Jan 27, 2011

Influential Ohio pubcaster Robert Smith Jr. dies; former "Washington Week" producer

Robert D. Smith Jr., a longtime public broadcaster who was an early producer of Washington Week in Review and oversaw the creation of two Ohio public radio stations, died Jan. 20 in Oberlin, Ohio, after battling cancer. He was 81.

His son, Stephen Smith, host and executive editor of American RadioWorks, told the Toledo Blade: "He really believed in the public purpose of public broadcasting, and so do I – the obligation to serve the audience with stuff that's meaningful and of high quality and can't be found elsewhere."

In 1967, as programming director at WETA, he produced the station's new public affairs show, Washington Week in Review, which remains on the air as Washington Week. He was hired in 1974 to run WGTE-TV, Channel 30, in Toledo. In 1976, as president and general manager of the Public Broadcasting Foundation of Northwest Ohio, he helped create WGTE-FM and, in 1981, WGLE-FM in Lima.

Smith retired in 1988 due to the lingering effects of an auto accident, his son said.

"He was passionate about public television and public radio," said Tom Paine, WGTE radio program manager, who was hired by Smith in 1975. "He would say WGTE brings Toledo thoughtful programs which are cherished by viewers and listeners. The 'cherished' is a Bob word. He loved our public service mission, and it was something that energized him every single day."

Smith was born March 29, 1929, in Dayton. He was a 1951 graduate of the College of Wooster, where he founded the campus radio station. He served stateside in the Air Force during the Korean War, making instructional films. He had a master's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Beekeeping was his hobby, and he created videos for beekeepers.

Survivors include his wife, Janet Evans Smith; daughters, Janna Eversmeyer and Lisa Goss; son, Stephen Smith; sister, Robin Ellinor, and six grandchildren.

Memorial services will be at 3 p.m. Feb. 12 at Kendal at Oberlin in Oberlin, Ohio. The family suggests tributes to WGTE Public Media or the Way Public Library, Perrysburg, Ohio.

FCC chooses nine firms to oversee spectrum white-space database

A database of open channels, or "white spaces," opening on the television spectrum for use by unlicensed devices, will be managed by nine companies, Television Broadcast reports today (Jan. 27). The companies, selected by the FCC, will oversee a database that will track white spaces within the TV spectrum and communicate those channels to unlicensed devices. It will be the sole source of interference protection for TV signals and wireless microphones, the industry publication said.

PubTV systemwide initiative aims to invigorate station fundraising

CPB and WGBH today (Jan. 27) announced a two-year, $754,000 project to help stations improve their fundraising capabilities. The Contributor Development Partnership will include the first-ever systemwide contributor data reference file to provide analyses of the best in pubTV fundraising. Michal Heiplik, former director of membership at HoustonPBS, will oversee the project. CPB is contributing $504,000, and WGBH, $250,000.

Helping shape the initiative is a 12-member station advisory group: Don Derheim, KQED (Northern California); Becky Chinn, OPB (Oregon); Mary Kay Phelps, WETA (Washington, D.C.); Kelly McCullough, KAET (Arizona); David Preston, TPT (Minnesota); Ellen Sinkinson, WNET (New York); Anne Gleason, WTTW (Chicago); Jack Galmiche, KETC (St. Louis); Joe Krushinsky, MPT (Maryland); Michael Zeller, KCPT (Kansas City, Mo.); Deanna Mackey, KPBS (San Diego); and Susan Dwyer, WGBH (Boston).