Jan 11, 2012

Tiny NPR station may be in big, big trouble

WHDD, the Connecticut pubradio outlet that bills itself as "the smallest NPR station in the nation," has been slapped with an FCC complaint for endorsing political candidates. The complaint by a local school official, reported in a pay-walled article published by the Waterbury Republican-American, alleges that station co-founder Marshall Miles violated FCC regulations barring pubcasters from endorsing or opposing candidates for office.

Terry Cowgill of the blog CT Devil's Advocate speculates that Miles will try to "weasel out" of the complaint by claiming he was speaking for himself, not the station or its licensee. "But that’s just a bunch of baloney. How can the president of an organization — and one of only three members of its board — claim with any credibility that he is speaking as a private citizen over the public airwaves of the organization’s radio station?"

Miles isn't the only pubcaster who shares his political opinions on-air, Cowgill notes, singling out Northeast Public Radio's Alan Chartock among the "loud-mouthed public radio heads" of the region. But Chartock takes his opinionating only so far. "For all his bluster and bias, Chartock is very careful not to endorse specific candidates for any office. He knows the law."

WHDD, first established as the Internet-only stream Robin Hood Radio, was hit with an FCC fine last year for violating FCC underwriting rules, and it struggles to meet payroll, according to Cowgill.

Development pro Soper undertakes survey on PBS online prospecting project

Michael Soper, who spent 14 years in development at PBS and now runs his own consulting business, today (Jan. 11) launched a systemwide survey of station-based public TV professionals regarding PBS's national online prospecting project, the centralized effort to use to identify and cultivate new donors for member stations that it has been working on for several years now.

"PBS may believe that collecting e-mails from visitors to and launching its online initiative represented an unexploited opportunity," Soper writes in an email to clients regarding the survey. "Yet, most stations, and certainly most large stations that already had aggressive e-mail marketing programs, now find PBS's new practices to be competing with their existing efforts."

Soper said he is conducting the survey because while there has been feedback to PBS, "there has been no real quantitative data on how stations want PBS to conduct itself with regard to online prospecting . . . or, potentially, online fundraising."

Here's more information about the survey, and click here to participate from a station-based email address.

Detroit PTV to stream Energy Secretary's address to Auto Show

Detroit Public Television is partnering with the Detroit Economic Club for online streaming coverage of U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu's address today (Jan. 11) from the floor of the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Chu will speak at noon Eastern time on innovation and the auto industry.

UPDATE: This original post listed noon Central time.