headshot

BARRY BERNSON

bgbernson@gmail.com

ph. 502-314-3108

Biography

Barry Bernson, author of "Bernson's Corner: A Reporter's Notebook" (Butler Books, 2012) began his journalism career in radio and newspapers in 1964 in his home town of Pompton Lakes, NJ.

He is a 1969 journalism graduate of the University of Iowa. In 1969, he moved to Louisville as a radio news anchor for the old WAVE-970. From there he moved to WAVE-3 television, in 1971 developing his "on-the-road" human interest feature, "WAVE Country."

Barry moved to Chicago in 1976, as feature reporter and movie critic for WMAQ, the NBC-owned station. He also became a leading correspondent for "NBC News Overnight" with Linda Ellerbe and Lloyd Dobyns.

He returned to Louisville in 1985, continuing on the features beat for WHAS-11 with his series "Bernson's Corner." In 1992, Barry and Rachel Platt premiered Louisville's top-rated morning news program, "Good Morning Kentuckiana."

Barry joined WDRB in October 2003, anchoring "Fox in the Morning" with Candyce Clifft until September 2011.

He has been awarded six Ohio Valley Region EMMY awards, and was voted "Best Morning Host" in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2011 by the readers of Louisville Magazine. He is also a multiple winner in the features category of the Metro Louisville Journalism Awards, and has won "Best Feature" honors from the Associated Press in Kentucky, Indiana and Illinois.

In 2003, Barry was named the nation's best narrator of Talking Books (non-fiction) by the American Foundation for the Blind, for work he has done for the Library of Congress through Louisville's American Printing House for the Blind. Barry has narrated more than 600 audio books since 1971.

Barry is the father of two daughters, Mara White and Robbyn McClain. He is married to Andrea Bernson, a pianist and teacher. The Bernsons live in New Albany, IN.

Media

Audio Samples

Click here to download my Audiobook sample in .MP3 format.


Click here to download my Foreign Language Demo in .WAV format.


Click here to download my Multiple Character Dialogue Demo in .MP3 format.


Video Narration

Excerpt from "Kentucky At War," a production of Creation Films of Louisville, commissioned by KET.




Excerpt from "Gateway to Knowledge,"a production of The American Printing House for the Blind



Festival of Trees & Lights Video


Writing
QUEST FOR ULTIMATE LOBSTER ROLL LEADS TO MAINE

by Barry Bernson

Special to the Courier-Journal

PORTLAND, ME.--You've got to love a state that posts yellow signs along an Interstate highway reading:

WATCH OUT

FOR MOOSE

IN ROADWAY

And there's more to love in Maine: the picturesque rockbound seacoast and the L.L. Bean "mother store" in Freeport, which has spawned a virtual mall of factory outlet stores within a few blocks.

But my mission was to seek the Holy Grail: Maine's best lobster roll, a sacred marriage of grilled hot-dog bun and chunks of an entire freshly cooked lobster nestled within, kind of a lobster salad you can hold in your hand.

And 2012, it turns out, has been one of the greatest windows of opportunity ever. According to the website www.foodrepublic.com, lobsters are flooding the market:

"Maine lobstermen have noticed the price of lobster creeping lower and lower ... the price is down to $1.35 (a pound) this year after careful conservation and excellent lobster weather (have led to) a massive lobster surplus. This isn't the first year of the lobster glut, but it's certainly the worst for the luxury crustacean industry."

Or the best year, for a seeker of the Grail ...

First stop: the Portland Lobster Co., on Commercial Street in the city's thriving restored downtown district. The place features funky tables on a pier overlooking the harbor, heavy-metal rock on the sound system, and a $15.99 lobster roll (lightly tossed with mayonnaise, with lettuce garnish and French fries). I chose a hoppy, locally brewed Peak Organic IPA ($4.25 a pint) as accompaniment.

Next: about 30 minutes northeast to Brunswick, home of Bowdoin College. It's a challenge to find Libby's. It is not a restaurant; it's a modest convenience store on a side street, but it's certainly worth getting lost.

The place is run by a real lobsterman, Dan Libby, and his wife, Tina. The lobster rolls come in three sizes ($9.50, $13.50 and $18.50). I had a medium, with a Diet Coke, at a picnic table under a maple tree next to the parking lot. It was divine.

To get to Boothbay Harbor, another hour away, one must travel U.S. Route 1 through Wiscasset, home of the legendary lobster roll at Red's Eats. Traffic slows to a crawl in front of Red's. I saw tourists standing in line for an hour or more to sample the lobster roll at this wooden shack (made famous a few years ago by a New York Times article). Locals confided Red's lobster roll was really no better than what you find at dozens of other Maine places, so we drove on.

The Lobster Dock in Boothbay Harbor offers lobster rolls two ways: hot (drizzled in melted butter) or cold (the traditional version with mayo). Each is $15.95. After ordering at the window, I settled at a picnic table in the September sunshine at the harbor's edge, listened to Glenn Miller over the loudspeaker and consumed an excellent roll (cold), with an icy mug of local Landshark lager.

Last stop: the scene of my very first lobster roll, on a trip with my parents in 1995 -- Billy's Chowder House in Wells, Maine.

Billy's sits on wooden stilts over a tidal marsh with seagulls soaring overhead.

Maybe it was flavored with the fond memories of my mom and dad, both since passed on, but this was the best lobster roll I tasted. It cost $19.95 and, with a Longtrail IPA lager on draft, was worth every nickel.

I flashed on a scene from the 1996 movie "The Big Night," in which a diner takes one bite of a fabulous dish, bolts to his feet and confronts the chef. "I should kill you," mutters the man. "This is so (blank)ing good, I should kill you!"

(I should mention, though, that my wife, Andrea, took advantage of the incredible "lunch special" at Billy's: an entire lobster cooked in the shell, with two sides, for a mere $12.95.)

For my money, you can't find a better time to visit Maine than September -- summer tourists have mostly left, the autumn colors haven't yet attracted hordes of leaf-viewers, and the lobster (or "lawbstah," as Mainers pronounce it) is abundant and delicious.

Hey, we did our best to reduce the 2012 lobster glut! (You're welcome, Maine crustacean industry.)


Barry Bernson retired from Louisville TV news in 2011. His memoir/DVD, "Bernson's Corner: A Reporter's Notebook," is currently available at local bookstores, and online at www.butlerbooks.com.)

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.

Links

Authors

A partial list of authors whom I've narrated.

  • Nelson Algren
  • Hugh Ambrose
  • Kingsley Amis
  • Marty Appel
  • F. Lee Bailey
  • J.G. Ballard
  • Dave Barry
  • Ted Bell
  • Roy Blount
  • William Peter Blatty
  • Anthony Boucher
  • T. Coraghessan Boyle
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Jimmy Breslin
  • Tom Brokaw
  • Michael Chabon
  • John Cheever
  • Agatha Christie
  • Arthur C. Clarke
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Douglas Coupland
  • David Crosby
  • Junot Diaz
  • Christopher Dodd
  • Dominick Dunne
  • Bob Dylan
  • Roger Ebert
  • David Eisenhower
  • Joe Eszterhas
  • Richard Paul Evans
  • Richard Farina
  • Ian Fleming
  • Al Franken
  • Bruce Jay Friedman
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Frank Gilbreth
  • Todd Gitlin
  • Spalding Gray
  • Peter Guralnick
  • David Halberstam
  • Sam Harris
  • Harry Harrison
  • Robert Heinlein
  • John Hersey
  • Carl Hiassen
  • Charles Higham
  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Harry Kemelman
  • Thomas Keneally
  • Larry King
  • Henry Kissinger
  • Joe Klein
  • Charles Kuralt
  • John Le Carre
  • Jonathan Lethem
  • Mark Levin
  • Bobbie Ann Mason
  • Dennis Miller
  • Michael Moore
  • Toni Morrison
  • Kenzaburo Oe
  • P.J. O’Rourke
  • Tim Page
  • Frederick Pohl
  • Jody Powell
  • Al Roker
  • Andy Rooney
  • Henry Roth
  • Philip Roth
  • Mike Royko
  • Oliver Sacks
  • William Safire
  • Carl Sandburg
  • John Sandford
  • Sydney Schanberg
  • Richard Schickel
  • Tom Shales
  • William L. Shirer
  • Gary Shteyngart
  • Irving Stone
  • William Styron
  • Peter Taylor
  • Studs Terkel
  • Robert Traver
  • Calvin Trillin
  • Leon Uris
  • Jesse Ventura
  • Kurt Vonnegut
  • David Foster Wallace
  • Joseph Wambaugh
  • Robert Penn Warren
  • Donald E. Westlake
  • P.G. Wodehouse
  • Larry Woiwode
  • Tom Wolfe
  • Bob Woodward
  • Howard Zinn

Photos

Reviews

BERNSON REPORTS HIS OWN STORY

Book Review

by Gary Roedemeier

I don't know if this is a book review or a movie review; I do know, if you pay the $25, you get both.

I've always thought that Kentucky is a feature story waiting to happen. And in 1969 a Jewish kid from New Jersey drove a 1965 Chevy Corvair across the Ohio River bridge and became a teller of those stories.

Barry Bernson had followed his father's footsteps to the University of Iowa and was quickly sent home, suspended for academic indifference. Bernson, as I will now refer to our subject, returned to Jersey and somehow got two jobs, working the morning shift at a radio station and nightside at the Paterson newspaper. It was a life changer. After working 10 months with four hours sleep, Bernson returned to Iowa City and reinvented himself as honor student.

All these salacious details of triumph and tragedy in local journalism are recounted in Bernson's jewel of a memoir from Butler Books. But this is a multimedia effort.

He recounts his journey into the golden days of television with his legendary dry wit. But then, he provides dessert. It's a DVD with his 10 favorite television features. He somehow got four stations to cooperate.

You might remember the horse that drove the Lincoln Continental on WAVE. Then there was that guy who could cup his mouth and make sounds like a chain saw or an 18-wheeler on WHAS. And of course, our man scoured the streets of Chicago for the Barry Bernson look-alike contest at WMAQ. And finally there's a Fox 41 story of a wonderful lady and her flowers.

So, I guess this is the movie review part. Bernson is a consummate storyteller, with a surprising economy of words. But he is also very much a video presence. He is the king of the cutaway. There is that sarcastic smile, the Bernson smirk. We can switch away to a look of puzzled admiration. And then there's the Bernson blank, perhaps reflecting what was going through his mind at the moment.

No matter how unusual or eccentric his subject, Bernson always treated them with gentle respect.

The videos are fun, and in some cases, sweet and very touching. Everybody has a story, it just takes a great reporter to tell it. Of course recounting one's life in video carries considerable risk. We watch Bernson age from that youthful shock of curly hair to a high hairline. But the smile, the sense of humor is always there.

This is a man who was once considered by ABC as their answer to Charles Kuralt. It was their loss that they didn't call back. Bernson reinvented morning television in Louisville at two stations. And he has a great memory for those on camera and off camera gaffes that are so much a part of live television.

And in line with full disclosure, I must acknowledge that I get a passing mention on page 85.

And finally, for those with a sense of nautical history, Bernson has named each of his chapters after a loosely corresponding chapter in "Moby Dick," and I do mean loosely.

It's a whale of a tale. My only complaint: At 95 pages it could be longer.

Bernson Two? I'm waiting.


Gary Roedemeier anchored the evening news at WHAS-TV for 25 years. A graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism, he has won five regional Emmys.

Bernson's Corner: A Reporter's Notebook

By Barry Bernson, Butler Books, 96 pp. and DVD included/$24.95

Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction or distribution is prohibited without permission.


Exploring his corner of the world: New Albany resident Barry Bernson reflects on a lifetime of stories

by Amanda Beam

newsroom@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — Don’t think local TV journalist Barry Bernson is retired. Although he left the co-anchor chair of “WDRB in the Morning” last year, the New Albany resident continues to stay busy.

Just this month, his first book “Bernson’s Corner: A Reporter’s Notebook” was released and has already topped Louisville’s best selling nonfiction list.

On Saturday, Destination Booksellers in New Albany will host a book signing featuring Bernson from 4 to 6 p.m. The book, which describes Bernson’s life and his many experiences as a features reporter, will be available for purchase. The book also includes a DVD of his top 10 features segments.

From chronicling the dramatic aspirations of prisoners to covering a car-driving horse, Bernson’s 47 years in the news business has been dominated by unique human interest pieces about everyday people. His book reflects upon these varied tales, while it also allows him the chance to tell his own American story.

“This is really just one reporter’s career arch if you will,” Bernson said. “It’s not meant to be a great philosophical statement about American society or even journalism. It’s just my story.”

Bernson’s narrative began in Pompton Lakes, N.J., where at the ripe old age of 7 he began writing and distributing a local neighborhood paper called the “Bernson Babbler.” Later, he would graduate with a degree in journalism from the University of Iowa.

In 1969, he traveled to Louisville and began, at first, as a radio news anchor for WAVE-970. Television news gigs soon followed, and in 1972 he became a full-time feature reporter for WAVE-TV.

After a nine-year stint doing both features and movie critiques at an NBC affiliate in Chicago, Bernson returned to Louisville in 1985 where he continued his special kind of journalism for, at first, WHAS-TV and then the WDRB-TV morning show. He has won numerous awards for his work that include Ohio Valley Region Emmy awards, Louisville Magazine’s “Best Morning TV Host” and a myriad “Best Feature” honors from the Associated Press.

“The things that make good TV stories are, first of all, interesting people.” Bernson said. “An interesting person makes a story no matter what.”

His book details several of his most memorable interviews. Above all others, Bernson said the story of Homer Luster is his favorite. In 1988, he interviewed Luster about his amazing ability to mimic the sound of almost any mechanical engine. Like many good pieces, Bernson said it succeeded so well because the story told itself.

“If you remember me from a TV story, then I’ve succeeded as a personality, but I’ve failed as a storyteller. So I’d much rather you remember the story I did rather than what I did in the story,” Bernson said.

After four decades of meeting and observing everyday people, Bernson said he doesn’t think America has changed. People still want the same things as they did in the past.

“I think people live their lives essentially the same way. People try to just get food on the table and they try to do something interesting in their spare time. You know, if I find that interesting, maybe someone else will too,” Bernson said. “Fortunately, I’ve found people who do interesting, unusual things.”

Even though Bernson’s interests lie in adding these rare tales to his extensive collection, he now spends his mornings as an audio-book narrator at Louisville’s American Printing House for the Blind. In 2003, the American Foundation for the Blind named him the nation’s best narrator of nonfiction talking books.

“I read whatever they hand me. Interestingly, I just this week finished the memoir by Roger Ebert, who’s in my book. He actually was the movie critic after I hung up my movie critic hat,” Bernson said.

Upon completing the recording, Bernson emailed Ebert and told him of his narration. In 2006, Ebert lost his voice following surgery that removed his lower jaw. Bernson said he was glad to supply a voice to his old friend’s book. The long-time movie critic now uses a voice synthesizer.

In addition to his audio-book narration, Bernson will also be delving back into broadcast journalism. Talks are under way regarding a Showtime documentary that he might help assemble next year. And next Thursday, he’ll be returning to local TV as he appears as a guest co-host with Rachel Platt on WHAS-11’s “Great Day Live.”

As for the book, Bernson dedicated it to his descendants. Through his writings, he hopes all of his future progeny will know exactly who Barry Bernson was.

“If someone wants to know how one journalist operated in the second half of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, it’s in there,” Bernson said. “That’s why I dedicated it to my descendants, so my great great-great grandchildren can say, ‘so that’s what he did.’”

— Amanda Beam is a freelance journalist who lives in Floyd County.