Jul 31, 2006

stephen hill : spatial relations: HD is DOA

Stephen Hill looks at the shortcomings of HD Radio as compared to other emerging technologies: "Of the major usage trends that are driving the growth of Internet radio -- new 'long tail' niche and alternative content, on-demand delivery, user-created content, podcasting (subcriptions and portability), and time-shifting -- only time-shifting is even doable with HD, and then only in a relatively crippled way due to memory and interface constraints. Even this undermines the one incontestable advantage of conventional radio: ease of use." UPDATE: Dennis Haarsager chips in: "If 'HD' is going to work, we need patience, some advanced features beyond the ones we now have that are implied in the mark-up language, some smart business thinking about multicasting and PAD features -- and some luck. Oh, and a better name."

Jake Shapiro on listener support for new media

Jake Shapiro ponders the place of voluntary financial support in a new-media environment: ". . . [E]ven if the underwriting revenue does the trick, I think there's something important to continue and to redefine in the invitation for voluntary support."

Salt Lake Tribune - Public radio station manager earns $179,815 as company loses money

KCPW-FM in Salt Lake City ran a $609,366 deficit in fiscal year 2005 while paying its General Manager Blair Feulner $179,815, reports the city's Tribune. The sale of an unused license covered the losses and also paid Feulner and his wife a bonus of $895,000, the paper says.

Profile 2006

Impress your friends at parties this summer with your encyclopedic knowledge of NPR's Profile 2006! Tell them over hors d'oeuvres what percentage of NPR listeners play bingo (2.83 percent)! While smoking a fine cigar, let drop that 29.32 percent of NPR listeners have bought underwear in the last year. You'll be the toast of the town. Now get reading!

Jul 28, 2006

Los Angeles Times: KCRW Radio Host Pleads No Contest to Cocaine Possession

Chris Douridas, a host on KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, Calif., pleaded no contest July 25 to a charge of cocaine possession, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Ex-WUOM salesman guilty

A former underwriting rep for Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor was convicted July 26 of conspiracy to commit embezzlement, the Ann Arbor Times reported. Jeremy Nordquist was one of three former employees tried in the investigation. (Earlier coverage in Current.)

Dumb People Make Children Cry / PBS fires young, female kiddie-show host over old, naughty video. Smart people groan

San Francisco Gate columnist Mark Morford attacks the PBS Sprout Network's decision to fire Melanie Martinez for her "Technical Virgin" history. "What, exactly, is the fear here?" Morford writes. "Is it that Martinez would suddenly start extolling kiddies to, say, drink more vodka and turn gay?"

Jul 26, 2006 targets 'NPR-PBS 24' is soliciting donations for a campaign to "Beat the NPR-PBS 24"--the 24 members of Congress up for reelection who voted to cut pubcasting's federal aid. "With your help, together we can retire enough of these representatives to tip the balance on this issue—and send a signal that cutting public broadcasting comes with a political price," writes's "Political Action Team" in an e-mail solicitation [Via].

Grassroots Radio Conference

Chicago Public Radio's Julie Shapiro blogs about the Grassroots Radio Conference, which begins tomorrow in Madison, Wis. "though i respect, not to mention adore the community of public radio producers i've come to know over the past six years, the public radio system at large feels pretty sterile, isolated and starched compared with the sometimes crazy, often manic and totally dedicated community station devotees," she writes.

Jul 25, 2006

Media cos. want parents, not the FCC, to control kids' TV viewing

Commercial networks, broadcast, cable and consumer electronics trade associations, film studios and the Ad Council are partnering on a broad campaign to educate parents about V-chips, cable channel blocking and other tools and techniques for controlling what kids see on TV, reports Broadcasting & Cable. A new website,, is the cornerstone of the campaign, which is an effort to stave off federal content regulation as FCC leaders aggressively police broadcast indecency and support a la carte cable models.

Schorr a "wise old man with all his buttons"

NPR's Daniel Schorr "is a wise old man with all his buttons, and that is a precious resource," says a media analyst in a USA Today feature on the newsman.

PBS Kids Sprout cans "technical virgin"

Digital cable net PBS Kids Sprout fired Melanie Martinez, host of the network's nightly The Good Night Show, for appearing in two spoof videos titled Technical Virgin, the Associated Press reports (via the Washington Post). The videos, produced before Martinez joined the kids network, parody PSAs about how young women can keep their virginity. "PBS Kids Sprout has determined that the dialogue in this video is inappropriate for her role as a preschool program host and may undermine her character's credibility with our audience," said Sandy Wax, network president.

Jul 24, 2006

Cringely: Print still beats the web for news

Longtime Internet journalist Robert X. Cringely, columnist, outlines the ways in which musty old newspapers are still far superior to web news outlets. "The Internet is, in fact, the idiot savant of journalism," he writes, "supremely good at a thing or two and not at all good at anything else." | Native American channel launching?

A host on WPFW-FM in Washington, D.C., has joined the effort to launch a cable channel for Native Americans. "We can see the culture, the history, the issues, the everyday life -- the smiles and the frowns -- of Native Americans," says Jay Winter Nightwolf in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Nightwolf is news director and chief of television and radio program production for Native American Television Inc.

WTWP Radio Gets Off to a Slow, But Game Start

Washington Post Radio in Washington, D.C., earned less than a one percent audience share in its first three months on the air, the paper reports. "It's in the low range of what we expected," says station exec Jim Farley, who has made clear his intent to draw listeners away from the city's public radio outlets.

6% of U.S. Web Users Have Downloaded Podcasts, Says Nielsen Analytics: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance

Six percent of web users in the United States have downloaded podcasts, according to a Nielsen Analytics report, and 38 percent of podcast downloaders say they're listening to radio less often. "For a technology that's relatively new, it's a good number that indicates growth," says an analyst in the Washington Post.

Sirius admits modulators are out of compliance

Sirius Satellite Radio has admitted that it directed manufacturers to make radios that did not comply with FCC regulations, reports Radio World. Radio listeners have complained that satellite radios in nearby cars at times drown out terrestrial stations at the lower end of the dial, posing a problem for some public and Christian stations. Also in Radio World: A Media Audit study found that listeners to NPR-formatted stations have the second-highest incomes among listeners to more than 60 radio formats.

Playbill News: NPR Offers Its First Live Classical Webcast, From California's Festival del Sole

Friday marked NPR's first live webcast of a classical music concert, according to Playbill. The performance originated from the Festival de Sole in northern California's Napa Valley.

Todd Mundt returns to Iowa to head IPR’s Content Media Efforts

Todd Mundt will join Iowa Public Radio in Des Moines next month as director of content and media. Mundt now serves as chief content officer at Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor. On his blog, he writes, "I'm excited because there's a chance for Iowa to be one of the leaders in re-imagining the partnership we have with our audience."

Jul 21, 2006 showcases indie gaming launched a special feature on the independent movement within the gaming industry. Flow, a New Age Pac-Man of the sea, is the first of four independent games to be showcased on the site.

Jul 20, 2006

KWIT/KOJI launches all-Spanish website

KWIT/KOJI-FM in Sioux City, Iowa, has launched an all-Spanish website.

Jake Shapiro: PRX “Long Tail” mention

Jake Shapiro points out that The Long Tail by Chris Anderson, editor of Wired magazine, mentions the Public Radio Exchange.

Daniel Schorr, Doing 90 in a 30 Zone

NPR honored Daniel Schorr on the occasion of his upcoming 90th birthday with a luncheon yesterday, reports the Washington Post, but didn't invite the press. "It's absurd!" Schorr told the paper. "I don't want to start an argument with NPR, but I regret that. And I apologize."

A radio tradition that we tune out

A Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist addresses the idiosyncratic block of ethnic programming that airs Sundays on the city's WCPN-FM. "It's a throwback," writes Tom Feran. "Personally, I wish [WCPN] would throw it back."

Jul 19, 2006

WFMU's four million page views

Ken Freedman, g.m. of WFMU-FM in Jersey City, N.J., commemorates his blog's four millionth page view with an analysis of web stats. "52% of y'all are still using Internet Explorer - are you out of your minds?"

Geezer pundits and Marilyn Monroe

Commentary by geezer pundits smother the subject of Marilyn Monroe: Still Life, an American Masters biography debuting on PBS tonight, writes New York Times critic Virginia Hefferman.

Jul 18, 2006

WNYC’s Planned Move Will Finish Its Breakup With the City - New York Times

The New York Times takes note of WNYC's move from its shabby headquarters in the city's Municipal Building to a $45 million space downtown. "In a place where the phones work and the toilets flush, we can focus better on making radio," says President Laura Walker. (Current article from 2004 about WNYC's transition from city control to independence.)

Shearer strikes back

Harry Shearer told Le Show listeners last weekend that Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison canceled his show due to unhappiness with political content, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. Phil Corriveau, WPR's director, admits that it was a "small factor," but adds: "[S]ometimes he tends to ramble on, and it gets kind of boring."

Jul 17, 2006

Paterson on Sievers

Consultant Robert Paterson says that NPR's packaging of Leroy Sievers' "My Cancer" series is "a pointer for the future of public radio." "It expands the 5 minute radio spot into infinity and allows the interested person to escape time and space," Paterson writes.

WBUR is phasing out arts criticism - The Boston Globe

Arts criticism at Boston's WBUR-FM is being phased out and the station's art critic was laid off, reports the Globe.

Jul 14, 2006

Pubcasters concerned about CPB nominee

Some pubcasting leaders aren't happy about surprise CPB Board nominee Warren Bell, a TV producer and contributor to the online version of the conservative National Review, reports the Los Angeles Times. "We are definitely concerned about Warren Bell's nomination," said APTS President John Lawson. "After the damage caused by Ken Tomlinson's activities, the last thing we need on the CPB board is another ideologue of any stripe."

Jul 12, 2006

Research into podcasting

Is your station podcasting, and if so how are you handling it? An Ohio University researcher is inquiring. Rachel M. Ward, a graduate student in the school's public broadcasting program, has distributed her survey to radio managers and posted it on the Web. She says stations' identities will not be linked to their replies in her work. Address questions to Ward at or 443-812-5357. Advisor: Dr. Gregory Newton,, 740-597-1882.

Jul 11, 2006

Broadcasters hope new measures stave off FCC fines

Broadcasters and entertainers are turning to indecency insurance, zero-tolerance on-air policies and studio tech upgrades to protect themselves against the recent tenfold increase to FCC indecency fine levels, reports the Washington Post. "This is like a blessing for us," said one CEO of a firm that makes time-delay machines that allow broadcasters to "dump" naughty words before they hit the air.

Jul 7, 2006

WBEZ defers to iPods, angers music fans

Reuters reports on WBEZ's decision to scrap music programming in favor of a 24-hour news and public affairs format, a move partially motivated by the growing popularity of the iPod as music lovers' platform of choice. But not all music lovers, apparently. "We feel very empty . . . [i]t seems like a decision that was made arbitrarily and without the input of listeners," said Mike Widdell, co-founder of protest/petition site Said WBEZ g.m. Torey Malatia: "This is a major decision for us and we knew it would have a strong reaction from people."
PBS announced Thursday that it was abandoning its plan to launch a 24-hour Kids Go! digital multicast channel in October. "While PBS stations support the concept of a 24-hour educational service for early elementary school-age children, an insufficient number of stations are in a position to financially sustain the service," Jill Corderman, associate publicity director for PBS Kids, wrote in an e-mail. (See also Broadcasting & Cable.) The two-hour Kids Go! block and companion website will carry on and PBS may offer additional Go! content via on-demand video or other new media platforms.

Google Video to offer Sundance Channel films

In the first of what promises to be many such partnerships, according to Google reps, the cyber-juggernaut has signed on to distribute original Sundance Channel films and series via its Google Video service, reports the Hollywood Reporter. Movie titles will be available for $3.99 for a 24-hour rental or $9.99 to own. Series are available only for purchase starting at $1.99 per episode.

Jul 6, 2006

Advertising Age - XM and Sirius: Meant to Be Together?

An Advertising Age article about the pros and cons of an XM-Sirius merger includes an analyst's comment that talk programming will become more important in satellite radio's future.

Former college radio director arrested for embezzling

New Jersey police arrested the former director of Seton Hall University's WSOU-FM on charges of embezzling more than $500,000 from the university between 1985 and 2004, reports CMJ. (Via WFMU's blog.)

BBC offers more listener control

BBC's free iPlayer not only offers downloads of the past week of the TV network's programs but also the listeners' own choice of podcasts, tentatively called MyBBCRadio. Yet to come: details of how do-it-yourself scheduling will work. Meanwhile this week, the Beeb is offering downloads of BBC Philharmonic performances of Beethoven's symphonies 6 through 9. Music lovers downloaded the first five symphonies 700,000 times. Downloads are offered for a week starting on the day after broadcast. The iPlayer holds down server costs by using Kontiki peer-to-peer technology also employed by the California-based nonprofit Open Media Network.

Ten Primetime Emmy nods for "Bleak House"

Bleak House leads PBS's slate of programs nominated for Primetime Emmys. The Masterpiece Theatre miniseries received nominations in 10 categories and American Masters drew 9 Emmy nods. PBS fare earned a total of 34 Primetime Emmy nominations. Broadcasting and Cable runs down top nominees for the commercial nets, and the Post's Lisa de Moraes reports on how the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences overhauled its nomination process.

The Long Tail

The New Yorker finds a few "blind spots" in The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More by Chris Anderson, the book expounding on his influential 2004 Wired magazine article. The Long Tail blog links to this and other reviews in the blogosphere.

ContentDepot rolls out this month

NPR's Public Radio Satellite System rolls out the ContentDepot this month after almost two years of delays, reports Radio World. "ContentDepot promises to simplify operations for more than 400 satellite-interconnected stations, make program distribution more reliable and improve tracking and reporting of program carriage for producers," writes Dan Mansergh.

Jul 3, 2006

Couric should try what NPR and PBS do

What should CBS and Katie Couric do with the Evening News? On CBS's site, guest columnist William Powers from the National Journal suggests, among other things, taking a page from NPR and PBS's NewsHour: "Slow down. Tell us a few important stories, slowly. Help us breathe and think." And let Couric talk at length with guests, as Jim Lehrer and company do.