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Ben Bradford



Ben Bradford is a former reporter at Marketplace, where he covered breaking business news. He also covered big public works projects and the government-funded stuff that we all use (like roads and water pipes) as Marketplace's infrastructure reporter — although he tried not to use that word on air.

What was your first job?

I spent one summer in high school sorting a warehouse full of shoes — digging through boxes, finding pairs that matched and tying their laces together — for the San Francisco Opera's costume shop. I thought I would never see the sun again.

What do you think is the hardest part of your job that no one knows?

You have less than three hours to find and interview multiple sources on a topic you know nothing about. You finally get one of them on the phone. Uh-oh, it’s a cellphone, and the quality is not great. You ask if they have a landline. They do! You ask if they also have an iPhone. They do! You ask if they can talk to you on the landline and simultaneously record themselves on the iPhone using a specific app and then send you the audio from the app. You talk them through, step by step, how to do this, depending on their level of technological sophistication. They generously oblige, but you worry they secretly think you are crazy. You do this with nearly every person you speak with remotely for a story.

Fill in the blank: Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy you ______.

Opportunities that increase the possibility of happiness.

What’s the favorite item in your workspace and why?

I don't usually go in for motivational aphorisms, but I have John Barlow's 25 principles of adult behavior pinned to my cubicle wall, and I really like them! One of my favorites is "tolerate ambiguity," which I think is just key for reporting (and life). Next up: "Laugh at yourself frequently."


Latest Stories (135)

U.S. parks and trails rely on a volunteer labor force

Oct 17, 2019
Like most public projects, public lands have a backlog of needed repairs.
Tim Morris, a retired bank trader, clears overgrowth from the Pacific Crest Trail using a long brush saw.
Ben Bradford/Marketplace

Power shut-offs present unique challenges to low-income Californians

Oct 10, 2019
Power shutoffs aren’t wildfires or earthquakes, but for some they can be a kind of disaster.
A sign in Calistoga, California, calls on PG&E to turn the electricity back on during a statewide blackout in October 2019.
Josh Edelson/AFP via Getty Images

Cities pledge to lower climate change emissions

Oct 10, 2019
And they’ll look to do it without major budget impacts, because there’s no dedicated “city climate change fund.”
Los Angeles Mayor and Chair of C-40 Eric Garcetti is trying to strike a "Global Green New Deal" to lower emissions. Above, a layer of pollution hovering over L.A. in late 2017.
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

What will President Trump announce on health care?

Oct 3, 2019
The president’s visit to a Florida retirement community for the announcement comes as Democratic presidential candidates are debating expanding the government’s role in health care.
President Donald Trump is expected to announce an executive order on health care.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Could the explosion of corporate debt lead to a new financial crisis?

Oct 1, 2019
Today's corporate borrowing is similar in many ways to the mortgage debt that burst the housing bubble.
Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Peloton prepares to go public while facing a music lawsuit

Sep 25, 2019
Music lawyers say each song in a Peloton workout video requires more than one license, often from multiple rights-holders.
The fitness company reported a massive loss last quarter, spurring questions about the need for a revamped business strategy.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Are graduate students also employees?

Sep 20, 2019
A proposed rule by the National Labor Relation Board says no, although those students often do perform core university functions.
Yale students walk through the New Haven, Connecticut, campus in 2018.
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Impossible Burger slides into grocery stores

Sep 20, 2019
The company plans to begin at high-end chains like Gelson’s Market and then expand to more mass-market stores.
The Impossible Burger, a plant-based burger that advertises a real-beef taste.
Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Why Netflix and WarnerMedia want sitcoms for the streaming wars

Sep 18, 2019
Netflix hopes "Seinfeld" will keep the streaming giant master of its domain, while HBO Max hopes to enter the field with a "Big Bang."
The cast of "Seinfeld."
Getty Images

The tortured Taco Tuesday trademark travails

Sep 17, 2019
A Wyoming fast food chain and LeBron James each want a piece of the widely-used promotional term.
masassassin/Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)