Nov 23, 2010

PBS's Reddington shifts from Online Giving Initiative to PBS Foundation work

Brian Reddington, senior v.p., development, has moved from supervision of its Online Giving Initiative to focus solely on the PBS Foundation, Michael Jones, PBS c.o.o, said in a memo today (Nov. 23).

PBS's controversial national online fundraising campaign, set to begin on in January, will now be overseen by Jason Seiken's PBS Interactive team. Bob Minai and Kristin Calhoun will head up the effort. Keith Brengle, recently hired as director, online giving, will now report to Minai.

"Jason Seiken clearly has serious online expertise and credibility, and the experience of working with PBS member stations," said longtime development pro Michael Soper, PBS's head development officer, 1978-92, and now a nonprofit consultant.

Jones said the move was made to allow Reddington "to focus on the job he was hired to do – run the PBS Foundation."

"I think Brian Reddington's primary focus has always been on securing significant, major gifts to the PBS Foundation," Soper said. "My sense is this is a positive realignment. Major gifts, up to and including those like Joan Kroc made to NPR, offer substantial opportunities to increase short and long-term income to PBS."

"My expectation is that Jason will work with station managers and fundraising professionals to reconsider and refine the business assumptions behind the initial plan," Soper added. "I would expect that a totally revised plan – version 2.0 – that supports stations' existing online cultivation and fundraising would receive almost universal support."

PBS selects new director of station development services

PBS has hired a director of station development services to plug the hole created in June when laid off four staffers in the development unit (Current, Nov. 1). Valerie Pletcher will be a director of station development services beginning Dec. 1, Joyce Herring, s.v.p. of station services, announced to staff in a memo. Pletcher will work as a liaison with system development professionals on informational and training needs, best practices and the development portion of the Annual Meeting. From 1997 to '99, Pletcher was manager of sponsorships and marketing for the PBS Sponsorship Group; from '94 to '96 she was underwriting manager at WVPT/Virginia Public Television. Most recently Pletcher was major gifts officer at Christiana Care Health System, headquartered in Wilmington, Del.

Feder departing Vocalo; another columnist calls its future "uncertain"

Robert Feder, longtime Chicago media columnist, is departing Chicago Public Media and its Vocalo blog. He said in a post today (Nov. 23) that he'll reveal his new online home soon. "With the recent redesign of the Vocalo blogs and their move to a new site at, I have decided it’s time for me to leave," he said. Before signing on with Vocalo — a mashup of traditional and new media designed to engage a diverse audience — in November 2009, Feder spent 20 years covering media at the Sun-Times. Phil Rosenthal, Chicago Tribune media columnist, said Vocalo's move to the WBEZ site, "puzzling for its urgency and lack of necessity, has been snarled in technical difficulties." Vocalo launched in June 2007 on a standalone website. "Where Feder's departure leaves Vocalo is uncertain," Rosenthal noted. A CPR strategic plan approved late last year revealed several problems behind the project (Current, Jan. 11), including that “… [M]any listeners, staffers and even several [Chicago Public Radio] Board Members find the content and listening experience of Vocalo to be substandard and unappealing thus far."

WFMT-FM breaks record with fall pledge drive

Chicago's WFMT-FM (98.7) set a record with fall pledge, bringing in $695,000, General Manager Steve Robinson said in a Sun-Times story today (Nov. 23). Then two trustees kicked in to round that up to $700,000. The previous top figure was $620,000. Average contributions increased 17 percent to $199 from last year's $170. Robinson also asked contributors if they wanted to donate CD premiums to local schools, and many did.

Hiki Nō student news project finalizes funding

Hiki Nō, PBS Hawaii's new and innovative student news network, has secured the funding it needs and will launch in February 2011, blogs station President Leslie Wilcox today (Nov. 23). It has raised $1.2 million from local and national funders including the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. CPB and the the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation provided seed money. Hiki Nō will partner with teachers and middle and high school students from all of Hawaii’s islands to create a collaborative network to deliver community-based news and information to the state via PBS Hawaii’s broadcast and web platforms.

Smiley says it's "unconscionable" he didn't know about producing partner KCET's plans to depart PBS

Tavis Smiley said "it's unthinkable, it's untenable, it's unacceptable," that KCET execs didn't let him know that they were breaking from PBS as of Jan. 1 (Current, Oct. 18). He told the Los Angeles Times in a story today (Nov. 23) that being out of the loop when his show is produced on the lot at the L.A. station is "unconscionable."

"I literally got a phone call as KCET was making the statement publicly, as this story was breaking," he said. "I was traveling, so I wasn't even in the city. I didn't even find out about this until hours after it had been announced."

But wait, that's not all. "What has rubbed me raw for these seven years is that when we started this relationship with KCET it was supposed to be a partnership," Smiley said. "For seven years, KCET has not raised a single dime for this program. I was never supposed to be producer, host, chief marketer and fundraiser."

KCET President Al Jerome denied that Smiley wasn't informed of station negotiations with PBS. He confirmed that the station raised no money for Tavis Smiley, because its fundraising contract was for less than a year and that station officials found it difficult to work with Smiley's in-house fundraiser.

Smiley is finalizing a contract with KCET that will keep him on the lot for at least another year. He said he didn't have time to find another location. His show will be carried on KOCE in Orange County, the new market primary, in the new year.