Jun 30, 2009

Public Radio Tech Survey kicks off July 27

The second Public Radio Tech Survey, a web-based analysis of listeners, runs for three weeks starting July 27. It will explore new media and technology use among pubradio listeners nationwide, as well as by market. Last year more than 70 stations took part, generating some 30,000 interviews. The project is coordinated by Jacobs Media, which calls itself "the largest radio consulting firm in the United States specializing in rock formats." Partnering in the survey are NPR, the Integrated Media Association and Public Radio Program Directors.

Lightbulbs going off all over Aspen as pubcasters mingle at Ideas Festival

Public broadcasters are in the impressive mix of forward-thinkers this week at the Aspen Institute's fifth annual Ideas Festival. Here it is, only Day 1, and Frontline e.p. David Fanning had this great quote: "Public broadcasting has always been at war with itself. I don't need to tell you about Yanni at the Acropolis." Fanning also detailed ideas for turning the public broadcasting system into a journalistic powerhouse. James Fallow of The Atlantic is keeping tabs on the activities, providing "slightly-longer-than-Twitter-scale real time summaries of what is going on." Other system insiders brainstorming at the sessions include Kurt Anderson of PRI's Studio 360, Paula S. Apsell of NOVA, Brooke Gladstone of NPR's On the Media, Matt Miller of NPR's Left, Right & Center, Kai Ryssdal of APM's Marketplace and NPR's Linda Wertheimer.

AlaskaOne terminates staff, shifts to live children's feed

KUAC/AlaskaOne is shrinking its staff by a third due to a $450,000 budget deficit, according to The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Two employees are gone effective tomorrow, the start of KUAC's fiscal year. Five long-vacant spots "are no longer on the books," Gretchen Gordon, the station’s director of development and outreach, told Current. Also, two full-time positions are now part time. One of the new half-time jobs is the station's marketing slot. "That may also impact our ability to cultivate and solicit donations, because our presence in the community is going to be effected," Gordon said. All the changes reduce the staff to 19 employees from 28. Also, the station said on its website that the budget shortfall requires changes in its children's programming schedule, "because we no longer have the resources to record and schedule them manually." The pubcaster provides FM radio to Interior Alaska, and public TV to the Interior, Juneau, Bethel and Kodiak.

Burns requests Dust Bowl memories of Oklahomans for film

PBS filmmaker Ken Burns is asking residents of Oklahoma to share their personal stories of the Dust Bowl for an upcoming documentary The Dust Bowl (w.t.). The Oklahoma Network is helping him gather the recollections. In a personal message to the people of the state, Burns said he thinks the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, when severe drought affected crop production and created huge dust storms, "is an important event in all of American history." He adds that his production company, Florentine Films, is in the early stages of research but that the state "will be a major part of the Dust Bowl story we want to tell." He's making the request through the press as well appearances in TV ads.

EDCAR's new name: PBS Digital Learning Library

PBS announced yesterday that public TV's new classroom service will be called the PBS Digital Learning Library. The project, discussed in earlier Current articles, was previously called EDCAR (Education Digital Content Asset Repository). The searchable trove of "learning assets," including short videos and games, will be customizable by stations and searchable and tagged for compliance with state teaching standards. PBS made the announcement at the National Educational Computing Conference in Washington.

Familiar metaphorical smell snagged hosting job for Tyson

In a Q&A with The Boston Globe, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (right, NOVA photo) reveals how he came to host NOVA ScienceNOW. "After their inaugural season, in which I had been interviewed multiple times, they needed a new host," he recalled. "They knew what I looked like, what I smelled like--metaphorically--and so my name sort of rose to the top." And who's the toughest interviewer of all his ongoing media appearances? Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, followed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, both on Comedy Central.

G4 comments to FCC on possible ethnicity, gender ID filing requirements

Providing the FCC with a list of ethnicities and genders of individual pubcasters wouldn't show a true picture of the role minorities and women play in station programming and services, according to a joint filing to the agency by APTS, CPT, NPR and PBS. The statement is in reaction to a proposed rulemaking that would change the FCC Form 323-E Ownership Report to report those details as well ethnicity ownership data. The four noted that while it wouldn't necessarily be a problem to submit the information, no one individual holds equity interest in a station. And because ownership varies widely for pubstations, “it would be unhelpful, and potentially misleading,” to lump together data for noncoms and commercial stations if the FCC wants a “comprehensive picture of broadcast ownership.” Any new reporting requirements would strain financial resources of public broadcasting stations, the groups added. Speaking for LPFM stations, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and Prometheus Radio Project favors detailing information about gender and ethnicity. However, they cautioned against excess paperwork requirements and suggested a fine of only $500 for LPFMs who don't file the proper forms. If the rule is approved, the new forms would be due Nov. 1.