Oct 6, 2010

Fred Rogers Co. gets Department of Justice grant

Lots going on at Mister Rogers's production company in Pittsburgh. First, it's no longer known as Family Communications Inc.; it's now the Fred Rogers Co.  There's a website redesign. And it just received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice's office of Community Oriented Policing Services. The $496,000 is for a nationwide roll-out of the company's video-based police training program, “One on One: Connecting Cops & Kids." It was one of only 19 recipients of 321 applications, and one of the four largest grants, according to the production company. It began developing "Cops & Kids" about a decade ago.

10 stations come together to cover aftermath of Gulf Coast oil spill

Several stations have joined to continue coverage of the BP oil spill in the Gulf Coast region, WBHM-FM in Birmingham, Ala., announced today (Oct. 6). Producing content under a $538,000 CPB grant are: lead station Louisiana Public Broadcasting; Alabama Public Television; Mississippi Public Broadcasting; WEDU-TV/FM, Tampa, Fla.; WUSF-TV/FM, Tampa; WWNO-FM, New Orleans; WSRE-TV/FM, Pensacola, Fla.; WVAS-FM, Montgomery, Ala.; and KRVS-FM in Lafayette, La. In addition to creating and sharing broadcast and digital content, the Gulf Coast Consortium will conduct community engagement activities through social media sites and town hall meetings. revamp is coming

The redesign of will emphasize broadcast promotions, feature a “Today’s Video” clip for users to catch up on shows that have already aired, and offer web-only content from member stations, reports, a news site on the economics of new media. There'll also be a new iPad app for users to preview shows and watch select full-length videos. No word yet from PBS on the launch date.

WNET employees get four-day holiday furlough

In a memo to staff today (Oct. 6), WNET/Thirteen President Neal Shapiro announced a four-day furlough for time during the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve. The savings in salaries and operational costs will amount to "upwards of $1 million," Shapiro said. Employees will take four days of unpaid leave between Dec. 27 and Dec. 30. The WNET workforce had a three-day furlough the same week last year.

Local control of pubcasting stations "profoundly important," Kerger says

"Public Media in a Digital Age" was the topic of the panel discussion Tuesday (Oct. 5) organized by Free Press at the New America Foundation in D.C. The conversation ranged from localism to relevance and funding of pubmedia. "It is profoundly important that local public broadcasting stations are controlled by people in their communities . . . That's where the funding comes from," PBS President Paula Kerger said. Also appearing was Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC. He noted that measuring share of audience isn't what ultimately matters in public broadcasting. "One program can change someone's life," he said. "You don't need a fortune to do one intimate radio program that matters. There's something to say about impact rather than scale." Also on the panel were Geneva Overholser, director of the Annenberg School of Journalism; and Nicholas Lemann, dean of Columbia University's graduate school of journalism. Moderating was Steve Coll, journalist and president of the New America Foundation.

Freakonomics Radio crunches homerun stats for its 'Marketplace' debut

Freakonomics Radio, a new co-production featuring journalist and Freakonomics co-author Stephen Dubner, unveiled its biweekly segment for Marketplace yesterday. The topic for the lead story? Major League Baseball. Specifically: whether the crackdown on steroid use is to blame for the decline in the number of home runs being hit.

During an appearance at the Public Radio Program Directors conference in Denver last month, Dubner said the show came into being after he told WNYC senior producer Collin Campbell that, as much as he enjoyed appearing on the station's PRI series The Takeaway, he couldn't deal with the early hours required for morning drive-time radio. "I said, 'I want to do a radio show,' and Collin came back with a show plan."

The Marketplace debut coincides with launch of biweekly podcasts, which take on "of the moment" topics and will scale up to weekly production in January, Dubner told PRPD attendees. Forthcoming radio specials will deal with "themes that are big enough to be dealt with in one hour," he said. "What we do is primarily story-telling based on a different way of looking at the world." Freakonomics Radio is a co-production of American Public Media and New York's WNYC.