Mar 31, 2004

CPB's latest figures for public TV and radio's total revenues, for fiscal year 2002, show the total continuing to rise to $2.28 billion. But public TV's number of members continued to fall, 1 million in nine years, 260,000 in a year.
Public TV won eight Peabody Awards and public radio three, the University of Georgia announced today. Bill Moyers and Jay Allison's received awards. WGBH won three and P.O.V., two.
Steve Bass, head of Nashville PTV, tells the Tennessean how the station could help emergency workers by datacasting information to them over the station's DTV signal.
When WQED flickered to life on April 1, 1954, it was the nation's first community-owned educational television station. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recalls the station's glory days, financial free-fall and slow recovery in a 50th anniversary feature.
Some letter-writers to Salon stick up for Bob Edwards, but one, supposedly an anonymous NPR reporter, says "those of us inside the newsroom are dumb­founded by Bob Edwards' enduring popularity."
Former Minnesota Public Radio host Katherine Lanpher is "the only person who appears to know what she's doing" on Al Franken's new left-wing talk show, says the Chicago Tribune (reg. req.).

Mar 30, 2004

"It was Alistair Cooke's idiosyncratic mix of the momentous and the everyday that captivated his British audience and turned his Letter from America into an institution," wrote Karen McVeigh in The Scotsman after the BBC journalist died today. Cooke was 95 and had ceased his weekly BBC Letter from America in February.
Recent audience and membership declines at New Hampshire Public Television put the public TV network at a disadvantage against Boston powerhouse WGBH, reports the New Hampshire Sunday News.
NPR's home page has a new look and a note about it. Some inside pages display poorly in Mozilla Firefox for Windows but render well in IE. Update: This problem appears to be fixed.
The morning show on Air America, the forthcoming liberal talk radio network, will be called Morning Sedition, according to an XM Radio release.
While some execs at public radio stations support NPR's decision to find a new Morning Edition host, they are critical of the network's handling of the change, reports the New York Times (reg. req.) "There's a universal sense that this has been managed poorly," says one. The Los Angeles Times reports that Bob Edwards' resistance to having a co-host might have contributed to his fate.

Mar 29, 2004

Alan Chartock, executive director of WAMC in Albany, N.Y. takes to his weblog to criticize what he calls NPR's "bone head play" in reassigning Bob Edwards.
Brian Lehrer, talk host at New York's WNYC, explains in Newsday why he chose to interview Jayson Blair: "I felt that a public purpose had been served by having Blair on. Unfortunately, it was served mostly by watching a man further sink his reputation, with his words and demeanor." (Via Romenesko.)
WOUB-FM in Athens, Ohio, dropped daytime classical music last week in favor of news, reports the Athens News.
Linda Ellerbee views Edwards' reassignment as a dis to boomers. A writer to the Washington Post also cites the "specter of ageism." More: former Rewind host Bill Radke in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and editorials in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the St. Petersburg Times, the San Diego Union-Tribune and the Washington Post.

Mar 26, 2004

In an online poll, 84 percent of 1,300 Seattle Times readers favor keeping Bob Edwards at the Morning Edition microphone; though he is actually a young stud, one calls him "fatherly" and another compares him to Walter Cronkite. In USA Today, CBS News star Charles Osgood says of Edwards: "If it were me, I'd have him do it forever. Every time I hear him, I think how terrific he is.", established March 24, suggests sending protest e-mails to NPR exec Jay Kernis. More than 1,400 people protest Edwards' reassignment at
Newspapers are finding public TV producers at work all over: investigating an old bayonet in Carlisle, Pa., for History Detectives, shooting historical sites in Boston for American Experience, documenting reading problems in El Paso for Children of the Code: The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read It.
Jefferson Public Radio may take on management of its second old movie palace in the northern-California / southern Oregon region: the Loew's State in Eureka, Calif., according to the Eureka Reporter. JPR already runs the Cascade in Redding, Calif.

Mar 24, 2004

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin calls for simpler leads to stories and for fewer cliches, which crop up most often in reports from member stations, he says. (Via Romenesko.)
More on bye-bye, Bob: The demoted host tells the Washington Post that NPR programming veep Jay Kernis had said he wanted someone else in the job and speculates Kernis was "tired" of listening to him. In USA Today, Ken Stern, NPR's executive v.p., says the decision was about "needs for years to come." The Courier-Journal (Louisville, Ky.) grills Stern and concludes, "The demotion sounds like the kind of dumb move you might expect from commercial broadcasting, where change is often made because somebody in charge wants to make his mark." MetaFilter readers decry the decision: "There are some things you just don't mess with." (More in the Boston Globe and the New York Times.)
Just as the Sandra Tsing Loh flap seemed to be winding up, KCRW has released a letter Loh wrote the station the day her show was canceled. "The discrepancy between the content and tone of this letter and the subsequent attacks on KCRW has yet to be explained," says Ruth Seymour, KCRW's g.m. Loh tells the L.A. Times that the statement "underscores, on a personal level, how frightening it is for individuals to take Ruth Seymour on for battle" (reg. req.). And Catherine Seipp recaps the fracas for the National Review Online.
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) is expected to become chair of the FCC-overseeing Commerce Committee, but the present chairman, John McCain (R-Ariz.), may keep the communications subcommittee, Roll Call reports. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) would have to take his chair elsewhere.
Some lovers of classical music dislike Mississippi Public Broadcasting's recent decision to dump some classical in favor of news and jazz, reports the Clarion-Ledger. "Public radio is designed to provide us with something you can't get on commercial stations," says a listener.
Get Fuzzy speculates on what you might hear on National Cat Radio.

Mar 23, 2004

Sandra Tsing Loh will return to the Los Angeles airwaves--though with no profanity, even of the bleeped variety--on KPCC-FM, reports the Los Angeles Times (reg. req.).
Bob Edwards will leave Morning Edition April 30 to become a senior correspondent for NPR. He tells the Washington Post he would have preferred to stay with the show: "One day you change flavors at Baskin Robbins. I think that's what this is." Edwards discussed his job in a 1998 Current Q&A.
The National Endowment for the Arts is looking to commission a study of audience and programming trends in classical music on radio. (Word document.)
WETA President Sharon Rockefeller and doc film auteurs D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus will be honored April 22 by CINE, the filmmakers' organization announced.
Hiring former Baltimore Sun editor Bill Marimow as a managing editor will help NPR do "the kind of reporting that sets the agenda, gets under the surface," says network news veep Bruce Drake in the Sun. (Via Romenesko.) (NPR release on Marimow's hiring.)

Mar 22, 2004

Since CBS aired Hal Holbrook's Mark Twain show in 1967 "no one, not even public television, has put the performance on the air," Bill Moyers observed during an interview with Holbrook aired on Now March 19. PBS, like other broadcasters, balked at the word "nigger," from Huckleberry Finn excerpts. Holbrook said: "Well, when you get into corporate decision-making, especially in these days of political correctness, you are in jail." Alan Foster told the story last fall in Current.
NPR hired William K. Marimow as an additional managing editor, a new position. Marimow edited the Baltimore Sun until January, when the paper's publisher fired him, telling the Washington Post that "our partnership was not where I wanted it to be." (Latter article via Romenesko.)
James Randi, the magician and debunker of paranormal hoaxes, observes on his website that public TV stations "are featuring both Dr. Wayne Dyer and Dr. Gary Null, to take advantage of the public's taste for quackery." (Scroll down to the photo of Null's book "Healing with Magnets.")
Leslie Cagan, former chair of Pacifica's interim national board, urged an audience at a March 12 meeting to abandon "the ugly and at times de-mobilizing ways" that struggle has manifested within the network. Cagan stepped down as a newly elected board assumed power. Pacifica has also settled differences with a former manager of its New York station.
Peter Troxell, former g.m. of KUSP-FM in Santa Cruz, Calif., died of cancer March 17. His son kept a moving weblog about his death.
The Associated Press looks at competition between public radio and religious broadcasters for spectrum, with a recent Marylan dispute as an example.

Mar 19, 2004

APTS goes public with a release about its digital-only proposal, suggesting that public TV could relinquish analog channels ahead of time in exchange for a trust fund that would supplement CPB aid. See also Current's article.
National Journal's William Powers devotes a column to Brian Lamb's C-SPAN, the media wallflower now celebrating its 25th anniversary. He describes C-SPAN's singular ability to show political life at length--specifically John Kerry demonstrating what Powers regards as charisma in a personal appearance, so different from the disdainful treatment the candidate has gotten from media heavies.

Mar 18, 2004

Former PBS and CPB programmer Jennifer Lawson will head Howard University's WHUT in Washington, D.C., the Washington Post reported. The station, which has long aimed to be the flagship of African-American public TV, has not had a permanent g.m. since Adam Clayton Powell III left more than a year ago.

Mar 17, 2004

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin revisits Sandra Tsing Loh's cancellation, urging his network to cover the story: "Public radio in general -- and NPR in particular -- has seemed less than eager to report on itself whenever we become the legitimate subject of news reports in other places. ... Get over it, NPR." (Via Romenesko.)
Dan Reed, p.d. at WFPK-FM in Louisville, Ky., will move to the same job at WTMD-FM in Towson, Md., reports the Louisville Eccentric Observer.

Mar 16, 2004

More coverage of the Loh flap from the Los Angeles Times (reg. req.), Time (in a column by Loh herself) and Google News.
Chuck Niles, a renowned Los Angeles jazz deejay who called KKJZ-FM home since 1990, died yesterday at the age of 76, reports the Long Beach Press Telegram.

Mar 15, 2004

Ruth Seymour, KCRW g.m., admitted fault today and invited Sandra Tsing Loh to return to the air, but Loh declined.
New laws raising indecency fines are worrying some smaller broadcasters, including noncoms, reports The Oregonian.
The Washington Post profiles Joan Kroc, the unorthodox philanthropist who left NPR $200 million in her estate last year.

Mar 12, 2004

A Reuters article on Internet radio mentions KEXP and WAMU's
Also coinciding with the recent ruckus over broadcast indecency, KPCC-FM in Los Angeles cancelled The Play's the Thing, a radio theater series, last month after naughty words were said on the show, reports the LA Weekly.
The Los Angeles Times reports that religious broadcaster Daystar submitted a new bid to purchase Orange County public TV station KOCE. Meanwhile, a pending deal to sell the station to the KOCE Foundation may be unravelling.
Don Lockett, formerly NPR's chief technology officer, has written The Road to Digital Radio, a "management level overview" of the technology.
Public Radio Program Directors rescheduled its conference this fall to avoid a conflict between its old dates and the observance of Yom Kippur. PRPD is now set for Sept. 29 through Oct. 2 in San Antonio. See Current's Calendar for more events.

Mar 11, 2004

Sandra Tsing Loh briefly discussed her recent firing from KCRW on last night's On Point, a show produced at Boston's WBUR-FM. (RealAudio; Loh starts at 35:13.)
Anxieties over anti-breast fever in Washington prompted American Experience to re-edit a love scene in its upcoming documentary about Emma Goldman, according to the Washington Post.

Mar 10, 2004

The American Prospect previews the forthcoming Air America Radio, the talk radio network aimed at liberals that has so far hired away four denizens of public radio, including Katherine Lanpher.
Minnesota Public Radio is seeking applications for its Classical Music Initiative, an NEA-backed project to incubate new ways of presenting classical music.
The New York Observer discusses the return of Kurt Andersen--host of public radio's Studio 360--to the pages of New York magazine, which he formerly edited.
PBS's American Experience plans a three-hour film on the history of Las Vegas, according to the Miami Herald.

Mar 9, 2004

PBS is demanding that KCTS-TV pay $3.2 million in back dues, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. President Bill Mohler is appealing to viewers for help.
Listen to or read Sandra Tsing Loh's Marketplace commentary about getting fired from KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, Calif.

Mar 8, 2004

L.A. Observed reports that Sandra Tsing Loh will comment on her firing from KCRW-FM in Los Angeles on today's Marketplace. In the Los Angeles Times, Loh said public radio is becoming "a seeping beigeness, a grim, endless, drumbeat of 'responsibility' that all the groovy Argentine trance-hop music in the world can't make up for."
The Guardian features a lengthy profile of Garrison Keillor. "He must live like a 19th-century vicar having to write his sermon every week," says Jane Smiley of Keillor. "In some ways that's why it is so reassuring."
Minnesota Public Radio has purchased a house which it will renovate and open to the public for tours, reports The Business Journals. Proceeds from the tours and the eventual sale of the house will fund a $46 million capital campaign for expansion of MPR's offices.
WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C., brought back longtime volunteers for its latest fund drive, part of its efforts to move past its recent troubles, reports the Washington Post. [Earlier coverage in Current.]

Mar 5, 2004

NPR's Tavis Smiley tells the New York Daily News he would never have disgraced New York Times reporter Jayson Blair on his show because he's "an embarrassment to any African-American journalist in this country."
Dee Davis, longtime Appalshop chief and producer of docs on public TV, helped fend off CBS's "reality" remake of Beverly Hillbillies and now intends to fight a UPN series that, critics say, will exploit Amish teenagers, the New York Times reports.

Mar 4, 2004

Chicago's WBEZ-FM expands its reach to the southwest tomorrow with the signing-on of WBEQ-FM, a transmitter licensed to Morris, Ill.
Santa Monica's KCRW fired commentator Sandra Tsing Loh for using a four-letter word in her feature Feb. 29, the Los Angeles Times reported. (Registration required.) The word aired twice even though it was pretaped. Congress meanwhile is still aroused politically by the Super Bowl incident. A House subcommittee approved increasing the fine for broadcast indecency to $500,000, according to wire service reports. [More at L.A. Observed and LA CityBEAT.]

Mar 3, 2004

Bet you didn't expect that the brains behind the new Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights is Peter Sagal, host of NPR's Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! The Washington Post has the scoop.

Mar 2, 2004

Seattle's KEXP-FM will program KBTC-FM in nearby Tacoma, Wash., the stations announced today. Public Radio Capital purchased the station from Bates Technical College for $5 million. (Coverage in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Denver Business Journal.)
Alistair Cooke, 95, has filed his last Letter from America and was absent from the BBC broadcast last week because of illness, the Observer reported. He had reported from the States to BBC listeners for 58 years. Via Pubradio.
The marriage of Christopher Lydon and Minnesota Public Radio "sounds like a natural union," says the Pioneer Press, but the two are still sizing each other up as Lydon sub-hosts for the network's Midmorning. (Via Romenesko.)

Mar 1, 2004

The incoming board of the Pacifica Foundation inherits almost half a million dollars in debt for legal expenses, according to a report from the network's CFO. The report also briefs new board members on other financial data.