WNPR

Jeff Cohen

News Director

Jeff Cohen, Connecticut Public Radio's News Director, is a proud New Orleans native who now calls New England home. Or at least his second home.

He started in newspapers in 2001 and joined WNPR in 2010, where he has worked as a reporter, a host, and, since 2017, the station's news director.

In addition to covering state and Hartford city politics, Jeff covered the December 2012 Newtown shootings and the stories that followed.  Much of that work was featured on NPR.  Also in 2012, Jeff was selected by NPR and Kaiser Health News for their joint Health Care In The States project. That work resulted in several national stories, including ones on the Affordable Care Act and medical education. In his role as news director, Jeff began The Island Next Door -- Puerto Rico and Conneticut After Hurricane Maria -- an ongoing, award-winning reporting project involving the entire Connecticut Public Radio newsroom. 

Before working at WNPR, Jeff worked as the city reporter for The Hartford Courant.  While at the Courant, he won a National Headliner Award for a Northeast Magazine story about the ostracized widow of the state's first casualty in Iraq; wrote about his post-Katrina, flooded out home in New Orleans; and was part of a team of reporters that broke the stories of alleged corruption at Hartford City Hall that led to the arrest of former Mayor Eddie A. Perez. He also worked at the Meriden Record-Journal and as a freelancer for The New York Times.

Jeff lives in Middletown with his wife, cats, and two trouble-making kids. Thanks to the kids, he's written two children's books. The first, Eva and Sadie and the Worst Haircut Ever!, came out in June 2014.  The second, Eva and Sadie and the Best Classroom Ever!, came out in June 2015.  He likes to make bread and wine.

Ways to Connect

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Alberto Díaz lost most of what he had when Maria passed through. Nine months later, he is making opportunity out of disaster. His kitchen is a kitchen again. He used some wood he found to make a homemade tostonera -- a tool for smashing green plantains. Someone was throwing out a basketball court, so he took it, cleaned it, cut it, and now he’s got new wooden floors.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

The island of Vieques, Puerto Rico, is an isolated place known both for its remote beaches and the decades during which the U.S. Navy used those beaches for bombing runs and training exercises.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Hurricane Maria blew away the backyard retiree clubhouse Angel Luis Cotto built as a place to relax. He misses it, and, as a new storm threatened to pass just to the south of Puerto Rico Monday, Cotto said he’d prefer she stay far away.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

The Supreme Court is allowing Ohio to clean up its voting rolls by removing the names of people who haven't cast ballots in some time. 

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty used her personal email address in a confidential severance agreement with former Chief of Staff Tony Baker.

Chion Wolf / WNPR

Connecticut Democratic Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty says she regrets her handling of a sexual harassment case within her own office. 

Hurricane evacuees Yara Vasquez (left) and Wanda Ortiz (center) watch a press conference at the hotel they were living in with their families under a FEMA program on January 19, 2018.
Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

More than five months after Hurricane Maria, Connecticut researchers are working to better understand the needs of families who’ve relocated from the island to Hartford.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Valle Hill is a neighborhood in Puerto Rico that shouldn’t exist.

Ryan Caron King / Connecticut Public Radio

Valle Hill es un vecindario de Puerto Rico que no debería existir.

Es un conjunto de casas privadas en un humedal público. Cuando llueve, se inunda. Los residentes que tiene agua o energía eléctrica probablemente la tienen de forma ilegal. Pocos, o ningún residente, tienen títulos de propiedad. ¿Y el proyecto de aguas que era para ayudar a los residentes? Está paralizado, como también lo está el esfuerzo por construir un dique para evitar que las aguas crezcan de nuevo.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Puerto Rico is officially declaring itself open for tourism -- nearly three months after Hurricane Maria. But on an island where so many people still lack electricity, what does open for tourism mean?

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Puerto Rico se está declarando oficialmente abierto al turismo, cerca de tres meses después del Huracán María. Pero en una isla en la que aún tantas personas carecen de electricidad, ¿qué significa abierto al turismo?

Children in the mountain town of Orocovis returned to school two weeks ago after a two-month pause following Hurricane Maria. The school doesn't have electricity, so it lets out at 12:30 pm.
Ryan Caron King / WNPR

The Puerto Rican effort to advance from response to recovery after Hurricane Maria continues. For some, water and electricity are still elusive. And that makes it hard to get back to normal — especially for children.

Children in the mountain town of Orocovis returned to school two weeks ago after a two-month pause following Hurricane Maria. The school doesn't have electricity, so it lets out at 12:30 pm.
Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Continúa el esfuerzo puertorriqueño de avanzar desde la respuesta hasta la recuperación, luego del Huracán María. Para algunos, el agua y la electricidad aún son esquivas. Y eso hace más difícil el regreso a la normalidad, especialmente para los niños.

After the storm blew out her windows, Maria Enid Rodriguez lost water, Internet, power and her entire home office. Her company offered her a one-way ticket to be with family in New Britain, Conn. Rodriguez refused. She said that it was a round trip ticket or nothing. She wanted to come back.

"I went to New Britain for 10 days," she said, through her tears. "Not for me. For them. For my daughters. They have to see me, that I was okay."

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

Alejandro La Luz Rivera pulled the keys from his pocket, unlocked the heavy gate, and walked slowly up the outdoor stairs leading to what used to be a rooftop patio. Before Maria, this was the 90-year-old's favorite place to be. Now, without electricity, it's not as quiet up here — he doesn't have a generator, but his neighbors do. And the patio is gone, destroyed by the hurricane and its winds.

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