Feb 17, 2010

NPR unveils its plans for SXSW music extravaganza

NPR will produce two live music showcases from the South by Southwest Music and Media conference: the previously announced March 17 festival opener to be headlined by Spoon, and a March 18 daytime concert featuring the Sleigh Bells. (Details on both line-ups here.) Both shows will be offered for broadcast by NPR stations, as well as live webcasts for online listeners on NPR Music. Five station partners--Austin's KUT, New York's WFUV, Philadelphia's WXPN, Minnesota Public Radio's The Current, and Seattle's KEXP--will collaborate on the SXSW coverage by producing artist interviews and reporting on other performances throughout the festival. NPR's own All Songs Considered will post updates to Twitter (@allsongs) and produce a daily podcast in which Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and Carrie Brownstein geek-out about their best music discoveries of the day. To prepare for the music extravaganza, bookmark, where all this coverage will reside (and where you'll find archives from previous years' coverage) and check out the Local Natives, one of the bands to be featured at NPR's SXSW day party. More than 1800 bands are scheduled to perform during SXSW. WXPN's Bruce Warren recommends that you keep your ears to the ground for Austin's own Strange Boys.

KPBS considered format switch, station purchase, document reveals

A blogger for the San Diego Reader is reporting on a project last year from local pubcaster KPBS to buy an additional local FM station and switch its existing news frequency to a "lucrative classical music format." That plan was not executed, says Matt Potter, staff writer and editor at the publication. He obtained the report -- labeled Privileged and Confidential -- titled, “Funding Our News Future: A Case for Purchasing a New Radio Frequency,” through California's public records act. That study says that KPBS management was looking to purchase KPRI, a 30,000-watt FM station, for $8 million. Potter quotes the document: “A properly run classical music station can generate significant revenue. In fact, this scenario, with a purchase price of $8m and conservative listener sensitive revenue projections, shows positive cash flow after debt service in year #2. We could potentially reach $1.5m cash flow by year #5. These revenues will go toward funding the KPBS News service, which rarely operates with positive cash flow.” Nancy Worlie, spokeswoman for KPBS, told Current: "We're no longer interested. After careful consideration we never made an offer. We decided to keep our focus on our current media outlets and toward expanding our local news service."

How viable is WLIU's bid for independence?

The campaign to establish Long Island's WLIU as an independent public radio outlet is faltering, according to this report by the Hamptons Independent. With a looming deadline to relocate from WLIU's longtime home on the Southhampton campus of Stonybrook University, station leaders are also trying to raise money through a new nonprofit, Peconic Public Broadcasting, to acquire WLIU's license. The Independent reports that actor Alec Baldwin, one of several celebrities who backed the campaign, is not fulfilling his pledge. Meanwhile, critics of G.M. Wally Smith say he hasn't done enough to reduce operating expenses. "We do have a plan," Smith said. "Our goal is to not live hand to mouth."

Pubmedia online outreach projects need metrics to measure success: Jessica Clark

Jessica Clark, director of the Center for Social Media's Future of Public Media project, takes on a big question on the MediaShift blog: How well are stations measuring success in multiplatform public media projects created to inform and engage the public? "Very few stations define success with concrete metrics," Clark writes. "Most examples are anecdotal. ('I just have a sense.') What they consider to be 'successful' is very subjective. Those that do have an idea of what success means to them include metrics such as page views, unique users, and calls into station when online offerings fail to work." She cites "Embracing Digital: A Review of Public Media Efforts Across the United States," a June 2009 CPB-funded report by Gupta Consulting, which revealed that "few station executives can quote quantitative measures of either goals or achievements related to their digital offerings." Some stations were not even able to provide a rationale for creating particular digital offerings. "Clearly, accurately measuring impact is difficult -- if not impossible -- if producers are not able to identify their own motivations," Clark points out. Read the entire CPB report here (PDF).

Florida Channel nixes use of its video on candidate's website

WFSU at Florida State University has demanded that its video of an Air Force commander discussing offshore drilling be removed from a state House candidate's website. Democrat David Pleat thought the video explained the reasons he opposes oil drilling near the Gulf Coast, so he put a copy from on his campaign Web site, according to the Northwest Florida Daily News. The video “can be posted for educational purposes," said Florida Channel Executive Director Beth Switzer. “We can’t, and are not allowed to, grant use in political advertisements or on websites.” Pleat's site now carries a red X over the spot where the video once played. On a page linked to that spot, the website says the campaign feels WFSU's request "is censorship of important information regarding oil drilling in the Gulf." Pleat told the paper: "We simply put forward information that was taped in a public hearing with public dollars.”