Jun 28, 2006

Om-buddies? Not really.

"Comments continue to drift in about the PBS program on the Armenian genocide," CPB ombudsman Ken Bode writes in his latest column, which features remarks from several of his readers on the issue. One commenter: Michael Getler, public TV's other ombudsman, who took exception to the way Bode, in his initial column on the matter, characterized the PBS monitor's comments on The Armenian Genocide controversy. Replied Bode: "I am happy to have Mr. Getler state clearly, as I thought he did not in his original posting, his opinion that the events in Turkey, did indeed deserve to be considered as genocide. Anyway, I think that is what he is saying."

WNET eyes capital campaign to finance its expansion

With the election of financier James Tisch as chairman of Educational Broadcasting Corporation -- and Paula Kerger's recent departure as executive v.p. of its flagship New York station -- the pubTV licensee with a $100 million endowment is contemplating another major capital campaign, reports the New York Times. "In order for us to be what we need to be, we've got to have at least twice what we have in endowment," says WNET President Bill Baker.

Douridas charged for cocaine possession

Chris Douridas, a deejay at KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, Calif., was charged yesterday with one count of cocaine possession, reports the Los Angeles Times. Douridas had been booked for poisoning and kidnapping as well, but the Los Angeles district attorney's office was unable to support those charges. If found guilty of possession, Douridas could face three years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

Jun 27, 2006

Digital Distribution Consortium for pubradio convenes

Todd Mundt writes that stakeholders in public radio have formed a Digital Distribution Consortium to map a shared digital infrastructure for the system. "Ultimately, we sense something bigger still — the opportunity to create new models for how networks, big stations, small stations and independent producers can relate to each other. That one piece alone could change everything," say the consortium's charter and principles. "Our effort, today and tomorrow, is to describe the services we want to create or enable — the 'it' that we're aiming for," writes Mundt in another post. UPDATE: The consortium now has a public wiki. (Earlier coverage in Current.)

KOOP rebuilds

KOOP-FM in Austin, Texas, is building new studios after two fires destroyed the community station's old home and knocked it off the air earlier this year, reports News 8 Austin.

Jun 26, 2006

In Texas, Fighting to Keep Brahms on Air - New York Times

Lovers of classical music are fighting to keep KTPB in Kilgore, Texas, on the air, reports the New York Times. "Just because we live out here in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean we have to be a cultural void," says a executive director of a nearby symphony orchestra.

Study: Few consumers know that HD Radio offers multicast capability

A radio audience research firm found that only one percent of respondents to a telephone survey knew that HD Radio can provide more channels of programming. "Our research reveals that radio needs to explain HD Radio and its benefits for listeners," writes Mark Kassof. Meanwhile, Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post writes that he returned his Boston Acoustics HD Radio out of frustration with the on-again, off-again status of a few multicast channels in the Washington area.

Boing Boing: This American Life / podcaster flap: former intern rebuts.

At Boing Boing, a former intern with This American Life weighs in on a debate over unofficial podcasts of the show. Thanks to this intern, we learn that ". . . Ira's not trying to cheat you. He is, in fact, a very nice guy. Like, for instance, if he were going out to get lunch, he'd ask you if you wanted anything, and then he'd bring it back, and he wouldn't make you pay for it. And, say, if you were going out to get lunch, and you asked him if he wanted anything, he'd tell you and give you money to go get it, and sometimes he'd let you borrow his car. He's a nice guy."

Radio exec gets probation

The Detroit Free Press reports that Michael Coleman, g.m. of WDET-FM in Detroit, was sentenced to two years' probation June 22 for embezzling from Michigan Radio, his former employer.

Technology360: NPR vs. PBS web traffic

Dennis Haarsager uses Alexa to compare web traffic for and and finds them pretty close. But the website of New York's WNYC-AM/FM draws more traffic than that of WNET-TV.

Jun 21, 2006

McCain amendment would help LPFM

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is sponsoring an amendment to a telecommunications bill (PDF) that would ease protections for full-power FM stations from possible interference from low-power FMs, according to the Prometheus Radio Project. The low-power advocates are trying to drum up support for the amendment as debate on the bill opens this week.

Jun 20, 2006

Interview with Michele Norris

"I meet someone, and, after they figure out what I do, they tell me how much NPR means to them," says All Things Considered host Michele Norris in an interview with Ohio's Columbus Dispatch. "I never heard that with ABC. I never heard ABC talked about by viewers in such reverential terms. I think, if we went off the air tomorrow, people would march in the streets."

Jun 19, 2006

The mysterious appeal of Garrison Keillor. By Sam Anderson

Slate's Sam Anderson analyzes at length the resolutely unstylish style of Garrison Keillor and dubs him "the shock jock of wholesomeness."

Van Cliburn opposes sale of Texas music station

Closing pubradio station KTPB will "devalue Kilgore College as an institution of higher learning," pianist Van Cliburn wrote to the college trustees, according to the Longview (Texas) News-Journal. The trustees decided in April to sell the East Texas classical music station to Christian pop purveyor EMF Broadcasting, which has 180 frequencies across the country. Cliburn went to high school in Kilgore.

PBS: pixilate that dirty mouth!

The Boston Globe reports on new PBS guidelines requiring producers to completely bleep compound swear words (such as "mother f*****!") and visually blur the mouths of people who swear on camera.

Dvorkin heads to CCJ

Jeffrey Dvorkin is leaving his post as NPR's ombudsman to serve as executive director of the Committee of Concerned Journalists and the Goldenson Chair of Community Broadcasting at the Missouri School of Journalism. Dvorkin was NPR's first ombud and held the job for six years after serving as its v.p. of news. In his farewell column, he offers advice to his successor: "Know that public radio listeners are overwhelmingly smart, passionate and insistent. You will find that it is important to take their comments seriously, but never personally. You'll live longer if you do." (He also reveals that several colleagues refuse to speak to him due to past criticism of their work.) In 2001, Dvorkin looked back on his first year as ombudsman in an essay for Current.

'Jimmy Jimmy BoBo' Lehrer Makes Birthday Party Newsworthy

The Washington Post reports that a three-year-old Minnesotan boy recently enjoyed a very special birthday party with, of all things, a NewsHour with Jim Lehrer theme. Henry Schally is a major fan of the show and knows its personalities by name. "When correspondent Kwame Holman started delivering his report, Henry yelled out 'Kwame Holman!'," according to WCCO-TV in Minneapolis.

Jun 18, 2006

OTM interview about Public Insight Journalism

For the professional media, Public Insight Journalism is the way it can remain relevant [RealPlayer audio file], says Michael Skoler of Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media in an interview with Bob Garfield of On the Media. MPR is sharing the online/database system for expanding journalists' sources with several other pubradio stations. In Current, Skoler describes five ways PIJ helps reporters do their job better.

Jun 16, 2006 800 WORDS - Laugh liberally

A Los Angeles Times writer examines the conservative's distaste for A Prairie Home Companion. "With the arrival of Robert Altman's new film 'A Prairie Home Companion,' Keillor and 'APHC' have the opportunity to be hated by a much wider audience," he writes.

Jun 15, 2006

NPR : Ultra Avant-Garde Radio

Hear what happens when an NPR producer processes the network's programming through a Dada filter.

Paid product placement said to be widespread

Here's another chance for public broadcasters to demonstrate their trustworthiness ... or not. Even Advertising Age says: "Something's rotten with the state of media." In a survey of 266 senior marketing execs cited by the magazine, almost half said they've paid for product placement in glossy periodicals, TV or other media. Ad Age has reported that auto marketers are pushing hard for paid placements.

Jun 14, 2006

House committee restores $20 mil to CPB

The House Appropriations committee restored $20 million to CPB's 2007 funding, but didn't alter its proposals to eliminate $104.5 million in federal aid for digital conversion and edtech programs, report the Los Angeles Times and Broadcasting & Cable. The committee also declined to provide a 2009 advance appropriation for CPB.

Atlas to exit PBS this month

Another change to the PBS executive ranks: Los Angeles-based Co-Chief Programmer Jacoba Atlas will leave her job at the end of the month, reports the New York Times. John Wilson, programming co-chief working at PBS headquarters, keeps his job and will report to Boland. Wilson's claim to fame, according to the Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes, is being "the guy who moved Masterpiece Theatre from Sunday."

Jun 13, 2006

PBS hires KQED's John Boland

John Boland, executive v.p. of San Francisco's KQED-TV/FM, will join PBS in September as chief content officer. His hiring, announced at today's PBS Board meeting, is the first change to PBS's executive ranks since President Paula Kerger signed on in March.

Mermigas column on PBS

"New-media's consumer-supported business model is not much different from public broadcasting's long-standing membership pledges and corporate sponsorships," observes media writer Diane Mermigas in a column examining the challenges ahead for PBS.

Jun 12, 2006

Conrad on HD Radio

Robert Conrad, president of WCLV-FM in Cleveland, says the technological shortcomings of HD Radio "[are] really very discouraging and [are] leading us to wonder why we should bother to promote HD. To do so will only disappoint, and, perhaps, antagonize a significant segment of the audience who finds that the system doesn't deliver." (Via The Future of Radio.)

Charlie Rose returns after recovering from surgery

Charlie Rose returns to his round table tonight after emergency heart surgery interrupted on overseas trip in March, AP reports. Topic No. 1 will be heart surgery. Guest hosts have included WNYC's Brian Lehrer, ABC's Barbara Walters, NBC's Brian Williams, CBS's Bob Schieffer and The New Yorker's David Remnick. Interviews from his show are available on demand for 99 cents each through Google Video.

James Barrett dies

James Barrett, NPR's first public relations director and a former director of public information for New York's WNET, died of pneumonia June 4 in Fairfax, Va., according to the Washington Post. He was 75.

Jun 9, 2006

Louisville Courier-Journal: New team running public radio stations

Board members and senior staffers are running the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., in the absence of a permanent president, reports the Courier-Journal. The article details further strife among staff and members of the board, with one member resigning last month and two others stirring up controversy.

Who's fighting for rightward balance at CPB?

As pubcasting girds for another fight over federal funding, the Washington Times asks "public TV insiders of a conservative bent" whether the rightward cause they championed has been lost.

Major pubTV history series backed by NEH

National Endowment for the Humanities announced yesterday $5 million in TV grants to projects including WETA's four-hour The Jewish Americans; WGBH's We Shall Remain, a five-parter on Native American history; and KCET's three-hour In the Name of God and King: The Spanish Empire. The broadcast projects were among 171 receiving aid. Details were posted online, organized by grantees' states: Alabama to Illinois (10-page PDF), Indiana to New Mexico (9-page), and New York to Wyoming (11-page).

Jun 8, 2006

Alaska's KTOO buys 2 stations

KTOO in Juneau, Alaska, is buying two FM stations to offer a wider selection of programming. It already operates one FM outlet — the most listened-to station in Juneau, it says. The broadcaster will consult with listeners as it works out the stations' formats.

House subcommittee cuts CPB funding

The Boston Globe and Broadcasting & Cable report on the House Appropriations subcommittee vote yesterday to cut $115 million in federal aid to public broadcasting. [Links to the joint statement of PBS, APTS and NPR and CPB's separate statement.]

Jun 7, 2006

TiVo steps out as video presenter

TiVo launches today a service that will let some of its subscribers watch videos from selected Internet sources, including the National Football League and the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal reported. TiVoCast works only with the company’s new Series 2 recorders, which have Internet instead of phone connections.

Jun 6, 2006

WGA, pubTV stations negotiate contract

Writers Guild of America and three pubTV producing stations completed negotiations on a three-year contract that includes provisions to share revenues from ventures delivering programs over new digital platforms, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Jun 5, 2006

NPR : Are NPR Reporters Too Involved in Their Stories?

NPR's David Kestenbaum's use of the word "pissed" in a question to an interviewee should not have survived editing, says Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin. "I think that the public radio audience is, (in general), not easily shocked, and they are able to handle harsh language but only when it is contextual and comes directly from the people being interviewed -- not from the reporter." Taking Offbeat Films Beyond the Niche

The Prairie Home Companion film is the first major release for Picturehouse Films, a recently formed distributor whose president, Bob Berney, is profiled in the Washington Post. "This is the kind of film that is representative of Picturehouse," Berney says, "in that it's a specialty film, but it's also a populist film."

KCTS takes over operations of Yakima station

In a cost-cutting move, Seattle's KCTS is taking over operations of KYVE, the public TV station in Yakima that it has owned for more than a decade. Most of KYVE's staff will lose their jobs, but viewers should not notice a difference, says Pat Mallinson, KCTS spokeswoman, in the Yakima Herald Republic.

Sam Husseini: Can Pacifica Live Up to Its Challenge?

Sam Husseini calls for a more vital and powerful Pacifica Radio network. "What needs to be scrutinized is the collusion of incumbent programmers, many of whom were put in place by the previous utterly corrupt management, with the current management that seems resistant to change -- and stays in place largely because of support from incumbent programmers," he writes.

NPR's 'Wait, Wait ... Don't Tell Me!' You Can't Make This Stuff Up. Or Can You? - New York Times

The New York Times profiles NPR's Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!" "The ability of the people on the show to think on their feet just astounds me," says a devoted fan.

Jun 2, 2006 From Bach To Talk

Connecticut Public Radio in Hartford has replaced midday classical music with local and national news and talk programming. Execs tell the Hartford Courant that a 37 percent decline since 2003 in the station's classical music audience prompted the change. "I hope that listeners understand that we're not making a snap decision," says President Jerry Franklin.

PHC film review

The film adaptation of A Prairie Home Companion offers "the pleasant addition of [Robert] Altman's trademark layered improv by celebrity actors and the unsettling subtraction of the listener's imagination," writes the Washington Post's Marc Fisher.

Pubradio engineers form association

Public radio engineers are forming their own association, reports Radio World. The Association of Public Radio Engineers will advocate "good engineering practices," develop training programs and organize the annual Public Radio Engineering Conference, among other duties. It will also have a formal relationship with NPR Labs. (More from Radio World.)

Jun 1, 2006

Lazar out at Capital Public Radio -

Michael Lazar has stepped down as president of Capital Public Radio in Sacramento, reports the Sacramento Bee. Citing unnamed sources, the paper reports that CPR's board wanted more aggressive leadership in a president.

Classical music lives

A New York Times article presents evidence to counter arguments that classical music is withering away. "One way to keep the gloomy reports in perspective is to understand that the rumored death of classical music has been with us for a very long time," writes Allan Kozinn. (Coverage in Current from 2005 of classical music's decline on public radio.)

Editorial page battle over LPB investigations

Defenders and critics of Louisiana Public Broadcasting wage battle on the pages of the Baton Rouge Advocate over the significance of recent ethics and audit investigations of the public TV network.

At Casa Keillor

The New York Times writes up Garrison Keillor and his seven-bedroom Georgian home in St. Paul, Minn. "The house is so grand that Mr. Keillor and his wife, Jenny Lind Nilsson, a violinist in the Minnesota Opera orchestra, feared their friends might consider them pretentious for buying it."

Deaths of Iowa tower service workers

Workers making routine repairs to an 1,100 foot Iowa Public Television broadcast tower fell to their deaths on Wednesday, reports the Des Moines Register.

Bill Johnston obituary

Bill Johnston, a former productions chief at Georgia Public Broadcasting, died of a heart attack May 25. He was 64. Colleagues told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Johnston brought drive and ambition to GPB's local TV production at a time when few other stations produced their own programs.

KUOW's "escape hatch"

The Seattle Weekly reveals an unusual aspect of the deal for KXOT-FM in Tacoma, Wash., between Public Radio Capital and Seattle's KUOW-FM. "If it doesn't work out, KXOT will be sold and KUOW will reap a share of the proceeds," the paper says.