Aug 31, 2006

Deep linked video increases exposure, bandwidth costs

AOL and Microsoft video services are deep linking to public TV content, reports Dennis Haarsager via his Technology 360 blog, which allows users to access pubcasters' video while bypassing their home pages (and sponsor messages). The search engines generate much more traffic than sites can attract on their own, but "the desire to control content we produce runs deep within the television industry, so it's bound to stir things up as more people realize . . . how some video sites are accessing content," Haarsager writes. In addition, "bandwidth costs are going to be impacted by links you don't control." AOL includes advertising on its video search page but Microsoft, which added video search to its Windows Live Beta, does not for the time being.

Tomlinson to lose another broadcasting post?

A Senate panel is tabling President Bush's re-nomination of former CPB chair Kenneth Tomlinson to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in the wake of a damning probe into his actions as U.S. broadcast chief, Reuters reports (via the Washington Post). The BBG oversees government international programming like Voice of America, Radio Sawa and Radio and TV Marti. Tomlinson's current term as BBG chair ends when Congress adjourns later this year, but President Bush could re-install him without opposition with a recess appointment. Elsewhere, a Bloomberg columnist wonders "Why do preachy Republicans behave so badly?"

Will AIR help to rehab journalism's image?

Journalism thinkers hope WNET's "AIR: America’s Investigative Reports" gives "the profession a badly needed image boost," reports the New York Times. The weekly public affairs show, which debuts Friday, will showcase notable news investigations.

Aug 30, 2006

Web projects rethinking investigative journalism

Calling all citizen journalists: Jay Rosen, NYU journalism professor and media blogger, may have an assignment for you. His, an experimental project partially funded by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, aims to use both media pros and amateurs to develop a new, collaborative form of investigative journalism. Have an idea for an investigation? Rosen is looking for suggestions. See also's Mark Glaser and other examples of collaborative civic journalism initiatives, such as the Sunlight Foundation's "Exposing Earmarks" project.

Tomlinson responds to allegations

Kenneth Tomlinson responds to the report by State Department investigators on his activities as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors: "I believe it will become clear that this investigation was inspired by partisan divisions," he says.

Aug 29, 2006

Tomlinson accused of missteps in other federal gig

A State Department probe found that former CPB Chair Ken Tomlinson improperly gave a job to a friend in his continuing role as chair of the board that oversees Voice of America, the New York Times reported today. Investigators also allege that he supervised his horse racing stable from a government office. A two-page summary of the report said Tomlinson billed the government for more days of work than permitted, including days when he also billed hours to CPB. Three members of Congress, alerted by a whistleblower, asked for the probe in July.

Two different takes on "Waging a Living"

A study in contrasts: National Review Online and the New York Times review "Waging a Living," Roger Weisberg's P.O.V. film about the working poor.

Update on pubTV's digital rights working group

The task force charting a digital rights acquisition strategy for public TV posted a summary of its conclusions on the Affinity Group Coalition's website.

PBS pundit's label revisited

After the flap about misleading on-screen identification of "conservative commentator" Karen Czarnecki, Ombudsman Michael Getler and his readers offer PBS and producers of To the Contrary a few pointers on Journalism 101.

Spectrum auction nets close to $13.5 billion

The ongoing auction of reclaimed government spectrum for wireless services has shown the licenses to be even more valuable than some predicted, reports Broadcasting & Cable. With 1,004 of 1,122 licenses sold to high bidders such as Verizon and T-Mobile, the government has gained more than $13.4 billion for the treasury. An auction of reclaimed analog broadcast spectrum will happen in 2008.

KOCE bill attacked as a "scandal"

A former California Republican party official sees an "Orange County scandal" in a state legislature bill favoring pubTV station KOCE, which would "cheat" taxpayers and benefit the interests of the station's wealthy board members by allowing a community college district to sell the station to a nonprofit operator rather than accept the high bid of a religious broadcaster. The bill [text in PDF] would create an exception to state surplus-property law. The community college district is appealing the May court decision that voided the station's sale to a new pubTV licensee.

Aug 28, 2006

Fred Jacobs on public radio's success

Consultant Fred Jacobs urges his audience of commercial radio execs to pay attention to public radio's success: "How is Public Radio pulling this off - without marketing, without Harley giveaways, and without two guys in the morning talking about Mel Gibson? They're about quality programming and a value system that comes through loud and clear day in and day out."

Where TV beats print's price

If you wanted some archival news, which would you buy? A video clip from ABC News @ $1.99 or an article from the New York Times archive @ $3.95? Noted in AdWeek and a World Association of Newspapers blog.

Mirren wins Emmy for HBO miniseries

Helen Mirren won a Primetime Emmy for her performance in Elizabeth I, an HBO/Channel 4 drama that also received the statuette for outstanding miniseries. Barry Manilow was PBS's winner in last night's live Emmy telecast, winning for his performance in a fundraising program.

Lawsuit revives interest in Barney parodies

The New York Times reports on a lawsuit filed last week that seeks to protect the First Amendment right to publish online parodies of Barney, the PBS Kids character that some adults love to hate.

Critics don't want ads on

Some children's and consumer advocates aren't happy about PBS's plan to add banner ads to beginning Oct. 1, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Children are basically inundated with marketing and the PBS website was in some ways a sanctuary," said Susan Linn, a psychologist and co-founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston. "This is just one more step in the commercialization of PBS and children's programming." Said a PBS spokesman: "This is going to be very smart and respectful, and anything that will appear online will be in the spirit of what is on PBS on air." PBS will sell banners across the tops of and The former has included sponsored links since January, and individual show sites within currently include logo links for kid- and mom-targeted sponsors such as Chuck E. Cheese and Kellogg's. National Public Broadcasting's new online sales division will represent in its marketing efforts, the network announced last week. | alaska wire : Money woes change Anchorage public television, radio

Alaska Public Media is laying off seven workers to offset a growing deficit, reports the Anchorage Daily News. The network's president attributes the shortfall to declining state support and rising costs in programming and other areas. Alaska Public Media operates the Alaska Public Radio Network and TV and radio stations in Anchorage.

Aug 25, 2006

WQED-FM revises approach to classical format

WQED-FM in Pittsburgh is reducing the chatter during its classical music programming and making its selections more accessible to casual listeners, reports the city's Post-Gazette. "We've recommitted to the classical music format -- and to make sure every show we offer is speaking in a contemporary, welcoming, down-to-earth voice," says Susan Lyons, executive director.

LongmontFYI - NPR host wants science to be ‘sexy’

Ira Flatow, host of NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday, discussed media coverage of science at a biotech conference in Denver Wednesday. Check out the anecdote from Flatow's days at CBS: "You want me to wear a white lab coat, don't you?" Flatow has started a nonprofit, TalkingScience, to draw more attention to developments in science.

Aug 24, 2006

'The last sage' -- NPR's Schorr nears 90, still musing on the news

A Washington Jewish Week profile of NPR's Daniel Schorr features details about Schorr's early days rarely reported in other write-ups. "In preparation for his 1929 bar mitzvah ceremony, Schorr went to a local cheder (Jewish primary school) where his Hebrew prowess earned him a gold watch and a train ride to Philadelphia," writes Paula Amann.

Stations grow audience after going all-news

The audience for WVXU-FM in Cincinnati grew 20 percent over the last year since the station was acquired by Cincinnati Public Radio and went all-news, reports the city's Post. "I think our success will probably be a blueprint for ... other markets," says CPR president Rich Eiswerth. CPR's WGUC-FM, which became all classical, saw no audience growth. Meanwhile, KAZU-FM in Pacific Grove, Calif., has attracted more listeners since an all-news switch, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel, while community station KUSP-FM has lost some listeners and missed fundraising goals in recent years.

So what's indecent again?

A sign of the times? Check out this photo of the mixing board in the main air studio at Pacifica's KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif. And remember, it was a Pacifica station that brought about the establishment of broadcast indecency rules.

CPB awards grants for digital radio

CPB announced yesterday that it has awarded $7.74 million in grants to 85 radio stations for converting to digital broadcasting.

Aug 23, 2006

Bill Kling at PRDMC

Dennis Haarsager posts a speech delivered at this year's Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference by Bill Kling, president of Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media. "With audiences increasingly in control of when and where they listen, it is no time to take them -- or our stature in the community -- for granted," he says.

Carvin heads to NPR

Andy Carvin announces on his weblog that he's joining NPR as senior product manager for online communities. "In this role, I'll essentially act as NPR's Web 2.0 strategist, helping them develop new initiatives that encourage greater public involvement in NPR's online activities," he says. "These activities could take a variety of forms: online social networks, wikis, blogs, mobcasting, citizen journalism, original content sharing." Carvin runs the Digital Divide Network and has worked for years on web education projects.

Aug 22, 2006

Hear the Music, Avoid the Mosh Pit

The Washington Post reports on performances by Suzanne Vega and other musicians in the virtual world of Second Life. Vega's appearance was staged by public radio's The Infinite Mind, which has built Second Life headquarters.

NPR Praises Ed Gordon's Substitute

News and Notes host Ed Gordon tells Richard Prince he's frustrated with "internal strife" at his show, while NPR says it has been working with Gordon to improve his performance. (Earlier column by Prince. Via Romenesko.)

Aug 21, 2006

Banish The Bling

NPR's Juan Williams assails today's African-American culture as "a virtual blueprint for failure" in a much-read Washington Post op-ed. "Where is the civil rights groundswell on behalf of stronger marriages that will allow more children to grow up in two-parent families and have a better chance of staying out of poverty?" he asks. ". . . Where are the exhortations for children to reject the self-defeating stereotypes that reduce black people to violent, oversexed 'gangstas,' minstrel show comedians and mindless athletes?"

XM vs. Sirius: Endless Options Narrow to One

The Washington Post's Marc Fisher gives Sirius the edge in the public-radio category in a side-by-side comparison of satellite radio services.

Northwest Community Radio Summit: Seattle, Sept 15-17 | Reclaim the Media

College and community radio stations in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest are creating the Northwest Community Radio Network, a network for sharing content and expertise. Stations are meeting in Seattle next month. (Related article in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.)

CJR March/April 2006 - Storytelling's rise on public radio

The Columbia Journalism Review examines the resurgence of personal narratives on public radio via StoryCorps, Transom, the Public Radio Exchange and This American Life. "We are social beings, and our lives got kind of fragmented -- our media lives, our civic lives, our personal lives," says independent producer Rob Rosenthal, director of the radio program at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. "Listening to these kinds of stories on the radio can connect us to one another."

Beyond Broadcast: Reinventing Public Media in a Participatory Culture -- Videos -- Center for Social Media

The Center for Social Media has produced a 13-minute video about the Beyond Broadcast conference held at Harvard Law School in May. Conference participants discuss the growing popularity of participatory web media and its potential in the public sphere. (Current's Beyond Broadcast coverage.)

Aug 17, 2006

Staff reunion at WKNO, Memphis

Did you work at WKNO in Memphis? The pubTV station promises "great music, food and drinks" at its 50th anniversary staff reunion Sept. 30. Details on the station website or through 901-458-2521.

Aug 16, 2006

What's not to like about Elmo?

Sesame Street is being destroyed by "idiot cuteness," writes LA Times columnist Joel Stein. He blames "patronizing, baby-talking Elmo" and finds other adults who hate the furry red one.

Good morning, Vietnam -- decades after he fled, a radio host is going home

Nguyen Qui Duc, host of public radio's Pacific Time, is leaving the show Sept. 14 to return to Vietnam with his mother. "I had a lot of opportunity in this country, which has given us a lot," Nguyen tells the San Francisco Chronicle. "But here, I'm on the computer 24 hours a day. Over there, I feel warmer in Vietnam. I have time for friends."

Aug 15, 2006

CPB Announces More Public Radio Stations to Receive Community Service Grant Funds in Fiscal Year 2007

Eleven public radio stations will receive their first Community Service Grants from CPB in fiscal year 2007, thanks to newly expanded eligibility criteria. The stations will collectively get more than $1 million.

Viewers perceive sponsor influence in NewsHour report

Did the NewsHour soft-pedal its reporting on BP, the giant oil company and program sponsor that drew wide criticism last week after shutting down its Prudhoe Bay production facility? Some viewers think so, and others who wrote to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler don't like the ads on PBS Kids Sprout.

Aug 14, 2006

News & Notes dying on the vine?

The St. Petersburg Times ponders the future of NPR's News & Notes with Ed Gordon, which has lost 17 percent of the audience it inherited from The Tavis Smiley Show, which N&N was designed to replace, the paper reports. "Sometimes, I feel this show is being allowed to die on the vine," Gordon said. "People say I haven't connected with audiences. ... That's probably true because the show hasn't connected with me." Said one critic: "The problem with NPR is that everything is done by committee. And now that Ed is disengaged, it's the bland leading the bland." NPR and the African American Public Radio Consortium defended the network's efforts to develop black-focused programs. "[J]ust because we didn't get it right the first time or the second time doesn't mean we won't keep trying," said Ken Stern, NPR exec v.p. (via Romenesko)

Radio Host Raymond Whitfield; Started Groups for Youth, Inmates

Another host who worked at WPFW-FM in Washington, D.C., has passed away -- Raymond Whitfield, who died Aug. 2 at the age of 77, reports the Washington Post. Whitfield overcame drug addiction and went on to host two nationally distributed radio series about the criminal justice system.

Aug 11, 2006

"Satellite Sisters," graduates of pubradio, get recognition

The Dolan sisters' Satellite Sisters, which began as a national pubradio show produced by WNYC, has been nominated as a finalist for Network Syndicated Personality of the Year in the NAB Marconi Radio Awards. Marconi winners will be announced Sept. 21. Satellite Sisters airs six days a week, three hours a day. During the show's two-season pubradio run, its carriage peaked at 70 stations and then declined. The show won two American Women in Radio & Television Awards this spring.

Dorothy Ray Healey, 91; 'The Red Queen' Was Leader in American Communist Party

Dorothy Ray Healey, a longtime Communist activist and Pacifica Radio host, died Aug. 6 at the age of 91, reports the Washington Post.

NPR host proves what falls down can pop back up

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer profiles NPR's Luke Burbank, a 30-year-old National Desk reporter and fill-in host for Wait, Wait . . . Don't Tell Me! When Burbank was interviewed for an NPR gig, writes Susan Paynter, "he watched himself take off his suit jacket, roll up his sleeve, and show the man the queen and ace of hearts tattoos on his arm, thinking all the while, 'Why am I doing this?'"

Aug 10, 2006

A decision to add radio shock jock Eric "Mancow" Muller as Chicago Tonight commentator riled up WTTW viewers, but Carol Marin told the Chicago Tribune she won't walk over the hiring. Comments posted on the Tribune's media blog suggest that many viewers were sufficiently disgusted to threaten to stop watching the show or contributing to the station. "Mancow is just a colicky pre-adolescent who seems to have an effect on other stunted adults who've never grown up," commented one viewer. "I teach seventh graders all day and the last thing I want to do is sit down and watch another one on WTTW."

Reynolds named president of Public Radio Partnership

Donovan Reynolds was named president of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., effective Sept. 6. Reynolds resigned as director of Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor earlier this year after an embezzling scheme was uncovered at the station. He was not implicated in the affair but cited a need to "take responsibility" by stepping down.

Station Resource Group retreat

The Station Resource Group held its annual planning retreat this week. SRG's website features a few documents related to the event, including an overview of what was to be discussed.

Aug 9, 2006

Chicago Public Radio's big experiment

Chicago's Time Out previews the new FM service in development at Chicago Public Radio, which will aim to appeal to a younger, more diverse audience. (Hence the accompanying photo of three of the station's creators looking more like indie rockers than radio dudes?) The service now has a website.

New investment fund launches for public radio

Public Radio Capital and two partner institutions announced today the creation of the Public Radio Fund, a first-ever investment fund to support station acquisition. The Calvert Foundation has contributed $3 million and the Ford Foundation $1.5 million to start the fund, which PRC hopes will expand to $15 million within a year. Audio of today's press conference (Windows Media) is expected to be available by 6 p.m. Eastern time.

Abby Caddabby, the female equivalent of Elmo?

Producers and marketing execs at Sesame Workshop hope that Abby Cadabby, the "girly-girl" Sesame Street character to be introduced to tot viewers next Monday, will bring a feminine balance to the male-dominated Muppet cast and possibly become the "female equivalent of Elmo, a huge money-maker for the nonprofit organization behind the show," reports the New York Times.

Aug 7, 2006

Multi-station public radio investment fund to be announced

The Ford Foundation, the Calvert Foundation and Public Radio Capital will announce Wednesday a multi-station public radio investment fund for individuals and institutions. The groups will discuss the fund in a news conference, with audio online by Wednesday evening. We'll provide details after the announcement.

Parents direct ire over host's firing at PBS

Parents and PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler react to the decision by PBS Kids Sprout to fire Melanie Martinez as host of The Good Night Show. Seven years ago, Martinez appeared in spoofy PSAs as a "technical virgin." After the videos reappeared on the Internet, PBS Kids Sprout management decided that the performance was inappropriate for a children's TV show host, fired Martinez and pulled the interstitials in which she appeared. The New York Times reported on the backlash from viewers.

Aug 4, 2006

Modulators exceed emissions limits

NPR tests have determined that a third of commercially available FM modulators exceed acceptable emissions limits, reports Radio World. The devices, which feed satellite radio signals into car receivers, often broadcast on frequencies that can interfere with the nonreserved band.

Kentucky public radio sites blocked

The Louisville Courier-Journal reports that public radio websites are among those now off-limits to state employees in Kentucky, where the government is trying to stop its workers from goofing off online. Some site operators accuse the state's Republican governor of singling them out. (More from WFPL-FM in Louisville.)

Aug 3, 2006

Photos of the Open Source team

I'm in Boston reporting an article about Open Source, the public radio show, and meeting with some other public radio people. Here are some photos I've taken of the Open Source staff in their Cambridge offices. --Mike Janssen

Aug 1, 2006

Ruth Seymour on New Realities

Ruth Seymour, g.m. of KCRW-FM in Santa Monica, Calif., shares her thoughts about NPR's Blueprint for Growth (PDF). "Choose the best option for your station. Not for the group. Not for some amorphous ideology whose premise is questionable to begin with."