Biography Ė Judd Ginsberg


Where to begin? After graduating from Wheatley I enrolled in the University of Wisconsin. (For those keeping track of how times have changed, I recall that the tuition was $300 a semester Ė and that was high since I was out-of-state). I loved college, did a lot of reading, though not always what was assigned, and dabbled in radical politics. I was suspended for a semester, ostensibly for living off-campus (not allowed in those days), but more likely, I always suspected, for political reasons.

Anyhow, at Wheatley I was much influenced by Mr. Loring and so in college I majored in history. After graduation I went to Columbia University and earned a Masterís in American history. I didnít like living in the city (at least not as poor, struggling student), so I decided to go back to Madison for a Ph.D. But while at Columbia I was introduced to the woman who would become my first wife.

She accompanied me to Madison and we were married in January 1966. The marriage lasted eleven years.

I taught American history for two years as a visiting assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Racine-Kenosha, near Milwaukee) and for two more, again visiting, at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. I enjoyed teaching and the students, but tenure track jobs in the 70ís for American historians were scarce. There was a glut of Ph.D.ís on the market due to the many who stayed in school to avoid the draft, and there were fewer jobs since student activism shredded requirements, meaning that the time-worn staple of young professors, the survey, had been eliminated in many schools.

I received another visiting offer, this one at Arizona State, while in Chicago, but decided that these visiting professorships would not last forever, so I made a career change. I went to work at the late and unlamented UPI for two years. I worked for the Radio Broadcast division writing copy for what are called rip-and-read radio stations. It was fun, but clearly a transition.

In 1981 I went to Atlanta to work for a fledgling cable news network. CNN was then a year old, and we were inventing all-news television. I knew nothing about television production when I went to CNN, but since everyone and everything was so new, you learned on the job. I was hired to edit copy, since I knew words, but soon I learned production and was producing one-hour newscasts.

After a year in Atlanta I moved to CNNís Washington news bureau (where my future second wife was working). I did many different things in DC, including, in no particular order, radio reporting, news producing, supervising and executive producing, and field producer at the State Department. The last gig was the best, as I got to travel the world with the press covering the Secretary of State Ė Warren Christopher and Madeleine Albright Ė and went places I would not have gone on my own dime. I visited Sarajevo right after the end of the Bosnia War (where the hope and expectation of the people was, after years of bloodshed and atrocity, palpable), Paris for the signing of the Bosnia Accords at the Elyseť Palace, Hanoi for the opening of the U.S. Embassy on July 4, 1996, Phnom Penh, a central Africa tour of Congo, Angola, Rwanda shortly after the genocide (where we had lunch at the Hotel Rwanda as depicted in the movie), Uganda, and South Africa, Beijing and Shanghai, and so on.

When AOL merged with Time Warner (which had bought CNN a few years earlier), I was given a lucrative buyout. Hilary, my third wife, was seven months pregnant with our child. I was paid by CNN for nearly two years, so I took a year off to enjoy my daughter, now eight. Lily is brilliant, beautiful, intelligent, sweet, caring, and kind. I have to say these things since I am her father, but in this case they happen to be true.

In December 2001 I took a job with the American Chemical Society (ACS), the professional organization for chemists. I was hired to run a program on the history of chemistry, which was housed in the communications office. The position merged my two previous careers, history and journalism, so it was a good fit. I worked there for eight years, running what is called the National Historic Chemical Landmarks program, producing videos, writing news releases, etc.

I left in this past December and am now working out of my house as a freelance writer and consultant. I continue to run the Landmarks program as a consultant to the ACS as well as writing articles for the Societyís news magazine as a freelancer. I am enjoying this very much and I get to spend much more time with my family as well as having more time to pursue my own hobbies. There is great virtue in being your own boss, able to manage your time as you wish.

As for those hobbies: I read a lot, exercise daily, love hiking in the mountains (the Blue Ridge are just a few hours from my home in Alexandria, Virginia), biking, cooking, and gardening.

As for memories of high school: I donít seem to have as many as some of my classmates. This may be a function of age, but I donít think so. I have not stayed in touch with Wheatley folks over the years, which is my fault (Carl Stewart thinks I have been living under a rock in New Mexico), but thanks to the internet and email, I have recently been in contact with some of our classmates and I am looking forward to our 50th reunion in May and the chance to catch up with many of you.

I hope to see you at the reunion. - Judd Ginsberg

By the way - here is what I do for amusement!