Aug 6, 2009

NPR gets flak for what Liasson said on FOX

When NPR political correspondent Mara Liasson compared the government's Cash for Clunkers program to a "mini-Katrina," her poorly chosen words violated NPR's ethics policy, according to NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard. Liasson was wearing her FOX News punditry hat on Aug. 4 when she made the remarks on live television (video here), but e-mails complaining about the inappropriate comparison poured into Shepard's office at NPR. "I said something really stupid, which I regret," a contrite Liasson tells Shepard in her latest column. If Liasson had said something this regrettable on NPR, the network's journalists would have re-recorded the interview and apologized on-air for the misstatement, says Ellen Weiss, senior v.p. of NPR News. In appearing on live media or other events, NPR reporters occasionally misspeak, Weiss adds. "But a single episode of misspeaking can be forgiven, a systemic problem cannot. Mara has acknowledged that what she said was wrong."

Ed Walker strolls into the Radio Hall of Fame

Ed Walker, locally famous deejay and now host of WAMU's Sunday night nostalgic The Big Broadcast, was elected to the National Radio Hall of Fame in online voting. In the national personality category, however, conservative Atlanta broadcast Neal Boortz [his website] appears to have trounced nominee Ira Glass's This American Life. Walker joins former WAMU stars Susan Stamberg and Bob Edwards, earlier inductees in the Hall of Fame. Walker teamed for many years with Willard Scott (later the Today weatherman) as a drivetime comedy duo. See this rare video from their last day as WRC's Joy Boys. The Hall of Fame is operated by Chicago's Museum of Broadcast Communication.

Viewers may move to front of the line in PBS funding credits

PBS head Paula Kerger said it's considering shifting that well-known phrase " ... and viewers like you ... " to the front of underwriting acknowledgments, something Pittsburgh's WQED has already done. "The truth is the majority of our support comes from individual philanthropy and I do think we need to do a better job of making sure people recognize that," Kerger told assembled television critics at their tour in Pasadena, Calif., this week. As for WQED, "I know we've been talking to them about the implementation. Obviously, part of the reason we're interested is to help stations signal value in their own communities."

Pete Seeger connects with web visitors via PBS Engage

As promised, PBS Engage forwarded reader questions to folk legend Pete Seeger, and now presents the 90-year-old's answers. Here he explains his famous quote that "it's not always enough to sing": "I’m increasingly doubtful about marching, but of course communicating can be done with all the arts, including cooking and cleaning, carpentry, humor and sports."

WNED in Buffalo restructures top management

Big changes at WNED in Buffalo, N.Y., effective immediately. Dick Daly, former senior v.p. of broadcasting, is now senior consultant reporting to President and CEO Donald Boswell. Michael Sutton, former CFO and senior v.p. of Finance and Administration, moves to executive vice president and COO, overseeing the Finance & Administration, Education & Outreach, Engineering & Technology, Information Technology, Human Resources, and Building Services departments. Former Controller Nancy Hammond is taking over Sutton's former post. Director of Education and Outreach John Craig will head that department due to the departure of Education and Outreach v.p. Pamela Johnson, who is moving to CPB to head up Ready to Learn initiative. Chief Program Officer John Grant is now chief program and production officer; he will continue to lead the Television Production Department and now also oversee WNED/AM 970, Classical 94.5/WNED, and the Television Programming Department. Sylvia Bennett is promoted to senior v.p. of Development, and News Director James Ranney advances to WNED-AM station manager and WNED’s director of public affairs. Boswell said in the statement that there will be no layoffs due to the changes.