Alex Keefe

Local Host, All Things Considered/Reporter

Alex is VPR's local All Things Considered host. He comes to Vermont from WBEZ-FM in Chicago, where he spent nearly five years, most recently as a political reporter. He's covered everything from federal corruption trials, to Illinois' worst-in-the-nation public pension crisis, to the personalities who voice campaign attack ads. He has a particular interest in municipal finance, LGBTQ rights and gun rights.

Alex's feature reporting contributed to WBEZ winning a national Edward R. Murrow Award for Overall Excellence in 2014. His stories on Illinois' pension troubles have been recognized by the Illinois Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. He's also been recognized by Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, and he was named Best Newswriter by the Illinois AP in 2011 and 2013.

Alex got his start in journalism at WVIK-FM in Rock Island, Ill., as a reporter and anchor, and he has also worked with Capitol News Connection covering Congress in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and he studied fiction writing at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill.

An Illinois native, Alex is the proud son of former longtime Chicago radio newsman Barry Keefe, who taught him everything he knows about the family business. Alex and his wife live in Burlington with their mutt, Sallie.

Ways to Connect

Seth Wenig / AP

The long-time speaker of the New York State Assembly returned to Albany today for the first time since he was arrested on federal corruption charges last week.

Government prosecutors say Speaker Sheldon Silver took nearly $4 million in bribes and kickbacks, in exchange for using his political clout to direct money and policy out of Albany.

Carolyn Kaster / AP

There’s a big focus on the middle class and the economy ahead of President Obama’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening. But there’s another issue Obama is expected to talk about that’s particularly relevant to Vermont: expanding high-speed Internet access, especially to rural areas that don’t attract big telecom companies.

Library of Congress

A new historical society is forming in Vermont, with a focus on the bloody fight for Irish independence.

The Fenian Historical Society had its first meeting Sunday in Burlington.

Annie Russell / VPR

Try to picture a “help wanted” ad that reads something like this:

“Large, financially ailing employer seeks part-time workers to solve tough problems in a partisan environment - with very little job security.”

So ... are you going to apply?

J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Efforts to clean up Lake Champlain are about to get a big boost from the federal government. Today, Jason Weller, chief of the United States Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service, visited Montpelier to announce that the state will be getting $16 million over the next five years.

Jim Cole / AP

Over the past week, state lawmakers across northern New England have been rolling up their sleeves and getting to work to start their 2015 sessions.

On Monday we learned about the major issues facing New York lawmakers; today we hear from Concord, where lawmakers in New Hampshire’s general court have their work cut out for them. 

John Minchillo / AP

As Gov. Andrew Cuomo mourns the loss of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, lawmakers are getting to work in Albany for the start of the 2015 legislative session. The Legislature convened last week for its six-month session and already there’s been tragedy and scandal on top of the usual load of hard work.

Dave Lucas, capital region bureau chief for Northeast Public Radio, joined Alex Keefe to talk about the major issues in Albany this season.

The media community has been reeling since gunmen attacked the French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo this week. Twelve people were killed at the magazine's office in Paris. Four of them were cartoonists.

The publication had reportedly received threats of violence in the past - particularly for cartoons about Islam and the prophet Muhammed. The killings have sparked an international debate about satire and free speech.

Vermont's Cartoonist Laureate Ed Koren, whose work has appeared for decades in The New Yorker, joined VPR to reflect on the tragedy.

 

Angela Evancie / VPR

This morning, state lawmakers re-elected Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin to a third term in office. That’s likely no surprise to many political observers, as the Vermont Legislature is controlled by Democrats.

But what has been surprising is how close Republican Scott Milne came to winning that race. Republicans also picked up seats in the Legislature in November, after 14 years of losing ground there.

It’s been a wild ride for the Vermont State Republican Party over the last two months and the party’s Chairman, David Sunderland, joined VPR to talk about what’s next. 

With falling ad revenues and declining circulation, it’s become a tough time to be a leader in the American newspaper business. Vermont’s largest daily, the Burlington Free Press, hasn’t been immune to those issues.

On Tuesday, the paper announced it has a new president and publisher to help guide it through a variety of transitions. Al Getler is a veteran of the newspaper business and most recently worked with several publications in Massachusetts.

Getler joined VPR’s Alex Keefe to talk about the future of the Free Press.

Angela Evancie / VPR

It's safe to say that Vermont lawmakers have a list of unenviable tasks waiting for them when they return to Montpelier on Wednesday. There's that $100 million projected budget gap they'll have to close, the rising education property taxes they want to reign in, and let's not forget that little business about electing a governor.

Neal Goswami, the Montpelier bureau chief for the Vermont Press Bureau, helps sort through the to-do list for the 2015 legislative session.

Angela Evancie / VPR

When the Vermont Legislature reconvenes early next week, the first order of business will be to do something that’s usually left to voters – choosing the state’s next governor.

AP Photo/Entergy

On Dec. 29, 2014,  workers at the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station cut off the flow of electricity to the grid. That marks the end of power generation for the plant after more than 42 years.

Vermont Yankee has been a big story during that time - politically, economically and environmentally.

VPR's Alex Keefe discussed the plant's history with Steve Terry, a reporter for the Rutland Herald in the 1960s, and later an executive at Green Mountain Power.

Alex Keefe / VPR

Barring a holiday thaw, this is the time of year when the Green Mountain National Forest sports gorgeous, snowy mountains and heavy, snow-bowed pine trees.

And for $5, you can head into these woods and procure your own Christmas tree. Forester Dun Cochrane showed VPR the ropes – er, garlands.  

It’s now been two months since some 1,700 union workers at FairPoint Communications walked off the job.

The unions and the company are at an impasse over changes FairPoint management wants to make to workers' pensions, health benefits and work rules. Right now, there's no end to the strike in sight.

Angela Evancie / VPR

The prospect of single-payer health care in Vermont is no more, at least for now.

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced Wednesday that he is backing away from his signature policy push that would have made Vermont the first state in the nation with a publicly financed health care system overseen by state government. The governor now says that the taxes required to pay for such a system would simply be too much for Vermont to bear.

Gov. Shumlin came to the VPR studios to talk with host Alex Keefe about his decision and what comes next.

Jill Zuckman / AP

Sen. Patrick Leahy was present when American contractor Alan Gross was released from a prison in Cuba Wednesday after being held there for five years. The release came as President Obama announced plans to normalize diplomatic relations with Cuba.

Taylor Dobbs / VPR

A group of about 50 medical students at the University of Vermont staged a "die-in" Monday to show solidarity with similar actions across the U.S., and to raise awareness of race issues.

The students who organized the demonstration said it wasn't outside of their purview to weigh in on the national conversation on racial issues since this summer's events in Ferguson, Missouri. The goal, the students said, was to spark discussions in medical schools around the U.S. about the racial discrimination that "kills, sickens and provides inadequate care."

Alex Proimos / Flickr

Within the past three weeks, adjunct professors at three educational institutions in Vermont have announced that they've voted to organize unions. Adjuncts at St. Michael’s College, Burlington College and Champlain College all say they want better pay, more benefits and stable working conditions.

Sally McCay / University of Vermont

Award-winning producer John Kilik, a University of Vermont alumnus, is known for big projects including Babel, Hunger Games and several Spike Lee films. His newest film, Foxcatcher, is a chilling biographical drama that tells the story of Olympic wrestling champion Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum, and his relationship with wealthy, disturbed coach John du Pont, played by Steve Carell.

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