Jun 23, 2010

Knight-McCormick fellows include four public broadcasters

Four pubcasters are among 20 fellows announced today (June 23) for the 2010 Knight-McCormick Leadership Institute hosted by the Knight Digital Media Center at USC Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism. Participating will be Holly Kernan, news director at San Francisco-based KALW public radio; Christine Montgomery, managing editor of; Michael Skoler, vice president of interactive media for Public Radio International; and Matt Thompson, editorial product manager at National Public Radio. The announcement called the program "a unique, six-month curriculum 'tailored' to meet their individual needs as primary digital news leaders in their organizations."

Yellowstone pubradio personality dies at 55

Lois Bent, a longtime voice on Yellowstone Public Radio, died June 15 after an 18-month fight against cancer. She was 55.

According to an obituary on the station site, Bent started her career at YPR/KEMC as a volunteer in the late 1970s. She began a classical program in 1983, also as a volunteer, and was hired as operations manager in 1986. Bent was named interim general manger in 2005 and remained in that position until her medical leave of absence began in January 2009.

Barrett Golding of Hearing Voices, an indie radio collective, recalls his friend who, as he put it, "passed on into that great audio control room in the sky." He also offers an audio clip of Bent in 2003 answering his question, "How would you change the world?"

WTTW honors John Callaway with fellowship

Chicago's WTTW has created the John Callaway Excellence in Online Journalism Fellowship, the station will announce on this evening's Chicago Tonight (June 23). The fellowship is named for the founding host of the longtime pubaffairs program who died last June 23 (Current, July 6, 2009), exactly 10 years to the day after his final show. The fellowship will be funded through donations from family, friends and WTTW viewers, according to a statement from the station. It's open to graduate students at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Each quarter, a young journalist will work with TV producers and web staff to create original and supplemental content for the Chicago Tonight website. It runs for 10 weeks and each fellow receives a $3,000 stipend. “John Callaway remains an iconic figure in the history of WTTW,” said Dan Schmidt, WTTW president and CEO. “I can’t think of a better way to honor his memory than by making this opportunity available to talented young journalists.”

CPB Board gets reports on station collaborations at meeting in Beverly Hills

Among items on the agenda at the CPB meeting wrapping up today (June 23) in Los Angeles are reports on pubTV collaboration projects in the L.A. market, as well as four stations in Alaska. The meeting is at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills, which, notes CPB Digital Strategy veep Rob Bole, monograms each guest's pillowcase (above).

PBS's satellite developer John Ball dies

John Edward Dewar Ball, who oversaw development of PBS's first satellite-based programming delivery system and was an early supporter of closed captioning, has died at age 77.

He was recruited by PBS in 1971 to design and oversee the implementation of the satellite system. "The successful completion of the system led other U.S. television networks to move to communication satellites for reaching their affiliates," notes TV Technology, which just reported his March 25 death. Ball received an Emmy for his work.

While working on that project in 1971, Ball attended a demonstration of closed captioning, then called “subtitling for the deaf,” at Washington’s Gallaudet College (now Gallaudet University). The enthusiastic response of the largely deaf audience led him to urge PBS to adopt the technology. By 1979, PBS had done so. He won another Emmy for that work.

Ball died of complications from a stroke he suffered late in 2009. Gallaudet University posted a detailed obituary written by his children, going back to his childhood in Scotland.

WGBH helping Disney World visitors to "hear" the park

The Media Access Group at WGBH is providing audio descriptions of Walt Disney World for visitors with vision loss. A new palm-sized wireless Assistive Technology Device developed by Disney provides information about outdoor areas, from architectural elements to the location of restrooms. The environmental descriptions were written by RenĂ©e Ruthel, one of WGBH’s describers. Visitors can hear descriptions of key visual elements, including action and scenery, for more than 50 attractions; amplified audio for most theater attractions; and closed captioning in pre-show areas where television displays narrate the upcoming experience. (Image: WGBH)