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‘Greater Boston’ host Braude promises depth, humor

New host says Emily Rooney’s a tough act to follow

Jim Braude is only the second host that “Greater Boston,” a show begun in 1997 on WGBH-TV, has ever had.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Jim Braude takes over as host of the public affairs program "Greater Boston" on WGBH-TV Monday, replacing Emily Rooney, the show's only host since it premiered in 1997. Braude debuts with a heavy dose of politics — his first guests includes Governor Charlie Baker, Senate president Stan Rosenberg, and House speaker Robert DeLeo. He discussed his plans with the Globe's Callum Borchers.

Do you feel any pressure taking over a long-running program where viewers have known only one host?

I feel colossal pressure. No one will say this, but you always hope that you'll follow someone — whether you're giving a speech or doing a show — who's not as good as you are. But Emily is a legendary figure in this community. She's created this great franchise. That's the daunting part of it. But I assume my boss wouldn't have hired me if he didn't think I couldn't continue it and build on it.

Everyone wants to know how "Greater Boston" will be different with you as the host. What will be the same? What are the hallmarks you want to preserve?

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You're the first person to ask that. I don't want to speak for Emily, but I think she'd say the mission is to provide more insight than any other place into the people and issues that drive this city on good days and bad. That will continue.

“The goal is for the shows I do to be high-energy and to achieve some depth with more than a touch of humor,” Jim Braude said.Dina Rudick/Globe Staff

Now to the differences. You've said the show will be different by virtue of the fact that you and Emily are different people. So how would you describe your hosting style?

A. The goal is for the shows I do to be high-energy and to achieve some depth with more than a touch of humor. That's what I'll try to achieve when I start my 28 minutes and hopefully will have achieved when I'm done with my 28 minutes.

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Will this just be your old NECN show, "Broadside," on another station?

No. First of all, there are no ads and no weather. That's not insignificant. That's five or six more minutes of me — for better or worse. The other thing is we're sitting in what may be the most resource-rich building in America. We've got "Nova" on one floor, "Frontline" on another, "The World," "This Old House." There's a synergy that's hard to describe that I'm certain will drive the show, and that couldn't happen anywhere else.

You've got a diverse background as a lawyer, activist, Cambridge city councilor. How does that inform your job now as a journalist?

There's nothing I like less than talking heads who've never done what they're talking about and no people I admire more than people who are doers as well as good talkers. I've been lucky enough to have done that which I now talk about and ask questions about. I know the experience of having been on both sides of the mike, both sides of the political equation, can't help but make you better.

I hear there's a new set. Is that purely aesthetic or will it affect the format of the show?

The relationship between me and the person or people I'm interviewing is physically totally different. They're right in front of me, and I'm right in front of them. It's a much more dramatic eyeball-to-eyeball setting, which creates higher energy, more tension — good tension, healthy tension.

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How about a new look for you? New wardrobe?

Every couple of years I buy six cashmere jackets on the same day at Joseph A. Bank when they're on sale. They look very good on television. But the very bad news is the opening of the show is a standup. I have worn jeans and some nights shorts for almost 20 years, and now those are gone. This was a serious discussion. Now I need full suits.

Related:

Jim Braude signs on as 'Greater Boston' host

Jim Braude looks to what 2015 has in store

My workout: Jim Braude


Callum Borchers can be reached at callum.borchers@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @callumborchers.