Jul 31, 2002

San Francisco Chronicle TV critic Tim Goodman takes PBS to task for premiering its best shows in the fall when network competition is heaviest. He says: "Doh!"
Mixed Bag Classic, a triple-A format radio show hosted by freeform radio veteran Pete Fornatale, is entering national distribution.

Jul 30, 2002

LA Magazine profiles NPR host Tavis Smiley and writes up the network's West Coast expansion: "The network has looked at Los Angeles the way characters do in Woody Allen movies—we're the wacky outpost where trends come from and where Hollywood rules all," writes RJ Smith. "We make the folks in D.C. feel that much better about themselves."
Longtime critic of liberal bias at PBS, David Horowitz, has sued conservative producer Lionel Chetwynd (National Desk and the recent Darkness at High Noon) for kicking him off the board of Chetwynd's production company, Whidbey Island Films, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Horowitz says PBS pressured Chetwynd to oust him.
A sober Muppet story: The New York Times reports that the Palestinian-Israeli-Jordanian version of Sesame Street has had to give up the idea that Muppets of all nationalities can meet as friends on a single street.

Jul 29, 2002

Hostile TV critics grilled PBS on its treatment of Louis Rukeyser, its handling of the HIV-positive Muppet flap, and antiquated scheduling strategies during a July 26 executive session in Pasadena.
WFDD-FM in Winston-Salem, N.C., has dropped its broadcast of Sunday sermons and Baptist church services, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. "The loss is a great one," wrote a Journal columnist. The broadcasts threatened WFDD's receipt of an NTIA grant in 1995.
A janitor at New York's WNYC-FM/AM stole a list of donors and sold it to an identity-theft ring, according to The New York Times.

Jul 28, 2002

Minority Media and Telecommunications Council, a D.C.-based advocate for minority ownership and employment in media, announced that it has launched a website, Former FCC member Henry Rivera is chairman and David Honig is executive director.

Jul 26, 2002

NABET-CWA has posted a fact sheet about its new contract with NPR. (See July 23 entry, below.)
Though nominally about religious broadcasting, the Christian Community Broadcasters' website features regular updates about the FCC's dispensation of low-power FM licenses.

Jul 25, 2002

British broadcasters are pushing digital radio enthusiastically, though there are few affordable sets in the stores, WNYC's On the Media reported.
Rounded corners and a new font define the slightly updated look at
Leo McKern, whose Rumpole of the Bailey performances were produced in Britain between 1975 and 1992 and aired successfully on PBS, died at the age of 82, according to a New York Times obit.

Jul 23, 2002

More from Louis Rukeyser: I lost interest in Maryland Public TV when they ambushed me, he tells the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
It's not dead yet: MetaFilter thread about NPR's "new" linking policy.
NPR technicians will vote Aug. 12 on a new union contract, the product of six months of negotiations. The National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, which represents about 80 NPR techies, won some concessions from NPR on raises and jurisdictional issues, but not enough to endorse the contract, according to NABET-CWA staff rep Paula Olson. Technicians overwhelmingly defeated an earlier contract in January.

Jul 22, 2002

Of the networks, PBS had the most news Emmy nominations this year, Reuters reports on
Showtime cable network will docu-dramatize the saga of preteen reporters LeAlan and Lloyd Newman—Chicago kids who teamed with pubradio's David Isay and Gary Covino to sweep the awards with "Ghetto Life 101" in 1993 and "Remorse" in 1996. Our America comes to cable July 28, 30 and Aug. 2. [Current coverage of "Remorse."]
Radio World profiles technology at KUSC in Los Angeles and covers NPR's recent reorganizing of its cultural programming departments.
Frontline producer Ofra Bikel recently spoke with NPR about the importance of media access to prisoners. (RealAudio.) Another Frontliner, Lowell Bergman, tells that the media, swept up in the glitz of the late-90s New Economy, handled business titans with kid gloves. "I can’t remember any billionaire who was criticized on 60 Minutes," he says. "Robert Maxwell, Donald Trump, Leona Helmsley, Jack Welch—they all got positive stories.”

Jul 21, 2002

Frontline won the Television Critics Association's news and information award this year, reported.

Jul 19, 2002

After trying for seven years, Pittsburgh's WQED won FCC approval July 18 to sell its second public TV channel and raise money to get out of debt and go digital, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported. [PDF file of FCC decision.] Diane Sutter, the broadcaster who will pay $20 million for the UHF channel, said in the Tribune-Review that the win was an example of persistence paying off. Jerry Starr, longtime opponent of the sale, said his group had not decided whether to appeal. [Current article about WQED's 2001 petition for dereservation]

Jul 15, 2002

Don't stick your mic in the turtle's butt. That and other bits of advice from NPR reporter John Burnett are intended for radio journalists, but many apply to other media as well.

Jul 12, 2002

The new hosts of Wall Street Week lack the stage presence and rigor of Louis Rukeyser, even though the veteran host's delivery on CNBC is stodgy and predictable, writes Slate's reviewer. The Wall Street Journal's critic says the new WSW is "achingly dull--rather like a dinner made up only of broccoli and undressed arugula."
Chicago's WBEZ might assume management of Loyola University's WLUW, according to a Sun-Times report.
Sesame Street plans to introduce an HIV-positive Muppet character to the cast of its South African program and is discussing a similar move in the U.S., the Washington Post reports. Current earlier reported on other big changes made to the U.S. show.
Folks at the community weblog MetaFilter are discussing the NPR anthrax story muddle, with a Fox News report as a starting point.
A Pennsylvania court sentenced appraiser/dealer Russell Pritchard to a year in jail and repayment of $830K defrauded through his appearances on PBS's Antiques Roadshow, the New York Times reported (second item). [Earlier Current articles on his firing by WGBH in 2000 and indictment in 2001.]

Jul 11, 2002

At July 10's House hearing, NPR President Kevin Klose offered his personal and professional apology to the Traditional Values Coalition for a news segment that linked the Christian organization to the anthrax investigation, Variety reports (see Current's earlier report on the flap).
Read a suite of dispatches from a conference on public radio talk shows, held in April.
A New York Times critic lauds tonight's report from Iraq by Gwynne Roberts as "the timeliest possible beginning to Wide Angle," a new PBS foreign affairs series. [The program's website.]

Jul 10, 2002

The L.A. Times profiles public radio's Studio 360, which host Kurt Andersen says goes beyond high culture to show us the art "on TV and in our bathrooms." [Current profiled the show last summer.]
Staci Kramer of the Online Journalism Review supports NPR's new linking policy—with a few reservations. [Read the Current story about the debate.]
LA Times critic Howard Rosenberg describes PBS's American Family as the best of television's new Latino family dramas: "It's rich and atmospheric, witty and a major tug on your heartstrings, all with no trace of phoniness. Your loss if you're missing it."
The conflict between NPR and the Traditional Values Coalition is on the agenda of the House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing today at 10 on Capitol Hill. [Current report on the affair.] It's unlikely the committee will avoid the topic with both Andrea Lafferty of the conservative group and NPR President Kevin Klose as witnesses. Also up: the heads of CPB, PBS, APTS, WNYC and cable exec Michael Willner of Insight Communications, who has in the past objected to extensive DTV carriage demands by broadcasters.

Jul 9, 2002

Ken Burns brags the sound will be so good on the forthcoming digitally remastered version of The Civil War that "when you see Pickett's Charge, it will rearrange your molecules," he told Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer. His next bio topics: Horatio Nelson Jackson, who won a bet in 1903 by driving coast to coast in less than 90 days (voice by Tom Hanks) and boxing champ Jack Johnson (voice by Samuel Jackson).
The secretary of Pacifica's board has asked the network to renegotiate its freshly-inked contract with the show Democracy Now!. Carol Spooner alleges that the contract, which establishes Democracy Now! as a self-owned production company independent from Pacifica, was signed prematurely and could hurt the network financially.
Nearly half of PBS's member station broadcast Louis Rukeyser's new CNBC series, but public TV officials reject suggestions that these stations are rebelling against changes to his long-running PBS show, Wall Street Week. Rukeyser is still angry about his abrupt departure from the PBS series.

Jul 8, 2002

Teens take control on 2K Nation, a new show on the Washington, D.C. Pacifica affiliate WPFW.

Jul 3, 2002

A New York Times critic says the PBS four-parter series Great Projects, starting tonight, will impress viewers with the foresight of big-thinking civil engineers and the politicians that back them but nevertheless fails to persuade that Michael Dukakis was a swashbuckling hero.

Jul 2, 2002

Katie Davis, formerly of NPR, appears today in a Washington Post column, talking about the Washington, D.C. park where she spends a lot of time. Settling with NPR yielded "her retirement fund," she says.

Jul 1, 2002

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin summarizes the flap over the network's linking policies in his latest "Media Matters" column.
On a second try, BBC is seen likely to win regulatory approval for BBC3, a new British TV channel for ages 25-34, says the Guardian in London.