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.