Feb 28, 2005

"My challenge is to develop a public radio sound that's different from NPR but compatible," says American Public Media's Jim Russell in a Minneapolis Star-Tribune interview.
A Washington, D.C., radio listener bemoans recent format changes, including WETA's: "[I]t seems like radio used to be so much better."
Independent producer Benjamen Walker discusses his show and podcasting with "Where do I see myself as having more of a future, the Internet or NPR? I'd pick the Internet, definitely." Also at Pitchfork, a profile of KCMP, Minnesota Public Radio's new eclectic station.

Feb 22, 2005

Podcasting has doubled the online audience for WNYC's On the Media in just four weeks. And Tod Maffin has started, a directory to podcasting pubcasters that is similar to ours.
“I think there’s a lot of fear in the air out there,” KCPT President Bill Reed tells the Kansas City Star, in an article about "A Company of Soldiers," a Frontline documentary that includes profanity spoken by American soldiers under fire. “That’s how the climate is now. You have to go back to the McCarthy era to get a feel for how far this has gone.” [Via TV Barn.] KCPT is one of 40 public TV stations that will air the documentary tonight with the unedited language.
Pittsburgh's WQED-FM aims to remain a localized classical music station, "[b]ut the community is not holding up its part of the deal," says president George Miles Jr. in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. As Current recently reported, other stations have also been having trouble with classical.
Listen to Current Senior Editor Karen Everhart's Feb. 18 appearance on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer (RealAudio).
"We like to have fun with the show and we like to be adventurous, but at bottom, we want to urgently illuminate what the hell is going on in this world," says On Point host Tom Ashbrook in the BU Bridge.
Minneapolis Public Schools has rebuffed offers from Minnesota Public Radio to buy KBEM-FM, the school district's financially troubled jazz station, reports the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Feb 18, 2005

CPB President Kathleen Cox tells the Washington Post that, contrary to what PBS President Pat Mitchell and her spokeswoman have said, Cox did not confer with Mitchell on whether to withdraw "Sugartime!," the Postcards from Buster program depicting Vermont children with two mommies. "[T]he first I heard from her was after she made that decision, explaining that she had made the decision after receiving the Spellings letter," Cox says.

Feb 17, 2005

"We feel strongly that the language of war should not be sanitized and that there is nothing indecent about its use in this context." In a memo to public TV stations, producers of Frontline ask them to take a stand for the First Amendment by airing a documentary that includes the real language of soldiers in combat [via Romenesko].
The New York Times reports that PBS's identity crisis goes far deeper than the announcement by Pat Mitchell that she would step down next year as the beleaguered network's president.
"I just wanted to make clear that I've got 15 months left on this job and let's make this as constructive as we can," says PBS President Pat Mitchell in a Washington Post column that links her announcement that she'll leave PBS next year to her handling of the Buster "two mommies" program.

Feb 16, 2005

CPB is accepting applications for the next funding round for digital radio conversion. The deadline is April 29.
Pat Mitchell announced that she will leave her job as PBS president when her contract expires next year. News accounts in the New York Times and New York Post tie Mitchell's exit to her controversial decision to pull an episode of Postcards from Buster that featured children with lesbian parents.

Feb 15, 2005

PBS President Pat Mitchell tells the Los Angeles Times that she's troubled by criticisms from liberal advocacy groups. "They are our natural allies and friends," she said. "I'd expect them to be more understanding."

Feb 14, 2005

CPB seeks a producer for a daily 4-6 hour Native music program that will be part of the American Indian Radio on Satellite (AIROS) feed.
WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., will switch to a news/talk format Feb. 28. The Washington Post's Marc Fisher accuses WETA and public radio at large of adopting "the commercial model of going for the biggest possible audience."
In a letter to Congress, the National Association of Broadcasters restates its longstanding support of existing channel protections limiting the licensing of low-power FM stations.

Feb 11, 2005

The website for James Dobson's Focus on the Family reports on new public TV funding proposals. "What they want to do is create an endowment so that they're insulated from Congress and from the taxpayer so they can go do whatever they want," says a spokesman for the Media Research Center.
Update on the affair that almost nobody calls Mommygate: In a Houston Chronicle interview, Education Secretary Margaret Spellings positions herself as an opponent of federal intervention in curriculum about homosexuality, evolution and other topics."I'm not going to sit up here in Washington, D.C., and try to dictate that," she said. Meanwhile, PBS President Pat Mitchell has asked for an internal probe into the gay moms blowup, says the Los Angeles Times. Stations reaching at least half of U.S. households have aired the Buster episode condemned by Spellings, Current will report in its Feb. 14 issue, which features an extended interview with Mitchell on pubTV's recent weeks of Heck.

Feb 10, 2005

A report released by the Miami-Dade school superintendent calls for the district to exert more control over programming decisions at WLRN-TV/FM, according to the Miami Herald.

Feb 8, 2005

Three Senators introduced a bill today that would allow the licensing of more low-power FM radio stations.

Feb 7, 2005

Karl Haas, host of Adventures in Good Music, died Feb. 6 at the age of 91. He had hosted the classical music show since 1959.

Feb 4, 2005

More than 20 pubTV stations have aired the gay moms episode of Postcards from Buster, or plan to, producing station WGBH told the press. Included are big ones in Chicago (says the Tribune), Los Angeles (says UPI), San Francisco (says, San Diego (says the Union-Tribune) and Seattle (says the Post-Intelligencer). Also: the Oregon network (press release), the North Carolina's UNC-TV (says ABC11, Durham), Buffalo (says the gay paper Outcome Buffalo) and Spokane (ABC affiliate KXLY-TV). Some are airing it in daytime hours when kids are watching (S.F., San Diego, Seattle, Buffalo, Spokane). Among those choosing not to air the show, at least for now, are those closest to Capitol Hill: WETA and Maryland PTV (says DC's gay Blade), as well as stations in Kentucky and Cincinnati (Cincinnati Post) and Moline, Ill. (QuadCities Online).

Meanwhile, Broadcasting & Cable reports that the Education Department re-invited Buster's executive producer to this week's Ready to Learn conference in Baltimore, which it cosponsors with PBS. The feds had dropped her earlier.
Salon asks: has PBS become the White House's lap dog?
Mommygate is prompting a dialogue about tolerance. Columnist Ellen Goodman asks: "... how did acceptance become translated into propaganda? And what on Earth happens if tolerance is defined as intolerable?" (in the Seattle Times and other papers). But some religious figures warn that tolerance is dangerous if it lets schools "brainwash" kids to think every lifestyle is OK, AP reports.

Feb 3, 2005

The Los Angeles Times profiles Pacific Drift, a new show on the city's KPCC-FM that aims "to create a community of creative people getting to know each other and interacting through the show," in the words of producer Ben Adair.
The Washington Post's gossip column bids farewell to Tucker Carlson, who is moving to New Jersey for his new job with MSNBC.
New York Times culture critic Frank Rich takes aim at Bustergate, among other flaps, in this column about content cops and the campaign against indecency.

Feb 2, 2005

WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., may switch to an all-news format, reports the Washington Post.
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings defended her Buster sanction yesterday, saying PBS viewers expect educational programming that is "very straight down the line," according to the Toledo Blade. We think the pun was unintentional. (via

Feb 1, 2005

An installment of The Gillmor Gang features Hearts of Space host Stephen Hill discussing public radio's reaction to podcasting and other developments in new media. (Via
"I didn't understand what all the hullabaloo was about," KQED President and PBS Board member Jeff Clarke told the San Francisco Chronicle after screening cartoon bunny Buster's visit with children in Vermont. The Boston Globe reports that the controversy over the "Sugartime" episode of Postcards from Buster coincides with talks over whether the PBS Kids series will be renewed for a second season.
We've added some new podcasters to our list, including Hearing Voices, Benjamen Walker and the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.