I was born in Paris, Tennessee, in the last year of World War II. My father and my uncles were all away at War, and I was the only distraction from bad news my family had in those years. I loved music and would jump up on my rocking horse and rock when it was time for Noontime Neighbors. My family was the family in the valley who sung. If you had a graduation, wedding, birthday party, funeral, you called my family, and some configuration of them would show up and perform for that event. The way I grew up was very different from the way the other jocks grew up, I'm sure, and sometimes it makes me feel negative about myself and my accent and my culture, but that is all I have.
We moved to Detroit after World War II as part of the great Post-War Migration, and we settled there where my father and uncles could work in the automobile plants. Where we lived there was never any money, so for country people to see money was a really big deal. You'd get a couple hundred dollars a week (we didn't get that in a year at home), but then of course you had to buy food, pay rent, pay taxes, and you didn't have much by the time it was done.
I moved to Cincinnati in 1966 and began to work with a bluegrass band I met at Aunt Maudie's in 1971 or 1972. From then on I was on the road, part of me looking back at where we'd been and part of me looking forward to where we were going. I have received a lot of awards for the work I have done in bluegrass, but they don't mean as much as the actual work somehow -- just not as much fun.
I came to work at WNKU in 1989 because I needed a steady gig. My fiance was killed by a lightning strike, and I was out of a job or income, so Buddy Griffin and I put together Music From the Hills of Home which we did for a few months until Buddy left and Wayne came. It was a smooth transition.
I also write for a living. I write a column every other month for Cincinnati Magazine, and I just finished a story, which will be out in October on Mr. Spoons. He was a brilliant musician and the best spoons player I ever saw. Prior to Cincinnati Magazine I wrote a column a month for City Beat for about ten years, and I am working on putting those columns in a book format.
I have a dog named J.D., and we live in lower Clifton.
Tom Bowman is a NPR National Desk reporter covering the Pentagon.
In his current role, Bowman has traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan often for month-long visits and embedded with U.S. Marines and soldiers.
Before coming to NPR in April 2006, Bowman spent nine years as a Pentagon reporter at The Baltimore Sun. Altogether he was at The Sun for nearly two decades, covering the Maryland Statehouse, the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Naval Academy, and the National Security Agency (NSA). His coverage of racial and gender discrimination at NSA led to a Pentagon investigation in 1994.
Initially Bowman imagined his career path would take him into academia as a history, government, or journalism professor. During college Bowman worked as a stringer at The Patriot Ledger in Quincy, Mass., and thrived amid the deadlines, the competition, and the personalities both at a newspaper and in the political realm. Bowman also worked for the Daily Transcript in Dedham, Mass., and then as a reporter at States News Service, writing for the Miami Herald and the Anniston (Ala.) Star.
Over his career, Bowman has been honored with several awards for news writing and features, from the New England Press Association and the Maryland Press Association. He is also a co-winner of a 2006 National Headliners' Award for stories on the lack of advanced tourniquets for U.S. troops in Iraq. In 2010, Bowman received an Edward R. Murrow Award for his coverage of a Taliban roadside bomb attack on an Army unit.
Bowman earned a Bachelor of Arts in history from St. Michael's College in Winooski, Vermont, and a master's degree in American Studies from Boston College.