "60 Minutes" correspondent Bob Simon.

The honor — bestowed by the Radio Television Digital News Association — came in the Audio News Series category.

Herz’s 2-part story explored how police are trained to deal with mentally ill people.  The 1st piece took listeners to a session where officers experience what it’s like to hear auditory hallucinations.  The 2nd brought listeners on patrol with a charismatic New Haven officer, who put his training into practice.

The sounds and voices were perfect for radio, Herz says.  The piece also benefited from Herz’s own background:  While in school, he studied psychiatry.

Before he became a cop, Ray Hassett — the man Herz rode with — was an actor.  “He’s streetwise and gruff,” Herz says.  “He can be tough and intimidating when he has to.”

Because Hassett commented so skillfully on his work with mentally ill people, Herz decided to structure the piece without narration.  “That takes a lot more work,” the reporter pointed out.  “But it turned out to be a great package.”

His 1st national award was “extremely gratifying,” Herz says.

“Journalism is like a 2nd life for me.  It’s nice to get this kind of validation.”

(This is not Mark Herz’s only award this year.  He earned 2 first prizes from the Connecticut Associated Press Broadcasters Association, for “Policing the Mentally Ill” and “Yale Carillon.”)

Loving The Library

It may be the library’s finest hour day week.

With thousands of Westporters powerless, the Public Library has become Westport’s community center.  It’s our warming hut, meeting place, town square, movie theater, food court, bathroom — and comfort zone — all at once.

And all the time.

Maxine Bleiweis smiles, while hosting thousands of displaced Westporters.

Earlier this morning Maxine Bleiweis — the indefatigable director — paused during her rounds of the jam-packed building to recall a few highlights of the past few days.  Her own Black Rock home lacks power, so she knows what the huddled masses in every nook and cranny of her library are going through.

“Starting on Sunday, parents and teenagers have come in together — happily,” she says.  “There’s a real feeling of ‘we’re all in this together.'”

Since then, patrons have availed themselves of every library service — and invented their own.  Women blow dry their hair in the restroom.  Men shave.

The AV Center is less popular than usual — not surprisingly, because a DVD without power is useless.  Instead, people grab books — and read them right on the floor.

Others play chess or Scrabble.  Westporters who haven’t seen each other in years reconnect, and share trees-in-houses-and-on-cars stories.

Children’s librarians pop in movie after movie.  One of the most popular:  “Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs.”

Custodians ventured out to buy extra power strips for patrons.  A staff member brought oranges for colleagues.

Stacey Landowne, daughter Claudia and son Will -- armed with laptops, books, food and coffee -- settle in for Day 3 at the library.

Yesterday, around 4 p.m. — the moment youngsters were supposed to find out if school was canceled today — wireless usage hit its peak.  Maxine was thrilled.

“I’ve never seen so many teenagers here — not even during exam time,” she marvels.  “They were all over the place.  It was great!”

Taking cues from their director, the staff never stops smiling.  They answer the same questions over and over — “Is the cafe open?”  “Can I get internet access?”  “Do you have plugs?” — as pleasantly as if they’ve never heard them before.

“Years ago, I was saying libraries need to be ‘warm and wired,'” Maxine says.  “Literally, that’s what we’ve been since Saturday.”

The Westport Library, she notes, is a “familiar, secure, safe, welcoming space.  You can’t find that in a hotel.  This is community at its best.”

(WSHU’s Craig Lemoult reported on the Westport Library’s response to the storm yesterday afternoon.  Click here to listen.)