Mar 3, 2011

Sen. DeMint lays out his case for defunding CPB

"The best way to stop the 'partisan meddling' in public broadcasting that complains about is by ending the taxpayers' obligation to pay for it," writes Republican Sen. Jim DeMint in a March 4 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. "The politics will be out of public broadcasting as soon as the government gets out of the business of paying for it." The South Carolina lawmaker points to the 170 Million Americans campaign to defend public broadcasting's federal funding and the "massive salaries" of executives at PBS, CPB, NPR and Sesame Workshop to make the case that the field is well-financed enough to survive with out taxpayer subsidies.

"Information Stories" site documents challenges created by lack of local news

Information Stories is a website that asks and answers the questions: What's at stake when local news and information flow doesn't serve all members of a community equally well? And how can people respond? The series of short digital narratives was conceived by Ohio State University law professor Peter M. Shane and filmmaker Liv Gjestvang. The two recruited storytellers from around the United States, who shared their personal experiences in a July 2010 Digital Storytelling Workshop. Information Stories "reveals the loss when local information flows leave stories uncovered, concerns unaddressed, or voices left out — and the gain when these exclusions don’t happen," according to a release on the project by the Knight Foundation. The foundation provided a grant for the work as part of its Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy.

FCC looks to improve services to Tribal areas

The Federal Communications Commission is meeting with several Tribal leaders today (March 3) as it prepares to take steps to boost communications on Tribal lands, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The FCC hopes to improve radio service, deploy more broadband, and improve public safety communications and services. Geoffrey Blackwell, chief of the federal office of Native American Affairs and Policy, said there was an "alarming lack of service in Indian country." The meeting comes in the wake of Native Public Media's announcement that it is leaving the National Federation of Community Broadcasters (Current, Feb. 22, 2011) to realign itself with the New America Foundation in Washington, D.C., its partner for the last several years in communications research, policy analysis and advocacy.

Vocalo switching format, still targeting young users

After nearly four years of "trying to make user-generated content a viable concept" on’s FM radio station website (Current, Jan. 11, 2010), it is adopting a more traditional radio programming approach for young listeners, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. managing director Silvia Rivera told the paper her staff spent a lot of time trying to turn user contributions into broadcast-worthy content. The music emphasis will include jazz, funk, soul, reggae and hip-hop. Jesse De La Pena is the new music curator, with roots in break-dancing and graffiti movements on the city’s southwest side in the mid-1980s.

But a traditional radio approach is exactly what Torey Malatia, Vocalo creator and Chicago Public Media/WBEZ c.e.o., wanted to avoid. In a March 2007 piece in Current, he wrote in part: "This new station will be built on community radio sensibilities but without the characteristic schedule of special-interest shows. In fact, it will have no shows at all. It will air a continuous, seamless talk-based stream completely devoted to Northwest Indiana and Chicago metropolitan area culture, issues and selected music. It is not a news station. There are no newscasts.After hearing what many potential listeners say, we decided to not to merely adapt our usual notions of public broadcasting or to dress the service in its brands — including 'Chicago Public Radio.'"