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
Bilingual Hotline Opens For Immigrant Children Peter O'Dowd June 19, 2014
Tucson Heroin Bust Worth $7.5 Million Peter O'Dowd June 17, 2014
Close Calls: Hikers Survive Grand Canyon Rock Slide Laurel Morales June 16, 2014
Why Long Hours Are Good For Young Docs June 13, 2014
Smokejumpers Create Generations Of Brotherhood Monica Ortiz Uribe June 13, 2014
Activist: Dead MCSO Deputy Wanted To Be Whistleblower Jude Joffe-Block June 13, 2014
DOJ Will Provide Legal Aid To Child Migrants Peter O'Dowd June 06, 2014
Helping Kids Avoid Summer Brain Drain Peter O'Dowd May 26, 2014
Power Outage Creates Delays At Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport Peter O'Dowd May 22, 2014
Police Bust Phoenix Motel For Drugs, Guns Sarah Ventre May 21, 2014
Bark Beetles Targeted For Wildfire Control Peter O'Dowd May 21, 2014
Arizona Well Represented In National Geography Bee Peter O'Dowd May 19, 2014
Three Killed As Interstate 17 Snarled By Two Accidents Peter O'Dowd May 16, 2014
A Top VA Official Resigns Following Health Care Scandal Peter O'Dowd May 16, 2014
Sky Harbor Hits Passenger Record Peter O'Dowd May 12, 2014
The Hidden Value Of Donated Junk Peter O'Dowd May 06, 2014
10 Intel Workers Exposed In Ammonia Spill Peter O'Dowd May 05, 2014
Westminster College Pulls Out Of Mesa Peter O'Dowd April 22, 2014
Another Arizona College Student Killed By Fall From Building Peter O'Dowd April 04, 2014
More Custom Agents To Be Hired At Arizona Ports Of Entry Peter O'Dowd April 01, 2014
Prescott Plans For One Year Anniversary Of Yarnell Hill Fire Peter O'Dowd March 28, 2014
$25 Corn Dog Debuts At Chase Field Peter O'Dowd March 28, 2014
U of A Moves MBA Students To Downtown Phoenix Peter O'Dowd March 20, 2014
In-Flight Emergency Calls Land In Phoenix Peter O'Dowd March 14, 2014
BLM Looking For Burro Birth Control Peter O'Dowd March 12, 2014