Jun 6, 2012

State orders W.V. network to craft plan, calls for review of executive's performance

The state Educational Broadcasting Authority has ordered West Virginia Public Broadcasting to develop a strategic financial plan by July 31, according to the Charleston Gazette. Authority members also called for a formal review of network Executive Director Dennis Adkins' job performance.

The newspaper said that as of April 30, contributions to the network are down 7 percent from the same time last year, and corporate underwriting is down 8 percent from 2011 and 36 percent from 2008.

Mike Meador, finance director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting, said the agency also has been told by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin's administration to expect a 5 percent cut in its state appropriations next year, amounting to about $300,000. The state appropriation, $5.64 million in fiscal 2012-13, provides more than half of the network's operating budget, which includes $300,000 for Mountain Stage and $45,000 to the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame.

Pubcasting stations' transit of Venus webcast attracts 436,000 worldwide

The June 5 live webcast of the heavenly transit of Venus by pubstations WPBT2 in Miami, Las Vegas PBS and KNPB in Reno, was an "astronomical success," the stations said, attracting more than 436,000 viewers worldwide from as far away as Australia and Japan.

Viewers chatted with Bill Dishong, series producer for WPBT2's Star Gazers, during the rare celestial event, during which Venus moved across the path of the sun, from 6 to 11 p.m. Eastern.

The webcast was initially planned to originate at KNPB, but the transit wasn't visible there due to weather conditions. Las Vegas PBS, contacted at the last minute, agreed to host the event.

Randy Feldman, at helm of WYES in New Orleans since 1990, to retire

Randy Feldman, president and g.m. of pubstation WYES in New Orleans since 1990, will step down at the end of the year, reports New Orleans CityBusiness magazine. Feldman announced his retirement to WYES board members Monday (June 4) and said he wanted to focus on his personal life. He said he plans on finishing up private fundraising for the $2.5-million second phase of a capital campaign for construction of a new $7 million, 20,000-square-foot station facility. “This is as good a time as any," Feldman said. "We’ll have funding and other things in place and then someone can take it home from there.”

McCarroll to retire from Oklahoma pubcasting network by year's end

John McCarroll, executive director of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority (OETA), will retire by the end of the year, he told the authority's board this week. McCarroll arrived at OETA in 2003 from KLRU-TV, the PBS station in Austin, Texas. His accomplishments include completion of the $12 million digital conversion of the Oklahoma Network, which included replacement of 18 transmitters; a new OETA studio; and two regional Emmy Awards for his work on OETA projects. Dr. James W. Utterback, chairman of the OETA board, said it will form a search committee for McCarroll's replacement.

Universities becoming incubators for news startups, J-Lab reports

J-Lab has posted an overview of university news websites, with information culled from its meeting last week with three dozen site editors and founders. The schools are becoming incubators for entrepreneurial news startups, according to J-Lab.

"The degree to which student production of news stories for these startups is fully integrated in the curricula is still a nut that needs to be cracked," notes J-Lab Executive Director Jan Schaffer. "But there is no question that students involved in these initiatives are learning not only how to produce stories on a faster turnaround than most classroom assignments, they are also getting firsthand experience in how to operate a news business."

Models vary widely; J-Lab has funded some 24 university news sites since 2005.

J-Lab is supported by a $2.4 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is part of the School of Communication at American University (also the parent organization of Current).

Mediation talks between Jefferson Public Radio and university system start tomorrow

A mediator will start talks this week between representatives of Jefferson Public Radio and the Oregon University System, which holds the broadcaster’s license, in an effort to settle a dispute over JPR’s leadership structure. Retired federal judge Terry Lukens begins mediation talks tomorrow, according to the Mail Tribune.

The university system terminated the contract of JPR Executive Director Ron Kramer in March (Current, April 9). A university audit advised that Kramer’s dual roles as head of the radio station and of a separate fundraising nonprofit had created a conflict of interest. The audit also said that JPR’s fundraising efforts were at odds with the university’s. Both sides in the dispute have agreed not to discuss the issues at hand until the mediator makes a non-binding recommendation.