Aug 31, 2007

Pismo pays big bucks for PBS wine series

"We like public TV as much as the next viewer, but we wonder whether the city of Pismo Beach had enjoyed one glass of wine too many when it agreed to pay $50,000 to sponsor a PBS reality series called 'The Wine Makers'," reads an opinion piece in The Tribune, the newspaper of San Luis Obispo County.

Lessons learned in Iowa network's first year

"The creation of Iowa Public Radio, and its early success, should send an important signal to a public radio system that is vastly overbuilt," writes IPR Content Director Todd Mundt, in a blog entry describing the evolving state network's first year of service. "Maintaining local public service is not the same thing as maintaining hundreds of independent stations."

Portland church's political agenda prompts venue change for event featuring Ira Glass

After learning that a mega-church that actively opposes the gay rights movement had been booked for his upcoming appearance in Portland, This American Life host Ira Glass requested a change in venue, according to local news accounts. Oregon Public Broadcasting, which is hosting the event, defended its first choice of venue but later rented the convention center.

Aug 30, 2007

PBS ombudsman gets letters of support for Moyers

After his critique of Bill Moyers' commentary on Karl Rove, PBS ombudsman Michael Gelter says he got a load of pro-Moyers mail. In his Aug. 24 column, Getler questioned Moyers' reporting on Rove's religious convictions.

PBS programming for Hispanic Heritage Month

In a press release today, PBS details "a number of broadcast premieres and encore presentations that recognize the cultural, historical and societal impact of America's growing Hispanic community." The programs, to air during Hispanic Heritage Month, come in the wake of protests against Ken Burns' upcoming series The War. Latino groups, concerned about the lack of Latino vets in the WWII film, have asked PBS for assurance that it would work harder to include Latinos in “current and future programming” (Current, Aug. 27). Some Latino filmmakers have credited the Burns controversy with opening doors for them at PBS (via AP).

Georgia to resign as g.m. of Pacifica's KPFK

Eva Georgia, embattled g.m. of Pacifica's KPFK in Los Angeles, will leave the job on October 31, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Being General Manager of a progressive community radio station isn’t easy," said Greg Guma, Pacifica executive director, in a statement reaffirming the Pacifica National board's support for Georgia. "In fact, it’s a tough and draining job." Georgia has been accused of sexual harassment and racial discrimination in two pending lawsuits.

San Diego's progressive talk station contemplates format change

"I don't know that many liberals go to the AM dial, because it's full of right-wingers and sports," says Randy Dotinga, radio columnist for the North County Times, in a report on the likely end to the progressive-talk format on KLSD-AM, a Clear Channel station in San Diego. "If you don't like right-wingers and sports, there's no reason to flip to AM." Dotinga tells the San Diego CityBEAT that KLSD will always have problems competing with KPBS, the local pubradio outlet on the FM dial.

Stern previews NPR content, services to launch with help from Seattle outlets

"A lot [of] people outside our core demographics are interested in our content," NPR CEO Ken Stern tells the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "They're turned off by our conventions." In a P-I story published yesterday, Stern described several NPR initiatives of interest to Seattle's pubradio listeners, each of which launch in October: Bryant Park, a morning newsmag for twenty- and thirty-somethings cohosted by former KUOW reporter Luke Burbank, major upgrades to its music website featuring station-produced programming, and a new service that will deliver NPR content to mobile devices. Seattle's KPLU and KEXP are partners in the new music website and KPLU helping NPR launch the new mobile service, the P-I reports.

Aug 29, 2007

OPB documentary includes nudity

Nekkid in Oregon: "When Oregon Public Broadcasting airs Portland director Ian McCluskey’s Eloquent Nude this Thursday, Aug. 30, it will be showing a gorgeous, poignant documentary about the love affair between an iconic photographer and his model," reports the Willamette Week. "It will also be showing a nekkid woman." The program about Edward Weston, which airs state-wide at 10 p.m., already has been featured in Portland theaters.

Alt rock returns to Cinci airwaves via WVXU-HD

The Cincinnati Post reports on an unusual radio partnership: Cincinnati Public Radio's WVXU-FM recently began HD Radio broadcasts of, a station that brought alternative rock to southwestern Ohio in the 1980s and, after ending broadcasts three years ago, struggled to survive as an Internet-only station. "I see it as the perfect test run of a multicast channel to see what sort of legs it has," says Bryan Miller, g.m. "We have a built in audience. There is a pent up demand in the market for alternative rock."

An insider's account of Post Radio's demise

Why Washington Post Radio failed: unfulfilled promises to deliver in-depth news, clashes between the cultures of two different newsrooms, and too many moments when Post reporters froze up on the air, according to Marc Fisher, Post radio columnist and blogger.

Aug 28, 2007

CBS covers Moyers-on-Rove

In an online post, CBS News covers the "War of Words in MediaLand going on for more than a week now: Karl Rove versus Bill Moyers." This "war" has been facilitated mostly by Fox News, which hosted Rove and asked him to respond to Moyers' mention that Rove might be agnostic. Moyers wrote a letter to Fox host Chris Wallace and Wallace responded to Moyers on Fox News Sunday.

Bonneville to end its partnership with the Washington Post

During its first year on the air, Bonneville-owned Washington Post Radio failed to attract one percent of listeners in the metropolitan D.C. region, reports the Washington Post. Next month, the Post and Bonneville will end the 18-month partnership that put the newspaper's reporters on the air.

Aug 27, 2007

PBS Ombudsman on Moyers...Again

Bill Moyers is again the topic of PBS ombudsman Michael Getler's column. Getler addresses Moyers' farewell to Karl Rove on Aug. 17 and says he's less concerned with the "editorializing" than the reporting. The "reports" in Moyers' following line lacked attribution, says Getler: "At [Rove's] press conference this week he asked God to bless the president and the country, even as reports were circulating that he himself had confessed to friends his own agnosticism."

Crossroads documentary on anti-Americanism debuts tonight

The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal review The Anti-Americans (a love-hate relationship), a PBS documentary debuting tonight. The film is the latest installment of the CPB-backed America at a Crossroads initiative. Filmmakers Louis Alvarez, Andy Kolker and Peter Odabashian will be appearing today on WNYC's Leonard Lopate Show and Tucker Carlson's MSNBC series.

The War controversy opens doors for Latinos at PBS

"Call it a guilt trip or a cultural awakening, but some Latino filmmakers feel that the controversy over Ken Burns' upcoming World War II documentary has unexpectedly opened doors for their work at PBS," reports the AP. Before The War's premiere on Sept. 23, PBS has scheduled to air five programs featuring Latinos. The program about marketing to (and representing) Latinos-- Brown Is the New Green: George Lopez and the American Dream (Sept. 12)--lines up with PBS's educational goals: "To a certain degree, Brown Is the New Green feels like a primer on Latino society for older white Americans — a big part of PBS' audience."

Vincent goes out swinging at KUOW

Program changes and compensation disputes at Seattle NPR news station KUOW prompted longtime host and engineer Ken Vincent to abruptly quit his job and go public with a litany of grievances over work conditions, as reported by The Stranger, a Seattle alt weekly, and the Seattle Times. Vincent and other employees object to the clipped on-air delivery style that Program Director Jeff Hansen has asked all on-air staff to adopt; Vincent describes the style change as "dumbing down the on-air sound." Turmoil among the KUOW air staff began amid rumors of big bonuses for management and a projected $2.5 million end of year surplus, according to Blatherwatch, a Seattle radio blog that interviewed former KUOW morning host Deborah Brandt about why she resigned early this year.

Aug 22, 2007

Ken Burns to participate in National Book Festival

Some 70 authors have been chosen to participate in The Library of Congress's 2007 National Book Festival on the National Mall, Sept. 29. Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward (co-writer with Burns on several documentaries and the new book The War: An Intimate History, 1941-1945) will be part of the history and biography group.

Aug 21, 2007

WGBH and AARP to partner

Boston's WGBH and AARP Publications will partner to produce TV shows designed for viewers 50 and older, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The multiyear partnership will begin with “Caring for Your Parents,” a special that will be offered to public TV stations next spring.

MPT's V-me launch won't reach many Latino residents

Maryland Public Television's cable launch yesterday of V-me, the digital Spanish-language channel, didn't include areas with the state's largest Hispanic populations, reports the Washington Post. Apparently Comcast hasn't yet committed to a start date for carriage in Montgomery and Prince George's counties, and MPT officials say it could be as late as February 2009--the same time TV broadcasting goes all-digital. Maryland's Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) called on the public to pressure Comcast. The company says it has "no imminent plans" to carry V-me in the two counties.

Talent Quest blows off Windy City contestants

Two Chicagoans, Chuck Mertz and Anne Glickman, were eliminated from Public Radio Talent Quest, the online contest for future pubradio hosts. Still in the game: April Baer, Chris de Ville, Al Letson, Glynn Washington and People's Choice favorite Rebecca Watson.

Aug 20, 2007

Fiske celebrates 60 years in broadcasting

"I came up in a time when you couldn't say 'hell' on the radio," says retired Washington broadcaster Fred Fiske, recalling his mid-career decision to move from commercial to public radio. "I couldn't bring myself to do the insults." Fiske, who retired from American University's NPR station WAMU 20 years ago but continues to deliver weekly commentaries for the station, recalls highlights of his 60-year broadcasting career in a Washington Post profile.

Pubradio romance in full bloom

A union worthy of notice in the New York Times: NPR reporter Alex Cohen and former NPR webmaster Richard Dean were married this weekend.

Aug 17, 2007

Australia's native peoples now have TV channel

National Indigenous Television, a new satellite TV channel for Austalia's native peoples that launched in July, is seeking programming in many genres made "wholly or substantially" in Australia, with the priority on programs by aboriginal Austalians and Torres Strait Islanders. See its statement of purpose and commissioning guidelines. NITV has offices in Alice Springs and Sydney. Canada and New Zealand have similar channels.

Aug 16, 2007

This American Life: Paragon of quirk

Atlantic Monthly's Michael Hirschorn calls This American Life a quintessential example of a quirky indie sensibility that has gone too far. Also lumped in/dismissed: Wes Anderson's later films and canceled sitcom Arrested Development.

Aug 15, 2007

World goes national

PBS World, the digital doc and pubaffairs channel, goes national today on 55 stations representing 24 licensees reaching more than 27 percent of U.S. households, according to its producers. The channel, produced by PBS, Boston's WGBH and New York's WNET in partnership with American Public Television and NETA, features time-shifted signature pubTV offerings including Frontline, The NewsHour and Nova (schedule PDF) . John Boland, PBS content chief, discussed the channel at some length in a May Q&A. Also earlier this year: David Liroff, CPB senior v.p. for media strategy, discussed in a Current commentary how stations balance bandwidth limitations with the increasing abundance of high-def and multicast program options, which include other national streams such as Create and Spanish-language V-Me. (Liroff was WGBH's v.p. and chief tech officer when he wrote his commentary.)

Aug 13, 2007

Maker of tainted toys kills himself

The owner of a Chinese factory hung himself after the company was blamed for using toxic paint on Sesame Street and Nickelodeon toys sent to the United States, London's Guardian reported. The Chinese government had suspended the factory's export license. Zhang Shuhong died in the warehouse of his company, Lida Industries in Guangdong province, a world center of toymaking.

Trivedi keeps laying down Bricklane Beats

The Boston Globe profiles Komal Trivedi, a Public Radio Talent Quest contestant who was eliminated during Round 2 of the competition. Trivedi, host of the South Asian music show Bricklane Beats on Boston College station WZBC, is one of a handful of U.S.-based advocates for Bhangra, a traditional musical form from India and Pakistan that's infused with elements of Punjabi and Western dance music, according to the Globe.

Gunman's bullet narrowly misses KPFT dj

Early this morning, a gunman shot through an outer window of Pacifica station KPFT in Houston. The bullet came within 18 inches of hitting the head of Mary Thomas, the dj who was hosting a Zydeco music show, according to the Houston Chronicle. [Via Rolas de Aztlan.]

Variety on THE WAR scheduling

PBS should have thought more about courting viewers age 18-49 ("the demo") when it scheduled The War, argues an August 9 article in Variety. Writes Brian Lowry, "it's precisely 'the demo' that this massive undertaking cries out to be watched by, beginning with the children and grandchildren -- from baby boomers to Gen-X-Y-Whatever -- who grew up blanketed in liberty and wanton consumerism thanks to the war generation's collective sacrifice. Here, unfortunately, is where PBS' pigheadedness enters the picture, sending this seven-night event into battle starting Sept. 23 -- directly opposite the major networks' new fall season. So the heroes of 'The War' will go up against 'Heroes,' its medics against 'Grey's Anatomy,' its men of the much-decorated 442nd regiment against 'Two and a Half Men.'"

Aug 10, 2007

In his PBS ombudsman column today, Michael Getler posts mailbag letters from Wayne Dyer believers and unbelievers. One skeptic wrote, "I'm seeing a disturbing trend in some of the programs that PBS is airing for the past several years. I've noticed a sudden increase in the number of "self-help" programs/characters such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Robert Kiyosaki, Suze Orman and several others that seem to frequent the PBS channel."

Gelter also posted letters from NewsHour viewers who were unhappy with Judy Woodruff's segment on the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Several letters noted that Woodruff seemed uninformed, and her two guests did nothing to illuminate what the new bill actually meant. NewsHour executive producer Linda Winslow respnds to the criticisms: "I think Judy handled the 'discussion' well, in keeping with the NewsHour's style. ..."I do agree that ultimately the segment shed more heat than light on the subject. Unfortunately, that sometimes happens in the course of producing a live television program; you don't get a 'do-over' when things don't go as planned." Winslow also responded to questions about why coverage of the Democratic debate in Chicago seemed to leave out Bill Richardson: "I think we erred in not including a clip of what Governor Richardson said. Our production team was trying to capture the flavor of the debate (which I think they did) and that involved focusing primarily on the dynamic of the exchanges between Clinton, Edwards, and Obama."

FCC proposes cap for NCE applicants

The FCC is inviting comments on a proposal to cap the number of applications that a single party can file for noncommercial educational radio outlets during its Oct. 12-19 filing window for new FM stations. Limiting any single party to 10 applications "would deter speculation and permit the expeditious processing of the window-filed applications," the commission said in a public notice issued yesterday. Another public notice clarifies its NCE filing procedures and the point system the commission will use to award licenses.

OC Register: Pick not a protest

Ken Rusic, editor of the Orange County Register, says the editor who picked his nose on camera during a taping of KOCE-TV's Real Orange, wasn't doing so to protest recent lay-offs at the paper, as was suggested by previous reports. The veteran editor, named CP Smith, "did absent-mindedly stick his finger in his nose, just like all of us have done at one time," Rusic wrote. "Most of us don't get caught doing it on TV."

Sesame Street USA Today

In a story about Sesame Street's 38th season, USA Today reports that literacy will be "emphasized even more this year because of a rising gap in literacy and language skills between lower- and middle-income children." Also noted: Sesame Street "viewership, though down 7.5% since 2001, has averaged 8.3 million for the past decade — which is remarkable when competing with cable outlets such as Disney and Nickelodeon." The paper talked with celeb guests on the show this season, including CNN's Anderson Cooper (who does a newscast with Walter Cranky and Dan Rather-Not) and NBC's Brian Williams.

Aug 9, 2007

Citybeat pissed at KPBS

A writer at San Diego's alt-weekly CityBeat rails on KPBS for canceling two locally-produced programs--the public affairs television program Full Focus and the radio program A Way With Words. KPBS announced the cancellations August 1, citing budget concerns. Writes CityBeat's Kelly Davis, "While quite a few people were put off by the two shows' cancellation, there apparently would be hell to pay should KPBS do something like replace two hours of nighttime classical music with something like Sounds Eclectic (the syndicated version of KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic, widely regarded as one of the most innovative music shows in the country). For many younger listeners, the first notes of classical music are signals that KPBS' broadcast day has come to an end. ... KPBS is selling the community short if it thinks listeners must either grow into public radio or acquire a taste for it."

Aug 8, 2007

IPR's classical service to launch next month

Iowa Public Radio's Todd Mundt outlines plans for the network's new classical music service, slated to launch Sept. 10.

Manners made for print

KOCE-TV's news partnership with the local newspaper, the Orange County Register, has hit a snag in the form of a crude saboteur. An outgoing employee of the daily, where layoffs are "hacking at morale," claims L.A. Observed, has been regularly disrupting the public TV station's broadcasts from the Register newsroom with a variety of obnoxious antics, including picking his nose on camera, according to a memo by Michael Taylor, KOCE-TV news director.

Pacifica roiled in a dispute over KPFK

Reporting by the Los Angeles Times on rancor within KPFK, Pacifica's Los Angeles station, prompted this response from Pacifica Executive Director Greg Guma, posted on Rolas de Aztlan. During its recent board meeting, the Pacifica National Board endorsed a resolution expressing appreciation for the "innovative leadership" of KPFK General Manager Eva Georgia [posted under Guma's letter], and Guma spoke publicly about the dispute. "Pacifica is being defamed and threatened by a small group who see it as an easy target," Guma said, according to a statement posted on Rolas de Aztlan. "This represents a cynical, organized attempt to intimidate Pacifica, to undermine its finances, to spread disinformation . . . , and gang up on the organization in an effort to extort settlements."

Aug 7, 2007

PRTQ tests finalists' interview skills

For Round 3 of the Public Radio Talent Quest, the seven remaining contestants conducted and sat for pubradio-style interviews. Listen, vote and comment on their latest work by clicking on the pictures or names posted here.

Aug 3, 2007

KPBS producer laments loss of local shows

Pat Finn, producer of Full Focus, the local weekday public affairs show produced by KPBS-TV in San Diego, laments the station's recent decision to pull the plug in this editorial. KPBS is also canceling A Way With Words, its local radio show focused on language; the move eliminated 12 staff positions associated with the two programs. While both shows had some success in the past, Doug Myrland, g.m., said in a statement, "trends indicate their future potential for audience and revenue growth is minimal.”

Aug 2, 2007

CPB gives MPR emergency grant to fund bridge coverage

CPB just gave Minnesota Public Radio an emergency $25,000 grant "for costs related to coverage of the collapse of the interstate bridge in Minneapolis last night," the corporation reports. MPR has provided continuing, multiplatform coverage of the catastrophe since it happened at 6:05 p.m. central, Wednesday (timeline).

It's got a pulse

Like Vermont Public Radio's new weekdaily Vermont Edition, the program's theme has a bit of the unexpected, the network says. In the MP3 of the theme, you'll hear the usual insistent throb of newscast themes going back to the early BJ-Leiderzoic Era, but this one sounds more like James Brown's pulse instead of James Lehrer's. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, based in Vermont, did the theme. That's Grace on organ. VPR launches the noon newscast Aug. 13 with former NPR journalist Jane Lindholm as host.

New blog covers Colorado public media

Critics of Colorado Public Radio recently launched the Colorado Public Radio blog, which aims to cover all public and community stations in the state but applies special scrutiny to the Denver-based network of NPR news and classical music stations. Frances Koncilja, a former CPR board member who resigned this spring and publicly complained about a lack of transparency and inclusion at CPR, contributes to the blog.

Elmo, Big Bird and other toys recalled

More than a million Chinese-made Mattel/Fisher-Price products, including Sesame Street character toys, are being recalled because their paint may contain toxic levels of lead, Bloomberg and other media reported. The 83 designs are listed on the Consumer Product Safety Commission website. Sesame Workshop said it "will develop more stringent procedures" to hold licensees to safety standards. The products had been sold since May, Mattel's news release said. Pictured: one of the Sesame Street character toys on the CPSC website.


Aug 1, 2007

WYPR "darn close" to blanketing Maryland

Baltimore's WYPR will extend its service to Maryland's Eastern shore with the pending purchase of WRXS in Ocean City, a top-40 commercial station broadcasting on 106.9 FM. "The idea is for WYPR to be heard across the state of Maryland," said Andrew Bienstock, WYPR p.d., in today's Baltimore Sun. The expansion "brings us darn close." FCC approval of the acquisition is expected next month. Later in the fall, the Baltimore station will boost its signal to 15,500 watts and begin broadcasting a separate program stream in high-definition.

What next for Murdoch's Wall Street Journal?

Media analysts and writers forecast what will happen now that Rupert Murdoch has succeeded in his quest to buy the Wall Street Journal. Richard Siklos reports in the New York Times that Murdoch will likely go after his newspaper and the Financial Times by "aggressively undercutting advertising and investing heavily in editorial content--particularly in Washington and international news." Poynter Online's Rick Edmonds also predicts an expansion of the Journal's Washington bureau, and not as many defections among the Journal's editorial staff as many would expect. The special committee created to preserve the Journal's editorial independence "won't amount to much," Edmonds writes.

National Archives cuts DVD deal with Amazon

The National Archives announced a non-exclusive agreement to sell digital copies of its historic films on The first DVDs, a collection of newsreels from the 1950s and 60s, went on sale July 16. The Washington Post contrasted the Archives' agreement with the Smithsonian's controversial contract with Showtime, the premium cable network.