Peter O'Dowd photoKJZZ News Director Peter O’Dowd finds something alluring about Phoenix and public radio, as if they have always been a part of his destiny.

O'Dowd, who oversees all daily editorial direction of the KJZZ newsroom, took on the role of news director in February 2011, after serving as an assignment editor and reporter for the station since 2009.

There has been no shortage of adventure in his journalism career at KJZZ, which has taken him to Guatemala, Southern Mexico and along the entire U.S.-Mexican border.

Covering Arizona SB 1070 news has been one of the most exciting highlights in his career. Determined to provide KJZZ listeners with as many perspectives as possible, O’Dowd followed boycotters representing both sides, met with Latinos who favored the bill, visited churches that opposed it and spent months trying to find sources willing to talk about employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants.

O’Dowd was part of a KJZZ team that won a 2011 Edward R. Murrow Award for continuing coverage of SB 1070. He has also received Associated Press awards for news writing and several Public Radio News Director Inc. awards.

O’Dowd grew up in Phoenix and graduated from Brophy College Prep in 1999.  He then attended Georgetown University to pursue an undergraduate degree in English. With diploma in hand, O’Dowd decided to teach English in the suburbs of Tokyo, Japan. Looking back, he notes, “It was the most thrilling year of my life.” It was also one that eventually sparked an interest in serving as an international journalist. 

When he returned from Japan, he began working for the Peoria Independent.  “I almost enrolled in graduate school to get my MFA in creative writing, but quickly realized I enjoyed telling true stories for a newspaper more than fiction.” 

With that, O’Dowd set his sights on pursuing a master’s degree in Journalism from Columbia University.  His introduction to public radio came about almost by accident. 

“I took a two-week class on radio basics. I went around New York recording the sounds of bustling street vendors, college marching bands, and then wrote up short stories that were completely empty of news. All of a sudden, the medium opened up to me, so I decided to change my focus to radio journalism.  I often think about how that decision changed my career and my life.”

In 2007, O’Dowd moved to Wyoming to report on classic Western issues like oil, coal and wolves  for Wyoming Public Radio and realized he had found his niche. 

“I believe public radio journalism is the most compelling of any medium. When I’m reporting a story for the radio, I look for emotion in my interviews. Over the radio, grief and anger, fear and embarrassment can be felt in a way that is mostly absent from print journalism.”

Contact Peter O’Dowd at 480-774-8463, or by way of Twitter @odowdpeter.


Title Author Publication Date
Final Radio Call Honors Fallen Police Officer Peter O'Dowd March 10, 2014
Phoenix Police Officer Funeral Procession Will Close Some Roads Peter O'Dowd March 10, 2014
Sinema Won't Run In District 7 Peter O'Dowd March 06, 2014
Who’s Shooting Arizona’s Wild Burros? Peter O'Dowd February 28, 2014
Citing SB 1062, Lawyers Cancel Phoenix Convention Peter O'Dowd February 26, 2014
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Developers Float Rare Project South Of Downtown Peter O'Dowd December 12, 2013
Rep. Issa Brings Healthcare Debate to Arizona Peter O'Dowd December 06, 2013
Battle Over Bus Stop Ads Goes To Court Peter O'Dowd December 02, 2013
College Data Breach Hits Millions Peter O'Dowd November 27, 2013
Navajos Target Jobs, Uranium Cleanup Peter O'Dowd November 25, 2013
Cold Storage: Migrants Refer To Border Cells As 'Freezers' Peter O'Dowd November 19, 2013
New Bill Would Give Credit Score To Nontraditional Borrowers Peter O'Dowd November 15, 2013
How Could Climate Change Harm Roads, Bridges? Peter O'Dowd November 05, 2013
Food Stamp Stimulus Runs Dry Peter O'Dowd November 01, 2013
Blowing Dust Causes Multiple Crashes On I-10 Associated Press October 29, 2013
Sebelius To Visit Phoenix, Discuss Health Exchanges Peter O'Dowd October 23, 2013
City Slapped With $95,000 Fine In Phoenix Firefighter’s Death Peter O'Dowd October 22, 2013
17 Days Later, Health Insurance Delays Still Mounting Peter O'Dowd October 17, 2013
Banks Renew Interest In Jumbo Loan Market Peter O'Dowd October 15, 2013
In Mexico Reforms, Arizona Businesses See Gold Peter O'Dowd October 14, 2013