Mar 31, 2010

Take an afternoon music video break, courtesy of WETA

It's cherry blossom (and pledge) time in Washington, D.C., and WETA is offering an e-card on its website to share a bit of the springtime splendor. The images and music are part of the station's The Washington Cherry Blossoms: Beauty on the Basin program -- available for a $60 pledge, WETA reminds visitors.

It's a national nosh for POV's "Food, Inc."

Planning to watch Food, Inc., on April 21 on PBS? Great opportunity for a potluck, POV points out. It's encouraging viewers nationwide to meet, eat and watch the Oscar-nominated doc. Potluck hosts can register for prizes including books, gift cards and sustainable food items (dub those winners "potlucky"). Don't know what dish to bring? Fear not, there are recipes too. The POV staff is throwing its own potluck next week in the office, sort of a test run for the big event. Simon Kilmurry, POV's executive director, tells Current he's bringing cloth napkins to ensure it's a classy affair. No word on whether he'll also bring the Parsnip Pancakes.

Jaime Escalante dies; inspirational educator had PBS show

Famed educator Jaime Escalante, of PBS's Futures with Jaime Escalante, died early yesterday morning, reports the Associated Press. He was 79. Escalante also appeared in two PBS specials, "Math...Who Needs It?!" and "Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun." He received more than 50 awards for his PBS work, including a Peabody. Escalante was portrayed by Edward James Olmos in the 1988 hit film "Stand and Deliver." In a statement, Olmos said: "The best way to honor the life and work of this great man is to keep it going and I, along with others whose lives he touched, intend to do that."

Independence or merger for Pittsburgh's WDUQ?

The editorial pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette have become a battleground over the future of WDUQ, the NPR News and jazz station recently offered for sale by Duquesne University. Supporters of WDUQ's current management, who formed the nonprofit Pittsburgh Public Media to buy the station and preserve its service on 90.5 FM, are fending off a take-over bid by WQED-TV/FM, which has been public about its interest in picking up NPR News programming should PPM fail. "Unless 90.5 FM is taken over by an entity with a financially solid base, such as WQED, I'm worried that the station would not be able to afford the high standards of national and local news programming to which we've become accustomed," William Byham, a WQED board member, editorialized on March 24. Today, two PPM board members defend WDUQ's legacy and paint a different picture of the proposed merger: "The merger of two public radio stations . . . would forever change the culture and character of both stations," PPM's Joe Kelly and Andrea Fitting wrote. "This would be a case where the sum becomes less than the parts and the loser is the listening public. Suggesting a merger also doesn't address the realities of funding. The license is not going to be given away; it's being sold."

Peabody Awards across the nation for public broadcasting

Pubcasters are celebrating lots of George Foster Peabody Awards today. PBS received six -- double the amount won by any other organization. Those winners are: “Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About” on American Masters; "The Madoff Affair" on Frontline; two for Independent Lens, "The Order of Myths" and "Between the Folds"; "Endgame" from Masterpiece; and KCET's "Inventing LA: The Chandlers and their Times." KCET also scored for "Up in Smoke," on medical marijuana. Other pubcasting winners: Sesame Street; “The Great Textbook War,” from West Virginia Public Broadcasting; "Hard Times" from Oregon Public Radio; Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson's coverage of Afghanistan for National Public Radio; WAMU-FM's The Diane Rehm Show; and (" . . . one of the great one-stop websites. And there’s music you can dance to," noted the Peabody announcement); and The awards will be presented May 17 at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. Diane Sawyer will host. The full list of winners is available on the Peabody website.

Marketplace host turned blogger bids farewell

Scott Jagow, author of Marketplace's Scratch Pad blog since last February, will write his final post today. "The grant paying for my position is running out, and it won’t be renewed. Such are the times," he explained to readers yesterday. The blog, funded through a CPB initiative for web-based economics coverage, will end. Matt Berger, the new web producer for, plans to add more contributors, new multimedia features, and updates to the homepage and site design. Jagow, who gave up his job hosting Marketplace Morning Report to create the blog, is off "to new and exciting adventures."

"Eyes on the Prize" triumphs over copyright complications

The critically acclaimed documentary Eyes on the Prize is returning to PBS next month. DVDs will also be available for the first six programs. For years, rights clearance complications had prevented broadcast or video sales of both of Henry Hampton’s famed civil rights history series (Washington Post, Jan. 17, 2005; Current, Nov. 21, 2005). In January 2005, the copyright advocacy organization Downhill Battle initiated its Eyes on the Screen project, "a nationwide campaign to distribute digital versions of Eyes on the Prize -- the most important civil rights documentary ever made -- and have screenings of it in towns and cities across the US on February 8th at 8PM," in defiance of copyright laws. But Blackside, Hampton's production company, objected that the event positioned the film as a focal point for copyright reform. Downhill Battle ultimately backed down (background, Wikipedia). The doc last aired in 2006; PBS built a website to accompany that presentation (Current, Aug. 21, 2006).