Jan 30, 2004

"I love the BBC and I am resigning because I want to protect it." Andrew Gilligan, the journalist whose reporting sparked a battle over the BBC's independence, resigned today.
"And now the second invasion of the Iraq war proceeds: the conquest of the British Broadcasting Corporation." Investigative journalist Greg Palast writes that the Blair government's attack on the BBC "portends darkness for journalists everywhere."
WGBH has added Sesame Street to the portfolio of children's programs it reps for national underwriting. WGBH's Sponsorship Group for Public Television also seeks backing for Barney & Friends and Angelina Ballerina as well as the station's own Arthur, Zoom and Between the Lions.
Anne Wood, creator of Teletubbies and now Boohbah always chooses "to go with the mind of a child and what the child needs" says PBS's John Wilson in a Los Angeles Times interview. Wilson says that can lead to the "I don't get it factor" with grownups. "But all you have to do is watch it with your own child a few times and you see that they do get it."

Jan 29, 2004

As the crisis over the BBC deepened today, General Director Greg Dyke resigned. "I've sadly come to the conclusion that it will be hard to draw a line under this whole affair while I am still here," he wrote in an e-mail to staff. Media analysts cautioned that the BBC's editorial independence is in jeopardy in the Guardian.

Jan 28, 2004

A senior British judge criticized the BBC for its controversial report alleging that Prime Minister Tony Blair's government "sexed up" its intelligence dossier on Iraqi weapons. BBC Director General Greg Dyke apologized for mistakes in the radio report, and BBC Chairman Gavyn Davies resigned. Reuters reports on the fallout. The Guardian breaks it all down into digestible bits in a special report.

Jan 27, 2004

NPR's Nina Totenberg and her counterpart at the New York Times, Linda Greenhouse, were given exclusive early access to the papers of the late Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, which go public March 4, Tony Mauro reported in Legal Times (via SPJ PressNotes).
House Commerce Chairman Billy Tauzin (R-La.) turned down the top movie industry lobbying job and is said to have a better offer from the drug industry, AP reported. Tauzin said he hasn't taken the pharmaceutical lobbying job. The Baltimore Sun editorialized that Tauzin had put himself on the auction block and should resign his chairmanship or stop handling legislation involving prospective employers.

Jan 26, 2004

Minnesota Public Radio is selling a commercial AM station and its parent company is selling a radio network, reports AP, for a combined $10 million. Larry Bentson, who donated the AM station to MPR, told the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal that he's unhappy with the sale of WMNN.
An AP article details Jefferson Public Radio's plans to open a $10 million Western States Museum of Broadcasting in Redding, Ore., which would also host its new studios.
Patty Wente, g.m. at KWMU-FM in St. Louis, tells the St. Louis Post-Dispatch she thinks underwriting rules should be relaxed: "Are you saying you would deprive public broadcasting of keeping up with news and development [sic] because I can't use the word 'you'? Give me a break."
Lara Spencer, new host of public TV's Antiques Roadshow, will discuss the show's upcoming season tomorrow morning in a Washington Post web chat.
Public radio stations are hosting an online chat tomorrow night about this year's presidential campaign.

Jan 22, 2004

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin introduces a CPB-funded ethics guide for public radio journalists in his Media Matters column. "Having an up-to-date ethics guide will accomplish two things at once, in my opinion: establish public radio's obligations and listener expectations," he says. [Coverage in Current.]
A Sesame Workshop project to create special programming for Arab-American children founders from lack of financial support--and mistrust of mainstream media--among Middle Eastern immigrants in Detroit. "People are leery of anything that goes on in the media, especially because of past representations of Arabs," one supporter of the project tells Salon (subscription or daypass required).

Jan 21, 2004

Early-aircraft enthusiasts and the producers of Nova are at odds over insurance proceeds from the crash of a Wright Brothers' biplane replica in Virginia, the Fauquier Times-Democrat reported. Nova, which put up some money for the project, planned to film the replica.
Senators escaped having their votes recorded with a nonexistent voice vote on the war-related $87 billion bill, so NPR's Daniel Schorr suggested that people ask them how they "voted." Fifteen members of the Society of Professional Journalists called senators and reported their findings yesterday. The bill would have passed anyway, it seems, though 19 senators refused to disclose how they would have voted.
Lanpher watch update: Katherine L. will be Al Franken's co-host as rumored, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported today. She leaves a big gap at Minnesota Public Radio, where she hosted a talk show, said news chief Bill Buzenberg.

Jan 20, 2004

Public radio host and producer Chris Lydon tells Leonard Witt that dissatisfaction with mainstream news coverage has turned him into "one of those who goes automatically, many times a day now, to the Web, to get a sense of what people are actually thinking and doing."
Minnesota Public Radio talk show host Katherine Lanpher announced today she's leaving the network. The hunch is she's joining lefty comic Al Franken to co-host his upcoming radio talk show. Franken told Newsweek that his co-host comes from public radio: "She’s a hell of a journalist, but she’s got a great laugh." One writer previously noted Lanpher's "sudden, braying laugh."
The new PBS Kids series Boohbah may seem trippy to grown-ups, but the idea behind the show is to get preschoolers to jump off the couch and join in the calisthenics, reports AP. The Boston Globe's Suzanne Ryan found the show didn't hold much interest for her own three-year-old.
Brooke Gladstone, latest guest in Transom's online forum, reveals how she and WNYC's On the Media team rebuilt the show. Newsmags generally have had too much passion drained away, she says, and need to syncopate their too-soothing talk. OTM's dirty secret: they "edit like crazy."
Leaders of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., defend their decision to add more triple-A music to the schedule on one of their stations at the expense of jazz. A former board member charges PRP with eyeing the bottom line rather than serving audiences with diverse programming.
Neil Steinberg of the Chicago Sun-Times spoofs "another blast of limp-wristed, angsty self-loathing" brought to him by NPR.
If you tell your 10th grade daughter that you've begun dating after the divorce, what does she want to know, besides the obvious "What's on her iPod?" Pubradio producer Jay Allison recounted the grilling in the New York Times Magazine.
Ted Turner and Oprah Winfrey, among Bill Gates and other tycoons, are among the 25 business leaders cited by public TV's Nightly Business Report and the University of Pennsylvania, marking the program's 25th anniversary, AP reported.
Joseph Tovares, producer of the Feb. 2 American Experience doc about the Alamo, focused on Texas pioneer Jose Antonio Navarro, though he struggled with Navarro's early involvement with slavery, the San Antonio Express-News reported.

Jan 16, 2004

Bill Siemering has created Developing Radio Partners, a nonprofit supporting independent local radio stations in burgeoning democracies. Board members include Jay Allison, Julia Barton and Corey Flintoff.
An FCC official says that a completed agency report headed for Congress includes recommendations on whether LPFMs could be sited closer to full-power stations, reports Radio and Records. [Earlier coverage in Current.]
A Seattle Weekly article about suicide revisits the death of Cynthia Doyon, a KUOW-FM host who killed herself last year. (Via Romenesko.)
If a lefty talk radio network succeeds, "maybe we could finally get Congress to stop using taxpayer dollars to subsidize NPR," says the Wall Street Journal. (Via Romenesko.)
Ira Glass makes Newcity Chicago's list of "10 Chicagoans We Love to Hate," with the author railing against "that nasally, whiney, apathetic drone affected by legions of Ira Glass wannabes clearing their throat, adjusting their horn-rims, with their microphone in the other hand." (Via Romenesko.)
Bill Davis of KPCC in Los Angeles says an inaccurate article about Joan Kroc's NPR gift hurt his station's recent pledge drive returns, reports the Christian Science Monitor.

Jan 14, 2004

Minnesota Public Radio host Katherine Lanpher is being discussed as a "probable" co-host for comic Al Franken on a new liberal talk radio network, reports the Star Tribune. [Home page for Lanpher's MPR show.]

Jan 13, 2004

A long Los Angeles Times profile of Frank Deford accuses the high-profile sportswriter and NPR commentator of broad hyperbole and a loose grasp of some facts. Many Romenesko readers, meanwhile, back up Deford.
The president of Joy Public Broadcasting opposed selling his station in Frederick, Md., to Baltimore pubcaster WYPR, reports the Baltimore Sun. "I don't like NPR," Lowell Bush said. "I don't like the homosexual content." His board outvoted him, however.

Jan 12, 2004

The Big Four commercial networks air 58 minutes of ads in primetime every night, 36 percent more than they did in 1991, MediaLife magazine reported. Their commercial breaks have gotten 41 percent longer since 1998.
Tom Keith, sound-effects guy for A Prairie Home Companion, discusses the Zen of his craft with the Capital Times: "You can't just stand there and make the sound. You have to move, be the ski."
"As the radio industry continues to consolidate, our responsibility to program challenging music and public affairs programs becomes that much greater," says pubradio veteran Steve Robinson in the Boston Globe, which reports on his acceptance of an ASCAP award.
Elections for Pacifica's Local Station Boards are looming, and candidates for the boards of KPFK-FM in Los Angeles and WBAI-FM in New York have started websites.

Jan 11, 2004

Baltimore public radio station WYPR bought WJTM-FM in Frederick, expanding its reach toward western Maryland, Radio & Records reported. Selling the Frederick outlet for a reported $1.2 million was a religious broadcaster, Joy Public Broadcasting. Both stations broadcast at 88.1 MHz.
PBS will carry the $7 million cost of Masterpiece Theatre for two years, President Pat Mitchell told TV critics during the winter press tour, but the network is perplexed and unhappy about it, according to Associated Press and Washington Post reports.

Jan 9, 2004

The Association of Independents in Radio Member Spotlight features sound artist and producer Aaron Ximm, Monday, Jan. 12 at 8 p.m. ET.
Elizabeth Campbell, founder of Washington's WETA-FM/TV, died today of a respiratory ailment, reported. She was 101. In a 1993 Current interview she pictured herself as a do-er who "didn't have time for doubts." More about Campbell can be found at WETA's website.
Minnesota Public Radio will stop producing The Savvy Traveler March 26, according to the network. The show was unable to sell enough underwriting to support itself due to the travel industry's post-9/11 downturn. Its spotty presence in major markets also weakened its appeal to potential backers. Savvy Traveler airs on 163 stations. [Show website.]
CPB and Target Analysis Group have released the second installment of the Public Radio Quarterly Index of Fundraising Performance.

Jan 8, 2004

The Knight Foundation has given PBS $200,000 to develop a proposal for a public affairs channel, the network announced. Contrary to this AP report, however, PBS told Current that the channel probably would be a DTV multicast channel to be aired by public TV stations, not a "cable channel," as AP said. PBS President Pat Mitchell had said in June that public affairs and the arts were content options for new PBS channels. Current reported last year on the variety of multicast channels foreseen by stations.
"This may be the holiday season that satellite radio began to show its promise," says the Washington Post.

Jan 7, 2004

A jazz host on WFPK-FM in Louisville, Ky., resigned rather than stifle her public criticism of the station's decision to reduce jazz programming, reports the Courier-Journal.
Alabama Public Radio averted canceling big-name national shows by raising $20,000 in an emergency fund drive, reports the Associated Press.
NPR presents the first public demonstration of its Tomorrow Radio project at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The digital technology will allow radio broadcasters to transmit two separate channels on one frequency.
Milwaukee Public Schools is negotiating a contract with local group Radio for Milwaukee to run its public radio station, WYMS-FM.

Jan 6, 2004

"I want to use this show ... to introduce Americans to each other," says Tavis Smiley of his public TV show, debuting this week on more than 100 stations. [Show's website.]
Conflict with General Manager Steve Spencer and other tensions prompted at least five employees to leave WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs, Ohio, in recent years, reports the Yellow Springs News.
Samuel Freedman in USA Today lauds the radio documentary form, "a rebellion against the numbing conformity of commercial radio" and a style that he says is enjoying its heyday.
WFPK-FM in Louisville, Ky., might alter its plans to cut back on weekday jazz programming, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal. The station angered jazz fans last month when it announced the changes. The station says it's cutting jazz to make room for more triple-A programming, which it says has become increasingly popular.
StoryCorps, the latest project of independent producer David Isay, has drawn 300 people to its Grand Central Station booth for interviews since opening two months ago, reports the Chicago Tribune. Isay appeared recently on NPR's Morning Edition to share excerpts from the interviews.

Jan 5, 2004

New York Times Magazine profiles Anne Wood, creator of Teletubbies and now Boohbah, who studies videos of kids watching the programs in their homes to add to her considerable understanding of what moves 3-year-olds (not excluding flatulent sounds). Tabloids say she has made $80 million to $260 million in kidvid, largely by reserving U.S. rights for her own company (BBC reps the show elsewhere). Boohbah starts on PBS Jan. 19.