KCET, the Los Angeles pubTV station dropping its PBS membership as of January, is one of nine station recipients, along with the PBS Foundation, sharing $2.2 million in membership challenge grants from the Newman's Own Foundation. PBS announced the funding today (Dec. 1). "These grants will help us continue to serve those communities, foster rich civic dialogue, encourage participation in the arts and provide access to quality education,” Paula Kerger, PBS president, said in the statement. The PBS Foundation will keep $50,000, targeted to the arts.
In addition to KCET, the stations are: Connecticut Public Television; KCTS in Seattle; Twin Cities Public Television in Minnesota; WAMC Northeast Radio in Albany, N.Y.; WETA in Arlington, Va.; WNET in New York City; WSHU Public Radio in Fairfield, Conn.; and WTTW in Chicago.
CLARIFICATION: All funding for the grants is coming through Connecticut Public Television, Paul Newman's local station. CPTV President Jerry Franklin said Newman was a longtime supporter of public broadcasting in general, and that station in particular.
Franklin told Current of their first telephone conversation several years ago. He told Franklin, "There's no Mr. Newman here. It's Paul." Then Newman told Franklin that he was embarrassed to find out from staff that the Newman Foundation was giving WNET/Thirteen in New York $100,000 annually, and CPTV got $5,000 a year. "I'm a Connecticut resident, and I want to change that," Newman said.
"Three days later," Franklin said, "I got a check for $300,000 written on Paul's personal account with a note, 'I hope this will cover my past sins,' signed by him." When Newman called to see that Franklin received the donation, Franklin told him, "That is an excellent way to cover your past sins. We're good to go."
More on the personal interest Newman took in CPTV in the next issue of Current, Dec. 13.