Jul 31, 2009

Senate Appropriations Committee approves pubcasting funding bill

The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday okayed the fiscal 2010 Labor-HHS appropriations bill, recommending a $450 million two-year advance appropriation for CPB, up from $430 million for FY 2011; $36 million for public television and radio digital conversion, content and services; $10.7 million for Ready To Teach; $28.5 million for Ready To Learn; and $10 million for financial assistance to pubTV and radio stations impacted by ongoing economic problems. The House had already approved $440 million for CPB, $40 million for station financial aid, $36 million to continue the digital transition and $25.4 million for Ready To Learn. A statement from PBS noted that the fed appropriation makes up about 18 percent of system revenue, "essential seed money that makes public service media possible in this nation."

Report follows up on CPB, library efforts

The current issue of Library Journal highlights a June report, Partnership for a Nation of Learners: Joining Forces, Creating Value (PDF), that details work between the Institute of Museum Library Services and CPB promoting community collaborations. Among the projects cited is an effort in Iowa to improve reading skills among Hispanic parents. Partners were Iowa Public Television, the State Library of Iowa and the Iowa Department of Education.

Mister Rogers freshens up web-hood

Call it Fred 2.0 or Mister Rogers' cyber-neighborhood: The much loved pubcasting kids show has a new web site, reports The Boston Globe. "Although some of the content is decades old, the look of the site is radiant and fresh with bright primary colors, " the paper notes. Cathy Droz of Rogers' Family Communications production company says, "It's reintroducing Fred." One video clip: Rogers testifying before the Senate in 1968 to try for more funding for his show and other PBS programs.

KPBS adding a position, changing two others

Dual-licensee KPBS in San Diego is looking for its first director of news. Also, Keith York, head programmer for 12 years, is moving to oversee corporate fundraising. And John Decker, director of radio programming, will add television to his duties. That's all part of a wide-ranging reorganization as the station also increases its focus on news and works to spend less on top-level executive salaries, according to the Voice of San Diego website. Spending on new media also will grow by 15 percent to $1.05 million. Two years ago that figure was $539,000.

Jul 30, 2009

Eight pubstations drop from Time Warner lineups in two states

Time Warner Cable is dropping eight of 22 public TV channels in Ohio and Kentucky. Gone are two pubTV stations from basic cable and six from its digital service, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer: WCVN in Covington, Ky.; WPTD (Think TV 16) in Dayton; the Kids channel from Cincinnati's CET; WPTO (Think TV 14) in high def, and digital multicast channels. Time Warner is replacing one with the Home Shopping Network. The company says it is making the changes to prevent duplicate programming.

Huell Howser, indie producer extraordinaire

Indie producer Huell Howser, who's been associated with KCET for nearly 25 years, "is a kind of natural wonder," writes LA Times TV critic Robert Lloyd, "practically the last living representative of local television in Los Angeles, and for all I know, in America ... " Howser has seven series now in production, including California's Gold, California's Green, Downtown, Road Trip and Visiting, carried by many of the state's PBS affiliates. "I don't have an agent," Howser, 58, told Lloyd. "I don't have a manager, I don't have a press agent, I don't have a wardrobe guy, a makeup guy, a parking space, a dressing room. It's basically me and a cameraman and an editor and a couple of guys in the office. I can go out between now and noon and do a full 30-minute show just talking to people on the street and have it on the air tonight. It's an economic model that's a production model, but it's a model that I believe in philosophically as far as what the viewer should

Pierson plans her NFCB retirement for January

Carol Pierson, president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters, told member stations this week that she’ll retire in January after 13 years in the job. In that time, the Oakland-based group has grown from less than 100 to nearly 150 member stations, developed the affiliated group Native Public Media, which is working with 30-some Native American groups with construction permits for new pubradio stations, and with the fledgling Latino Public Radio Consortium. Pierson, who will be 65, says she plans to spend some time visiting with her daughter and granddaughter in England and her sister in Spain. NFCB will advertise for a successor next week (on this site at, with an application deadline of Sept. 11. Pierson’s deputy, Ginny Berson, is chairing the transition committee.

Raz gets green light as weekend ATC host

Guy Raz, best known for covering the wartime Pentagon for NPR, is graduating to official weekend host of All Things Considered. He had guest-hosted for several months, kicking off a Three-Minute Fiction contest that has so far received 5,000 listener entries. Joining NPR in 1997 [bio], he served as an ATC intern and as an aide to Daniel Schorr. He reported for the network from more than 40 countries, becoming bureau chief in Berlin in 2000 and in London in 2003. Raz then reported for CNN for two years, serving as its Jerusalem correspondent. Andrea Seabrook, the previous weekend host, has returned to covering Congress after a year in the role.

Erie's WQLN scores Canadian cable victory

WQLN-TV in Erie, Pa., will continue to broadcast into London, Ontario, in an agreement reached late Tuesday with Canada's Rogers Cable, according to the Erie Times News. Rogers originally had decided to replace WQLN-TV with Detroit Public Television for that area. WQLN protests as it receives about $200,000 in annual pledges from the London vicinity. But another problem looms for the station. Dwight Miller, g.m., told the paper that WQLN may still eventually close or cut staff if it receives less than the $250,000 in proposed state funding. "There's still an outside shot we would have difficulty continuing on," Miller said.

Jul 29, 2009

Minority media-makers in Boston!

Considering a career or freelancing in public broadcasting? The Asian American Journalists Association will hold a one-hour public panel Friday, Aug. 14 at WGBH during the AAJA's annual convention in Boston. More in Opportunities.

Reading Rainbow broadcast rights end in August

Reading Rainbow frequent winner of the national Emmy for children’s series, will leave the PBS satellite feed Aug. 28 and stations’ broadcast rights will end after a quarter century on public TV. No new episodes of the children’s program have been produced for several years and PBS removed the series from its weekday strip last fall to make room for new programs with reading and science/math content, according to producing station WNED in Buffalo. John Grant, chief content officer at the station, told Current that WNED doesn’t have the hundreds of thousands of dollars that would be needed to renew broadcast rights—primarily Writers Guild fees. Grant said WNED is talking with PBS about maintaining a version of the annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest, which still involves 96 stations. And he'd like to see new media used to create an online version. Classroom rights for the show remain with Educate Inc., the Baltimore-based company that owns the big tutoring chain Sylvan Learning Centers and the Hooked on Phonics learn-to-read system. DVDs also will be available through Shop PBS. WNED and Educate tried unsuccessfully to plan a revived broadcast but gave up, in part because of the recession, Grant said. Your comments welcomed.

Where have all the flowers gone, Pete?

Just where did folk singer Pete Seeger come up with the idea for that hammer song, anyway? Well, now you can submit that question and others to him directly -- electronically, that is. The PBS Engage blog is soliciting questions for the legendary troubadour and musical activist in honor of his 90th birthday concert on Great Performances Thursday night (check local listings) and throughout August. Lauren Saks, web producer and blogger for Engage, will choose five questions for Seeger to answer; responses will be posted next week.

Three more days to vote for National Radio Hall of Fame

Two from public radio compete in separate categories of the online election held by Chicago’s Museum of Broadcast Communication. Public voting ends Friday night. Click to get your ballot. This year, 16 broadcasters are nominated in four categories: Ira Glass is up against several other national radio names, and Ed Walker, host of Sunday night showcase of radio serials and comedy, The Big Broadcast, on WAMU here in D.C., is one of the local broadcasters nominated. In a fifth category, posthumous, Studs Terkel is one of three winners already announced. (The voting by deceased voters is complete.) WAMU has been giving Walker a push with promos for weeks, and the Washington Post this morning features a profile of the 77-year-old hometown favorite, who formed a memorable comedy team with Willard Scott (the original overweight and jolly NBC Today weatherman) on several D.C. stations for two decades, including NBC’s WRC-AM, where they were they reigned as The Joy Boys from 1955 to 1972 [fan site]. The Joy Boys kept a loaded garbage can in the studio for one particular sound effect, as viewers will hear in this rare video of their last broadcast in October 1972.

Jul 28, 2009

Pubradio reporter resigns over blog kerfuffle

A personal blog in which a public radio reporter ranted about her remote Alaska town has prompted her departure from NPR member station KDLG-AM in Dillingham (population: 4,933). Eileen Goode resigned Monday after complaints from locals about her blog, "I'm in Dillingham Alaska -- What's Your Excuse?" The station received about three dozen email and phone complaints after someone took notice of the blog and emailed passages to residents. In the blog, Goode writes about everything from a colleague's lack of underwear ("my co-worker goes commando, and apparently has been doing so for some time") to, as The Anchorage Daily News noted, "a surreal 5,000-word rant about whether she should cut her toe off." Goode has reported for KDLG since December 2007. The station, which reaches about 7,000 listeners, broadcasts from the local high school.

"Trader" doc is online, then gone

Trader: The Documentary, which aired on PBS in 1987, was momentarily posted on YouTube thanks to an anonymous user who uploaded the film in seven parts. The doc profiles Paul Tudor Jones II, 32 at the time, who is now a billionaire hedge-fund manager. Jones asked the director, Michael Glyn, to remove the film from circulation in the 1990s. Why? According to an October 2007 New York Times story, "It is no surprise that Mr. Jones wants some distance from that version of himself. He was a bit of a cowboy, out to prove he was the best. Now, 20 years later, he sits atop the new hedge fund rich. He is married to a former model from Australia, has a mansion in Greenwich, Conn., and owns a big-game reserve in Tanzania." It's also no surprise that traders continue to mine the few copies in circulation for investment tips. By the time the The New York Times DealBook blog reported on the YouTube posts today, Glyn had managed to yank the film from that site. Much more about the doc here, on trader John Forman's blog. And the site Video Media Online claims to have copies available for $299.

Wait wait, let's peek into the show

All the preparation that goes into an episode of NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! is on display thanks to The Chicago Tribune's behind-the-scenes story on the popular show. If you happen to be in the Windy City wandering around Navy Pier you may catch a glimpse of a staffer. The show's offices are "a collection of cubicles on the second floor of Chicago Public Radio's Navy Pier offices," the paper says, noting that the Wait Wait employees "are the ones dressed more like bicycle messengers." Host Peter Sagal describes the process of creating a weekly episode as "the typing and the staring." And, for this particular week, there's a lot of attention paid to the Garfield cartoon character and his connection to Chinese porn. Really.

The downsides of philanthropically supported journalism

NPR President Vivian Schiller and former NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin throw cold water on the idea that philanthropic support can save ailing newspapers. Schiller tells Newsweek: "I laugh when I see that. The notion is that you declare yourself not for profit, and poof, all of your problems go away....It's incredibly naive." Dvorkin blogs: NPR's Science desk has been an "astonishing magnet for philanthropies," so much so that science reporting came to be overrepresented in NPR's overall news coverage. "It was always more difficult to raise money for covering Washington. Or the Middle East. Or any other subject that could be controversial. Science was safe. Or safe enough."

Jul 27, 2009

PBS and NPR plan barcamp in D.C.; CPB seeks logistics help

CPB has issued a request for proposals for vendors to help with training of participants and logistical work for a planned pubmedia barcamp Oct. 17 and 18 in Washington, organized by PBS and NPR. CPB will help 10 stations send two staffers each. Check out the RFP requirements here.

Staking a claim for as a "news destination"

“We are a news content organization, not just a radio organization,” says NPR President Vivian Schiller, in this New York Times piece on the redesign of that launched over the weekend. Improved navigation and readability--especially for news audiences--are hallmarks of the revamped website, a demonstration of NPR's push to create content that makes a "news destination in its own right,” she said, rather than an online companion to its radio programming. Web users who designate a favorite NPR station get a co-branded homepage that's one click away from a menu of local content. Schiller acknowledges that the site does not resolve the the long-festering "bypass issue." In a Q&A with Newsweek, Schiller says NPR has plans to help stations strengthen their web services.

Roadshow combs through unclaimed jewelry in Denver

Antiques Roadshow embarked on a first-ever effort for the show in Denver last Saturday: Appraisers examined pieces of government-held unclaimed jewelry. The Colorado State Treasurer's unclaimed property division contains some $450 million of objects or cash. There's even a Great Colorado Payback website for residents to search. As with all of the tour stops, the action was taped for consideration as part of Antiques Roadshow’s 2010 season. At one recent appraisal session, Roadshow scored its first million-dollar appraisal.

Bernanke candid at NewsHour town hall meeting

Ben Bernanke is in the news with remarks made during a NewsHour town meeting. During the discussion in Kansas City, Mo., the fed chair said government bailouts by the Central Bank and other moves were necessary to avoid "a second Depression." Anchor Jim Lehrer moderated the event, set to run in several installments on the show this week. Here's the transcript.

Jul 26, 2009

Alaska stations may be merging

For several months Alaska's pubcasters have been working with Livingston Associates, a public media strategic planning firm, on the possibility of merging the largest outlets in the state, according to Anchorage Daily News. Steve Lindbeck, president and g.m. of Alaska Public Telecommunications Inc., said the managers of APTI (the Alaska Public Radio Network, KAKM-TV and KSKA-FM in Anchorage) have been meeting with KUAC in Fairbanks and KTOO in Juneau to share ideas. The new merged network could begin as early as next July, Lindbeck added.

Cap Hill hearing set for CPB Board nominee Cahill

The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee has scheduled Patricia Cahill's nomination hearing for the CPB Board for 2:30 p.m. July 29. If approved, Cahill, g.m. of KCUR-FM in Kansas City, Mo., will be the first active public radio station manager on the board.

Jul 25, 2009

WNET offers nonprofits the WordPress variant used to redo "50 sites in 10 months"

New York’s and a Brooklyn company Tierra Innovation Inc. announced this week they're making available to other nonprofits a content management system based on the open-source WordPress Multi-User blogging platform. WNET says on a WordPress site that the CMS enabled it redo 5 to 10 websites a month instead of one or two without the CMS, at a quarter of the cost. Efficiency was necessary because the station had to do 16 national program sites and 27 sites related to the sister stations WNET and WLIW. With the redesign and its big doses of on-demand video, WNET sites have more than doubled their usage. In a white paper (PDF) the partners discuss why they chose WordPress to build upon and what features they needed to add. For series sites such as Natures, each episode gets a blog post, but the team devised a Collections plugin that groups material related to the episode. They also gave WordPress MU the ability to handle sites with various structures under various domains, including sections of Tierra also updated another WordPress plugin that enables a web publisher to trace misbehaving components that slow down site operations.

Jul 24, 2009

WGBH needs further cuts, layoffs to close $6.9 million FY 2010 budget gap

WGBH will have a smaller production volume for fiscal 2010, President and CEO Jon Abbott told staffers in a letter yesterday. Which means overhead and employee benefits paid by the productions will be "considerably reduced." That's one factor contributing to the station's projected discretionary budget gap of $6.9 million dollars for FY 2010 "that we must and will close," he wrote. An initial round of cuts requested that departments cut 5 percent of nonpersonnel budget costs; that reduction request is now up to an additional 8 percent. The station is reconsidering infrastructure improvements, negotiated employee benefit savings, and has approached its union leadership to ask for concessions. Spokeswoman Lucy Sholley told The Boston Globe layoffs are expected. The station announced last Dec. 19 a reduction of 12 positions, or about 2 percent of its workforce. In April of this year WGBH instituted a one-week staff furlough, cuts in executive salaries and suspension of employee retirement matching funds.

Cross-platform kids' content vital, Sesame Workshop head tells Senate committee

Sesame Workshop President and CEO Gary Knell joined other broadcast industry insiders testifying before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation Wednesday on the 1990 Children's Media Act. It established the three-hour weekly minimum of educational children's programming, and set advertising limits. Committee chair Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) called the hearings to address children's programming in the digital age. In his address to the committee, Knell advised incentives be used to encourage creation of more cross-platform educational content. He also singled out childhood obesity as an important focus.

XpoNential musical fun from WXPN

Philadelphia's WXPN kicks off its three-day XPoNential Music Festival this afternoon, bringing a lineup of musical acts in the Triple A vein to Wiggins Park on the scenic Camden Waterfront. From two main stages and a Kids Corner, more than 50 artists will perform blues, rock, surf, R&B/soul and music that defies easy categorization. For those of you in Mid-Atlantic region: tickets are still available! But if you can't make the Fest, tune your browsers to the WXPN stream here, where the station's live broadcast coverage will be offered as a webstream throughout the weekend. Today's coverage begins at 4:30 EST.

Henson Co. wins Engineering Emmy

The Jim Henson Co.'s Henson Digital Puppetry Studio has received an Engineering Emmy Award for its system used in the PBS Kids series Sid the Science Kid. The technique allows performers "to puppeteer and voice digital characters in real time on a sound-stage setting with multiple virtual cameras and a real time viewer, generating a high yield per minute and cutting both animation time and costs exponentially," according to a statement from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. It's one of four Engineering Emmys to be presented at an Aug. 22 ceremony in Los Angeles.

Jul 23, 2009

"Mister Rogers" goes to weekly schedule

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood will only be available one episode per week beginning this fall, PBS has informed member stations. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Kevin Morrison, CEO of Fred Rogers' Family Communications Inc., cited ongoing economic woes. "PBS is operating under very tight budget constraints and it already has a full program lineup to support Monday through Friday," Morrison said. "If it was offering Mister Rogers' Neighborhood on a daily basis it would only be as an option to the existing full lineup of programs, and that option is an expensive option for them and the financial situation prevents them from making that an option." Last season stations had the option for the daily shows.

NewsHour a partner in project cited by Knight-Batten

A project highlighting the quite different economic fates of various U.S. communities, developed by the NewsHour and the Christian Science Monitor, was cited for Special Distinction in the Knight-Batten Awards for Innovations in Journalism announced today by the J-Lab at American University. For Patchwork Nation, producers crunched data from more than 3,100 counties. The $10,000 Knight-Batten Grand Prize went to the New York Times, which is working overtime not to go extinct, developed Represent, a feed for constituents to follow city officials' activities; Custom Times a prototype personalized multiplatform report; Debate Analysis Tool, which provided a searchable scrolling text of the '08 Presidential debates, and more. Among other winners: Change Tracker, ProPublica's White-House-watcher; the Center for Public Integrity's use of digital tools for projects such as Who's Behind the Financial Meltdown?; and a free tool for under-staffed websites: Apture, which generates code for embedding videos and other media. Here's the full winners list.

Consultant fees questioned as U-Fla. stations gird for layoffs

"People who do what I do get paid a lot more than that," says Mike Harding, a media consultant who is earning $10,000 a month to lead a restructuring of the University of Florida's media properties, including WUFT-TV/FM in Gainesville. The Gainesville Sun reports that Harding, a commercial TV turn-around specialist, is being paid with funds drawn equally from the university's four broadcast stations and its College of Journalism and Communications. Paul Gordon, a veteran media ad sales exec also retained by Dean John Wright, earns $69,000 annually as interim director of WRUF-AM, a struggling sports/talk outlet, and WRUF-FM, a rock station. The Sun also reports that Wright plans to lay off five station employees within the next few weeks. "People are being laid off, and they're spending all this money on consultants," says Rita Patterson, a "friend" of station employees who was quoted by the Sun.

Scott Simon on the new "This even I know is a big improvement"

NPR unveils the "brand new" in this YouTube video featuring Scott Simon's first test-drive of the website launching July 27. The Weekend Edition Saturday host finds that the redesigned site is easier to read and navigate and features a Google-powered search engine and nifty interactive visuals. "We want to be your source for NPR news, analysis, arts & life stories and music that is always fresh and up-to-date, a source of unexpected delight and most important, a site that always upholds NPR's highest standards," write NPR Digital chief Kinsey Wilson and NPR News Executive Editor Dick Meyer, in an accompanying note to the NPR Community. "On the new site, it will be easier to combine listening and reading, to follow breaking news, to comment on our work and share it, and easier to find programming from your NPR station." They promise enhancements for NPR Mobile offerings later this summer.

NPR home pages now and protoype for next week

Jul 22, 2009

Pubradio staffers score free international vacations

Two lucky pubcasters heard their names called for prizes at the recent Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference in San Diego. And they received pretty primo prizes indeed: Two free international trips from Collette Vacations. Sarah Steinberg of KNPR, Las Vegas, won two tickets for a Christmas Market Tour of Salzburg, Linz, Vienna and Prague. Steinberg, a development associate at Nevada Public Radio, told Current she was especially surprised, seeing as she'd already won two items at the confab, an iPod Touch and a solar charger. Luanne Valentin, development director at KRCL, has donated her Mexico vacation for two to the Salt Lake City station to be used as a special thank-you gift for some "very loyal listener," she said. Details are still being worked out. Valentin nearly couldn't believe her ears. "They said my name as the winner, and I looked at the two people sitting next to me," who gasped and patted her on the back. "I thought, I must have heard the right thing."

Six stations get new Ready to Learn money

CPB today announced funding for new statewide Ready to Learn projects. Six pubTV stations will work with state education agencies to provide early childhood education resources and services, according to a CPB statement. Funds will foster those partnerships to integrate RTL digital media resources into pre-K through second grade classrooms and other learning environments, such as child-care settings and after-school programs. Efforts will especially target children from low-income families. Included are KQED, San Francisco; Georgia Public Broadcasting; Iowa Public Television; KTWU, Topeka, Kan.; Maryland Public Television; and WMHT, Troy, N.Y.

Boland departing PBS to return to California: Update

John Boland, PBS's first chief content officer (Current, June 26, 2006), will leave the network after three years to return to California at the end of the year. PBS head Paula Kerger made the announcement to the system yesterday. She said in a letter to g.m.'s that Boland told her of his plans to return to California several months ago. PBS has retained executive search firm Spencer Stuart "to work closely with [COO] Michael Jones and me to identify an individual who can help us build” on Boland’s work; no word as to whether the title and responsibilities will remain the same. Boland came to headquarters from the CCO spot at KQED TV/FM in San Francisco. The top job there soon will be open as Jeff Clark, president for eight years, last month announced he'll retire June 30, 2010. In a lengthy Q&A in Current (May 14, 2007), Boland addressed a wide range of issues including Wired Science (Current, March 3, 2008), a hip, newsy show that was the first PBS series created in response to CPB’s four-year studies on primetime audience preferences; it was canceled after just 10 episodes. In the Q&A, looking back at his tenure as CCO at KQED and forward into his plans for the position at PBS, he told Current: "It is complicated and confusing at first, having all these departments reporting to one person, but over time it becomes a much richer experience for people working in multidisciplinary terms."

Jul 21, 2009

Nuptial couple gets the WGBH studio blues

WGBH's One Guest Street studios have hosted celebs from cellist Yo-Yo Ma to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to ’80s rockers Duran Duran. But this was a first: On July 17 the studio was the backdrop for a wedding photo shoot. Photographer and WGBH member Rachel Hadiashar chose the locale because she’s “quite taken with the colorful design of the building,” she said. That's her photo above. Wouter (the groom, completing his doctorate in Theoretical Physics at MIT) and Eileen (the bride, who teaches English as a Second Language in Boston) said they were were delighted with the building, as their wedding followed a blue theme.

Sports added to Omaha's classical KVNO

News that Omaha's KVNO, a full-time classical music station, will begin airing live sports coverage in August has prompted a backlash among listeners of the public radio station licensed to the University of Nebraska at Omaha. "There were audible gasps in the hall" during a recent chamber music concert when Oboist Darci Griffith announced that sports broadcasts were coming to KVNO, the Omaha World-Herald reports. “Those people were KVNO fans, and no one had bothered to tell them,” Griffith said. The schedule change will provide a new source of income for the station because UNO's athletic department will pay the station to carry its football, hockey and basketball games. Michael Hilt, assistant dean of UNO's communications school, says the change benefits students and preserves the majority of KVNO's schedule for classical music.

Sesame president to appear at Cap Hill hearing on Children's TV Act

Gary Knell, president of Sesame Workshop, will testify before the Senate Commerce Committee Wednesday at a hearing examining the Children's TV Act, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The 1990 Act established a three-hour weekly minimum of educational and information children's programming, and addressed advertising limits in the shows. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski will head the proceedings in his first appearance on the Hill in his new post.

Jul 20, 2009

Independent Lens on PBS gets Young@Heart TV premiere

Young@Heart, the award-winning 2007 documentary about a spunky chorus of hip senior citizens, will have its television premiere during the fall/winter 2009 season of Independent Lens on PBS. The critically acclaimed film takes viewers inside seven weeks of rehearsals with the members of the Young@Heart Chorus of retirees as they prepare for a concert in their hometown of Northampton, Mass.

Henry Louis Gates arrested at his home in Cambridge, Mass.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., Harvard professor and longtime PBS doc producer, was arrested last Thursday trying to force open the locked front door of his home, according to The Associated Press. Cambridge, Mass., police were called that afternoon after a woman reported seeing a man trying to pry the door open. The police report states an officer asked Gates to identify himself and Gates refused, called the officer a racist and said repeatedly, "This is what happens to black men in America." According to the police report, the 58-year-old professor told officers, "You don't know who you're messing with." An Associated Press followup, which includes Gates' booking mugshot, added details of allegations that the arrest is part of a pattern of racial profiling in the city. Gates received the 2008 Ralph Lowell Award from CPB in May, honoring his outstanding contribution to public television for shows including African American Lives, in which he traced the lineage of famous African Americans through DNA. The police report is at The Boston Globe's website. UPDATE: Cambridge police dropped charges Tuesday. In a joint statement, the city, police department and Gates said: "This incident should not be viewed as one that demeans the character and reputation of Professor Gates or the character of the Cambridge Police Department."

PBS ombudsman eyes Moyers' health-care show

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler's column today focuses on journalistic credibility, citing both the Washington Post's recent lapse on "pay for access" salons, as well as a recent Bill Moyers Journal episode on health care. One guest on that show was Wendell Potter, senior fellow with the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD). Moyers is president of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, which had funded CMD as recently as 2006. The column includes two lengthy replies from Moyers.

NPR compiles Cronkite's radio essays online

From 2001 to 2005, newsman Walter Cronkite, who died last week, contributed occasional essays to NPR. Now listeners can hear those once again on an NPR tribute page featuring the pieces.

Blogger angry over Monsanto underwriting on Marketplace

American Public Media's Marketplace should dump Monsanto sponsorship, writes blogger Delores M. Bernal on News Junkie Post. Bernal contends the firm produces and sells "dangerous poisonous chemicals" and allowing Monsanto to underwrite the popular news show "is irresponsible and it goes totally against what the purpose of listener-supported radio is all about!" She's calling on listeners to contact APM to demand it "put the interest of readers first."

Norfolk's WHRO to open new Williamsburg studio

WHRO, a dual-licensee in Norfolk, Va., covering the Hampton Roads area, is opening a satellite studio in Williamsburg. The studio, in operation on Aug. 3, will cost more than $1 million for equipment, licensing fees and repeaters. The two-story building has a small studio, a conference room for community groups, and office space.

Jul 18, 2009

Monday NewsHour to feature Lehrer's Obama interview

Jim Lehrer will interview President Barack Obama Monday afternoon at the White House, according to NewsHour. Their conversation, touching on healthcare reform, the economy and the war in Afghanistan, will be seen on that evening's show.

Jul 17, 2009

"Spurious signals" trouble Colorado's KUNC

KUNC in Greeley, Colo., is dealing with "an unauthorized, local signal that has been sending out brief, spurious signals" and disrupting the NPR member's Denver transmission, according to a letter to annoyed listeners from g.m. Neil Best. Station engineers continue to search for the source; meanwhile, the station is switching to satellite delivery service.

No prison time for former NPR staffer charged in child porn case

Former NPR science editor David Malakoff, who pleaded guilty in March to a felony child pornography possession charge, will not go to prison, a U.S. District Court judge decided Thursday. Instead, Judge Ellen Huvelle sentenced him to five years' probation, 600 hours of community service and registration as a sex offender for 25 years. Evidence was found that he had illicit materials on his NPR computer between April and June of 2008; he resigned from NPR that June. Malakoff said he was raped as a boy and was attempting to relive the experience. Huvelle also ordered Malakoff to write a letter to the subject of one of the pornographic videos that showed a young girl being raped by her father. "You have more in common than you think or she thinks," Huvelle told Malakoff at the sentencing in Washington, D.C.

Jul 16, 2009

Emmy nominations include 26 for pubcasting

Public broadcasters scored 26 nods in primetime Emmys announced today, including American Masters and American Experience competing for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. New theme music by John Williams for Great Performances, which debuted March 25, also is on the list for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music. Entire list is here (PDF).

WTTW 2009 pledge drives don't meet budget plans

A report to WTTW's board of trustees and staff in Chicago revealed that the three pledge drives during the fiscal year ending June 30 were 11 percent below what had been budgeted, according to Chicago Sun-Times media and marketing columnist Lewis Lazare.

Jul 15, 2009

Web analytics director at PBS details Web research techniques

A Google Analytics blog post provides a peek inside PBS's Web development strategy. Amy Sample, PBS Interactive web analytics director, discusses how analysis of users’ video viewing behavior on and led to the development of the PBS Video and PBS Kids Go! sites. Future research includes working to gauge impact of online content on TV viewing, and tracking online donations.

Former NPR staffer faces sentence on child-porn charges

The sentencing process began yesterday for former NPR science correspondent and editor David Malakoff, who pleaded guilty in March to a felony child porn possession charge after evidence was found that he possessed illicit material on his NPR computer between April and June 2008. A young woman whose rape at 10 years old was the subject of one of the videos on Malakoff's computer is working with the prosecution. Malakoff resigned from NPR that June. He could receive more than eight years in prison and will be sentenced Thursday. A biography of Malakoff is here (scroll down). NPR told Current in an e-mail: "This is a legal matter involving a former employee, and as such we have no comment."

Jul 14, 2009

WNYC acquires Times Co.'s classical WQXR

A three-party radio deal announced today in New York will bring WQXR, a classical music station operated by the New York Times Company, under the ownership of WNYC. The agreement involves a frequency swap with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, which will take over the 96.3 FM frequency where WQXR now broadcasts classical music. Pending FCC approval, WQXR will move to a weaker signal on 105.9 FM and program classical music as a service of WNYC. The Times Company will receive $45 million from the sale, $11.5 million of which will be paid by WNYC for the WQXR license, transmission equipment, call letters and website. With the announcement, WNYC launched a $15 million Campaign to Preserve Classical Music Radio in New York City to finance the purchase and ongoing operations of its new station. The New York Times reports: "Talk of the sale also sent shivers through cultural institutions that rely heavily on WQXR, like the New York Philharmonic, the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School. . . .[N]ew ownership and a transition to public radio raises its own concerns for those cultural institutions, creating a competitor for the dwindling pool of charitable dollars for the arts, and threatening the cozy relationship they have had with a station that gives them ample exposure and greatly broadens their reach." Meanwhile, classical pianist Emanuel Ax, who chairs WNYC's new capital campaign, had this to say: “Seven years ago, I was one of the voices calling for WNYC to preserve as much classical music as possible on its air. Today, I am happy to stand with WNYC as it carries off the sonic equivalent of saving Carnegie Hall from the wrecker’s ball by preserving WQXR as our sole all-classical music station. I know that all of my colleagues will rejoice in this wonderful and meaningful use of the airwaves, and I urge all of New York to embrace and support WNYC’s leap of faith.”

Atop Emmy news and doc nominations list: PBS with 41

PBS dominated the News & Documentary Emmy Award nominations (PDF) announced today, with 41 nods. Closest competitors are CBS with 23, and 13 each for ABC and HBO/Cinemax. POV scored 10 nominations; Frontline, seven; and Nova, four. One strong category: Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story/Long Form, with PBS taking four of five spots. Winners will be announced Sept. 21 in New York City.

FCC pondering broadcast journalism

Outgoing acting FCC chair Michael Copps, in an interview with Multicast News, reveals the commission is working on a notice of inquiry on the future of broadcast journalism. A broad discussion on the state of journalism in America "is something to take a little while. You are going to need to assemble the best brains, and people from different sectors of the communications world and let them come and reason together and see if they can help us chart a path to a media future," Copps said.

Radio Bilingue to develop new pubmedia service for Los Angeles

CPB has awarded a $2 million grant to Radio Bilingue to design and develop a multiplatform English language program service for young Latinos in Los Angeles. Radio Bilingue, which produces and distributes Spanish-language news and cultural programming airing on stations in the U.S. and Mexico, will take several months to develop programming before launching the new service in 2010. "Los Angeles sits at the juncture of diversity and new media and this is an opportunity to create a national model for public media innovation," said CPB President Patricia Harrison in a news release. "This service, developed by Radio Bilingue, will serve and represent a new community of listeners through fresh and innovative content." No word yet on a broadcast outlet: CPB's announcement highlights the search for a chief content officer and research firm to test and design programming and marketing concepts for the venture. Planning of the service began with CPB's 2005 request for proposals for a project examining strategies to expand pubradio listenership among Los Angeles Latinos. [Link to Current's earlier coverage here.]

Jul 13, 2009

Movie-making kids getting their big break on KCSM

KCSM in San Mateo, no longer a PBS member station due to financial woes, "plans to fill the PBS void" by airing more local shows including its Spotlight! series, in which high-school filmmakers create three- to five-minute flicks, according to The Daily Journal. Some of the aspiring movie mavens are as young as 14. They're mentored by a staff of pros including producers, screenwriters and special-effects experts and get to premiere their work on KCSM.

Electric Company heads to weekday feed

PBS is expanding its weekly feed of The Electric Company to each weekday starting Sept. 7, reports Variety. The show, which kicked off in January, is currently the top performer on the PBS Kids Go! Block this year, and has streamed more than 10 million videos at its website.

Jul 12, 2009

PBS Sotomayor coverage will also run in Spanish

PBS and impreMedia will stream NewsHour's feed of Senate confirmation hearings for Judge Sonia Sotomayor this week, translated into Spanish. The feed will run on impreMedia's website, according to a joint statement issued today. Arturo Duran, CEO of impreMedia Digital, noted in the statement that this is the first time in the Supreme Court's history that a potential justice grew up speaking Spanish.

Co-host excoriates WQED for recent layoff decisions

For three years, Pittsburgh lawyer, law professor and political analyst Joseph Sabino Mistick has co-hosted WQED's Roddey v. Mistick, a local political debate show. But now he's written a revealing column for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review regarding the recent WQED layoffs that he thinks "will surely put an end to my role" at the station. Among his claims: "With six executives making six figures-plus ... the station's layoffs include a janitor, a mailroom clerk and a part-time graphic artist who is a single mother." Furthermore, "This may no longer be a rank-and-file town, but we still have that sense of fairness and equity that was nurtured over generations. Forget about the absurd notion that WQED can be saved on the backs of the lowest-paid employees in the building. No one could take that proposition seriously. Instead, ask yourself what it says about a public charity when it acts like Bernie Madoff or AIG or any of the robber-baron corporations that have coddled the rich and cast adrift the poor. For my money, the janitor should be the last guy to go." When the layoffs occurred on July 7, George L. Miles Jr., head of WQED Multimedia, said in a statement: "This is a drastic action and a very painful day in the history of this station, in Pittsburgh and in this region that we serve when we have to respond to financial pressures by cutting staff."

Jul 11, 2009

Pubcasting provided USA Network CEO with valuable experience

Newsweek reports that USA Network CEO Bonnie Hammer's first TV job was in 1974 at WGBH on Infinity Factory. Among her duties, the mag says: "Scooping up excrement from one of the show's costars, a sheepdog."

PRDMC crowd hears of KPLU online successes

This year's Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference has wrapped up in San Diego. Keith York of KPBS, who covered it for his PMD site, reports that "The Skinny on Online Sponsorship" was one interesting session. In it, KPLU in Seattle/Tacoma reported it's made $250,000 off its Around the House webpage, where listeners interact and experts lend advice to homeowners. Also successful is its Buy Local page, with five sponsors so far, that touts locally produced foods. The "advertorial" content is created by the underwriting staff. (For more on online sponsorship models, see Current's October 2008 story.) Now that the confab is over, Current is waiting to hear who won the two free trips: Nine days on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, and a Christmas market tour of Salzburg, Linz, Vienna and Prague. Pretty sweet giveaways!

Jul 10, 2009

House subcom okays $40M in station funds

Emergency funds for pubcastingcleared an important hurdle today, as the House's Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies subcom approved $40 million in "meaningful, urgent relief directly to local stations," according to an APTS statement. President and CEO Larry Sidman added, “All of public broadcasting is deeply grateful to Chairman [David] Obey [D-Wisc.] and his subcommittee members for providing desperately needed support to stations battered by the most prolonged recession since World War II.” Next steps: The bill progresses to that chamber's Appropriations Committee, and on to the House floor. The Senate also needs to weigh in. On Capitol Hill Day in February, APTS and station reps lobbied for a $211 million supplemental appropriation for FY2010, or what Sidman termed "an emergency infusion of funding" (Current, Feb. 17).

Pubcasting show's ideas didn't help retailer Smith & Hawken

High-end outdoor accessories retailer Smith & Hawken is going out of business. What does that have to do with pubcasting? Founding partner Paul Hawken was producer and host of the 17-part series Growing a Business that aired on PBS; it focused on owning and running a socially conscious company. According to Hawken's biography, the program ultimately played in 115 countries and was watched by more than 100 million viewers. Ten 30-minute episodes ran from November 1987 to November 1990 on PBS.

Donor foundation "concerned" about WQED's future

WQED's cutbacks are affecting not only station personnel, but also donor foundations' confidence in the station, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We are concerned about WQED's future and we care about its mission," said John Ellis, spokesman for the Pittsburgh Foundation, which has donated more than $600,000 over the past five years. "Like most public service TV stations across the country, WQED needs to develop a sustainable model for public service television in this region and we hope they're successful in that endeavor." WQED Multimedia President George Miles promised to present foundations with a new strategic plan
by July.

Fervent fans follow pubcasters, including NPR's Kasell

Carl Kasell, media elite. That's according to the Power Grid on It ranks personalities by audience, blog entries and Twitter groupies. In all, 12 PBSers and 13 folks on NPR are there, from the expected (Tavis Smiley, Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill) to the slightly more unexpected, such as the longtime authoritative NPR voice Kasell -- no doubt, he's developed a whole new fan base with all those home answering-machine recordings via Wait Wait Don't Tell Me.

I put them in my digital pocket ... somewhere ... I know they're here ...

Think digital coupons. That’s one interesting suggestion that emerged from the Public Radio Development & Marketing Conference in San Diego. Blogging the confab is Keith York, a KPBS programmer who writes the Public Media Digest. York reports that Paul Jacobs of Jacobs Media told a packed session that use of digital coupons is surpassing printed coupons, so stations could offer listeners online coupons and discounts for sponsors. A leader in digital coupons, Safeway, added them to its loyalty card effort last month, the database marketing blog DM News reported. Forbes said some digital coupons fail to offer meaningful savings and even charge memberships to prospective users.

Jul 9, 2009

PBS ombudsman hears from viewers upset with "Capitol Fourth"

It's Mailbag time for PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler and -- uh oh -- some letter writers found PBS's A Capitol Fourth less than thrilling this year. In fact, they called it "meaningless," "disappointing" and "insipid." Writers are also still weighing in on the PBS Board's new ruling on sectarian programming.

Another gold star for NPR's mobile site

The Poynter Institute's Amy Gahran is raving about NPR's mobile web capability, from her current vacation spot in northern Michigan -- which has little or no cell or broadband access. "This trip has really hammered home how poorly most news sites handle the mobile Web -- and brought one shining star to the fore: National Public Radio," she writes on the Poynter's E-Media Tidbits column. She adds: "People want news where they are, and often their cell phone is all they've got. Also, they may sometimes only have a couple of bars of cell network connection. It's up to news organizations to work with those constraints to help build loyalty with this huge market. NPR sets a great example on this front."

Mississippi net chief is former U.N. food official

The head of the theater program at private Mississippi College and a former United Nations World Food Program official, Judith Lewis, starts work Aug 1. as executive director of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, the Jackson Clarion-Ledger reported yesterday. She succeeds Marie Antoon, who announced her retirement earlier this year and will continue to work with MPB for a transition month. Lewis is an associate professor of communications at the college in Clinton, near the state capital, Jackson. She retired about three yeares ago from the U.N. program; she was a regional director in eastern and southern Africa and has lived in Angola, Ethiopia, Uganda and South Africa, the newspaper said. The board chair said there were 60 applicants.

Lehrer to lead forum with Fed chief on KCPT

KCPT, the PBS affiliate in Kansas City, Mo., will host a one-hour forum with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke moderated by Jim Lehrer on July 26 at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. That will translate into three nights of coverage on NewsHour followed by a one-hour special. TV critic Aaron Barnhart wrote in a Kansas City Star blog, "This is a coup for KCPT, the Kansas City public TV station that continues to outperform its 31st-largest-market stature. It will be choosing the members of the local audience, who will join online participants in a national dialogue about the Fed, its power, and the state of the economy following one of the biggest government economic interventions in history."

Jul 8, 2009

Here comes the circus, via Milwaukee Public Television

Here's some happy news: Milwaukee Public Television reports that more than half the country's pubstations are picking up its HD feed of the city's Great Circus Parade. That means some 52 percent of Americans from Boston all the way to Hawaii have a chance to watch, according to a station release.

Glass wins CPB's Murrow Award

Ira Glass, e.p. and host of This American Life, is this year's recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award from CPB. Board member Lori Gilbert presented Glass with the honor today at the Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference in San Diego, saying the show "has created a new aesthetic for public radio, now emulated by a new generation of producers and reporters." TAL debuted in 1995 and is currently broadcast on more than 500 pubradio stations to a weekly audience of 1.8 million listeners. CPB has given the Murrow Award since 1977 to "individuals who foster public radio’s quality and service and shape its direction."

Free "Roadshow" Wisconsin tix show up online for $200

Free tickets to enter the Antiques Roadshow episode in Madison, Wisc., are selling for $200 online, local WKOW-TV is warning viewers. The producers track such sales and will cancel those tickets if it identifies sellers.

San Mateo's KCSM drops out of PBS

One of the San Francisco Bay Area's numerous pubTV stations has dropped PBS membership in hopes of averting its sale. Hit by budget cuts like everything else in California's public sector, San Mateo County Community College District gave KCSM-TV/FM a chance to cut costs, the San Mateo County Times reported yesterday. It is cutting six positions, five in TV and one in radio. Dropping PBS will save $400,000 a year, almost half of the $825,000 reduction planned. KCSM also plans to lease some spectrum to make money.

MPR websites now come in flavors

Minnesota Public Radio today is the latest pubcaster to unveil a new website look and structure. While it retains some news on its home page, MPR refers news junkies to NewsQ, “Minnesota’s online source for news that matters,” with links to five blogs and its Public Insight Network at top center. Sections related to MPR’s two music services get distinct coloring and emotional tones. The calm green-accented classical section has a heading asserting "it's alive" and is decorated with minty sprigs up top (beech leaves?). There's a lively red-and-yellow look for 89.3 The Current, MPR’s contemporary music channel.

Jul 7, 2009

Anticipating loss of state funding, WQED terminates 11 spots

Nine employees are laid off and two vacancies are gone, effective immediately, at WQED in Pittsburgh, according to a station statement. "This is a drastic action and a very painful day in the history of this station, in Pittsburgh and in this region that we serve when we have to respond to financial pressures by cutting staff," said George L. Miles Jr., President and CEO of WQED Multimedia. The station has been waging a public-relations campaign for months to raise awareness of a possible $1.1 million budget cut if Gov. Ed Rendell's proposed budget passes. "We now have to confront the reality that these state monies may never be reinstated," Miles said. Potential reductions in individual donations as well as private foundation and corporate support for the rest of the year prompted the station to make changes now; its fiscal year begins Oct. 1. WQED is also considering eliminating some national programming such as The Lawrence Welk Show. KDKA, the local CW affiliate, is reporting that WQED Board President Richard Stover said the station is asking the region's foundations to continue or increase their support. "We are in the process of presenting the foundations a strategic plan," he said.

Companywide furlough this week at KQED

KQED employees are on furlough all week, "due to a downturn in the economy," according to the station's July member newsletter (PDF). TV, radio and Internet services won't be interrupted, the statement said. The office reopens July 13.

"Cucina Amore" host denies involvement in dog deaths

Damian Mandola, cookbook author, restaurateur and host of the former PBS show Cucina Amore, is embroiled in a neighborhood dispute in Driftwood, Texas, that may have escalated into the death of four dogs, according to the Austin American-Statesman. Mandola said three Swiss Mountain Dogs belonging to his neighbor, Jeff Maddox, had entered Mandola's yard recently and killed his poodle. Then June 30 Maddox's dogs went missing; their bodies were found near Mandola's property. The cause of death is impossible to determine due to damage from buzzards. Damian's wife Trina Mandola said the family denies any involvement.

Pensacola pubTV lays off local host

Part of WSRE-TV's overhaul of local programming in Pensacola, Fla., includes cutting Robin Reshard, host of its Connecting the Community show. She'd been in the spot about two years. Station spokesperson Robin McArthur said reruns of the weekly show will air while the local programming schedule undergoes a "revamping" due to budget cuts. McArthur told Current in an e-mail: "Even in the midst of challenging times due to shrinking budgets and contributions, WSRE is optimistic there are ample opportunities for us to continue and even better the way we serve our local communities."

WNED names studio after million-dollar "quiet" benefactor

The staff at WNED in Buffalo, N.Y., was stunned when the station received a $1.4 million bequest from Charles N. Hubbell. The classical music enthusiast had contributed for more than 25 years and left the station the money from his trust. It's the largest legacy gift ever for the station. "We don’t know much about this quiet patron, but we are extremely grateful for his enormous generosity," Donald K. Boswell, president and CEO, told The Buffalo News. Boswell announced Monday that WNED will honor its "quiet patron" by naming the Classical 94.5 FM broadcast booth the Charles N. Hubbell Studio. “His name will serve as a dramatic reminder of the impact we have, and of our unique responsibility to viewers and listeners,” Boswell said.

Jul 6, 2009

Obama picks longtime radio pubcaster for CPB board spot

Patricia Deal Cahill is President Obama's nominee for a seat on the CPB Board. A White House press release details Cahill's career in public radio, which began in 1969. She's g.m. of KCUR-FM at University of Missouri-Kansas City and teaches broadcast management there. She was also g.m. of KMUW-FM at Wichita State University, served on the NPR Board and was president of Public Radio in Mid America. Cahill told Kansas City Star media writer Aaron Barnhart that it appears she will be the first active pubradio station manager named to the board.

Jul 5, 2009

"Time Team" member now monitors fossils instead of freshmen

How did Colin Campbell, an art school grad who designs landscapes for a Baltimore video game firm, end up hosting Oregon Public Broadcasting's archeology show Time Team America? As he tells The Baltimore Sun: "I worked as a resident assistant, and before that as a desk monitor for a freshman dorm. And the guy who employed me in both of those roles eventually left MICA and went on to work in Portland, Ore. And the show's producers ... happened to call him asking if he knew anyone who would be good for this show, and he gave them my name. I actually like that story a lot, because it goes back to me working a $5-an-hour job and that sort of cascading into this event."

Jul 4, 2009

Family hopes exhumation leads to PBS film

The descendants of a U.S. general from the War of 1812 are requesting his exhumation, in part to inspire production of a PBS documentary about him, according to The Calgary Herald. Zebulon Pike was killed when retreating British and Canadian troops intentionally blew up a munitions depot during the April 1813 capture of present-day Toronto. His remains were moved to a military cemetery in Sackets Harbor, N.Y., but subsequently reburied. The Pike family would like to prove their ancestor's resting place as well as bolster a worldwide genealogy project tracing his DNA to modern-day Pikes. "We believe there will be significant cultural, historical and economic upsides to the village, including national exposure and increased tourism from the film," said Pike Family Association veep Stu Pike in letter to citizens of Sackets Harbor requesting permission for the exhumation. The general already inspired a past documentary produced in part by the Smithsonian, Zebulon Pike and the Blue Mountain, about Pike’s expedition through the Southwest in the early 1800s. It ran on Rocky Mountain PBS.

Jul 3, 2009

Presidential message will be part of Capitol Fourth celebration

Here's a nice exclusive for PBS: President Barack Obama will present a message to the nation on the network's A Capitol Fourth celebration. The statement will include congratulations to Sesame Street as it celebrates 40 years. The longtime fave Fourth of July show, this year featuring big names including Barry Manilow and Aretha Franklin, airs live from the Capitol from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Eastern on Saturday; check local listings.

WUFT transitions from classical to news/talk

Starting Aug. 3, University of Florida's WUFT-FM is discontinuing classical music to run NPR news and talk. The station also will expand local news reported by students, according to The Gainesville Sun. Its longtime nickname, Classic 89, is being dropped. The changes also will take place at sister station WJUF-FM/Nature Coast 90 in Citrus County. The station's ratings drop as much as 70 percent at 9 a.m., when NPR's Morning Edition ends and classical music begins.

Jul 2, 2009

WHTJ staffers now working from home

WHTJ in Richmond, Va., has shrunk from five employees to just two--both of whom work from home, reports The Hook, a weekly newpaper in Charlottesville. The station recently closed its office across from City Hall, and g.m. D.J. Crotteau left June 5, according to the paper. WHTJ is part of the Community Idea Stations, which are owned by the Commonwealth Public Broadcasting Corporation. The station offers one local program, but "we don’t really need a studio for that,” station spokeswoman Lynn McCarthy-Jones told the paper. “We don’t need to do that in-house.”

Iowa Public Radio cuts nine spots

Nine positions, or 14 percent of the workforce, are gone at Iowa Public Radio. A statement from CEO Mary Grace Herrington said the move completes a reorganization that began with the merger of three pubradio groups into a state network (Current, January 2005 and September 2008). Several employees will take early retirement, and others are being offered severance packages. Four of the nine are vacant slots. The reorganization also includes shifting staff into other areas.

Jul 1, 2009

Conference takes first steps toward official nonprof investigative network

The Watchdogs at Pocantico conference, "Building an Investigative News Network," has wrapped up in Tarrytown, N.Y., and attendees from nearly 30 media outlets are heading home. But before they departed, they signed onto the Pocantico Declaration. It recommends preparations begin immediately to form the Investigative News Network. The network will "aid and abet, in every conceivable way ... the work and public reach of its member news organizations." The steering committee will begin fund-raising work, and create an Investigative News Network website. "What is clear in this Pocantico Declaration," the treatise concludes, "is that we have hereby established, for the first time ever, an Investigative News Network of nonprofit news publishers throughout the United States of America." Pubcasters in attendance included Brian Duffy, NPR's managing editor for news; Stephen Segaller, director of news and public affairs programming at WNET.ORG; and Stephen Smith, executive editor and host of American RadioWorks from American Public Media. The gathering was co-sponsored by the Center for Investigative Reporting and Center for Public Integrity, two nonprofs.

Wayne Dyer = New Age, letter writer says

Time for the PBS ombudsman's Mailbag column. Michael Getler received a letter from a viewer upset about the PBS Board's sectarian programming decision. The writer's request: "Re the no religious broadcasting ... please then remove Wayne Dyer from your begathon. He is as New Age as they come."

House committee may investigate Arbitron's Portable People Meters

The Miami-Dade (Fla.) County Board of Supervisors is the latest entity to take on Arbitron's Portable People Meters. On Tuesday the board adopted a resolution to "ensure that the ratings methodology used by the Portable People Meter ratings system designed to measure radio station listenership does not under-represent minority radio listeners." That's the alleged problem that is drawing so much attention to the ratings devices. Broadcasting & Cable also reports that the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee plans to investigate the devices. In its defense, Arbitron contends it has been refining and improving the meters with suggestions from members of Congress, the FCC, the industry and other interested parties. The FCC began an investigation (PDF) into the PPMs last month.