Apr 4, 2012

PBS Needs Indies Steering Committee posts second open letter to PBS

Kartemquin Films has announced the initial 15 members of its PBS Needs Indies Steering Committee, which the Chicago doc house is establishing to serve as a liaison between independent filmmakers and PBS. Names include International Documentary Association Board Member Beth Bird, and Michael Winship, senior writer of Moyers & Company with Bill Moyers. The group also posted a second open letter to PBS; its first garnered more than 1,000 signatures after PBS shifted indie showcases Independent Lens and P.O.V. from Tuesdays to Thursdays, resulting in ratings and carriage drops (Current, March 12).

"This incident has renewed our community’s awareness of the critical value of PBS to the national media ecology," the group said in the latest letter. "We know that public broadcasting, uniquely funded by taxpayers, reaches people at every level of society, in virtually every locality in the country. And we will continue to foster dialogue among the community of independent filmmakers about the significance of public broadcasting, and their own role in it."

Attention RSSers: Integrating crowdfunding into pubmedia

So far, crowdfunding hasn’t been able to support full-time journalists, much less a beat, a substantial weekly program or a newsroom. But independent journalists, public media stations, newspapers and web startups all have had successes. Read more online at

Arts group applies for new classical station in St. Louis

The Radio Arts Foundation-St. Louis has applied to the FCC for a new classical station, according to the Post-Dispatch. The group had provided "considerable financial support," the newspaper said, to the former local favorite Classic 99, KFUO-FM, and had attempted to purchase that station from the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in 2009 before its sale to a Christian pop-music station in July 2010. The Foundation hopes to broadcast on analog radio and an HD-2 channel and stream live on the Internet. Plans also include live music performances from a new facility with two broadcast studios and a conference room that will double as a performance space. St. Louis classical fans currently have one option, an HD channel from St. Louis Public Radio.

Oklahoma pubcasting survives important Senate panel vote

Legislation to save the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority "narrowly squeaked out of a Senate panel" on Tuesday (April 4), reports the Tulsa World. With the crucial vote tied 4-4, Sen. Bill Brown changed his nay to a yay. "I did not realize this sunset bill means OETA could not even go out and raise private money," he said. "This is not an appropriations bill. It just keeps them operating. My stance changes on that because my deal is that I would love to see them go out and raise private money and operate as a private company. But if this bill doesn't pass, they don't even make that. So, I would like to change my vote from a no vote to a yes vote."

The bill reauthorizes OETA as a state agency until its next sunset review in 2016. If the measure had failed, it would no longer exist after July 1.

Brown also said he would vote against a state appropriation for OETA.

OETA receives about $3.8 million from the state and raises some $8 million each year.

The bill now goes to the full Senate.

Nine Peabody Awards go to programs on PBS and NPR

Programming on PBS and NPR won nine honors in this year's Peabody Awards, announced on a webcast this morning (April 4).

Public television winners: American Experience, for what the judges called "three exceptional documentaries . . . under the banner of this grand American history anthology," Triangle Fire, Freedom Riders and Stonewall Uprising; indie showcases P.O.V. for My Perestroika and Independent Lens for Bhutto; and American Masters for Charles and Ray Eames – The Architect and the Painter.

Austin City Limits from KLRU-TV "receives a rare Institutional Peabody Award," the judges said. "Thirty-seven seasons on air make it the world’s longest running live music television program."

And ITVS and Loud Mouth Films won for Who Killed Chea Vichea?, an investigative documentary "produced on a shoestring budget," covering the 2004 assassination of a Cambodian trade-union leader.

On the radio side, NPR won for "Reflections on the Arab Spring from Egypt to Libya"; for "Native Foster Care: Lost Children, Shattered Families," a three-part report on Native children being removed from their families; and StoryCorps, NPR and P.O.V. won for their September 11 memorial excerpts from interviews with survivors and victims’ relatives.

Honors will be presented at a May 21 luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, with actor Patrick Stewart as emcee.

A full list of winners is here.

Founding engineer of WUOG at University of Georgia dies

Wilbur Herrington, the founding station engineer of University of Georgia’s WUOG-FM, died March 29 of a malignant brain tumor. He had been involved with the station in Athens since its founding in October 1972.

“I can honestly say that Wilbur was, and very much will always continue to be, the heart and soul of WUOG,” Operations Director Akeeme Martin told the student newspaper, Red &Black.

“He was fiercely proud of his spotless professional record, and the fact that the FCC never had to inspect WUOG,” said Tommy McGahee, a 2009 Georgia grad who worked Herrington. "He kept that station up and running for over three decades.”

The lobby of the station's building, dedicated in February 2009, is named in honor of Herrington.