Feb 28, 2009

Could Obama budget affect donation deductions?

Nonprofits are worried over one aspect of President Barack Obama's preliminary budget released last week, The New York Times reports. An analysis by one nonprofit estimates that under the proposal, donors earning more than $250,000 would see their deductions lowered from 35 percent to 28 percent. About half of wealthy donors in a 2006 survey said they'd keep giving the same amount if deductions fell to zero.

Feb 27, 2009

Kuehl picked to head Kansas City's KCPT

Kansas City’s KCPT has hired Nevada pubcaster Kliff Kuehl as its president, the Kansas City Star reported. The station has been headhunting since former chief Victor Hogstrom resigned in July. Kuehl managed KWBU in his home town of Waco and then KNPB in Reno. Before entering public TV, he tried a movie and video career, raising a production budget and then completing a movie called Murder Rap with John Hawkes, the Star’s Aaron Barnhart reported. He starts work in Kansas City April 6. At the Reno station, Kuehl’s team completed a $6.25 million capital campaign and tripled their number of major donors, according to KCPT’s release.

Sesame Street to open Busch Gardens attraction

On April 3, Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Va., will open its latest attraction, a Sesame Street-themed area with four kid-sized rides including a junior roller coaster for small visitors and their parents. The Forest of Fun will also have play areas, a photo studio for pictures with Sesame Street characters, and live performances by the characters.

Feb 26, 2009

Moyers responds to Slate column

Public television newsman Bill Moyers is speaking out in an email to the editor of, complaining about a column by Slate writer Jack Shafer. Shafer's piece focused on a recent story in The Washington Post by reporter Joe Stephens that said Moyers, once a special assistant to President Lyndon Johnson, asked the FBI to investigate the sexual orientation of two members of that administration. In the Post story, Moyers told Stephens that his memory was unclear on the incident. Moyers wrote in part to Slate: "Jack Shafer breathlessly reported very old news as new, and in a wholly irresponsible way that distorted the record beyond recognition. He bothered neither to check the secondhand sources on which he wholly relied nor to ask me for comment on them."

Pubcasters to participate in volunteerism summit

CPB and the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network are among some three dozen organizations participating in "A Nation of Neighbors Helping Neighbors: A Summit on Volunteerism as a Response to the Economic Crisis," sponsored by the Knights of Columbus and Fairfield (Conn.) University's Center for Faith and Public Life. The Feb. 27 event will focus on the role of volunteers in community recovery from the financial crisis.

WETA cuts 13 percent of its staff

WETA eliminated 29 full- and part-time positions this week. There were 15 employees laid off and 14 vacant positions will remain unfilled. Salaries for senior managers have been cut by 13 percent to 15 percent. Those moves and other cost cutting will save the public broadcaster $2.5 million in annual expenses. WETA is based in Arlington, Va., and broadcasts to the Washington, D.C., metro area.

Meetings begin Monday on broadband billions

With stimulus orders to spend $4.7 billion without delay, the National Telecom and Information Administration starts holding on-the-record meetings March 2 in Washington about broadband projects, the agency announced this week. The proper name: Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, or Broadband TOP. In addition, the Ag Department’s Rural Utilities Service will dispense $2.5 billion under the bill. Here’s the raw legislation for appropriations to NTIA and RUS, courtesy of the National Association of Telecom Officers and Advisors.

Feb 25, 2009

Large gifts from individuals down; foundations, up

Charitable gifts of more than $1 million from individuals fell by a third in the second half of 2008, compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the just-released Million Dollar List compiled by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University. The number of $1 million-and-up gifts from foundations, however, increased 10 percent from the same period a year earlier, to 551, while the number of corporate gifts at that level remained the same at 146. The drop in individual giving is the second-largest during the last half of a year to occur in the past decade. The largest drop, 35 percent, was in 2001.

APTS appeals to states on funding

The Association of Public Television Stations is "issuing a plea" to governors and state legislatures to "invest in local public television stations," according to a statement it issued today. It cited Pennsylvania, Indiana, New York and Virginia as states either slashing or eliminating pubTV funding. "State governments are essential investors in local public television stations, providing vital resources to enable stations to fulfill their educational missions," APTS President Larry Sidman said in the statement. The National Governors Association is meeting with President Barack Obama this week in Washington.

Feb 24, 2009

'Book Guys' ends run

The Book Guys, a syndicated show about book collecting carried on some 30 pubradio stations, is going off the air this week. Co-hosts Allan Stypeck and Mike Cuthbert couldn't find a national underwriter. The show began in the 1980s in Washington state and was syndicated in the late 1990s. The two interviewed researchers, novelists, publishers, autograph experts, book conservators, printers and book craftsmen. Nine archived shows are available on their website.

Individual giving topic of chat

The transcript for today's online chat, "How to Solicit Gifts from Individuals," is now available at the Chronicle of Philanthropy's website. The subject is especially timely in the current economic environment. Questions include, "At what level of giving (what size of gift) would you consider it's appropriate to start making face-to-face appeals to individuals?" and "What are some good tips for soliciting second gifts from major donors whose pledges have been completed?"

Feb 23, 2009

Sesame Street heads to Dubai

Sesame Workshop has signed an agreement with Universal Parks & Resorts for three Sesame Street-themed attractions at Universal Studios Dubailand. Included will be a Sesame Street 4-D Movie Magic theater, a Sesame Street carousel and live stage show, and Elmo’s Emporium to sell Sesame Street merchandise. Universal Studios Dubailand is currently under construction.

Fund raising during a recession

As the public broadcasting system well knows, raising money during a severe recession is a daunting challenge. The Chronicle of Philanthropy's special report, Raising Money in Hard Times, details 10 strategies that nonprofits are using to continue to bring in funds.

White spaces locator site launches

A new website may be of use to TV stations to verify their digital coverage areas. The "white spaces" locator site,, retrieves FCC database information daily for its updates. Last fall the FCC authorized the use of the white spaces between TV channels for mobile broadband, radios and other devices. Broadcasters protested those devices may interfere with DTV reception.

Former CNN anchor to helm WNET doc

Miles O’Brien, a 16-year CNN veteran and Peabody award winner, will anchor and report for the WNET program A Tale of Three Cities, a segment of the Blueprint America project that focuses on American infrastructure. The show features what Portland, Denver, and New York are doing to meet the challenges of their crumbling infrastructures.

Do 'high ideals' hinder public broadcasting?

"Nonprofit media continues to hold itself out as a beacon in today's media world, which is dominated by ever-coarsening public dialogue," writes Jonathan Berr in AOL's Daily Finance site. "These high ideals, however, may not be compatible with the current fiscal reality."

Feb 22, 2009

Prof warns of legislative dangers to public access TV

Public access TV is in danger, writes Jonathan Nichols-Pethick, assistant professor of communication and theatre at DePauw University. Pending legislation in various states threatens to make the local channels extinct. "As media educators, activists, practitioners, and just plain concerned citizens, we need to focus our critical attention on the proper target," he contends, urging readers to take actions including putting pressure on city councils, working with nonprofit organizations that oversee the channels, and encouraging students to produce programs for the stations. His essay is titled, Terminating Public Access Television.

The man inside Big Bird and Oscar speaks

Caroll Spinney, 75, has played Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street for the past 40 years. As Sesame Street turns 40, Spinney recalls: "When, I joined Jim [Henson], I asked, 'what is Big Bird like?' He said, 'That's up to you. I'm giving you free reign on developing the character.'"

Feb 21, 2009

FCC issues more DTV transition directions

TV stations have until March 17 to tell the FCC when they will be transitioning to DTV before June 12. The commission released the order (PDF) Friday. It also recommends that stations not transition before April 16.

Feb 20, 2009

Online chat to focus on courting individual donors

How to better appeal to individual donors is the topic of the next online discussion hosted by The Chronicle of Philanthropy. Click there at noon Feb. 24 to participate.

Obama Web strategist says ditch the e-newsletters

Thomas Gensemer, the brain behind then-Sen. Barack Obama's Web-based election campaign, says nonprofits should forgo email newsletters and focus on short, more personal email notes providing specific instructions for participation in fund-raising efforts. "Email newsletters don't get read, yet they take more effort to prepare than a 250-word email," he told an audience at City University in London this week. "Email is still a killer application, but only when used properly."

Muppets pop up on hot blog topics

The economic stimulus package was the biggest topic in the blogosphere last week, but guess what else showed up? Some 6 percent of bloggers mentioned Sesame Street's Muppet characters, according to a weekly survey by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism. After CNN posted a story from the archives of the Mental Floss blog, online writers began to ponder their own fave Muppets. As one wrote, "My nickname in middle school was Fozzy the Bear because I was always constantly telling bad jokes."

BBC doc focuses on Kitchen Sisters

BBC Radio’s World Service offers an audio feature by Alan Hall about the Kitchen Sisters, Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson. “Programme one captures Davia at the duo’s production office in Francis Ford Coppola’s Zoetrope building in San Francisco. It then travels south to glimpse Nikki on the commune where she lives and where their radio stories take shape.”

Feb 19, 2009

Most DTV callers complain about reception

Callers to the FCC with DTV-related issues complained most about technical and reception problems, according to documents from the commission. Around a quarter of nearly 28,000 calls on Feb. 17, the original transition date, focused on those topics. Nearly as many calls that day, just over 21 percent, were about problems with converter boxes or coupons. While many stations chose to wait until the new date, June 12, to drop analog broadcasts, 421 stations transitioned this week.

Using social networking for fund raising

If your station is considering using social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace) for fund raising, check out the Chronicle of Philanthropy's recent online discussion. You'll find answers to questions such as, how do you put a fund-raising page on Facebook? And, are there enough baby boomers comfortable with technology to make this approach an effective tool?

Feb 18, 2009

Former NPR prez named journalism dean

Kevin Klose has been named dean of University of Maryland's journalism school. Klose will oversee the school as it revamps its curriculum to focus more on digital and multimedia reporting. Klose was NPR president from 1998 to 2006. In November 2008, he was named president emeritus of NPR and president of the NPR Foundation.

Your station's DTV transition experience so far...

Did your pubTV station turn off its analog broadcasts yesterday? If so, Current would like to hear how things went. Did you get many calls from viewers, were there any technical glitches? Can all your viewers get the digital signal? Drop Editor Steve Behrens a note at

Pubcasting job, salary cuts continue; WNED is latest victim

The Western New York Public Broadcasting Association is cutting staff and salaries. WNED's eight corporate officers took a 7.5 percent pay cut; all other employees had a 5 percent cut. Nine positions of a total 93 full-time employees were eliminated. Six of those had been vacant. The service includes WNED-TV, ThinkBright TV, and two radio stations, classical WNED-FM and WNED-AM, mainly news. WNED also is facing a $900,000 drop in state funding. Officials from New York’s eight other public TV stations are currently lobbying the governor and state legislature to amend the cuts.

Feb 17, 2009

Pubradio correspondents win Polk Award

Two pubcasters are sharing a Polk Award. Alex Blumberg of "This American Life," produced by Chicago Public Radio and distributed by PRI, and Adam Davidson of NPR, won for their collaborative report, "The Giant Pool of Money," explaining the events leading up to the subprime mortgage crisis. The prestigious Polk Awards, bestowed by Long Island University, are named for George Polk, a journalist who died in May 1948 covering the Greek civil war.

Virgina pubcasting in danger of losing funding

The Virginia House Appropriations Committee wants to cut all contributions by the commonwealth to public broadcasting stations. The Senate Finance Committee and Gov. Tim Kaine requested cuts of 10 percent. A. Curtis Monk, head of Community Idea Stations, which runs PBS and NPR stations in Richmond and other cities, warned that if the budget zeros out funding there may have to be reductions in local productions, early childhood programs and local news reporting. Said D.J. Crotteau, station manager of PBS' WHTJ: “At cuts of this level, you’re looking at core services. There’s no way that services would not be affected.”

Feb 13, 2009

Blogger bonkers over PubRadio Tuner

The Public Radio Tuner has a big fan in blogger Wade Roush, chief correspondent at Xconomy. "Since my commute to work is a disappointingly short 12 minutes—and I often bike or walk—I only hear infrequent, short snippets of [NPR] shows," he writes. He says he was "ecstatic" when he recently found the app. Now, "I just turn on the Public Radio Tuner, pull up my favorite local station [WBUR] and listen to my heart’s content over my phone’s 3G data connection."

Williams' First Lady comments prompt critical e-mails to NPR

NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard examines the roles Juan Williams plays on both her network and Fox News, where he recently said Michelle Obama “has this Stokely Carmichael in a designer dress thing going” (YouTube video). His comments prompted several dozen angry e-mails to NPR. Such criticism of Williams may arise because the “news analyst” (his title at NPR) “tends to speak one way on NPR and another on Fox,” Shepard writes. Managers in NPR’s newsroom spoke with Williams after his comments on the First Lady, Shepard says, and network news veep Ellen Weiss asked the commentator to request that Fox no longer identify him as an “NPR News Political Analyst.”

Rural listeners to Maine net won't lose service

The Maine Public Broadcasting Network has backed down from its plan to save money by cutting off three broadcast towers in rural areas, reports the Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel. Listeners had complained, and a state legislator is sponsoring a bill that would cut state funding for MPBN if the network reduces its reach. MPBN President Jim Dowe said he does not yet know how the network will offset the expense.

Feb 12, 2009

No pubTV stations denied early shutoff by FCC

The FCC has denied about a quarter of TV station requests to stop analog broadcasts on Feb. 17, the original DTV transition date. All denials were of commercial stations. The primary issue in turning them down, according to an FCC statement (PDF), was "to ensure that viewers relying on over-the-air television do not lose access to local news, public affairs and emergency information." Of 491 station requests, 368 will be allowed. Of those, more than 100 will keep running analog transmitters for at least two weeks past Feb. 17 for DTV education and emergency information. According to FCC filings, a total of 138 pubTV stations either went to digital early or are planning to on Feb. 17. Of those, 34 have transitioned and 104 will do so on the original date. One is Georgia Public Broadcasting, which echoed the plight of many pubTV stations in a statement: "After assessing the cost of maintaining a failing analog system until June 12 and the capability to improve the quality of its digital service to viewers, GPB officials determined that it was best to move forward with the digital transition as originally scheduled." Some 173 public TV stations have alerted the FCC that they are transitioning sometime between Feb. 17 and June 12, the new deadline. The list is complied by stations, not licensees.

Sirius XM enters talks with Direct TV

With a looming deadline to make a $175 million bond payment, Sirius XM Satellite Radio is negotiating a possible deal with Direct TV, the nation's leading satellite TV service, according to the Los Angeles Times. The bonds are held by EchoStar satellite company, which has been buying Sirius XM's debt since December. Sirius XM, which has $3.25 billion in total debt, may also file for bankruptcy protection, the New York Times reported yesterday.

Feb 11, 2009

More on "Street Gang" Sesame history

Michael Davis has some juicy tidbits in an interview with CNN from his book, "Street Gang: The Complete History of Sesame Street." He says Joe Raposo and Jeff Moss, who wrote the show's songs, were locked in an intense creative competition. In fact, he writes, Raposo "fairly seethed with envy" when Moss' "Rubber Duckie" became a Top-20 hit. Davis also says that producer Jon Stone was "the Orson Welles of 'Sesame Street.' ... Without him, the show wouldn't have been what it became."

WSKG extends pledge drive after numbers plummet

WSKG-TV in Vestal, N.Y., is extending its winter pledge drive, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin. Last week's drive was two-thirds off its goal. Fewer than 250 new or lapsed members signed on, from a goal of 700. Last year, the one-day drive took in nearly $72,000; last week, just $42,000, down some 42 percent. Last year the station went to a one-day pledge format in response to viewers calling for less on-air fundraising. The station met its goal for that previous drive, drawing around 600 new and former members.

Sutton questions CPB analysis of stations' financial health

Revenue shortfalls and reliance on subsidies aren't a new trend for public radio stations, writes pubradio marketing consultant John Sutton. He questions the research behind CPB's recent study on the financial troubles of pubcasting outlets, and says that CPB could have taken steps to address this problem years ago. "Asking the government to help financially strapped stations this year might be the only way to keep those stations from going dark or losing their local identity, as is happening to WMUB in Ohio," Sutton writes. "But becoming more reliant on subsidies is not a long-term solution."

Feb 10, 2009

Senate passes stimulus bill, reduces broadband funds

The Senate has just passed the economic stimulus package, with money for broadband cut from $9 billion to $7 billion, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Next up, the House and Senate bills must be conferenced to reconcile differences.

Feb 9, 2009

Former CPBer Halpern on U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council

Former CPB board member Cheryl F. Halpern is mentioned in the Feb. 9 Washington Post story, "Bush faithful rewarded with jobs." The article details how former President George Bush made more than 100 appointments to various important boards and panels at the end of his presidency, many of them rewarding close aides and top political supporters. Halpern, identified in the story as a "major GOP donor," landed on the United States Holocaust Memorial Council.

Blog examines POV's "Made in L.A."

The indie doc Made in L.A., which ran on PBS' POV in 2007, "demonstrates successful community engagement in every stage of a media project – from fundraising and development to outreach and distribution," writes American University's Center for Social Media in its blog. The post provides an in-depth examination of the project, from funding (the filmmakers raised money through four house parties and a concert) and early development through obstacles and, ultimately, awards.

NOVA's "Spy Factory" worries some viewers

Some PBS viewers were concerned that the recent NOVA episode "The Spy Factory," which details the National Security Agency's intelligence gathering methods, provided secret or sensitive information to would-be terrorists, writes PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, who praises the film for "[capturing] the extraordinary frustration among some of those in government" who observed how U.S. intelligence agencies--the CIA, FBI and NSA--failed to communicate with each other and connect the dots prior to the 9/11 attacks.  Getler includes viewer letters and a reply from NOVA execs: "Neither the producers nor NOVA sought any access to classified information, nor did the program reveal any classified information. The program is based on meticulous research of publicly available documents and records by James Bamford, author of the best-selling book The Shadow Factory and a foremost expert on the NSA."

NPT President Curley knits and hula-hoops, too

A profile of Nashville Public TV President Beth Curley in The Tennessean highlights her investment in local productions and NPT's popularity among viewers. "Perhaps best known to many Nashvillians for her on-air appearances during pledge drives, Curly can come across as a bit buttoned-up in the fitted blazers she throws on for such appearances. But she knows how to cut loose, too. The mother two adult sons keeps a hula-hoop in her office closet and likes to belly dance. She's also known to play a mean game of Scrabble. And she doesn't like to lose. An avid knitter, she's often working her needles and yarn during business meetings."

NPR's Schiller: endowed journalism works for us

Slate media critic Jack Schafer lays out the case against proposals to save the Washington Post and the New York Times by converting them to nonprofit endowed journalism organizations, and NPR President Vivian Schiller joins the fray to point to NPR's example. "We are the living, breathing prototype" of an endowed news organization that others are "imagining to be revolutionary," she writes. "Shafer worries that an organization with an endowment and board means there’s no one to yell at. Fear not – we get yelled at just as much as every other news organization."

Feb 7, 2009

YouTube sets viewing record

PubTV stations are among the thousands of groups, businesses and industries using YouTube as a way to connect with the public. And it's no wonder: YouTube just set a viewing record. In December alone, more than 4 billion video clips were viewed. Among the pubcasters with channels on YouTube are Iowa Public Television , WLIW in New York, APTI (Anchorage pubradio and TV stations) and WILL in Central Illinois.

Oregon stations backtrack on transition date decision

Last week TV stations in Portland, Ore., including Oregon pubcasting stations, decided to transition to DTV on the original date of Feb. 17. Now they've decided to continue analog signals until June 12. "I kind of feel like Lucy and Charlie Brown and the football," said Steve Bass, chief executive of Oregon Public Broadcasting. Broadcasting in both digital and analog is more expensive, Bass said, but OPB didn't want to be the only metro-area station to make the conversion this month.

Feb 6, 2009

Pa. governor proposes cutting all public TV funding

The Pennsylvania Public Television Authority would lose all state funding under a budget proposed by state Governor Ed Rendell, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. PPTN provides support services to eight public TV stations in the state and channels about $1 million in state funds to each station. Rendell’s budget would also cut those funds. The agency had already reduced operating costs after a 20 percent cut in support (earlier article in Current). PPTN Chair Tony May says the proposal is “a serious problem for all stations.” George Miles, president of WQED in Pittsburgh, told the Business Times that he does not expect the final state budget to stop short of cutting all funding.

White House wants DTV delay input

The White House is soliciting public comments before President Barack Obama signs into law the DTV transition delay. Comments must be in by Feb. 9, the same deadline day for stations to inform the FCC if they're going to be discontinuing analog transmissions on Feb. 17, the original transition date.

Schiller talks of new approach to local/national web distribution

During her first appearance at a regional pubradio conference, NPR President Vivian Schiller told station executives that should not be perceived as competing with stations, according to PRPD President Arthur Cohen. Addressing station concerns about being "bypassed" by NPR's digital distribution strategies, Schiller described her goal to build a "constellation" of station websites that combine local news with NPR's international and national content. Cohen's blog post from yesterday's Public Radio in Mid America meeting summarizes Schiller's observations after her first month in the job and describes "a refreshing enthusiasm and optimism in her tone."

Feb 5, 2009

Stations must tell FCC of early analog shutoffs by Feb. 9

Stations that want to end analog service by Feb. 17, the original DTV transition date, now have a Feb. 9 deadline to inform the FCC. Stations must also air at least 120 PSA's between now and Feb. 17 telling viewers of the transition. These rules are contingent on the president's signature on the date-delay bill, which is expected soon.

21 percent of small stations financially "fragile," CPB says

Public broadcasting revenue could decline some $418 million in FY09 alone, according to a CPB preliminary report presented at its January meeting in San Francisco (PPT). It estimates a potential drop of $292 million for pubTV (16 percent of revenues) and $126 million for pubradio (13 percent). Some 21 percent of stations with operating budgets under $10 million are considered financially "fragile" in the report; of those, 70 percent are community licensees. CPB's next board meeting is March 17-18 in Washington; more comprehensive details are expected then.

Inside, Worldfocus blamed for layoffs

Worldfocus, the new international news program from WNET/WLIW is "being blamed for deep layoffs at the stations," reports the New York Times. "Some employees, none of whom would speak publicly for fear of angering management," blame parent company's spending on the new venture--$8 million, which came from company's operating budget--for the loss of about 80 jobs two weeks ago. Many of the layoffs were in the local programming department. Neal Shapiro, president of, told the Times the layoffs were unrelated to Worldfocus. Instead, he cited declining underwriting and foundation funding as well as a decrease in endowment earnings and member support. Worldfocus landed its first outside financing last week, a $1 million grant from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. A WNET trustee matched that with another $1 million and two unnamed people contributed $500,000. 

Rockefeller cautions stations on DTV delay

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) is asking TV stations to "put consumers first" when considering switching from analog to digital before the new deadline of June 12. The senator, who heads up the Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, said in a statement: "While broadcasters are still permitted to move forward on Feb. 17, and some will do so, I hope that many will think of the needs of their customers and carefully weigh their options. This bill gives them an opportunity to stay the course through to June 12 until more help can be put in place."

Feb 4, 2009

Markey "applauds" DTV delay

After Congress approved the DTV delay bill, longtime pubcasting supporter Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) former chair of the Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee, told Broadcasting & Cable: "I applaud the passage of this necessary legislation. It is unfortunate that Congress had to take additional action on this issue, but the prospect of leaving millions of consumers in the dark was simply unacceptable. This was a foreseeable problem and should have been anticipated and acknowledged by the Bush administration long ago. However, the Bush administration simply left us with insufficient time to make the needed adjustments on a national basis without this short, one-time delay. I commend President Obama for his swift actions on this critical issue." Markey's office pointed out he had expressed his concern over DTV transition funding in 2005.

DTV transition delayed until June

The House has voted to delay the digital TV transition until June 12, reports the Washington Post. President Obama has said he will sign the bill immediately.

Firms cooperate to establish white-space database

Microsoft, Google and Dell are among tech firms collaborating to create a database of occupied channels in the TV white spaces spectrum. The White Spaces Database Group is helping the FCC identify current channels to avoid interference from wireless broadband devices new to the spectrum. Other members of the group: Comsearch, Hewlett-Packard, Motorola and NeuStar.

Pandora's goal is to "completely replace radio"

"Our goal right now is nothing less than to completely replace radio with this whole new thing called personalized radio," said Tim Westergren, chief strategy officer for the online music service Pandora, during an appearance at the monthly Social Media breakfast in Cincinnati. Pandora launched in November 2005 and has yet to earn a profit, Westergren said, but it "now has more listeners in major markets than many large radio stations, according to industry measurements; and the numbers are continuing to skyrocket," the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

Former WGBHer found murdered

An investigation continues into the murder of a former public broadcaster, Sheila A. Kline, in Carlisle, Pa. Kline, 45, had worked at WGBH in 1991 and '92, according to a station spokeswoman. Police say Kline's body was found by a trash hauler about 6 a.m. Jan. 23 in a downtown alley near a parking garage. An autopsy determined that she had been strangled. Her obituary says was a writer and had worked in production for the Boston station.

Feb 3, 2009

DTV delay update

More than 60 percent of TV stations could turn off their analog signal before a June 12 deadline without interfering with other signals, and "most" of the remaining stations "may" also be able to do so, acting FCC Chair Michael Copps said in a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its Internet and Telecom Subcommittee. Looks like the bill to delay the DTV transition date will be debated -- for one hour -- before the House on Feb. 4.

Orlando's WMFE lays off 15 more staffers

WMFE is cutting 15 jobs and canceling The Arts Connection program due to falling revenue. The job losses at the Orlando station are 28 percent of its staff. Station prez Jose Fajardo said departing staffers include a radio reporter, two receptionists, a program scheduler and one person from engineering, membership and finance. The staff also must take two weeks of unpaid leave, and employer-matching retirement funds have been stopped for "the foreseeable future." Other measures include scaling back janitorial services, cell phones and supplies. It's the second time in five months the station has laid off staff; in October 2008, 10 positions were hit.

Nonprofit event planners offer advice

The transcript for Planning Special Events During a Recession, an online chat for nonprofit fundraisers, is now available at The Chronicle of Philanthropy's website. One question: What, if anything, are you changing about your events specifically because of the recession? Part of the answer from Jim Leighton of the Children's Cancer Research Fund in Minneapolis: "We need to be sensitive to the fact that in a down economy lavish events may be seen as inappropriate."

Upside to lost timeslot: no worries about turning off core listeners

In the Loop, a Minnesota Public Radio show that reviews the week's news with seriousness and satire, has lost its Friday evening time slot. The show, hosted by Jeff Horwich, will continue as a digital-only podcast and blog. In a posting to Facebook fans, Horwich described some "upsides" to the decision: freedom from deadlines and from worries about turning off "your typical core 55-year-old public radio listener" and "the traditionalists in our own company." The Twin Cities Daily Planet published Horwich's explanation to Facebook fans in full and compared the show to the Bryant Park Project, NPR's short-lived experiment in targeting a "generally younger, less stodgy audience" with multimedia elements and interactivity. Announcing In the Loop's disappearance from MPR's airwaves, News Director Chris Worthington said the station must continue to cultivate new audiences and create on-demand programming. "To do that, we must commit talent. In the Loop has a track record of attracting new audiences and getting them to interact with MPR."

Public, educational, government channel access prompts complaints

Annoyance is building nationwide over AT&T's treatment of PEG channels (public, educational, and government). Its U-Verse IPTV system lumps all the public access programming -- everything from city council meetings to local middle-school plays -- on Channel 99. Viewers then must click to install an application and find their community in a list. The Chicago Tribune says the channels are "consigned to a digital ghetto." FCC complaints have been filed, and at least one attorney general, in Illinois, is investigating.

NPR Music to host, webcast SXSW showcase featuring the Decemberists

In a twist on its "exclusive first listens" to new releases, NPR Music will present the first live performance of the Decemberists' forthcoming release on the opening night of this year's South by Southwest Music conference and festival, March 18. The Portland-based band will perform all 17 songs from The Hazards of Love, a concept album that tells the story of a woman who is ravaged by a shape-shifting animal. NPR's Bob Boilen will cohost the live webcast, which also is offered for broadcast by NPR stations, with NPR Music blogger Carrie Brownstein and David Brown of Austin's KUT-FM. More details on this week's edition of All Songs Considered and here.

KQED-KTEH shed 30 jobs, cite double-digit losses in underwriting and major gifts

Northern California Public Broadcasting, licensee of KQED-TV/FM and KTEH-TV, will eliminate 30 jobs and cut 13 percent of its budget under a restructuring plan announced on Monday. Station memberships have dropped five percent since October, but underwriting is off 24 percent and major donor contributions are down 15 percent, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Although all TV productions are subject to future funding, KQED will continue to produce new episodes of local programs such as Quest, Check, Please! Bay Area, and This Week in Northern California, and the station will deliver three new hours of Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures to PBS this spring. KQED Radio appears to have been spared from major changes.

NCPB President Jeff Clark confirmed that a total of 44 jobs were eliminated under the restructuring plan. About 30 of these were lay-offs and buy-outs and, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News, 14 were vacant positions that will not be filled. In an interview today, Clark said executive compensation at the Bay Area pubcasting station was reduced by 13 percent and contributions to employee retirement were cut slightly. In addition, employees will take a one-week furlough.

Feb 2, 2009

San Diego State's KPBS gets new g.m.

Tom Karlo is the new general manager of KPBS, the fifth in the nearly 50-year history of the San Diego State University station. He's been assistant g.m. since 1992 and began at the station as a student intern three decades ago. He also is the vice chair of the California Public Television Board of Directors.

Three days of Triple A music in Philly

Philadelphia's WXPN opened early bird registration for the 9th annual NON-COMMvention, a May 28-30 conference featuring music showcases and sessions on the business of programming, funding and marketing Triple A music stations. 'XPN is hosting the conference at its studios and the adjacent World Cafe Live concert venue on the campus the University of Pennsylvania. There's no increase in last year's bargain-rate registration fees. Hotel information and conference schedule are to be announced soon.

OMN founder Mike Homer succumbs

Mike Homer, long-time Silicon Valley executive and founder of the Open Media Network, passed away yesterday. NPR's Dennis Haarsager, who collaborated in developing the online video distribution system that Homer attempted to donate to pubcasting, writes: "Although we weren't successful in Mike's ultimate dream of giving this to a national public broadcasting organization, I'm convinced that we will eventually (and, I hope not too late) come to see Mike's vision as important part of public media's future."