Jan 31, 2005

He's no Elvis: The NPR fleece jacket purportedly worn by Bob Edwards has gone for $43 on eBay — $9 less than what you can pay for what looks like the same item at the NPR Shop.
Members of Metafilter discuss Minnesota Public Radio's new KCMP, with reactions ranging from "Now I can finally listen to music on the radio again" to "I could be unlucky, but every time I turn it on it sucks." More praise in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: "The idea that Public Radio would venture beyond All Things Considered and the lesser-known works of Dvorak to offer an alternative to popular music is so sensible, both as a business and cultural decision, it is remarkable it took so long."
When you're Ira Glass's girlfriend, "you have to put up with a lot of him thinking about his job rather than what's going on in front of him," says his squeeze in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

Jan 30, 2005

The Philadelphia Inquirer (signup required) says WHYY has joined the pubTV stations planning to air the Postcards from Buster episode condemned by the U.S. secretary of education for featuring same-sex parents. Major stations in Boston and New York City and the Vermont and New Jersey pubTV networks say they'll run it, too. Others won't air the show, including Alabama PTV (Birmingham News), Detroit PTV (Detroit News), KWBU in Waco, Texas (Waco Tribune-Herald) and South Carolina ETV.

In related crisis news, the creator of SpongeBob SquarePants said his kidvid characters aren't gay. Even though they hold hands a lot, the cartoon sponge and starfish are "almost asexual," reported.

Jan 28, 2005

Alberto Ibargüen, chairman of the PBS Board, will serve as president of the Knight Foundation. (Foundation press release.) He will step down as publisher of the Miami Herald. (Via Romenesko.)
The Vermont same-sex couples featured in the controversial Postcards from Buster episode regret that PBS will not distribute the episode, reports AP. "I feel betrayed as a parent,'' said Tracy Harris. "We feel it's important that we not exclude kids because of what their family structure looks like," said a WGBH spokeswoman in the New York Times.
Floridian Dave Plotkin has apparently failed in his bid to break the world record for the longest continuous radio broadcast by a single DJ. But he's dead set on a second attempt. "I will obliterate all comers," he tells Current. Plotkin, who finished his 110 hours Jan. 21, didn't know that the most recent record was 120 hours, set by Arulanantham Suresh Joachim in Canada in June 2003.

Jan 27, 2005

In an article about his new PBS show, Robert Krulwich tells the New York Times that his onscreen goofiness "really isn't an act."
An eBay user is selling an NPR jacket that he claims was worn by Bob Edwards at his final staff retreat: "I'm parting with this new and perfect item because I miss Bob and the memories are too painful." The seller intends to donate the earnings to "American Public Radio," which they say "used to be Public Radio International." (Via Wonkette.)
PBS execs say they decided to withdraw an episode of Postcards from Buster before Education Secretary Margaret Spellings officially notified them that its depiction of lesbian parents was inappropriate for a federally funded educational kids program. "Sounds great if you were born yesterday," writes Washington Post columnist Lisa De Moraes.

Jan 26, 2005

In one of her first acts as the new education secretary, Margaret Spellings denounced PBS for using its Ready to Learn grant to fund a children's show depicting a lesbian couple and their children. The Boston Globe reported that producing station WGBH delayed the debut of an episode of Postcards from Buster so that stations could review it before broadcast.
A deejay at Rollins College's WPRK-FM in Winter Park, Fla., has unofficially set the world record for the longest continuous radio broadcast by a single DJ, reports USA Today. As Current reported in 2001, another noncommercial DJ, Glen Jones, set an earlier record. (Via

Jan 25, 2005

"Podcasters may indeed revitalize the art of radio itself," writes Tod Maffin at

Jan 24, 2005

Garrison Keillor tells the Seattle Times his worst-ever show was in Reno, Nev.: "Every time I turned around in Reno, I just saw pathological behavior." In the Minneapolis Star-Tribune he offers a dispatch from a cruise ship: "Were I a resident of paradise, I'd defend it to the skies, but I'm a northerner and we believe that adversity and the struggle for truth and honor are the key to the good life, not the 77-degree swimming pool."
Clear Channel is donating $25,000 to KBEM-FM, a financially troubled noncom in Minneapolis, reports the Star-Tribune. (Reg. req.)
The profile of KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, Calif., is growing nationally among offbeat bands, "the smaller record labels that promote them and the music consumers who want to be surprised," reports the New York Times.

Jan 21, 2005

Michael Powell announced today that he will step down as chairman of the FCC effective in March, reports the Washington Post, among others (official statement here). Powell said it was time for a change after "completing a bold and aggressive agenda," referring to his work to increase consumer access to broadband and new technologies like Internet phone service. But he'll likely be remembered for his bold, but largely thwarted, attempts to deregulate media ownership and his aggressive campaign against perceived broadcast naughtiness. Powell also told Reuters that he planned to "tie up some loose ends on the transition to digital television" before he left the commission. See also the Associated Press (via Newsday), and the New York Times.
We've added a list of podcasting pubcasters to our streaming links page. Let us know if you belong in the list, too.
"Island at War," a "gripping, poetic" five-part mini-series that begins Sunday on Masterpiece Theater, gets a thumbs-up from New York Times critic Anita Gates.
The Washington Times pegs this mini-profile of NPR head Kevin Klose to Tavis Smiley's recent departure.

Jan 18, 2005

Public radio's Marketplace is opening a bureau at WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, N.C., reports the Associated Press.
PBS will edit a scene of a nude woman being scrubbed down after a fictional chemical attack from the HBO-produced "Dirty War," scheduled for broadcast on the network Feb. 23. Co-chief programming exec Jacoba Atlas tells the AP that she's afraid the scene could deter stations from airing an important film. "You want to pick your battles," she says. (from the Miami Herald via
Public radio humor in Sunday's Get Fuzzy.

Jan 17, 2005

What came between NPR and Tavis Smiley? Howard Kurtz reports in the Washington Post that a letter from Smiley's agent demanded that the network commit $3 million to promote the weekday talk show. Smiley quit in December, hurling accusations of racism. The host also wanted to own the program and tape it a day before broadcast, NPR reportedly told Kurtz.
Environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and former EPA chief Christine Todd Whitman are among new commentators on PBS's Now series, the producers announced. Also civil rights attorney Constance Rice and former Maine Gov. Angus King.
Martin Scorsese, producer of a four-hour portrait of Bob Dylan to air in the PBS series American Masters in July, never met the guy, he told the Toronto Sun.

Jan 14, 2005

NPR reporter Jason Beaubien tells the Poynter Institute's Jill Geisler about covering the tsunami. "It taxes you as a radio reporter to get across the essence of this story . . . which is that this isn't just about a tragic event," he says. "It's about a tragic event times one million . . ."
After a four-year hiatus, NPR producer Van Williamson has resurrected his variety show Radio From Downtown, reports the Baltimore Sun. Susan Stamberg and Carl Kasell star in the production, which focuses on Maryland's Eastern Shore and comes off as "something of a marshy, saltwater version" of A Prairie Home Companion. (Reg. req.)
Columbia Journalism Review criticized NPR for informing listeners that Slate, its partner on Day to Day, was reporting exit poll data throughout Election Day, and the webzine's Jack Shafer snaps back. That prompts another salvo from CJR: "Ouch! What did you have for breakfast Thursday?"

Jan 13, 2005

Chicago broadcasters led by Steve Robinson, manager of WTTW's sister WFMT-FM, jointly raised $2 million for tsunami relief last week, the Sun-Times reported. In Pittsburgh, an hourlong telethon aired from WQED studios drew nearly $923,000 in pledges Jan. 7, said the Pittsburgh Channel. In Canada, CBC plans a three-hour fundraiser, Canada for Asia, tonight. Mike Myers, Celine Dion, Wayne Gretzky and other stars of the frozen north will appear. Australia's three commercial TV nets raised more than $20 million Jan. 8.

Jan 12, 2005

CPB has issued an RFP for its Public Radio Program Fund ($6.4 million in FY 2005). One priority: funding "projects that have a clear commitment to balance and objectivity in all content."

Jan 10, 2005

WFCI-FM, licensed to Franklin College near Indianapolis, will begin simulcasting programming from WFYI-FM, reports the Indianapolis Star.

Jan 7, 2005

The board of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., has decided to keep Gerry Weston as president of the broadcaster, reports Louisville's Courier-Journal.

Jan 6, 2005

Tom Lix, founder of Public Interactive, is seeking investors for his latest venture, Bulldozer Camp. Billed as the "ultimate 'big toy' experience," the theme park in Washington State will give white-collar desk jockeys a shot at piloting construction gear and monster trucks.
Jeffrey Dvorkin calls NPR's tsunami coverage the day after the disaster "curiously distant and even callous." Dvorkin also addresses a controversy about the editing of David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries," which is discussed at length on this weblog. (One commenter says he "ripped [Dvorkin] another one"; we hope for a speedy recovery.)
The board of directors of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., is considering replacing president Gerry Weston, according to the (Louisville, Ky.) Courier-Journal.
Tucker Carlson gets his own primetime series on MSNBC, and Crossfire, his expiring CNN gig, gets snuffed.

Jan 5, 2005

The Washington Times talks with David Brancaccio in advance of his Friday debut as the solo host of PBS's Now. Though the formerly hour-long newsmag has been cut to 30 minutes, the roving anchor, who will host each show from a different locale, says the smaller window will result in fewer, not shorter, stories. "If a piece was 18 minutes in '04, it will be 18 minutes in '05," he says. (via Romenesko)

Jan 4, 2005

KERA in Dallas announced Monday that president and CEO Gary Ferrell had unexpectedly resigned for personal reasons. Station spokeswoman Sharon Philippart told the Dallas Business Journal the resignation, which was effective immediately, was not requested by the KERA board. Ferrell, former CFO at Los Angeles' KCET, is reportedly returning to California. The Kansas City Star also reports that William T. Reed will announce this week that he's stepping down as president and CEO of Kansas City Public Television effective June 30. (registration req.)

Jan 3, 2005

Public radio consultant John Sutton has started a weblog featuring his thoughts on the field and asking for comments from others.