May 6, 2011

Rinzel to oversee digital content at WQXR

Michael Rinzel is the new director of digital content at Classical 105.9 FM WQXR in New York City. Rinzel will oversee the relaunch of, scheduled for this fall, and oversee web content generated through live productions from the Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, WQXR’s multiplatform live event venue. Rinzel previously directed digital programming and production VH1’s TV programming at MTV Networks. Prior to VH1, Rinzel directed the digital team at Fuse, a music TV cable channel.

Minow pays tribute to WTTW's McCarter at memorial service

Friends and colleagues of the late Bill McCarter filled Kenilworth Union Church in the Chicago suburb "to hear tributes to the man credited with transforming WTTW-Channel 11 into one of the nation’s premier public television stations during his 27 years as president and general manager," writes Chicago media reporter Robert Feder today (May 6). One speaker was Newton Minow, the former FCC chairman who recruited McCarter to the post. Minow recalled a visit with McCarter to the station’s transmitter atop what was then the world’s tallest building, the Sears (now Willis) Tower: “That signal is pure, it is powerful, it is innovative, it is fair, it is trusted, and above all, it stands for public service," Minow said. "That signal is the legacy Bill leaves to all of us."

Word wonks rejoice, Media Cloud is back

Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society has launched its new-and-improved Media Cloud. According to the site, it's "an open source, open data platform that allows researchers to answer quantitative questions about the content of online media." It displays what stories media sources are covering, the language various media use to report the news, and how items spread from one outlet to another. For more than a year, the site has been tracking 50,000 English-language stories daily from 17,000 media sources, including major mainstream media outlets, left- and right-leaning American political blogs and 1,000 popular general-interest blogs. "We’ve used what we’ve discovered from this data to analyze the differences in coverage of international crises in professional and citizen media and to study the rapid shifts in media attention that have accompanied the flood of breaking news that’s characterized early 2011," the center said today (May 6) in a statement. The site originally launched in 2009.

PBS Hawaii welcomes new staffers

PBS Hawaii has hired two new staff members. Jared Kuroiwa is vice president of digital networking. He is a broadcast engineer with a background in web development, including social messaging. Roberta Wong Murray is vice president of programming and communications. She began her career as a news reporter and anchor at KRON-TV in San Francisco. She owned her own public relations firm, and was Hawaii’s media specialist for the U.S. Census in 2010.

Attention RSSers

Don't miss this week's intersection of British royalty and public broadcasting on Current's home page. Huzzah!

StoryCorps unveils new animated short

In the run-up to Mother's Day, StoryCorps released its latest heart-warming animated short. "No More Questions!" — featuring a strong-willed grandmother who reluctantly shared life stories with her son and grand-daughter in a StoryCorps recording booth — has topped 600,000 views since being featured on YouTube May 5. The animation is one of three to be featured on the upcoming season of P.O.V., PBS's summer showcase for independent film.

Bipartisan bill would require cable operators to fund, carry PEG channels

U.S. Reps. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Steven LaTourette (R-Ohio) have jointly introduced the Community Access Preservation Act (H.R. 1746), which would put content, reception and signal-quality requirements on carriage of public, educational and government access channels and require cable operators to pay for them, according to the Alliance for Community Media. The bill, introduced Thursday (May 5), would amend the Communications Act to require cable operators to carry PEG channels without alteration or degradation, and make them viewable without additional equipment charges to every subscriber.

American Community Television (ACT) , which advocates for PEG channel access, told Broadcasting & Cable that the bill is "critical to the survival of these important local television channels. We could be losing as many as 400 PEG channels, starting now and continuing through January 2012, if we don't solve these problems."

Former Florida congressman advises residents to protest upcoming sale of WMFE-TV

Former U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson is urging Florida residents to complain to the Federal Communications Commission regarding the upcoming sale of WMFE-TV, the Orlando Sentinel reports today (May 6). Grayson, a Democrat who served from 2009 to '11, is hoping to stop the pending sale of the PBS affiliate to Daystar Television Network, a Texas-based religious broadcaster (Current, April 18). “For 46 years, Orlando, Florida has enjoyed public television and radio," Grayson wrote in an email. "And if the Religious Right has its way, that’s over.” He urged recipients to submit comments to the FCC, which is soliciting public input on the license change.

Cleveland's WCLV becomes latest classical FM to shift to pubcasting ownership

Under a license transfer agreement announced this week, Cleveland's commercial classical music station WCLV will become a subsidiary of ideastream, the Northern Ohio pubcaster that operates WVIZ-TV and WCPN-FM. The transfer is a donation, not an acquisition, intended to preserve the existing service and staff by sharing facilities, services and programming, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Both WCLV and ideastream are grounded in the same philosophy — that broadcasters have a great opportunity and hence a great responsibility to use the medium to enrich and enlarge the lives of the public they serve,” says Robert Conrad, WCLV president and co-founder, in Crain's Cleveland Business. The ownership transfer makes WCLV the fourth major market commercial classical music station to shift to pubcasting ownership since 2009.

Vermont Public Radio's Will Curtis dies; voice of "The Nature of Things"

Will Curtis, former voice of The Nature of Things on Vermont Public Radio, one of the first pubradio programs to address environmental concerns, died April 18 in his sleep at home in Woodstock, Vt. He was 94.

"Amid evocations of the state’s ever popular maple syrup and fall foliage, he would slip in a lesson on how to swing a scythe," the Boston Globe noted in a remembrance Friday (May 6). "Listening by satellite, everyone from farmers to urban dwellers thousands of miles away would marvel at how he turned the mechanics of mowing by hand into a kind of plainspoken poetry."

His commentaries began on VPR in 1978, with national syndication beginning in 1981. After funding for national distribution ended in 1998, his pieces continued on VPR until 2004. His work was compiled in two books, The Nature of Things (1988) and The Second Nature of Things (1992).

Willis Lansing Curtis was born Sept. 25, 1917, in Marlborough, Mass., son of John Arnold and Dorothy Rumsey Curtis. He attended Westminster School in Simsbury, Conn., and graduated from Vermont Academy in 1936. He married Jane Pitkin of Scituate, Mass., in 1940.

The couple moved to Vermont in the 1960s to raise Jersey cattle and run a dairy farm. They purchased the Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock. Curtis fell into his radio career while advertising for the bookshop on a local AM station.

He was preceded in death by four brothers and a daughter, Elizabeth. He is survived by his wife; daughter, Katherine (William) Donahue of Hartland; sister, Louise Hahn of Ontario, Canada; three grandsons, Thomas, Samuel, and James; great-granddaughter, Alex Helena Donahue-Ochoa; sister-in-law, Eleanore Marshall, and cousin, Virginia Clark, both of Marlborough, Mass.; and many nieces and nephews.

Services are 2 p.m. May 7 at St. James Episcopal Church, Woodstock. The family requests donations to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science, 6565 Woodstock Road, Rte. 4, P.O. Box 1281, Quechee, VT 05059; or to the Woodstock Historical Society, 26 Elm Street, Woodstock, VT 05091 An online guestbook is here.

WLRN, Miami Herald expose problems in Florida's assisted living facilities

"Neglected to Death," an investigative reporting series launched by WLRN-FM and the Miami Herald this week, uncovered problems in the regulation of Florida's assisted living facilities, including questionable deaths and cases of abuse and neglect of the elderly and mentally ill. The investigative team built a database that expanded upon incomplete and missing records from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration;the computer-assisted reporting allowed the team to piece together detailed histories of assisted living facilities and identify the most troubled homes. The Herald reports details of how the investigative reporting was done in this story; its multimedia reporting package is here.

"Florida remains a retirement destination for tens of thousands of our nation's elderly," says Dan Grech, WLRN Radio news director. "This series has important national implications about how we care for one of our county's most vulnerable populations."

NPR ran the first installment of the series on Morning Edition today. The 7-minute report focuses on the questionable death of Aurora Navas, an Alzheimer's patient who was a resident of Isabel Adult Care III, a six-bed assisted living facility in Southern Miami-Dade County, when she drowned.