Dec 29, 2008

Year-end fundraising special raises $130k

Best of Public Radio 2008, a year-end fundraising special that aired on 70-plus stations on Saturday, generated contributions totaling more than $130,000 through a special website, John Sutton, one of the marketing consultants behind the campaign, reports that some listeners chose to make donations directly to their local stations.

UPDATE: In an email, Sutton estimates that the campaign's fundraising total could hit $200,000. Donations to the campaign website have topped $166,000 as of 1 p.m. today. Listener contributions via station websites may bring in another $35,000.

Levine's search for 'moxie' turns inward

The idea behind "American Moxie," an NPR series by Ketzel Levine, was to examine how ordinary Americans adjust when times get tough. But mid-way through reporting for the series, Levine learned that she was one of 64 NPR employees being laid off. “Every story that we all do, we’re always looking for the perfect ending,” Levine tells the New York Times. “And suddenly it was handed to me. It was not one of my choosing, but as a storyteller, what could make a better story?” Ketzel shares the story of her unexpected career setback on (scroll down) and on her own blog, Ketzel Uprooted. Meanwhile, Public Radio Exchange is offering free producer accounts to recently displaced staff from NPR and pubradio stations. It's "our small way of helping out," writes PRX's Jake Shapiro. ALSO: the Association of Independents in Radio recently offered free, one-year memberships to NPR employees who are losing their jobs. For more info, contact Erin Mishkin, membership director, or 617-825-4400.

FCC reports viewership changes due to conversion

The FCC has released two reports (PDF) outlining changes in TV coverage areas from analog to digital for all 1,749 full-power TV stations in the country. Some 89 percent of stations (1,533) will see a net gain of viewers in the switch; 11 percent (196 stations) will have a net loss. The FCC posted detailed maps of each station's coverage areas on its website, as well as maps of those stations with significant upcoming changes.

NTIA , FCC foresee digital conversion problems

The National Telecommunications & Information Association (NTIA) is anticipating problems in the lead-up to digital conversion in February, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine. NTIA says it may need up to $330 million more for its $40 DTV-to-analog converter box coupons, and reports there may be a shortfall of up to 2.5 million converter boxes. The FCC plans to spend about $10 million on call centers for questions and problems during the week of the DTV transition, estimating 350,000 calls per day Feb. 15-21. However, the FCC also says that would not be enough money or operators to handle the expected flood of calls. Even if it allocated all $20 million Congress recently gave it for the transition, it would not be enough, predicts FCC Chair Kevin Martin. Government and industry representatives, including President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, have been meeting with FCC reps to discuss the issues.

Sesame Street book getting press

Michael Davis' new book, "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street," is getting attention in the press. The New York Times published a review on Dec. 26 headlined, "Brought to you by the letter S," by James Panero, managing editor of The New Criterion. He laments what he sees as Davis' focus on trivia: "Do we really need to know that (Joan Ganz) Cooney served boeuf bourguignon, 'a traditional French country recipe . . . on Page 315 of the first volume of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," ' to Lloyd Morrisett at their 1966 dinner?" He calls the book, the 40-year-old program's first complete overview, "a tireless if not altogether artful history of this unique place."

PubTV station nears all-Catholic channel deal

RGV Educational Broadcasting Inc., owner of KMBH-TV in Harlingen, Texas, hopes to have a deal inked by Jan. 19 with recording company Gospa Records to provide programming for KMBH DT 38.2, its upcoming digital all-Catholic channel. The Brownsville Herald reports that Gospa will form a nonprofit arm to work with the station, with Gospa paying for time on the air. KMBH will earn $120,000 the first year and $240,000 for each of the remaining years of the five-year deal. In addition, KMBH will receive 50 percent of the money generated by commercials on the station. No CPB or PBS funds will be used in the deal.