Sep 30, 2010

Potential LA-area consortium stations meet

Execs from the four Los Angeles-area PBS affiliates considering a collaboration met Wednesday (Sept. 28) to discuss a restructuring plan, according to the Los Angeles Times. No update on the continuing countdown to the possibility of primary station KCET going independent as of Jan. 1, 2011 (Current, Aug. 5, 2010). Heads of KCET, KOCE, KVCR and KLCS got together at KOCE in Huntington Beach. "We're not spending a lot of time thinking about what this consortium would be like without [KCET] because we hope they're still part of it," said Larry Ciecalone, president of KVCR in San Bernardino. The group hopes to meet again in November. Meanwhile, KCET has shifted Masterpiece from Sunday to Thursday, drawing the ire of Los Angeles Times TV columnist Mary McNamara.

PBS North to premiere mental-health series tonight

An ambitious 18-part series of call-in shows on mental health premieres tonight (Sept. 30), produced by WDSE/WRPT PBS North, serving northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Wisconsin. The 30-minute Speak Your Mind, airing Thursday nights, aims to openly discuss mental health topics, increase public awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness. It’s hosted by psychologist Dr. Caroline Phelps and former local news anchor Pat Kelly. Topics include depression, managing stress, family issues, learning and behavioral problems in children, anxiety and eating disorders.

For 28 years the station has done Doctors on Call “to give the community the language they need to communicate with their doctors,” Juli Kellner, WDSE director of production and programming, told Current. “Just now we are moving into mental health and attempting to demystify that.”

The premiere will present the documentary “Look It in the Eye,” by filmmaker Dan Woods of Superior, Wisc., featuring two families confronting mental illness. Following the film, a panel of mental health professionals will answer viewer questions.

The project is produced in cooperation with the mental-health focused Human Development Center in Duluth, Minn., which provided funding, Kellner said. Local businesses also pitched in for supplies to build the set.

STEM Collaborative joins four pubTV stations in middle-school work

Four pubTV stations are joining in a STEM Collaborative to help middle-schoolers in science, technology, engineering and math, the stations announced today (Sept. 30). But this is no dry and dull initiative. Students will use geometry, algebra and proportional reasoning to build a skateboard ramp, measure a roller coaster, whip up recipes and plan a rock n' roll tour. Maryland Public Television, Alabama Public Television, Arkansas Educational Television Network and Kentucky Educational Television will develop the digital-media projects. Math By Design, Scale City, ProportionLand Park and Rock n' Roll Road Trip are all online at, along with supporting materials for educators.

Still no decisions for New Jersey Network

New Jersey Network staffers, state officials, professors from Princeton and Rutgers, civic and union leaders and viewers and listeners spoke Wednesday (Sept. 29) in Trenton at yet another hearing on the future of NJN, reports the Newark Star-Ledger. The paper quipped that the 11-plus hours of testimony "were as static and repetitive as the network’s nightly programming." After the hearing, the 10-member task force seemed no closer to deciding how to wean the network from its state subsidy (Current, July 6). They're facing a Dec. 31 deadline, but even that may now be in doubt. NJN interim executive Janice Selinger said a treasury official told the network that the administration would be willing to extend that. Sen. Nia Gill (D-Essex), the task force chairwoman, was not pleased. "The administration appeared to give some kind of commitment after January?" she asked Selinger. "As what board meeting and when?" The report of the bipartisan task force is due Oct. 15. It will recommend the process for converting the state-run NJN into a private entity. In his March budget address, Gov. Chris Christie said the state can no longer afford to support the network.