Radio journalist with Darien roots collects accolades
DARIEN — Inspired in part by the highly publicized 2009 arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates, Darien native, radio journalist and recent Edward R. Murrow Award recipient Craig LeMoult decided to look at the ways in which Cambridge police were working to improve the relationships between officers and the community they serve.
The two-part story deals first with police interaction with young African-Americans.
The second, called “Policing the Homeless,” which aired in November 2015 on Boston’s WGBH Public Radio, presents, without narration, a day in the life of Homeless Outreach Officer Eric Helberg as he interacts with the city’s dispossessed. According to LeMoult, he set out to offer an empathetic look at its subjects.
“The listener goes along for the ride with this officer as he meets people. It’s a chance to sort of eaves-drop on him as he does what he does,” LeMoult said. “It doesn’t require me as a narrator to say anything because we’re hearing directly from the people as it happens.”
The story, emblematic of LeMoult’s penchant for creating intimate portrayals of his subjects, resonated with listeners and received a warm critical reception.
Last month it was announced that the story had earned LeMoult a Radio Television Digital News Association Regional Murrow Award for Use of Sound.
LeMoult‘s circuitous route to radio journalism began as a student at Darien High School, where he wrote for the school newspaper.
But upon graduation, he decided not to pursue journalism in college, opting instead to study English literature at University College London and Tufts University. LeMoult graduated and settled into a career in public relations in the early 2000s until, after seven years, he became interested in the opportunities offered by radio as a medium for storytelling and sought a career change.
“To go from PR to journalism seems like a backward route. But I liked what they were doing better than what I was doing,” LeMoult said.
“I was really inspired by listening to public radio. There was a show called ‘This American Life’ that I got into and there was a narrative style of radio that I decided I really wanted to do.”
LeMoult returned to school, this time Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, and earned his masters in 2007. His reporting career began at WSHU in Fairfield, during which time he also taught classes in radio journalism at Sacred Heart University, before moving to one of Boston’s two public radio stations, WGBH.
LeMoult said he was drawn to radio because he felt it offered him an opportunity to evoke the people, places and things he was reporting on.
“The thing that I really love about radio is that the listener is put in the middle of the action. When you are watching television you’re on the outside looking at something happening to somebody else. When you’re listening to a radio story, the listener is right in the middle. There’s a level of access that we don’t get from other media,” LeMoult said.
He now covers breaking news and features and regularly contributes stories to NPR.
One story about a female boxer who opened a gym in New Haven in order to curb youth violence, and a second about the father of a Sandy Hook victim who plays the jazz saxophone, earned LeMoult two National Murrow Awards in 2015.
His work has also earned him a Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists.
As a regional Murrow award winner, LeMoult’s “Policing the Homeless” is in the running for a RTDNA National Murrow Award, the winners of which will be announced later this year.
As for his backward transition from public relations to journalism, LeMoult seems to have few regrets.
“I feel like I have the best job in the world, running around with a microphone, meeting the most interesting people around. I couldn’t think of anything more fun than that,” he said.