May 4, 2012

WBEZ's pre-summer pledge drive gets catty

"Research says cute cat videos make people happy," according to Chicago's WBEZ. And happy people donate to public broadcasting stations. So guess what? For your enjoyment, videos of cats posing as pubradio personalities. Don't miss Terry Gross's wig.

UPDATE: Justin Kaufmann, executive producer of WBEZ's Midday Talk, tells Current that the videos have been up about three weeks now, with new additions weekly. The idea bubbled up in brainstorming session that included the web team and development staff; filmmaker Steve Delahoyde directed and edited. "He came up with the plan on how to efficiently wrangle and film cats," Kaufmann said. "He has a future in nature documentaries."

So where did the cats come from? "We did four days of intense workshops, auditions and callbacks — no, wait, check that. A co-worker had three cats," Kaufmann said. "We went to her basement and filmed on location." Cats would rotate in and out, when one would quit or refuse to get in the box. Production techniques included "a lot of cat treats, shouting ('Joey! Joey! Look up Joey!') and laser pointers."

Judging from retweets and Facebook shares, the videos are a hit. "We definitely have succeeded in raising awareness for the WBEZ brand and the fact that we are raising money."

The biggest negative comment? “Why cats? You should have used dogs.”

Third Coast Festival calls for radio doc entries, due by July 9

The international radio festival, to be held Oct. 7 in Evanston, Ill., is offering as many as five Best Documentary prizes with aid from the Richard H. Dreihaus Foundation, including a $4,000 gold prize, plus additional $1,000 Director’s Choice, Best News Feature, Best New Artist (new since July 2010) and Radio Impact awards, each with $1,000 checks. The Radio Impact prize recognizes programs that have significantly affected an individual or a community. Details here. Questions to: 312-948-4682.

In coming weeks, Third Coast will notify winners of this year’s ShortDocs Challenge who have followed the latest quirky rules — making audio shorts, fiction or nonfiction, two to three minutes long, that feature at least two of their neighbors, that have the name of a color in their titles and that contain three seconds of "narrative silence."

Oklahoma House preserves pubcasting money for two more years

By a vote of 53-28, the Oklahoma House of Representatives on Thursday (May 3) approved funding the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority for at least another two years, reports The Oklahoman. All nay votes were cast by Republicans, the newspaper noted, "several of whom mentioned a no vote would help their conservative rating that is compiled by different groups." The measure now goes to Gov. Mary Fallin for approval. Earlier this year, two bills had been introduced to zero-out OETA funding.