VPR's Commentators Brunch: 10 Years Of Thoughtful Essays

Jul 6, 2016

If you count years, the Commentator Brunch just reached its 10th anniversary.

But it turns out that 11 brunches were held in those 10 years, beginning in 2006 at Rutland’s Cortina Inn, exploring the theme, "An Opinionated Brunch." After that, the Brunch traveled to Lake Morey Resort, the Stoweflake Inn and the Essex Resort, with Sugarbush, the Hanover Inn and the Basin Harbor Club rounding out the list of locations around the listening area.

Brunch audiences average about 200. So if you add 25 commentators to each event and multiply by 11, it’s safe to say that over the years, the brunch has hosted at least 2,500 people. Ty Robertson produces the brunch as a way to thank VPR’s members of the Producers Circle, the Broadcasters Club and the Philips Legacy Society.

Preparations begin soon after the first of the year with a list of all commentators who’ve been active during the previous 12 months or so. The names on the list are ranked according to commentary volume. That is, those commentators who’ve accumulated the most air time in the designated period are invited to participate in the brunch first. Then we work our way down the list until we reach our limit of 25 or so presenters. (We have to be selective or the brunch would last all night!). So every brunch is really just a sampler of the Commentary Series as a whole.

Every year is different because the commentary list itself is always changing as we add new voices and say goodbye to others. At the brunch we celebrate original writing that blends elements of community identity, creativity, storytelling and public service. We try to pick themes with lots of potential, like, "The Long Haul," "Picture This," "When Worlds Collide," and the latest, "Was THAT So Difficult?" Responses are funny, surprising, provocative, poignant, personal and always original. Brunches are recorded so we can select a few representative pieces for later broadcast. The Commentator Brunch, like the series itself, is storytelling on a public service mission.

Enjoy listening to the 2016 Commentators Brunch.