Dec 30, 2004

Public TV's Frontline/World invited journalism schools to recommend young journalists for reporting fellowships on its website. Selected students and recent graduates of the schools would work with the series' website to report on international stories not covered in mainstream media. Applications from individuals will not be considered, the producers said. Fellows have already contributed many stories to the site.
The websites of The World and Afropop Worldwide listed charities assisting in tsunami relief and Afropop producer Sean Barlow urged public radio to rally support from listeners.
The Heinz Endowments gave a second million dollars to build a Fred M. Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at Saint Vincent College in the late PBS host's hometown of Latrobe, Pa., the college said. With the December donation, the philanthropy has given $2.1 million to the project. The state pledged $5 million in October, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Dec 24, 2004

The Italian government proposes to sell 30 percent of its big pubcaster, RAI, reports Britain’s Observer. Legislation forbids any shareholder from owning more than 1 percent. Prime Minister Berlusconi, owner of RAI’s major competition, has no interest in seeing RAI become a strong commercial broadcaster, and neither do his political opponents, says the Observer. The Italian Antitrust Authority criticizes the powerful advertising duopoly composed of Berlusconi’s holdings, with 65 percent of TV advertising, and RAI, with 29 percent, according to the International Herald Tribune.

Dec 21, 2004

Longtime TV correspondent Ed Gordon will start a show replacing Tavis Smiley's on public radio, said NPR and the African American Public Radio Consortium today. Gordon has reported for NBC and was recently named a contributing correspondent for CBS's 60 Minutes Wednesday. Smiley left NPR Dec. 16.
Garrison Keillor has promised to deliver "a quiet and thoughtful Lutheran pastor" plus the "entire Prairie Home Companion complement" on a one-week circular Holland America Line cruise from Boston to Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Bar Harbor, Maine, starting Aug. 20. Cheaper cabins are sold out already. Some remain at $2,350 to $3,800 per person, double occupancy. Public TV stations helped sell cabins on a November cruise of the Mediterranean starring Robert MacNeil, Jim Lehrer and other PBS figures.

Dec 17, 2004

The Iowa Board of Regents on Thursday endorsed a report that calls for Iowa's three university-based radio stations, WOI, WSUI/KSUI and KUNI/KHKE, to merge into a network called Iowa Public Radio, the Des Moines Register reports. The move is expected to generate more listeners, extend coverage and reduce the amount of state support for the stations by $300,000.
More Tavis: The now ex-NPR host tells Salon in a Q-and-A that the network is "not National Some-of-the Public Radio, it's National All-of-the-Public Radio. And NPR has got to do a better job of making that moniker... a reality." Smiley says his show's numbers outpaced projections, refuting researcher claims that the audience only wants to hear, as the webmag puts it, "the dulcet tones of Linda Wertheimer sound-alikes who've come to define public radio." (free day pass req.)
Have you heard? Bill Moyers will make his final appearance as host of PBS's Now tonight. Today's litany of Bye to Bill stories includes pieces from, among others, the New York Times, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and the Dallas Morning News, who also printed a speech Moyers recently gave at Harvard Medical School. For a different take on the Moyers legend, check out this profile on conservative website, which describes the esteemed journalist as a "sweater-wearing pundit who delivered socialist and neo-Marxist propaganda with a soft Texas accent."

Dec 16, 2004

Minnesota Public Radio programmers described their new format for their just-acquired third Twin Cities station as an "anti-format" for younger ears that will gather eclectic music and "take the work out of finding music and put the fun back in," Deborah Rybak reported in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. MPR bought the channel, WCAL, from St. Olaf College over the objections of WCAL's classical music fans. Some spoke against the station sale at an FCC hearing on media consolidation in St. Paul last week. With money from the sale, the college said it will endow five chairs and repair the organ in its chapel.
"Nothing is pushing me, but something is pulling me, and I don't know what that is." Bill Moyers, who delivers his last edition of Now tomorrow night, may have one more PBS series up his sleeve, reports the New York Daily News.
"In the rush to proclaim [Bernard] Kerik the next secretary of Homeland Security, NPR sounded as though it were reporting on behalf of the White House, not about the White House," writes NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin in his latest online column.
Jim King, founder of the Cincinnati-based X-Star public radio network, will retire next year. "We've done what no one else said could be done," he tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. ". . . We've bucked the trend and programmed a station the way we wanted to, changing the types of programming every three or four hours."

Dec 15, 2004

The Boston Globe reports that Boston University officials and the attorney for Jane Christo, former g.m. of WBUR-FM, disagree over who wielded the most influence over the station's operations.
"The real key is you want to get them up and moving but you don't want them to turn their heads from the TV." Newsday reports on kids' shows that encourage tots to get off the couch.
WDUQ-FM in Pittsburgh is replacing its transmitter, going digital and expanding its signal eastward with repeaters, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gaztte.
Media reform advocate Jeff Chester challenges PBS's panel on enhanced funding to consider whether public TV deserves the gift of auction spectrum revenues.

Dec 14, 2004

In the Village Voice, WFMU deejay Irwin Chusid discusses his championing of outsider musicians.
In the Life, the gay/lesbian pubTV show that raises much of its operating funding from viewers, has set a $350,000 goal for a capital campaign for a new studio in Manhattan. [Current profile of the show.]

Dec 13, 2004

"If I felt that I was getting the kind of commitment that I needed to grow the program, then I wouldn't have resigned," says Tavis Smiley in the Chicago Sun-Times about leaving his show.

Dec 10, 2004

"When they start pushing the panic button over 'moral values' at the bluest of TV channels, public broadcasting's WNET, in the bluest of cities, New York, you know this country has entered a new cultural twilight zone," writes New York Times columnist Frank Rich. WNET's decision to kill a spot on the feature film, Kinsey, is a harbinger of the battles ahead as "politicians and the media alike pander to that supposed 22 percent of 'moral values' voters."
Zoom, the interactive children's series from Boston's WGBH, will shutter production after its 2005 season. Kids, and PBS, are "looking for the next new thing," says producer Kate Taylor in the Boston Globe.

Dec 8, 2004

The Center for Social Media at American University published a study recommending ways to help independent filmmakers negotiate the increasingly difficult process of rights clearances. Additional background materials are available on the Center's website.
"I believe the price of this very considerable change is the right price to pay to achieve the prize of a strong and independent, creative BBC," said Director General Michael Thompson when announcing a 10 percent staff reduction, the largest in the corporation's history. With savings from the massive reorganization, Thompson promised BBC would spend more on high quality drama, comedy, current affairs and children's programs, according to the Guardian. Reports on the restructuring characterize it as a premptive move to protect BBC financing via television license fees, which comes up for renewal in 2007. In the Financial Times, Thompson said the plan made the case for a renewal of its royal charter more compelling and added: “The BBC has not been badgered or pressured by government to do any of this.” [Additional reporting in the New York Times, and a Q&A from BBC News.]

Dec 7, 2004

A consultant's study (PDF) recommends that stations licensed to three Iowa universities unite under common management, share resources, and develop three separate and coordinated programming schedules. The board's office has endorsed the findings (PDF). Regents will take up the matter next week.

Dec 6, 2004

The FCC got only a few hundred indecency complaints in 2001, but about 14,000 in 2002 and no less than 240,000 in 2003, just before its Janet Jackson crackdown. Today, Todd Shields of MediaWeek revealed an unreleased FCC estimate that 99.8 percent of the 2003 complaints came from one organization, Parents Television Council. The same was true for 99.8 percent of complaints in 2004, through October. Via SPJ PressNotes. PTC, founded by conservative media watchdog Brent Bozell, monitors and compiles reports on sex, innuendo and violence on broadcast and cable networks, according to its website.
"We had agreed on the destination we were to arrive at, but somewhere along the line NPR wavered in the journey," says Tavis Smiley in Time of his decision to leave NPR. He also says President Bush's Cabinet is more diverse than his former employer.
NPR has named Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne permanent hosts of Morning Edition.

Dec 5, 2004

Edie McClurg, perhaps best known for the role of the principal's secretary in Ferris Bueller's Day Off, was "Operations Manager, News Anchor, Documentary and Fine Arts Producer for NPR affiliate KCUR-FM and National Public Radio 1966-1974," according to the Internet Movie Database.

Dec 3, 2004

The Rev. Irene Elizabeth Stroud, a former assistant pastor at First United Methodist Church in Germantown, Pa., was expelled from the clergy after a jury of Methodist ministers convicted her of breaking church law by living openly as a lesbian, the Washington Post reports. Stroud's "coming out" sermon and legal struggle were captured by The Congregation, a doc by Alan and Susan Raymond scheduled to air on PBS on Dec. 29.
Joan Ganz Cooney, creator of Sesame Street, will discuss "The Evolution and Signifiance of Sesame Street" at a Smithsonian lecture hall in Washington, D.C., Dec. 8. $20 for the general public.

Dec 2, 2004

Ken Freedman, station manager of freeform WFMU-FM in Jersey City, N.J., gave a State of the Station address Dec. 1. (MP3) Did he mention yellowcake?
More in the Philadelphia Daily News about Rachel Buchman, the WHYY reporter who resigned after mouthing off to a conservative group. A Daily News columnist broadens the issue: "How many of us want our tax dollars to keep funding NPR's Rachels? Or any other ideologue?"
A Station Resource Group analysis of recent financial data from public radio stations (PDF) shows increases in listenership, underwriting revenue and listener support. Fiscal year 2003 was also the system's strongest ever for net fundraising revenue.
Mark Handley, president of New Hampshire Public Radio, will retire next October to sail across the Pacific Ocean with his wife, reports the Concord Monitor. Handley recently finished his second term as chair of the NPR Board.

Dec 1, 2004

Rachel Buchman, a reporter at Philadelphia's WHYY, resigned earlier this week after leaving a seething voice mail at the offices of, a Virginia-based conservative website. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that the group circulated Buchman's message, which advised the org's members that "God hates you and He wants to kill your children... You should all burn in hell," via e-mail after it learned that she worked at WHYY. "It was a personal matter that was turned into a public issue," Buchman said. "Rather than call my journalistic integrity into question, I decided to resign for personal reasons." (registration req., via Romenesko)
The Supreme Court has denied the American Family Association's request for a review of a lower-court decision that upheld the FCC's point system. (PDF, p. 4, see "04-539.") AFA had argued that the point system, which settles competing applications from noncommercial broadcasters for frequencies, unfairly favored pubcasters over religious broadcasters.
The New York Times covers Tavis Smiley's departure from NPR. "We would argue that there's more to be done, but his show was evidence that we were accomplishing it," says David Umansky, NPR's interim v.p. for communcations.