Apr 8, 2010

Towson cites economic pressures in withdrawing WTMD's bid for new home

WTMD Radio has withdrawn its proposal to renovate, manage and occupy Baltimore's historic Senator Theater. A top administrator at Towson University, licensee of the public radio music outlet, explains on the station's website: "Due to the continuing economic pressures faced by the State of Maryland and thus Towson, we have determined that it is best not to take on this new complex venture. With the added uncertainty of the economic climate that we will face the remainder of this year, we must concentrate on the needs of our students at this time." G.M. Steve Yasko tells station supporters: "I want you to know that WTMD and everyone at Towson University fully believes in the station's mission, music and the need to find a new home for the station."

NPR taps another CBC investigative reporter

NPR has recruited Sandra Bartlett, a veteran CBC Radio journalist, for its new investigative reporting unit. She joins her former CBC colleague Susanne Reber, NPR deputy managing editor for investigations since January, who announced the hire today in a memo to staff. "Sandra has worked in radio news and documentary production for more than two decades and has been an instructor and mentor of investigative journalism programs at CBC Radio, where she was part of the Investigative unit," Reber writes. Bartlett reported daily news and produced documentaries while on several foreign assignments. She also started a new radio production, World This Weekend, a half-hour news show that she founded and directed. Bartlett has been involved in research and writing of major TV investigations and docu-dramas, including The David Milgaard Story, about a wrongful murder conviction, and Conspiracy of Silence, about a cover-up protecting murderers of an aboriginal teenager. She has won numerous honors for investigative reporting, including an award shared with Reber and others for an examination of stun gun use by police in Canada, the 2008 Michener Award for public service journalism. Bartlett begins work at NPR early next month. Since launching three months ago, NPR News Investigations has produced reports on sexual assaults on college campuses, the radicalization of the Christmas Day bomb suspect, and problems in the bail bond system, among other topics.

PBS Interactive director Morgenstern heads for Current TV

Angela Morgenstern, longtime senior director of PBS Interactive, has departed for Current TV, aka "Al Gore's network" (Wikipedia), according to several sources. She'll have the title of vice president of content. Previous to her PBS post she claimed several awards for her development of the Frontline website, and was an online producer/content developer at KQED in San Francisco. Before her pubmedia career she helped launch MTV News.

Guide to indie pubradio distribution stirs up PRX response

Jake Shapiro, executive director of Public Radio Exchange, responds to some criticisms of the PRX distribution system in the latest edition of AIRblast, which recently published a two-part guide to pubradio program distributors by indie producer Barrett Golding. In the latest installment, producers questioned PRX's decisions over which programs merit heavy promotion; Golding also suggested that talks between PRX and the Public Radio Satellite System's ContentDepot might eventually lead to a partnership between the two services. In his response on, Shapiro describes the conversation as one-way. "Over the past five years--starting before the launch of ContentDepot--PRX has repeatedly and unsuccessfully proposed working with PRSS on integrating our systems, sharing code and standards, and other collaborative ideas....We see it as a big missed opportunity to create more efficient distribution options for public radio, and make the most of the investments in PRX’s leading-edge web application and related tools."

Dingell asks FCC for broadband clarifications, including for noncoms

Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that Democratic Michigan Rep. John Dingell has sent the FCC commissioners letters asking for clarification of the National Broadband Plan with respect to several issues, including public broadcasting. The former House Energy and Commerce Committee chair wants to know if spectrum give-back will remain voluntary even if the goal of 120 MHz is not achieved; if the FCC would involuntarily reallocate noncom spectrum from stations decline to participate (Current, Feb. 8, 2010); and if the FCC have to propose amendments to the Public Broadcasting Act. In the letters Dingell said he would like answers by April 16.

Computer science camp for girls will use OPB materials

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a partner in a $554,000 project funded by the National Science Foundation for a three-year computer science camp for middle-school girls, according to the organizer, Pacific University. The camp, dubbed Girls Gather for Computer Science (G2CS), will provide mentors, field trips and beach housing. The funding also goes toward tracking the participants for a decade. A total of 90 girls will attend starting next year. OPB will create video profiles of women computer scientists and interactive games.