Feb 27, 2004

The late Joan Kroc was last year's most generous donor, reports the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She gave more than three-quarters of her estate to the Salvation Army and her second-largest gift of $200 million went to NPR.

Feb 26, 2004

Pointing pointedly in the direction of Janet Jackson's chest, PBS chief Pat Mitchell painted public broadcasting as a "safe haven" for families with kids in yesterday's House appropriations hearing on CPB funding, the Hollywood Reporter reported.
A Wired article looks at "Walkman Busting", an occasional segment on public radio's The Next Big Thing.
The Pacifica network has wrapped up elections for its station boards and national board, the first to be held since activists gained control of the network in 2001.
Jim Russell, executive producer of the forthcoming Public Radio Weekend, takes another stab at explaining the sound and feel of the show.
NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin addresses Wal-Mart's underwriting on NPR and a spoof of The Passion that upset some listeners in his latest "Media Matters" column.

Feb 24, 2004

The LA Times reports that trustees of the Coast Community College District, the licensee of KOCE, are considering whether to keep the Orange County public TV station, rather than proceed with a sale that religious broadcaster Daystar Television Network has threatened to challenge in court.
The American Psychological Association called on federal regulators to restrict advertising to children aged eight and younger. Research indicates that young kids aren't able to critically interpret television ads, the association said in a report issued yesterday. Their gullibility, combined with aggressive marketing to children, contributes to the youth obesity epidemic.
Common Cause is urging people to ask their lawmakers to support public broadcasting.
Public TV and radio host Rudy Maxa has moved to Minnesota to live with his fiancee, who he says is a "great kisser," reports the Star Tribune (registration required). (Via Romenesko.)

Feb 23, 2004

Producer Bob Malesky remembers an NPR arts show that wasn't: a collaboration with author John Gardner that never got off the ground.
In a brief report last week, the FCC forwarded to Congress results of an earlier study on low-power FM. The Commission seconded the MITRE study's recommendation that third-adjacent protections against LPFMs be dropped. Sen. John McCain said he will introduce legislation adopting the FCC's suggestions. [Earlier coverage in Current.]

Feb 20, 2004

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today that it will spread $15 million among 16 rural public TV stations to help them switch to digital transmission. Among the grantees are some of the nation's smallest public TV stations as well as the West Virginia, South Dakota, North Dakota and Kentucky networks.
"There are enough fine children's entertainments being made that there is no excuse for Clifford's Really Big Movie, a really lame attempt to expand the marketing reach of the PBS-TV series." A New York Daily News critic pans the kiddie film opening today at theatres. Scholastic is promoting the popular PBS Kids character and his canine side-kicks in kids' meals at Wendy's.

Feb 19, 2004

Bill Moyers will retire from TV journalism in November, after the elections. He plans to write a book about President Johnson, whom he served as a young White House aide, AP reported. CPB has sought conservative programming to counterbalance his Friday-night PBS program. In a Current critique, Christopher Lydon called Moyers "the best of our village explainers."
Iowa regents unanimously approved the request of WOI in Ames to bid on a bankrupt FM station, reports the Iowa State Daily.
Orange County's Coast Community College District is sounding antsy about delays in its sale of KOCE to the station's nonprofit arm, judging from the latest Los Angeles Times report. Daystar, the religious broadcaster that bought KERA's second channel in Dallas and bid unsuccessfully for KOCE, is threatening to sue the college district.

Feb 17, 2004

A Maryland state representative says he'll ask the FCC for a hearing on the pending sale of a Christian station to WYPR-FM in Baltimore, reports AP. Opponents of the transfer say it will leave Frederick, Md., without a locally based Christian station.
The LA Times (subscription required) reports that religious broadcaster Daystar Television Network is has threated to sue over its lost bid for KOCE in Orange County, Calif. "If this were a publicly held corporation, it would be ripe for a lawsuit in which those who control the company are playing favorites with bidders," comments one legal expert. [Current's earlier coverage of the sale.] Dallas pubcaster KERA sold its second TV channel to Daystar, which took control of KDTN last month.
KPBS in San Diego is producing a radio version of California Connected, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune. KPBS and three other California stations already co-produce a TV version of the show.
Iowa State University is planning to acquire a bankrupt FM station that could bring public radio to 44,000 unserved people, reports the Ames Tribune. Iowa regents will consider the purchase Thursday. (More coverage in the Iowa State Daily.)
NPR's Anne Garrels and a Frontline co-production were among the George Polk award-winners announced yesterday, reports the New York Times (registration required). (Via Romenesko.)

Feb 16, 2004

Technology vendors chosen by PBS for its new package of station automation hardware and software were announced today. The optional ACE package for stations includes servers from Omneon Video Networks, scheduling software from BroadView Technologies and other systems from Miranda Technologies. Current described the offer in December.
NPR has closed its Tokyo news bureau and opened another in Hanoi, Vietnam, staffed by reporter Michael Sullivan.
The Stanley Foundation will cease producing its public radio show, Common Ground, April 30.

Feb 12, 2004

The freedom granted by online media is "something that newspapers can only dream about," says Christopher Lydon in the Guardian.
Minnesota Public Radio announced yesterday that it will begin distributing almost all of its own programs, taking that business from longtime rep Public Radio International. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal reports. In 2000, PRI filed a lawsuit, later settled, in an effort to prevent similar competition from MPR.
A v.p. at WFPK-FM in Louisville, Ky., was suspended for three days after mouthing off to a journalist who had criticized program changes at the station, reports the Louisville Courier-Journal.

Feb 11, 2004

On the Media co-host Bob Garfield critiques our image-obsessed media in The Washington Post: "On the altar of all-news-all-the-time has been sacrificed the permanence of history."
"Kids can have a very wonderful relationship with 'Arthur,' but let's face it: He's an aardvark." The Detroit Free Press ponders the absence of live humans on children's television.

Feb 10, 2004

In a Miami Herald editorial, J-school ethicist Edward Wasserman writes that the BBC's report on weapons of mass destruction may have been more accurate than the "sexed up" intelligence dossier that it discredited, but the Beeb's handling of the controversial report was "just as heedless and arrogant as the politicos who were the targets of the broadcast." [Via Media Bistro.]

Feb 9, 2004

"Despite Beyond the Color Line's scholarly pedigree and A-list interviewees, it too often falls victim to that bland, earnest tone that dogs the PBS documentary." Slate reviews Henry Louis Gates' new PBS series on divisions within the African American community.

Feb 5, 2004

WGBH is negotiating with Boston city authorities for permission to cover part of its new headquarters with a"digital skin" of electronic images overlooking the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Boston Globe says. 'GBH promises to be classy but the city fears others might not be. [Earlier article on WGBH's new home.]
Billy Tauzin, the Louisiana congressman who oversees broadcasting and CPB as House Commerce chairman, announced his retirement from the committee effective Feb. 16 and from Congress after this term, the Washington Post reported. Rep. Joe Barton (R-Tex.) is expected to succeed Tauzin as chair, the Post said. In 2002 Barton named himself as "one of the skeptics about the need for public broadcasting today." Tauzin is expected to take the top drug-industry lobbying job. Public Citizen called for an ethics investigation because Tauzin had was a leader in negotiating the Medicare drug bill.

Feb 3, 2004

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation gave the Public Radio Exchange a $350,000 grant.
GuideStar, the data source about nonprofits, lists numerous Internet mailing lists (listservs) and newsgroups about charities and fundraising.
The Bush administration proposes to crack down on taxpayers' valuations of cars donated to charities and other non-cash gifts, but will also would decrease tax revenue by giving limited charitable deductions to the majority of taxpayers who don't itemize deductions.
"An election this week will determine whether a generation of young people in this region will grow up hearing America's most important musical heritage or a steady diet of political propaganda," writes the Washington Post's Marc Fisher about the upcoming board election for WPFW, the Washington Pacifica station. A Columbia Spectator article touches on the politics of elections at New York's WBAI-FM, another Pacifica station.
In its FY05 budget, the Bush White House again chose not to propose an advance appropriation for CPB [PDF file], leaving the FY07 question for Congress to handle. Congress already has allotted $400 mil for FY06. The budget also tries again to terminate PTFP grants for facilities, but it proposes to plump the NEA budget by $18 mil and NEH by $37 mil for major initiatives on "American Masterpieces" and American history ("We the People"). The budget maintains Ready to Learn TV at its $23 mil level, but zeroes out Ready to Teach and Star Schools funding.

Feb 1, 2004

The g.m. of Antioch University's WYSO in Yellow Springs, Ohio, Steve Spencer, resigned Friday, the Dayton Daily News reported. The bitter battle between Spencer and local activists [Keep WYSO Local] echoes the national campaign that deposed Pacifica Radio's national leaders.