Dec 29, 2005

Seven listeners have sued Detroit pubradio station WDET for fraud, claiming they were tricked into pledging for a music-oriented station in October while management was planning to switch its daytime schedule to national news programming, the Detroit Free Press reported. The change took place Dec. 13. The worst time to make such a switch is after a pledge drive, commented Chicago Public Radio's Torey Malatia, quoted in the Chicago Tribune. Via Romenesko.
StoryCorps, the oral history project launched by pubradio producer David Isay, has announced 2006 stops for its two traveling audio studios. One MobileBooth visited Gulfport, Miss., earlier this month and the other will come to New Orleans in May. The project has taped nearly 2,000 personal stories in 26 cities so far. Booths also operate at Grand Central Terminal and the World Trade Center in Manhattan.

Dec 23, 2005

The bones of former Masterpiece Theater host Alistair Cooke were illegally sold after his death, reports the New York Times. "At this point, we're just reeling," said his daughter. "It's so horrific on so many fronts."
NPR's reporting is less liberal than critics charge, and The Newshour with Jim Lehrer hews close to the political center, according to a forthcoming study of media bias led by a political scientist at the University of California Los Angeles.

Dec 21, 2005

"I believe NPR relies too much on think tanks in general and on conservative think tanks in particular -- especially when it comes to economics, and defense policy issues," writes NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin, clarifying views expressed in his previous column.
The format change at Detroit's WDET-FM is "a very risky move," says former General Manager Caryn Mathes in the Detroit Metro Times.

Dec 20, 2005

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler faults producers of Now for their handling of a Nov. 18 field report about wages paid to Latino electricians hired for reconstruction work in New Orleans. Complaints about the report from BE&K Inc., the subcontractor whose wage and hiring practices were examined, and the producer's response are posted on Now's website.
Meanwhile, CPB Ombudsman Ken Bode faults Getler for being too easy on PBS and producers of Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories in Getler's Dec. 2 critique.

Dec 19, 2005

Students at Swarthmore College and pubradio veteran Marty Goldensohn are producing War News Radio, a show about Iraq reported entirely from stateside. "We thought we were at a disadvantage not being on the ground in Iraq," a student tells The New Yorker. "But when you hear from reporters there that they can't even leave their hotels you start to think."
Robert Krulwich is returning to NPR. "My feeling has always been that there's a kind of imprinting going on if you do journalism and broadcasting for a living," he says. "Like if you're a duck and the first thing you see is a duck. I imprinted on NPR — it's the duck I know and the duck I own, and I'm going back to my original duck."

Dec 16, 2005

Peter Sagal tells Chicagoist how he became host of Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!: "[L]ike a lot of public radio geeks, I would sit around saying, 'I could do that. Why don't they put me on the air? I can be pompous just as they can! What's the problem here? What do they have that I don't?'"

Dec 15, 2005

Bill Moyers shares his side of a "sordid little story" about Kenneth Tomlinson, Paul Gigot, and the ideological battle over Now.

Dec 14, 2005

The Knight Foundation and PBS said today that Knight will give the network a $2.5 million challenge grant to launch a multicast Citizen's Channel next fall and $500,000 for the pilot of a nightly show for the channel, Global Watch. The show, produced by KCET of Los Angeles and KQED of San Francisco, will cull stories from around the world. It will be followed nightly by ITVS Presents, a showcase for indie docs. The channel will also feature video blogs and vox pop segments, live coverage of major press conferences and congressional hearings and repeats of PBS nonfiction shows. PBS developed its Public Square plans with a Knight grant awarded two years ago.

PBS's blue-ribbon Digital Future Initiative panel will release its report tomorrow at an invitation-only "summit" in D.C.
New York magazine culture critic John Leonard named David Grubin's Destination America as the best nonfiction TV program of 2005. The four-part doc debuted Oct. 19 on PBS. "This is the sort of television that puts faces on stats, but it’s also almost elegiac: These are the doors we are bolting behind us," Leonard wrote.
Five rules from the NPR drinking game. There's also the PBS pledge drive drinking game.
Sesame Workshop and New York-based cable provider Cablevision on Monday launched Sesame Street Games, an interactive video game service available to customers in the New York metropolitan area. The educational games, available on Cablevision's interactive digital cable tier, feature Muppets and are designed for children ages 2-5, who will use the cable remote control to make choices on their TV screens. The service costs $4.95 per month.
Radio consultant John Sutton had a staticky introduction to owning a digital radio: "I tried everything I could to get a better signal. It all seemed so old-fashioned, so 'analog.'"

Dec 13, 2005

WDET-FM in Detroit has gone all-news during middays, replacing a mix of locally originated music. "Public radio listeners let us know they're looking to us to provide news and information, and public affairs programming," says Michael Coleman, g.m. "That's what we're responding to." (Compare with the Audience Research Analysis study, below.)
A new report from Audience Research Analysis (PDF) begins to address public radio's recent stagnation in audience growth by looking at some listening trends. One observation: "At a time when many station managers seem certain that airing more local programming is their best competitive strategy, listeners are generally showing less interest in listening to it."

Dec 12, 2005

"[T]he few extra bucks aren't worth it." PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler writes that WGBH and PBS erred by allowing the Las Vegas Convention Authority and other local groups to underwrite Las Vegas: An Unconventional History.
The Traffic Directors Guild of America is completing its annual salary survey for traffic continuity, office and business managers in public and commercial broadcasting. The online survey ends Friday, Dec. 16. Results will be published in mid-January. For more information on the guild, see its website.
CPB seeks to award a three-year contract to a distributor of programming to Native radio stations.
The audience of WETA-FM in Washington, D.C. is "smaller, no more generous than the classical audience was, and no more reflective of the demographics of the Washington area" 10 months after the station dropped classical music in favor of news, writes the Washington Post's Marc Fisher. (Earlier coverage in Current.)

Dec 11, 2005

CPB Chair Cheryl Halpern personally co-funded, with El Al Airlines, a joint exhibition of 61 paintings by 50 young Israelis and Palestinians, and trips to London for four teenage artists for the opening at the Ben Uri Gallery, the Hampstead and Highgate Express reported last week. The peace-minded paintings featured such images as doves flying over the Mideast and the Palestinian and Israeli flags flying side by side. The exhibit closes Dec. 23.

Dec 9, 2005

A ruling on the fate of KALW-FM in San Francisco is expected later this month, reports the East Bay Express. Station execs are accused of misrepresenting the state of their public file. [Details of the FCC accusation in 2004 FCC document, in Word format: Commission orders hearing on whether KALW lied.]
Seattle's KEXP-FM went ahead with plans to lease a signal in Tacoma despite opposition from many senior staffers, reports the Seattle Weekly. The station recently cut the satellite frequency loose to shore up its finances.

Dec 8, 2005

An Editor & Publisher columnist suggests that newspapers might get a new lease on life by emulating public broadcasting's nonprofit model.
Conservative columnist George Will takes aim at congressional plans to subsidize DTV converter boxes. "Call it No Couch Potato Left Behind," he writes.

Dec 7, 2005

NPR's entry into podcasting is going "spectacularly well," says Ken Stern, executive v.p., in Radio World. (Earlier coverage in Current.)
Pubradio consultant John Sutton ponders the idea of "news fatigue" in his latest blog post. "'News fatigue' sounds like a handy answer to questions about public radio's audience decline," he writes. "But it is a 'blame the listener' response."
Media activist Jeff Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy has asked PBS's new ombudsman to see whether the network's underwriting rules are permitting underwriters to back programs that serve their interests. He cites the recent American Experience history of Las Vegas, underwritten by the city's tourist authority and a foundation related to the Las Vegas Sun. [Current article.] WGBH told Current that most funding for the show came from usual series sources not related to Las Vegas and that none of the funders saw the program before underwriting the episode.
Peggy Girshman, NPR's assistant managing editor, shares a recipe for tri-color butter cookie swirls in advance of the annual NPR Cookie Day.
NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin reads a 1988 article about NPR and laments that his network has lost some of its past quirkiness.
The Bergen (N.J.) Record profiles WFMU-FM in Jersey City, N.J., and music director Brian Turner. "One of the things I really love about music is discovering and finding out about all these things that dwell on the margins that you didn't even know existed," Turner says. Also: a blogger listens to (almost) nothing but WFMU for a week and lives to tell the tale.

Dec 6, 2005

The Chicago Tribune reviews Sound Opinions, a rock-criticism radio show that jumped from commercial radio to Chicago's WBEZ-FM last weekend. The debut "kept things punchy and unprofessorial," writes Steve Johnson.
A recent This American Life segment about Africa (RealAudio) dismayed a blogger with experience in the country. "In the only story in 2005 I can recall that mentioned Africa, you . . . managed to reinforce the majority of stupid Africa stereotypes I’ve encountered in 12 years of working on African issues and periodically living on the continent."

Dec 5, 2005

In a farewell delivered on the final installment of PBS's Journal Editorial Report, Paul Gigot thanked his producers, former CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson and viewers. "To the many PBS stations that carried us around the country, thank you for your commitment to public affairs programming that represents more than one point of view," Gigot said. "We wish every station shared that commitment."
In his first column as PBS ombudsman, Michael Getler faults PBS and producers of Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories for a "flawed presentation." He writes: "There was a complete absence of some of the fundamental journalistic conventions that, in fact, make a story more powerful and convincing because they, at a minimum, acknowledge that there is another side."

Dec 1, 2005

New York's WNYE-FM is simulcasting music programming from XM Satellite Radio, reports Radio and Records. (Via DCRTV.)
Fox News Channel announced that it will add the Journal Editorial Report to its lineup in January. Developed for PBS, the show has been at the heart of the Kenneth Tomlinson balance controversy. It will appear on PBS for the last time Dec. 2. "Roger Ailes and the Fox News Channel team have proven they can attract viewers with serious news programming and commentary," said Paul Gigot, the show's host and editorial page editor for the Wall Street Journal. "I look forward to working with them to make the Journal Editorial Report part of their successful lineup."

Nov 30, 2005

Humorist Andy Borowitz imagines that President Bush considered bombing NPR in advance of the Iraq War until British Prime Minister Tony Blair talked him out of it.
CPB Ombudsman Ken Bode responds to criticisms of the PBS program Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, "[T]his broadcast is so slanted as to raise suspicions that either the family courts of America have gone crazy or there must be another side to the story."
Online Journalism Review's Mark Glaser examines NPR's podcasting strategy and, in a signoff from OJR, notes that he's working with

Nov 29, 2005

WFMU's blog links to a video of Barney "channeling Tupac Shakur."
Nova's recent special on New Orleans, The Storm that Drowned a City, was too easy on the Bush administration, writes author Paul Loeb in a WorkingForChange critique.
"China is a singularly difficult story to tell because there is SO MUCH good and SO MUCH bad all happening simultaneously," says Rob Gifford, who covers China for NPR, in an interview with Leonard Witt.

Nov 28, 2005

In the New York Times today and the Washington Post yesterday editorialists derided former CPB Chair Ken Tomlinson -- in the Times as a "disastrous zealot" and in the Post as "a triumph of 'politics over good judgment'". They followed similar views published in the Toledo Blade and elsewhere. Richard Mellon Scaife's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, however, said the true scandal is that taxpayers are "conscripted" to pay for media.
NPR's Anne Garrels tells the Hartford Courant about traveling with a company of Marines in Iraq: "[T]hey were so disappointed that I was NPR. They didn't know what NPR was, but they wanted Fox!" (Via Romenesko.)
In a feature at, NPR's Bill Marimow and Daniel Zwerdling share stories of how their work has made a difference.
The future of KUT-FM in Austin, Texas, includes a major fundraising effort and the possibility of a different relationship to its university parent, reports the Austin Chronicle.
The New York Times checks in with a high school radio station in Indianapolis whose license was challenged by a religious broadcaster. Dozens of stations around the country have faced similar challenges in recent years.

Nov 23, 2005

Breaking the Silence: Children's Stories, a PBS documentary about domestic abuse, has come under a withering blogosphere attack for unfairly vilifying fathers. Men's advocacy groups and experts co-signed a letter to PBS challenging the film's journalistic rigor and one of the fathers named in the film threatened to sue for libel. Op-eds published by Fox News and the Boston Globe this week comment on the controversy. Glenn Sacks, a columnist and advocate for men's rights, leads the e-mail campaign, and has published court documents that paint a different picture of a mother portrayed heroicly in Breaking the Silence. (The daughter caught in the middle of this, Fatima Loeliger, posted her response here.) HoustonPBS produced a special edition of The Connection to examine the issues raised in the documentary. PBS has told critics it is reviewing the documentary.

Nov 21, 2005

"I just think that Ira and radio are too perfect a fit to be applied to television very effectively," says Robert Siegel of This American Life's Ira Glass. "But I'd be happy to be proved wrong."
Glenn Mitchell, a talk show host and 30-year veteran of KERA-FM in Dallas, Texas, died Sunday morning at the age of 55.
Adding conservative voices "appropriately diversified" the PBS lineup, the Houston Chronicle editorialized Nov. 19, but former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson unnecessarily created a scandal with his secretive campaign for balance. "Thanks to his improper consultations with the White House ... Tomlinson forfeited any claim as a crusader for fairness. Public broadcasting was meant to give Americans respite from the handiwork of political hacks."
The CPB Board induced former President Robert Coonrod to extend his time in office by giving him a four-year consulting contract worth nearly $500,000 and starting after he left CPB, the New York Times reported this morning. Because the CPB president's salary is capped by Congress (he was paid $174,000), the contract could raise political hackles. The board also agreed to pay his successor as president, Kathleen Cox, more than $600,000 as severance, a CPB spokesman told Current. Now the Times reports that CPB may withhold part of her settlement.

Nov 17, 2005

NPR's Bill Marimow discusses his network's growing commitment to investigative journalism in an Editor and Publisher report.
"...Watch Pat, she is slick as grease lightning." That was former CPB Board Chair Kenneth Tomlinson on PBS President Pat Mitchell in an e-mail to the Wall Street Journal's Paul Gigot. The WSJ has posted e-mails between Tomlinson and Gigot surrounding the creation of the Journal Editorial Report. (free registration required)
Editorial writers for the Wall Street Journal come out swinging for former CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson in their account of the storied history of the soon-to-be cancelled PBS show, Journal Editorial Report. [Via Romenesko]
Congress restored nearly all cuts in pubcasting funding proposed for the present fiscal year, APTS reports. A House/Senate conference committee last night okayed the big appropriations bill covering CPB as well as education and health agencies. CPB funding for FY06 rises to $400 million as planned and Congress maintained the practice of advance funding, okaying the same level for FY08.
NPR is granting the unusual privilege of downloading an MP3 of one of its reports: "My Lobotomy," a Sound Portraits Productions piece that aired yesterday on All Things Considered.

Nov 16, 2005

Ken Tomlinson, then CPB chairman, proposed a "very generous" severance package to fire President Kathleen Cox, the organization's inspector general reported Tuesday (PDF, page 21): three times her total annual compensation. (CPB spokesman Michael Levy told Current the amount was $614,000.) Cox's attorney said in the report she has not yet received a second installment.

Nov 15, 2005

The Chicago Tribune looks at This American Life ten years after its debut. "It changed everything. Really," says Torey Malatia, station manager of WBEZ.
In a letter to the IG, a lawyer for former CPB President Kathleen Cox says Chairman Tomlinson told her she was "not political enough" for the job and her "personal integrity" got in the way of continued employment. Tomlinson berated her for communicating directly with other board members. She was forced to quit in April (Current article). See Appendix D of IG report (full report).
CPB's inspector general, Kenneth Konz, found evidence that former CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson violated the law and the CPB Board's code of ethics in dealing directly with an executive of the Wall Street Journal, apparently Paul Gigot, during negotiations about the newspaper's PBS show, which has been discontinued as of Dec. 2. Executive summary on Current's site. Large PDF file of full 67-page report on CPB's website.

Nov 14, 2005

NPR's This I Believe essays "solicited from prominent names sometimes seem bland or banal," writes the Washington Post's Marc Fisher. "But the best of the essays combine a poetic sensibility with the occasional pearl of wisdom," he adds.
Managers of pubradio stations reacted with surprise to the news that Blair Feulner, g.m. of KCPW/KPCW-FM in Park City, Utah, makes $150,000 a year. "For me to ask for $100,000 at KUER would be inappropriate in the extreme — and my boss would make that clear," said one g.m. in the Salt Lake Tribune.
Connecticut's attorney general says he will sue the former president of a college radio station for misusing station funds, reports the (New London, Conn.) Day.
Jefferson Public Radio in Ashland, Ore., cancelled a local show after determining that the host had committed plagiarism, reports the Mail Tribune. The host of The Sustainable Kitchen denies any wrongdoing.

Nov 10, 2005

A recent survey found that public broadcasting's news reporting is the most trusted in the media, reports Broadcasting & Cable. (See the survey results and related materials.)
NPR has launched 16 new podcasts, including several online-only features and a revival of "On Words with John Ciardi," last heard on Morning Edition in the '80s.

Nov 8, 2005

The University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., will seek a buyer for its noncommercial FM station, KUOP-FM. Capital Public Radio in Sacramento has been operating the station for five years under a management agreement.

Nov 7, 2005

A recent Station Resource Group analysis of CPB data (PDF) suggests that public radio stations need to get serious about becoming more efficient fundraisers, writes consultant John Sutton.
At TV Barn, Aaron Barnhart comments on the Tomlinson affair and the lackluster output of CPB's ombudsmen.
Seattle's KEXP-FM will stop broadcasting on a Tacoma signal it had been leasing from Public Radio Capital. The station is seeking to cut costs as a subsidy from Seattle's Experience Music Project dries up. (More coverage in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.)
The FCC seeks comments on a proposal to create a low-power AM service.
WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, N.C., is moving ahead with plans to produce a national talk show with Dick Gordon as host. Gordon hosted public radio's The Connection until earlier this year, when it was cancelled by producing station WBUR-FM in Boston.
Sound Opinions, a long-running talk show about rock music that until now has aired on commercial radio, will jump to Chicago's WBEZ-FM next month and be distributed to public radio nationwide by American Public Media, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Garrison Keillor's traveling Prairie Home Companion will bypass its longtime home base, the Fitzgerald Theater in St. Paul, Minn., for at least the next year and perhaps longer, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The Rev. James Dobson's "Family News in Focus" website quotes "media critic Pat Trueman" calling for nonliberals to "step into the void" left by Ken Tomlinson's resignation from the CPB Board and "take up where he left off." (Earlier this year Patrick A. Trueman was a senior legal counsel of Family Research Council.) The website says Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.), a member of the House Appropriations Committee, is volunteering to lead the effort. The article seems to imply that liberals have chased away Tomlinson.

Nov 5, 2005

In addition to the CPB probe, Kenneth Tomlinson is the subject of an investigation by the State Department's inspector general, launched in July, the New York Times reports this morning. Materials including e-mails between Tomlinson and White House aide Karl Rove have been seized by State's IG and may be disclosed in the CPB IG's report this month, the newspaper said. Tomlinson is chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseer of Voice of America, Alhurra and other agencies.

Nov 3, 2005

Pro-life groups are promoting PBS's Nov. 8 broadcast of "The Last Abortion Clinic," a Frontline documentary reporting on their movement's success in limiting women's access to abortion in Mississippi.

Nov 2, 2005

Brooke Gladstone, co-host of On the Media, should have noted on a recent show that a journalist she was citing happens to be her husband, says NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin in his latest column.
The Media Access Project filed petitions with the FCC to deny pending license renewals for commercial television stations in Chicago and Milwaukee. Broadcasters in both cities failed to meet their public interest obligations because their 2004 news coverage largely overlooked local and statewide elections, according to petitions filed on behalf of Chicago Media Action and Milwaukee Public Interest Media Coalition. In a separate petition, Third Coast Press included the city's public TV stations in its motion (pdf) to deny renewals to Chicago's TV outlets.
The Public Radio Exchange has handed out $45,000 to six public radio stations to support "showcase shows" that highlight documentaries and work from independent producers.

Oct 31, 2005

More pix on Flickr from the Third Coast Festival.
A weakening focus on core broadcast programming is to blame for public radio's recent audience losses, writes consultant John Sutton. "Much of the industry’s attention is on reaching new and different audiences through new and different technologies," he says. "It’s as if a lot of people in public radio don’t want to be in radio anymore."

Oct 28, 2005

Romenesko asks: "Has NPR's Libby Lewis done any reports yet on Lewis Libby?"

Oct 24, 2005

Steve Fentriss, a 19-year-old drummer and composer from Ann Arbor, Mich., has recorded a little ditty called "I Love Public Radio." You can download it from his website (MP3). (Related article in the Ann Arbor News.)
Ray Suarez will host public radio's America Abroad and continue as a correspondent for public TV's NewsHour. Public Radio International distributes America Abroad to more than 100 stations.
See pictures from the Third Coast International Audio Festival on the Public Radio Exchange's Flickr page.
"Public radio forces too much money out of its on-air fund drives," writes consultant John Sutton on his blog. "And the problem is likely to get worse."
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer profiles Seattle's KEXP-FM. "They're keeping this hopeful notion of what music is supposed to be about alive," says a record label president.

Oct 21, 2005

WTTW plans to make big changes to its signature news magazine in January when former news anchor and CBS News correspondent Carol Marin signs on at Chicago Tonight. Marin's hiring, announced Oct. 20, foreshadows the exit of current anchor Bob Sirott, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. "The whole show will be changing," a WTTW spokeswoman tells Crain's Chicago Business.

Oct 18, 2005

Mark Handley, the retiring g.m. of New Hampshire Public Radio, reminisces in the New Hampshire Union Leader about his time at the network. Handley and his wife began a sailboat trip around the world yesterday; they're tracking their travels online.

Oct 17, 2005

In a world of new media options for kids and their parents, PBS's preeminence as the service with high-quality educational preschool fare is no longer assured, reports the Boston Globe. The landscape for kids TV has changed so much that even PBS looks to earn new revenues from commercials.
Cuts to CPB funding proposed by House Republicans would force tough decisions at Nebraska ETV. “We would probably have to eliminate our local programming if we wanted PBS programming,” General Manager Rod Bates tells the Lincoln Journal-Star. “That's the kind of choice we would have to make." In June, all three of Nebraska's Republican representatives voted against a House measure restoring $100 million in CPB funds.

Oct 12, 2005

If you're wondering what industry could become NPR's big competitor in serious news coverage, the New York Times had a hint on Monday. In an article fretting about newspapers' future, Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. is quoted: "We will follow our readers where they take us. ... If they want us on cellphones or downloaded so they can hear us in audio, we must be there."
"For the first time ever, hit prime time shows can be purchased online the day after they air on TV," Disney's new c.e.o. said today as Apple announced a $299 Video iPod that can hold 150 hours of TV, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"I'm with people who love radio," says Bob Edwards of his XM Satellite Radio gig. "NPR is run by newspaper people. Sometimes I think they don't even like radio."

Oct 11, 2005

"Finding the Future of Public Television" is the topic of a day-and-a-half workshop backed by CPB in Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 14-15. Speakers include CPB programmers Michael Pack and John Prizer, leftie performer Harry Shearer, conservative producer Lionel Chetwynd, former studio chief Frank Price and other producers and writers. They'll debate whether PBS can "fully represent America's diverse culture." Organizer of the workshop, the conservative American Cinema Foundation, will hold it on AFI's Western Avenue campus.

Oct 7, 2005

Radio World lists several noncommercial radio licensees, including WAMC-FM in Albany, N.Y., who received licenses after the FCC resolved conflicting applications.
Ron Della Chiesa will step down next month as the weekday morning classical music host on Boston's WGBH-FM, reports the Boston Herald. He has hosted classical music on the station for 35 years. (He is not retiring, as this item formerly and erroneously stated.)
Longtime Prairie Home Companion sponsor Lands' End has ended its underwriting deal with the show, reports the (Madison, Wis.) Capital Times.
Josh Kornbluth, host of a quirky new local series and weblog for KQED-TV, dreamed of being an NBA point guard, but he never imagined having his own TV show. "You look at someone who belongs on television . . . they're solid, like they belong there.... An animated character can be like me, " he tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "Look at Jim Lehrer, and look at his hair. There's no way I can compete with that."

Oct 6, 2005

CPB seeks a firm to help with developing public radio services for Latinos in Los Angeles.
"A lot of people probably don't know me or haven't heard about me and are not used to having this additional channel for challenge," says Michael Getler, describing his new job as PBS ombudsman. Getler, a veteran newspaper reporter and editor who is ending a five-year term as Washington Post ombudsman, joins PBS on Nov. 15.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of the left-wing weekly The Nation, picked up on a senator's jibe at Ken Tomlinson, suggesting that CPB put $5 million into a commentary program run by her magazine just as it did for the Wall Street Journal's roundtable show. "We're serious. With the departure of Bill Moyers from Now, PBS has no outspoken liberals at all offering commentary," she wrote, concluding, "We eagerly await your response."
NPR will beef up coverage of the southern U.S. with a reporter stationed in Nashville, reports the Nashville City Paper.

Oct 5, 2005

WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, N.C., hopes to launch a national talk show hosted by Dick Gordon, former host of The Connection. A plea for funds on the website of the Triangle Community Foundation lays out the plan.
Michael Getler, who holds the position at the Washington Post, will become the first ombudsman for PBS. Getler worked for the Post 26 years, reporting on the Pentagon, Central Europe and London beats, then serving as foreign editor and deputy managing editor. He became executive editor of the International Herald Tribune in 1996 and returned to the Post as ombudsman in 2000. With backing from a panel of journalists, PBS decided to hire an ombudsman this summer. CPB had hired a pair of journalists for the purpose. In three months, they've published seven essays on CPB's website.
There's a LiveJournal community for public radio fans.
"I am by definition a reporter. Not an editor, not a publisher. A reporter," says NPR Co-Managing Editor Bill Marimow in the Johns Hopkins Newsletter.
NPR has tried to make it easier for listeners to offer feedback but still has work to do, says Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin in his latest column.
"Whenever I'm not sure about something, the ethics of something, the question I ask myself is what would Murrow have done? What would Murrow say?" says NPR's Daniel Schorr. (Via Romenesko.)
"Beyond investigations, we must lay out a program for a new governance of PBS, one that is safely shielded from partisan hatchets," writes Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) in a Huffington Post column.

Oct 4, 2005

Marc Steiner has stepped down as executive v.p. for broadcast and production at WYPR-FM in Baltimore, reports the City Paper. Anonymous sources cite friction between Steiner and WYPR President Tony Brandon as one reason.
A blogger and Bob Edwards fan reports that NPR barred Daniel Schorr from appearing on Edwards' XM Satellite Radio show.
The Third Coast International Audio Festival has announced the winners of its annual radio documentary competition (but not the particular awards they won).
City weeklies often disdain the local public TV station, but not Nashville City Paper, which commented on the departure of Steve Bass, head of WNPT: "Last week, Bass announced he will move to Oregon Public Television at the end of the year. He leaves Nashville richer for his having passed this way. . . ."
It's time to dump CPB and create a funding system independent of politics, Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) suggests. The liberal media watchdog quotes James Ledbetter: "Like a dog that has learned to flinch at the mere pantomime of its master’s lashing, public broadcasters know how to avoid topics and methods of criticism that might bring down the hand of rebuke.”

Sep 28, 2005

Public Radio International will distribute Here and Now, a midday news program produced by WBUR-FM in Boston. The show airs on 40 stations.
The Boston Globe profiles Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR's On Point: "Fans praise Ashbrook's interruptions, his injection of urgency, his tendency to summarize guests' points in his own tart words. Critics grumble about those same traits, saying he steps on answers and dampens thoughts." (Via Romenesko.)

Sep 27, 2005

NTIA announced $21.4 million in Public Telecommunications Facilities Program grants yesterday, more than half for public TV digital conversion. Projects will bring first public radio service to 700,000 people, NTIA estimated.

Sep 21, 2005

Bruce Drake will step down Sept. 30 as NPR's v.p. of news. He will move on to help launch the network's Local News Initiative, a project to expand and strengthen reporting at NPR member stations.

Sep 16, 2005

A coalition of media reform groups called on CPB to completely open its board meetings, the best parts of which are generally off-limits to the press and public, and otherwise encourage openness and transparency.

Sep 14, 2005

Blogger Rex Sorgatz has temporarily stopped selling T-shirts that say "A Prairie Ho Companion" after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Garrison Keillor's lawyers. "[I]t annoys the living hell out of me that Garrison Keillor thinks he can bully me," says Sorgatz. (St. Paul Pioneer Press article.)
"Tune in for a crash course in the sounds your favorite record store clerk was grooving to, like, two years ago," says Pitchfork of the NPR concert series.

Sep 13, 2005

Some BBC coverage of Hurricane Katrina "sounds mean-spirited and not particularly helpful; it probably evokes knowing glances and smirks among editors and producers back in London," says NPR ombud Jeffrey Dvorkin.

Sep 12, 2005

The Public Radio Program Directors conference has a blog this year.
WUOM in Ann Arbor is is the most popular station in its market, boasting an 11.1 share, according to the Ann Arbor News.
Observers in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot yesterday criticize WHRO-TV/FM for ending local pubTV production, but with revenues down 27 percent in two years, station management cut staffing, which is down to 79 — a 23 percent drop in the past four years.

Sep 9, 2005

The FCC is letting noncommercial broadcasters in New Orleans rebroadcast commercial fare in the wake of Katrina, according to Radio World.

Sep 8, 2005

"Look, any time there's a contentious exchange in the White House press room, it makes the press look bad," said NPR's Mara Liasson on Fox News Sept. 7.

Sep 7, 2005

Commercial TV veteran Paul La Camera was named g.m. of WBUR-FM in Boston. La Camera has served as president of a Boston ABC affiliate since 1994. He is WBUR's first permanent g.m. since Jane Christo resigned last fall. launched NerdTV, a web-exclusive weekly TV series from technology columnist Robert X. Cringely.
Accuracy in Media calls for an investigation into pubcasting's campaign this summer to restore $100 million in CPB funding.
The parent company of Minnesota Public Radio is backing a Friendster-like social networking website aimed at public radio listeners, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
The New York Times checks in with American Routes host Nick Spitzer as he prepares a post-Katrina episode of his show. "I wanted it to be music of reflection and solace and also hope, an attempt to put some balm on this," he says.

Sep 6, 2005

David Freedman, g.m. of WWOZ-FM in New Orleans, considers the future of his devastated station in an e-mail posted on WFMU's blog: "This is much bigger than WWOZ, although this station feels like it needs to be at the forefront of the bigger issue: the decimation of a culture."
Now, the PBS news magazine hosted by David Brancaccio, will produce a one-hour town-hall meeting on the response to Hurricane Katrina on Friday, Sept. 16. During last week's episode, Now revisited two special reports from 2002 that examined the implications of the disappearing Mississippi River Delta and the danger that hurricane flood waters could drown New Orleans.

Sep 2, 2005

Hurricane Katrina literally hit close to home for NPR and ABC news commentator Cokie Roberts. "All 11 houses in the Roberts family compound outside Gulfport, Miss., were destroyed," the Philadephia Inquirer reported. "I spent a huge amount of my life on that piece of property," Roberts told the paper. "It's very much home."
CPB Web resources: The corporation has posted information about the status of pubcasters affected by Hurricane Katrina; links to assistance resources for broadcasters; and Katrina-related news from NPR and PBS.

Sep 1, 2005

A blanket waiver approved by the FCC today allows public TV stations to raise money on-air for hurricane relief, according to America's Public Television Stations.
CPB is giving $500,000 to stations affected by Hurricane Katrina.

Aug 31, 2005

Director Robert Altman is bringing his trademark improvisational style to the Prairie Home Companion-inspired film, Time reports. "When I go home at night, I know we've got something, but I don't know what," Altman says. "It's going to be a very weird movie."
NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin questions whether Jonah Goldberg, a conservative commentator, was a suitable fill-in for Daniel Schorr on a recent Weekend Edition Saturday.
Here it is: public radio's new mega-directory of podcasts, at NPR's site. It should soon appear on other station and network sites.

Aug 30, 2005

"Journalism can teach you a lot about narrative and detail to carry a story. But a novel has to take on its own life," says Scott Simon as he discusses his new novel, Pretty Birds.
Listeners have been complaining that NPR is airing a glut of stories about religion, and Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin says the network should consider keeping track of the airtime devoted to the subject.

Aug 29, 2005

WLVT-TV in Bethlehem, Pa., is still looking to expand into radio, reports the Express-Times. An earlier effort to merge with nearby WDIY-FM failed last November.

Aug 22, 2005

Seattle's KEXP-FM reportedly plans to start broadcasting to cell phones and handheld organizers later this month, according to FMQB. (Via Technology360.)
Staff and fans of Cincinnati's WVXU-FM are mourning the station's switch to an all-news format under its new owner, WGUC-FM. "This is like a family member passing away," an employee tells the Cincinnati Enquirer. (More coverage in the Cincinnati Post.)

Aug 19, 2005

CPB is looking for an African-American market-research company to help develop public radio programming for black audiences. Proposals are due Sept. 13.
Garrison Keillor has quietly begun Literary Friendships, a series of recorded conversations in which American writers discuss their friendships with one another. Guests have included Robert Bly, Michael Chabon and Sandra Cisneros.

Aug 18, 2005

Chicago's WTTW and CPB will join PBS in leading pubTV's Ready to Learn grant projects. For the first year, they received a total of $23.2 million from the Department of Education, CPB said yesterday. The joint Literacy 360 project of CPB and PBS got $15.8 million for programming and outreach, aiming to measurably improve the reading of kids from low-income families. WTTW got $4 million to co-produce a children's series, Word World. Grant-seekers scrambled after the department announced that the funding would be split among grantees and not entrusted entirely to PBS.

Aug 16, 2005

After fining broadcasters $8 million for indecency in 2004, the FCC has slacked off in recent months, but Mediaweek reporter Todd Shields told On the Media that the regulators are just gearing up to attack again [mp3 audio file]. New Chairman Kevin Martin recently hired an indecency advisor, Penny Nance, a Christian activist for kid-safe media.
Penn State's pubTV and radio stations in Happy Valley dedicate their new building Sept. 8 and the TV station adopts the radio station's call letters in October, moving from WPSX to WPSU. The combo shares a 96,000-square-foot building at the Innovation campus with the university's continuing education, online World Campus and other outreach activities.

Aug 15, 2005

Public radio "just isn't set up for innovation and it isn't set up to cultivate new ideas and it isn't set up to cultivate the next generation of things. And it seems like a waste to me," says Ira Glass to the CJR Daily.
WUKY-FM in Lexington, Ky., restored Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac to the air Friday, shortly after canceling the segment because of concerns about "decency." The station's manager "may now have discovered that playing it safe is the most unsafe thing an educational station manager can do," say two commentators with ties to Kentucky ETV.
Public Radio International will furnish Duke University with digital versions of some of its shows for use in classes, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Aug 9, 2005

Democracy Now host Amy Goodman and her brother, David, have asked that the New York Times and a late reporter, William L. Laurence, be stripped of a Pulitzer Prize. They charge that Laurence delivered biased reporting on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki while on the U.S. military's payroll.
Radio researcher Mark Ramsey warns against overusing digital radio for the creation of new formats: "Just because we can thin-slice a format into skinnier niches doesn’t mean we should."
Marketplace will increase reporting on global sustainability and the economy with a $2.1 million grant from the Tides Foundation. The money will also support coverage on other American Public Media programs.
A Los Angeles Times story lays bare Ira Glass's struggle to bring his radio show to television: "Time and again, Glass seemed unable to reconcile himself with the pace of a TV story — in which the mind reads images faster than the speed of a narrator, leaving him no room to do what he knows best."
Dick Gordon, former host of public radio's The Connection, writes in the Boston Globe on the show's last day: "I'm still bewildered as to why the program was canceled." "We have lost an important set of voices -- actual conversations about important topics," writes a fan in a letter to the Globe.
Public TV's Now hired Maria Hinojosa as senior correspondent. Hinojosa will continue hosting public radio's Latino USA.
Chicago's WBEZ declined to sell underwriting to a local Air America affiliate, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.
Ken Tomlinson's chairmanship of the U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseer of VOA and other overseas broadcast units, compares with his guidance of CPB, writes Franklin Foer in The New Republic Aug. 15 issue -- asserting that both are marked by partisan purges, ideological hirings and closed meetings. NPR's David Folkenflik filed a similar report for NPR in June. Both Foer and Folkenflik refer to the Foreign Affairs magazine article by Sanford Ungar [partial article online], a former VOA director and ATC co-host who is now president of Goucher College in Baltimore. Tomlinson and criticized VOA Director David S. Jackson respond to Ungar's article here.

Aug 8, 2005

Three journalists quit a health program project at Connecticut PTV after top managers pressed them to interview execs of a hospital that partially funded the project, the Hartford Courant reported today [image of front page]. The Courant launched its critique of CPT yesterday with a piece criticizing its reduced local programming and the management of President Jerry Franklin. The newspaper points to Pittsburgh's WQED as a station of similar size with more local production. No gloves are laid upon the Connecticut network's radio wing.
Iowa's Board of Regents hired Cindy Browne as the first executive director of Iowa Public Radio today. Browne, a Minneapolis consultant, longtime exec of Twin Cities PTV and later executive v.p. of CPB, competed for the job against John Stark, g.m. of KNAU-FM, Flagstaff, Ariz. The candidates visited Iowa campuses during the unusually public hiring process. Stations at three universities are combining to create the new network.

Aug 3, 2005

The FCC granted a request by the Station Resource Group to extend the deadline for filing comments on its proposed low-power FM rulemaking. (PDFs.) SRG said the added time would allow member stations to discuss the rulemaking in San Diego this week at its annual retreat.
Even Brenda Starr is taking note of the CPB flap.

Aug 1, 2005

Audience share for WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., has dropped from a year ago, reports the Washington Times. The station changed to an all-news format in February. WAMU-FM's share was identical in spring 2004 and spring 2005.
Tavis Smiley addresses the debate about balance in public broadcasting: "While Washington talks about ideological balance, Americans hunger to see programming that reflects their experience and inspires their lives."
The Cleveland Plain Dealer checks on WCPN-FM/WVIZ-TV four years after the stations merged and finds low morale and a struggling news department on the radio side, according to some accounts. "The feeling was that TV management, which basically took over, didn't understand how public radio was done successfully," says a former WCPN reporter.

Jul 29, 2005

Ten public interest groups have asked CPB for "increased openness and transparency in the way the CPB board operates and conducts its meetings." "Citizens should not be kept in the dark about how the CPB does its work," said Chellie Pingree, president of Common Cause.
Another article about the Prairie Home Companion movie, this one from the Washington Post. "It's very difficult for him," says director Robert Altman of his collaborator, Garrison Keillor. "It's the first time he's had anybody that can override him." At PHC's website, Keillor responds to a dismissive comment about Lindsay Lohan, who recently wrapped her appearance in the film: "[A]ll of us around the movie set smile at the mention of her name and sort of miss her."

Jul 28, 2005

In a meeting with Washington Times staffers, CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson defended his efforts to correct what he sees as a liberal tilt in public broadcasting and said "NPR's got real problems." Tomlinson also appeared Sunday on C-SPAN's Q&A.
Writer Rick Moody critiques public radio at Transom: "Oh, here come the exotic sitars, to indicate that the story is from another part of the world."
The Public Radio Exchange v. 2.0 has arrived.
In an AP profile, On the Media hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield cite The Daily Show as a primary inspiration.

Jul 27, 2005

Columnist Nat Hentoff says CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson demeans Bush administration leaders by implying they need his "ham-handed" defense from criticism on public TV. Hentoff, however, concludes media should avoid these problems by rejecting government funding altogether.
The FCC has decided in favor of 14 Calvary Chapels seeking licenses for low-power FM stations. (PDF.) The National Lawyers Guild Center on Democratic Communications had opposed the would-be broadcasters, arguing that they had not sufficiently demonstrated a commitment to local broadcasting. The FCC at first agreed with the Guild, but the Chapels revised their applications and prevailed.
The winning of an award from Jazz Week magazine has prompted KUVO-FM in Denver to relax its dress code, reports the Denver Post. (A dress code in public radio? Must be a first.)

Jul 26, 2005

Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president of WETA-TV/FM in Washington, D.C., has been diagnosed with colorectal cancer, according to FishbowlDC. She will receive treatment in coming months and will hand the reins over to Joe Bruns, WETA's executive v.p., during that time. (Statement from her husband, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.)) (Via DCRTV.)
David Boaz of the Cato Institute offers ten top reasons to privatize public broadcasting.
Will Shortz, puzzlemaster for NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, has the hottest mind of the New York Times' male staffers, according to Gawker readers.
Columnist Robert Novak reports on the "surprising relationships" that weren't disclosed during the July 11 Senate hearing on public broadcasting, which he describes as an orchestrated ambush of CPB Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson.

Jul 25, 2005

The Chicago Sun-Times goes behind the scenes with Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!, which recently switched to live tapings before an audience. "[W]e did it so long without an audience it was almost like a rehearsal, a six-year rehearsal," says Doug Berman, e.p. "And we got so good at it that by the time we went out in front of an audience, it was great every time." (Via Romenesko.)
In the New York Times, This American Life host Ira Glass expresses mixed reactions about the show's recent experiments with television.
An executive council seeking the director of the new Iowa Public Radio network is looking for a candidate with "Midwestern cultural competency," according to the Iowa State Daily.
Producer Jay Allison offers stations tips for creating interstitial content on their airwaves, including "Sonic IDs".
The New York Times looks at Open Source, the new show from Christopher Lydon: "Because of the program's interactive component, its benchmark of success might be less the number of stations that ultimately carry the program and more the online presence Open Source establishes."
The New York Times drops in on the set of A Prairie Home Companion The Movie. "All of us understand and respond to the fact that this is his [Garrison Keillor's] baby, he is the creator, and that this is a 30-year project being immortalized on film," says actress Virginia Madsen. (Coverage in Current.)

Jul 23, 2005

Jul 20, 2005

A Harvard professor laments the cancellation of WBUR's The Connection: "While a growing audience is desirable, that should not be the chief criterion for a public broadcast outlet." And Mark Jurkowitz notes the firing of WBUR reporter Michael Goldfarb.

Jul 19, 2005

CPB's redesigned website includes detailed results from opinion polls that measured public perceptions of bias in pubcasting programs in 2002 and 2003. The survey findings don't support CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson's view of liberal bias on PBS and NPR. As researchers wrote in a summary, "[b]oth surveys confirm the same thing: The majority of the U.S. adult population does not believe that the news and information programming on public broadcasting is biased."

Jul 18, 2005

CPB denied funding to Theory of Everything, reports host Benjamen Walker, who adds that it might be "the beginning of the end for the radio program."
"Something fishy is going on at PBS," says Candorville.
Boston's WBUR will cancel The Connection and move On Point into the vacated morning time slot, reports the Boston Globe. A Globe columnist praises the changes at WBUR and competitor WGBH: "The Montagues at 'BUR are beefing up their signature local news, while the Capulets at 'GBH are finally pursuing their mandate as our arts and culture station with some juice." (More coverage from WBUR.)
The New York Times reviews two recently published histories of public radio: "Although the two books share a lot, they are separated by a substantial accomplishment gap."

Jul 15, 2005

Jim Terr offers a new song, "Hands Off My NPR" (MP3, Windows Media also available). "You can do anything to my blue suede shoes/You can splash mud on my car/But you’re gonna be awful sorry/If you mess with my NPR." Terr has also written a musical lament about Susan Stamberg's cranberry relish recipe.
Fitch Ratings affirmed Colorado Public Radio's bonds as stable but has downgraded Nashville Public Radio's bonds to negative, citing the station's negative operating margins and "resulting liquidity drawdowns to cover debt service costs."
Cheryl Halpern, a major Republican donor on the CPB Board, is likely successor to Ken Tomlinson as chair, the Washington Post reports. His term expires in September. Halpern stirred debate in a 2003 Senate hearing when she objected that the CPB Board lacks the power to do much about its balance mandate. When she and Tomlinson served on the board overseeing VOA, she said, they could remove journalists who editorialized.

Jul 14, 2005

The Senate Appropriations Committee today backed the addition of $111M to the $400M CPB advance appropriation for FY08 recently approved by the House, APTS reported. The Senate panel okayed $35M for DTV conversion, $40M for an upgrade of pubTV's satellite system, $25M for Ready to Learn and $11 million for Ready to Teach.
CPB has released an RFP for public radio music programming. Proposals will compete for $1 million of the $6.4 million available this year for national radio programming.
An upcoming Masterpiece Theater will feature Rupert Everett as Sherlock Holmes, prompting the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes to quip that the network "must now find a Masterpiece Theatre production starring a homophobic actor to preserve that perfect 'balance' demanded by Corporation for Public Broadcasting chief Ken Tomlinson."
"'[B]alance' is not the whole story and supporters of public broadcasting should not take it as some sort of gold standard," writes former CPB employee Elizabeth Spiro Clark on
Some newspapers misreported how much CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson spent to hire lobbyists and commission Fred Mann's report, CJR Daily points out.

Jul 13, 2005

The Public Radio Exchange Flickr stream offers a behind-the-scenes photographic peek into the innovative online content shop.
HearingVoices offers a pop quiz on radio with some questions related to public broadcasting.
Guests on yesterday's Democracy Now! debated whether public broadcasting should be federally funded and other matters. (A nimble argument from David Boaz of the Cato Institute: "[Y]our bias is subtle enough that most of your viewers don't recognize it, and that's the most effective bias of all.")
CPB's Inspector General will also investigate whether the agency's hiring of Patricia Harrison as president was inappropriately conducted, according to Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who requested the inquiry. CPB Board member Ernest Wilson said on yesterday's Democracy Now! that he "was disturbed by the way in which the search was conducted." Meanwhile, PBS President Pat Mitchell called CPB's monitoring of public TV programming for liberal bias "very troubling," reports the Washington Post.
"16 seconds of audible breathing from one hour's worth of All Things Considered," courtesy of artist Chuck Jones. (MP3. Via WFMU-FM's excellent blog.)

Jul 12, 2005

The New York Times covers CPB Chairman Ken Tomlinson's appearance in the Senate yesterday.
CPB's new ombudsmen have so far found no political bias on their beat, but instead "have been positively glowing in their assessments of the journalism heard on NPR and seen on news shows distributed by PBS," says the Washington Post.

Jul 11, 2005

Patricia Harrison, the controversially-appointed new president of CPB, today made her first public appearance in that role. In testimony before the Senate subcommittee overseeing CPB, Harrison pled pubcasting's case for greater federal funding than the House has approved to this point. "The federal dollars are critical to leveraging all the other resources," she said. "It opens the door for funding from state and local governments, universities, businesses, foundations, by providing a “seal of approval” from the federal government." Embattled CPB Board Chair Ken Tomlinson also appeared to add his two cents and take shots from senators regarding his efforts to hire consultants and otherwise act on his much-reported concerns about pubcasting balance. "You've perceived a problem the American people don't perceive," said Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) during a contentitous barrage of questions. Responding to a query from multiple lawmakers, Tomlinson said he'd "absolutely" be willing to meet Bill Moyers for a televised debate on pubTV balance issues, but said it "wouldn't be good for public broadcasting." Tomlinson's written statement also defended the much-maligned Hallmark, er, Mann study. PBS President Pat Mitchell and APTS President John Lawson also testified, as did David Boaz, executive v.p. of the Cato Institute, who argued that the government should end all federal funding for pubcasting within five years.
The Washington Post previews how digital broadcasting will change radio.

Jul 6, 2005

NPR should not have aired the testimony of the "BTK" killer, says NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin.
Betsy Gardella was named g.m. of New Hampshire Public Radio, replacing Mark Handley.
Slate blogger Mickey Kaus takes exception to the New York Times Magazine's fawning June 26 profile of KCRW's Nic Harcourt. "Harcourt's scared to rock," Kaus claims. (via
The Situation with Tucker Carlson may not be bad for America, but does seem to weaken the "intellectual standing" of its host, writes a New York Times critic.

Jul 5, 2005

With Apple's introduction of podcast features into iTunes, "every public radio station probably should be offering podcasts by now," writes Steve Outing.
Garrison Keillor blends optimism and wistfulness in his debut newspaper column.
A Berkeley Daily Planet article details some of the latest disputes engulfing Pacifica's KPFA-FM.
Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg says public TV is liberal ("it just is") and shot through with contradictions between its claims and its reality. Cal Thomas meanwhile focuses on Moyers, citing a Current article.
The progressive website Media Matters asked CPB to recognize the Freedom of Information Act and release the bias studies commissioned by Chairman Ken Tomlinson. CPB contends that it isn't subject to FOIA scrutiny but in the past has pledged to abide by it voluntarily.

Jul 2, 2005

Only 42 percent of Americans think the press generally stands up for America, says a study by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press. The score on that question returns to pre-9/11 days. After 9/11 it soared to 69 percent. Views different greatly by party affiliation, Pew notes: The press is too critical, say 67 percent of Repubs, 24 percent of Dems.
The National Park Service is rebalancing the politics of a video shown to visitors of the Lincoln Memorial, adding footage of pro-gun and pro-war marches and other right-side events to scenes of civil rights rallies and the like, AP reported.

Jul 1, 2005

In today's Washington Post, public broadcasters and reporters labeled with the scarlet "L" respond to the content analysis study commissioned by CPB Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson. The Los Angeles Times and New York Times also report on the study in today's editions. Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.), who released the study, called it "a little nutty."

Jun 30, 2005

Marketplace reports on the competitive threats and economic challenges facing public TV.
NPR reports on and provides downloads of The Mann Report, a CPB consultant's study of political balance on PBS and NPR programs.
Pubcasters should be thrilled that the House restored CPB's 2006 funding, but "that price will be paid, as is so often the case in today's Washington, by the people who depend on government help for essential health care and education and job-training services," writes David Broder in the Washington Post. The columnist looks at the programs that were cut to enable return of the system's funds.

Jun 29, 2005

Public Radio Today, an Arbitron report, is chock-full of number-crunching thrills. (PDF)
CPB's bipolar approach to political programming extends to its $20 million "America at a Crossroads" project, the New York Times reports. First, the corporation gave a preliminary grant for a film about controversial neocon and former Bush advisor Richard Perle to an old Perle pal. Then it commissioned a critical examination of Bush foreign policy to balance the first film. "I think the American tradition of journalism is that if something is controversial, the initial treatment of it would provide sufficient balance," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, who helped PBS update its editorial guidelines.

Jun 28, 2005

Big Bird and the usual Sesame Street suspects figure heavily in this collection of editorial cartoons about public broadcasting's recent troubles, available via Slate.
Over at the TV Barn, Aaron Barnhart gives the rundown on the $112 million that's still missing from the various coffers that fund public broadcasting every year.
In today's Los Angeles Times, Tavis Smiley and NPR President Kevin Klose respond to the revelation that the political content analysis secretly commissioned by CPB Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson examined programs helmed by Smiley and Diane Rehm.
CPB named 11 more producers receiving R&D money for its America at the Crossroads project, which aims to prepare 20 hours of programming for broadcast around the fifth anniversary of 9/11. When the producers have completed R&D, CPB will choose which will get production funds.
In an epilogue to her feature on pubcasting funding, On the Media co-host Brooke Gladstone reveals that Lyndon Johnson invented the Internet [RealAudio file] -- or at least foresaw it at the time he was godfathering public broadcasting.

The BBC will double spending on journalism training to 10 million pounds a year, but has decided to do it online rather than creating a bricks-and-mortar college, The Scotsman of Edinburgh reported.

Jun 27, 2005

The New York Times Magazine profiles Nic Harcourt, music director at KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, Calif.: "At a time in radio when D.J.'s generally possess little personality and no responsibility for choosing the music they play, he has emerged as the country's most important disc jockey and a genuine bellwether."
A California appeals court overruled the sale of Orange County's public TV station to the KOCE Foundation, saying that a decision to reject the higher bid of religious broadcasters was the "rankest form of favoritism," reports the Los Angeles Times.

Jun 26, 2005

"Then on Thursday a Rove dream came true: Patricia Harrison ... ascended to the CPB presidency," writes Frank Rich in a New York Times op-ed today. The right doesn't want to kill off public broadcasting, Rich says, but "annex it to the larger state propaganda machine...."

Jun 23, 2005

People for the American Way called it a "landslide." Urged on by pubcasting backers around the country, the House voted 284-140 to restore $100 million cut from CPB's budget in a subcommittee, AP reported. However, the House did not undo the $23 million deletion of the Ready to Learn program for children's TV or $89 million in requested aid for digital transition and pubTV's satellite system overhaul. More than 80 Republicans joined Democrats in supporting an amendment by Reps. David Obey (D-Wis.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Jim Leach (R-Iowa), said Free Press, one of several groups that helped pubcasters publicize the issue.

How did your House member vote? Here's the House clerk's roll call of the 87 Republicans, 196 Democrats and 1 independent who voted for the Obey amendment.
Patricia Harrison, the controversial candidate for the CPB presidency favored by Board Chairman Kenneth Tomlinson, has been named President and CEO, AP reports. CPB announced the appointment in a news release as the House debated funding for public broadcasting.
Who supports public broadcasting? In the heat of battle over federal funding to the field, "Democrats in Congress and liberal organizations have emerged as public broadcasting's most visible and vocal supporters, while Republicans and conservatives have stayed mostly silent," reports the Washington Post.

Jun 22, 2005

"The White House is always looking for liberal bias in the news media, and I can help them find it," writes John Carroll of the San Francisco Chronicle. "I can monitor my own column, and write detailed reports about the bias therein." (Via Romenesko.)
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviews Bill Moyers on the right wing's agenda for public broadcasting.
"Mr. Tomlinson has not politicized PBS. Bill Moyers politicized PBS." So said George Neumayr, executive editor of American Spectator magazine, who appeared on last night's NewsHour with Kansas City PTV President Bill Reed. "Oh, Bill Moyers -- you know, Bill Moyers retired. He keeps bringing up Bill Moyers," Reed said. "And I hope Bill Moyers comes back. I'd love to have him back on our air."

Jun 21, 2005

"The appointment of the CPB ombudsmen has, indeed, accomplished something: It has sown doubts (or reinforced existing ones) among many listeners (and viewers) that there is something fundamentally wrong at NPR and PBS," writes NPR ombud Jeffrey Dvorkin in his latest column. (Via Romenesko.)
Slate reviews MSNBC's new talk show, The Situation with Tucker Carlson, finding it "shallow, but far from unwatchable; it zips along at a healthy clip, getting in a few good digs along the way, and next thing you know it's over, and you're no worse off than you were before."