Jan 31, 2007

NPR extends ContentDepot transition

With problems saddling the rollout of NPR's new ContentDepot program distribution system, the network will keep a backup for the system in place until at least April, longer than initially planned. Some station staffers tell Radio World that the transition is "a case study in how a big technological change is fraught with problems." (More from NPR Distribution at

NPR Labs - HD Radio User Information

Wondering which HD Radio to buy? NPR Labs recommends two tabletop and two aftermarket auto models. (PDF.)

New laughing, pizza-slinging Muppets on horizon

Mattel, maker of the ever-popular Tickle Me Elmo dolls, will follow up last year's anniversary T.M.X. Elmo with "extreme" Ernie and Cookie Monster dolls to be released this fall, reports. Also coming soon: Pizza Elmo, a doll with a pizza that sings along with him. Pubcasting critic Jeffrey Chester takes aim at a Sesame Workshop moneymaker that he says pushes junk food and further commercializes childhood.

APTS survey: Most consumers still in the dark about the DTV transition

A survey sponsored by the Association of Public Television Stations found that 61 percent of respondents did not know a DTV transition was happening; 10 percent had limited awareness; and 25 percent were somewhat or very aware. APTS is leading a coalition of trade and interest groups that is competing for the $5 million Congress set aside for consumer education in last year's DTV bill. "There are more than 21 million U.S. households that get their TV exclusively free and over the air, and we know these homes are heavy viewers of public television," APTS President John Lawson said. "That puts us, working with our partners, in a strong position to provide information about the digital transition to the people who need it most."

WUNC to open Greensboro studio

WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, N.C., plans to open a satellite studio in Greensboro, N.C., reports the Greensboro News-Record. The studio will be staffed with a reporter and a fundraiser. WUNC and WFDD in Winston-Salem, N.C., compete for listeners in Greensboro, which lies between the two stations. (More coverage in the Lincoln Tribune.)

Trusted Space - Media: Todd Mundt - The Iowa Story - A Story for all Public Radio?

Todd Mundt, director of content and media for Iowa Public Radio, talks with Rob Paterson about his approach to creating the new network and representing the changes to the public. "I don't think that any people can connect with an institution," Mundt says. "My bet is that, if I speak for myself and if I hold myself accountable and if I allow people to reach me and that I engage directly with them — then Iowans will accept me for doing my best." (Current article about Iowa Public Radio.)

KQED debuts big eco-project

KQED's multimedia science/environmental literacy project, Quest, was previewed in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle. Quest's website, with maps and GPS data to help users go see the environment in person, and to download programs, launches Thursday at; the Friday morning radio reports begin this week and the Tuesday night TV half-hours launch Feb. 6. The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation put up $3 million of the $7.7 million cost, including R&D funds. PBS hired the KQED exec who oversaw Quest, John Boland, as its new chief content officer.

Jan 30, 2007

The Sound of Young America: My letter to Weekend Edition

Independent producer Jesse Thorn criticizes the tone of two recent NPR stories that touched on hip-hop: "It is unacceptable to me that after fifteen years at the top of the charts and thirty years on the cultural scene, hip-hop should continue to be marginalized not only by the so-called mainstream media, but also by public media." Jon Kalish, who filed one of the stories Thorn discusses, responds in a comment: "Maybe you had to be there but I think the scene certainly warranted a 'gee whiz' approach to this story." HD Radio Still Taking the Rap

The potential rise of satellite radio and in-car broadband poses a challenge to the adoption of HD Radio, suggests a article. (Via Technology360.)

Jan 26, 2007

ZNet: TOTN lacks antiwar voices

A writer for ZNet takes issue with the range of discussion regarding Iraq on NPR's Talk of the Nation: "The program framework implicitly deigns left antiwar voices as not worthy of being part of the serious discussion going on among the invited guests. Instead, they are relegated to the role of peripheral 'callers.' The hierarchy is as plain as can be."

Pacifica launches new website

Pacifica has launched a new and dramatically revamped website.

Jan 24, 2007

Fewer consumers understand, want HD Radio

A recent Bridge Ratings survey found that more U.S. consumers know what HD Radio is since a previous June 2006 study, but fewer understand it or want to buy a digital radio. Bridge reduced its estimates of 2007 HD radio sales from 2.1 million to 1.5 million.

Goldfarb on foreign coverage

"American society is ignorant of what is happening in the world because the managers of its news industry are relying on only a handful of outlets to provide original coverage," writes Michael Goldfarb, who has a long track record in international reporting for public radio, in a letter to Romenesko.

CNAPR is now Native Public Media

The Center for Native American Public Radio has changed its name to Native Public Media and launched a new website. (PDF of press release.)

Public By Choice launches

"Public By Choice is a multimedia, interactive project designed to educate the audience about the public radio system and offer the system a flexible way to engage its audience." (Via Robert Paterson.)

TV violence may be next target for Congress, FCC

Reducing television violence may be the next thrust for Washington policymakers looking to expand the FCC's regulatory powers. Anticipating the release of a major FCC study on violence and gore on broadcast television, the Los Angeles Times reports on various approaches that have been floated in Congress.

Jan 23, 2007

WETA switches back to classical music format

WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., resumed broadcasts of classical music last night in a format change that was closely coordinated with WGMS, a local station that replaced Mozart with oldies pop tunes. The Washington Post reports that several WETA staff members, including talk show host Rebecca Roberts and Program Director Maxie Jackson, will lose their jobs. WAMU-FM, now the city's sole all-news NPR station, has picked up A Prairie Home Companion, which WETA dropped, and may make other changes. The Post's Marc Fisher reviews the new sound: "Best sign so far: Full-length works, albeit relatively short ones, even in morning drive time." Jake Shapiro questions the change: "Internet radio, on-demand audio, and the deepest offerings of new online music services are a better match for the classical fan than the rare asset of a big signal in our nation's capital -- even if the adoption rate for new platforms and devices hasn't caught up to terrestrial's reach yet."

Woodruff to return to the "NewsHour"

After a stint as a NewsHour special correspondent, Judy Woodruff signs on full-time Feb. 5 as a senior correspondent and back-up anchor to Jim Lehrer. Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Woodruff about her decision to return to daily journalism.

Glass to critics: "Public television is terrible"

During an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour yesterday, This American Life creator and host Ira Glass explained why his new TV show will be on Showtime, not PBS. "Public television is terrible," Glass says. "This isn't the greatest thing for me to say, but it's the truth. In terms of innovation and what they do, you know, it's just not that interesting most of the time." Roger Catlin reported on Glass's comments in today's Hartford Courant. [Page down to second item.]

Jan 18, 2007

WNET Board to vote on Bill Baker's successor

The board of WNET in New York will vote this morning to appoint former NBC News President Neal Shapiro as successor to William Baker, president and c.e.o. of the station since 1987, according to the New York Times.

Jan 16, 2007

Sound of Young America gets props

Comedian Patton Oswalt, who stars on CBS's King of Queens, told USA Weekend that public radio's The Sound of Young America ranks among his favorite podcasts. Host Jesse Thorn "knows how to interview comedians and gives them endless opportunities to be funny," Oswalt said. "That's a skill."

Iowa Public Radio restores On Point

Complaints from listeners have prompted Iowa Public Radio to restore On Point to its weekday news lineup, reports the Des Moines Register. The network had replaced the talk show from WBUR Jan. 1 with The Diane Rehm Show as part of a schedule overhaul. "This was the only issue that really got a wide response from people," said Todd Mundt, director of programming.

Jan 15, 2007

For PBS stars, it can be a life's work

Bill Moyers, 72, resumes weekly appearances on PBS with a new Friday-night version of Bill Moyers' Journal in April, he announced at the Television Critics Association press tour on Saturday, the New York Times reported. And Ken Burns will produce for PBS at least until 2022, when he'll be 68. Critics objected that PBS hurt publicity for Burns' WWII series by scheduling it amid the commercial networks' fall premieres in September, the Los Angeles Times said.

Carlson Sr. comes to Libby's defense

Former CPB President Richard Carlson helped raise a $3 million defense fund for I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the former aide to Vice President Cheney who was indicted in the Valerie Plame leak case, reported. After Libby's indictment, ex-State Department official Richard Armitage admitted that he was the primary source for columnist Robert Novak's 2003 column.

KTOO launches new services

KTOO in Juneau, Alaska, launched three distinct programming streams Friday, one news and two music, making use of two newly acquired FM signals. "If we underestimated anything, it was how complex running these three radio stations would be in the midst of other technological challenges," President Bill Legere told the Juneau Empire.

Half of Peabodys go to pubcast programs

Programs on public TV and radio received seven of the 14 duPont-Columbia Awards announced Saturday. Winners include Martin Scorsese's Dylan bio on American Masters; Brook Lapping Productions' Israel and the Arabs; the WGBH Cape and Island stations' doc on Cape Cod poverty; Frontline's The Age of AIDS; Lisa Sleeth and Jim Butteworth's Seoul Train on Independent Lens; public TV's California Connected; and NPR's Iraq coverage.

Indiana pubradio net buys station

Northeast Indiana Public Radio in Fort Wayne plans to pay a commercial broadcaster $1.75 million for an FM channel on which it will air classical music, reports the Fort Wayne Daily News. "This will be a place that finally gives a greater voice to the fine arts in Fort Wayne," said Bruce Haines, g.m.

Jan 12, 2007

Law students organize against satellite radio merger

As Sirius Satellite Radio flirts with competitor XM Satellite Radio (sending their stock prices rising), a group of George Washington University law students has formed a consumer advocacy group to push for continued consumer choice and oppose monopoly. Consumer Coalition for Competition in Satellite Radio, or C3SR, will debut at the National Conference on Media Reform this weekend in Memphis.

Jan 11, 2007

Sometimes your what do what?

Faith Salie, host of PRI's Fair Game, lists 10 things Esquire readers don't know about women.

NewsHour didn't show all sides in Iraq panel, FAIR says

Lefty media watchdog Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting criticized a recent NewsHour panel discussion of the war in Iraq, saying it included no strong advocates for troop withdrawal. FAIR urged its readers to e-mail NewsHour producers and "encourage the program to broaden future discussions to include such voices." PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler said he's received more than 100 e-mails about the matter.

Study on TV violence prompts warning to broadcasters

The violence depicted in broadcast networks' primetime programs is approaching "epidemic proportions," according to a study issued yesterday by the Parents Television Council. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, who appeared at the news conference unveiling the study, warned broadcasters to do a better job of policing themselves, lest Congress decides to take action, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Jan 10, 2007

PubTV programmers launch new blog

Live from Las Vegas! PubTV programmers Keith York and Garry Denny are blogging about their adventures at the International Consumer Electronics Show. The blog, a new service of Public Television Programmers' Association, aims to help station programmers learn what's happening at major conferences dealing with media technologies and programming.

Keillor's rules for reading the paper

A traditional newspaper is far more stylish than a laptop, Garrison Keillor writes in this Salon piece. "A man at a laptop is a man at a desk, a stiff, a drone," he says. "A newspaper reader, by comparison, is a swordsman, a wrangler, a private eye." Here he outlines rules for reading papers with the proper amount of savoir faire.

BP backs KCET's twin series with $15 million

KCET has received its biggest-ever underwriting grant: $15 million to go national with its twin Peabody-winning parenting/caregiving programs A Place of Our Own and Los NiƱos en Su Casa. The donors: BP America and the BP Foundation. BP previously donated $10 million to launch the series in California. CPB will give $3.8 million for the national launch and the First 5 California Commission will contribute $6 million. Earlier Current feature on the programs.

NAB to launch DTV publicity campaign

APTS will be part of a coalition of broadcasting, retail and social interest groups, led by the National Association of Broadcasters, that is mounting a two-year campaign to educate consumers about the 2009 analog TV shut-off, The Hill reports.

Open Media Network promotes PC-to-TV downloads

Open Media Network, the online non-commercial content portal featuring lots of pubcaster programs, is optimizing its video for larger screens, it announced at this week's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. OMN content is viewable at qualities suitable for TV screens via broadband-equipped sets such as HP's MediaSmart LCD TV, or TiVo DVRs.

Tomlinson won't seek BBG renomination

Kenneth Tomlinson, ousted former chair of the CPB Board, asked President Bush not to renominate him to the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the federal agency that oversees Voice of America and other international media efforts, the Washington Post reports. Last fall a State Department probe found Tomlinson worked on his horse-racing business from his government office and improperly hired a friend, among other missteps. Despite the allegations, President Bush renominated him to the board in November but few expected the new Democratic majority in Congress to confirm him. Tomlinson, who will serve on the BBG until a replacement is named, is going to write a book about his experiences.

Jan 8, 2007

Getler calls for more aggressive Iraq coverage

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler proposes a new year's resolution for public TV journalists and producers of news and public affairs programs: ratchet up your "determination to challenge, to explore and to cut through spin" in coverage of the Bush administration's new strategy for Iraq.

Jan 4, 2007

NPR develops another morning show -- for relative youngsters

NPR announced today that it's developing a new show -- target audience, ages 25-44 -- that will compete with its own Morning Edition. The program, based at NPR's New York bureau, will air on stations (some through digital multicasts), station websites and Sirius Satellite Radio. Matt Martinez, a Weekend Edition producer, will head development, NPR spokeswoman Andi Sporkin told Current. Producers will pilot the show and seek feedback starting in September. (They will use a new piloting process called Rough Cuts, which NPR is now using to develop its second African-American news program, hosted by Michel Martin.)

Jan 3, 2007

'Einstein's Wife': unsung or puffed up heroine?

After an exhaustive critique of complaints about historical inaccuracies in the 2003 PBS documentary Einstein's Wife, PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler recommended that PBS "pull the plug" on the show's companion website and suspend DVD sales of the documentary, pending a scholarly review of the content. Rather than remove the website, PBS posted an editor's note [scroll down] informing visitors that web producers and outside scholars are reviewing the online content. DVDs are still for sale on Shop PBS.

Jan 2, 2007

Seiken succeeds Johanson at PBS

PBS hired the founding executive editor of, Jason Seiken as senior v.p., interactive, the network announced today. He has been an AOL content executive at headquarters and in London. Cindy Johanson, who had led PBS's online efforts for more than a decade, left the network after a reorganization in June.