Feb 29, 2008

Louisville's Partnership adopts new name

The three-station Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., has renamed itself Louisville Public Media. "What does our new name imply? Simply put, it reflects our determination to refashion and reshape our organization in the on-line, on-demand world of digital media and provide a new era of service to our community," says its website.

NPR apologizes for "dark continent," but should it?

NPR apologized to listeners Feb. 16 after newscaster Jean Cochran referred to Africa as "the dark continent" in a newscast. "This is simply an outdated reference as well as being outrageously offensive," said one of many listeners who complained. But the apology in turn drew criticism accusing NPR of hypersensitivity. Should the network have apologized? "Given the intense listener reaction, it would have been arrogant for NPR to ignore the use of the controversial term," writes ombudsman Alicia Shepard. "But in not offering any serious explanation for its apology, NPR missed an opportunity for a broader discussion -- on air, online, or both -- about the power of language."

Pubradio merger fizzles in California

KAZU-FM in Pacific Grove, Calif., will remain under control of California State University Monterey Bay, the board of the school's Foundation decided yesterday. (Coverage in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, and a university press release (PDF).) The decision ended a year of formal negotiations over a merger of the station and KUSP, a nearby pubradio outlet that airs some of the same programs as KAZU. "I'm sorry the university has chosen to go it alone, and pass on this opportunity for us to work together to serve the public," said Terry Green, KUSP's g.m., in a press release (PDF).

Prediction: Waylon Smithers will dodge questions about sexual preference

This weekend's installment of The Simpsons will feature Terry Gross, host of public radio's Fresh Air, starring as herself, according to the PRPD blog. (NPR release.)

Post-IMA ruminations lean negative

This year's recently concluded Integrated Media Association conference has inspired some pessimism among pubcasters keen on new media. John Proffitt of Alaska Public Telecommunications wrote on his blog: "In my (current) view, IMA appears to be at an impasse. We seem to have reached a point where integrated media advocacy has given out, where recommendations and demonstrations fail to move our organizations to meaningful action." Responding on his own blog, independent producer Stephen Hill foresaw a bleak future for public radio and added: "After six or seven years of trying to push the river, I’ve regretfully come to believe that the forces that control the legacy public media system — both public television and public radio — are simply too entrenched, too torpid, too scared, and too innovation-phobic to respond meaningfully to the challenges of the digital era."

Excuse me, what is that music you play when you read the stock figures?

While WNYC's Andrea Bernstein is tutoring journalists in Bhutan (earlier item), Marketplace reporter Lisa Napoli has a Bhutanese radio producer shadowing her while she subs as morning host for the APM business newscast. Her guest is Ngawang Pem, 25, a deejay and producer from the youth-oriented Kuzoo FM, first nongovernment station in Bhutan, which is adopting democratic forms under a limited monarchy and installing a new, young king. Napoli has volunteered her help on two trips since Kuzoo launched last year.

Feb 28, 2008

Her students: journalists covering a new democracy

Andrea Bernstein, political director at WNYC Radio in New York, is in Bhutan this week, taking a break from U.S. campaigns to train 43 reporters -- twice as many as expected -- for coverage of the Himalayan country's first legislative elections, set for March 24. She was invited by Kinley Dorji, who founded the country's first newspaper with a Mac in the 1980s. She's reporting back in her blog.

Feb 27, 2008

Wear a sweater for Mr. Rogers

In honor of Fred Rogers on what would have been his 80th birthday, Mr. McFeely announced that March 20 will be sweater day in the Pittsburgh metro area. In a YouTube video produced by the Beaver County Times, McFeely (David Newell) urges fans everywhere to wear a favorite sweater to cap off "Won't You Be My Neighbor" Days events and activities, March 15-20. The celebrations are hosted by WQED and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood production company Family Communications, Inc., who brought the show to PBS 40 years ago. 

NPR's Folkenflik: from print to radio

"Joining NPR from the world of print was a bit like entering the Marine Corps at Parris Island," says NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik in an interview with Chip Scanlan on "You're completely stripped down and then built back up." Folkenflick talks about his transition to radio reporting, how he puts a story together, and how NPR's reputation is different than newspapers'. It's a "gratifying shift," he says, to hear not what's wrong about the newspaper he works for, but what's right about NPR.

Feb 26, 2008

Starr: McCain's people never talked to me

Various participants in a 1990s Pittsburgh station swap proposal weighed in last week on the nature of Sen. John McCain's involvement in the deal, which has received new scrutiny in light of questions raised by the New York Times about the GOP presidential candidate's dealings with a communications lobbyist. Now Jerrold Starr, a sociologist and activist who opposed proposed Pittsburgh deal, refutes McCain's recent claims that the senator's staff also met with advocates who were against the proposed sell-off. "It never happened," he told ABC News. Any lobbying "would have come through us," said Linda Wambaugh, Starr's co-chair on the so-called Save Pittsburgh Public Television Campaign. "There was absolutely no contact whatsoever -- no meetings, no phone calls, no correspondence."

Seeger doc depicts 'power of song' but no 'stupid things I've done'

Pete Seeger, influential folk singer and activist who was persecuted during the second Red Scare for his former membership in the Communist Party, criticized this week's American Masters profile of him, "Pete Seeger: The Power of Song," because it "didn't show any of the stupid things I've done." (Part of a broader story about Seeger and the film in the Washington Post.) Director Jim Brown didn't try to make a totally balanced film, according to Susan Lacy, executive producer of American Masters (as paraphrased by the Post). "That's not meant in a negative way," Lacy is quoted as saying. "It's just that Pete Seeger is such a principled idealist, such a good man." Not surprisingly, conservative media watchdog NewsBusters has jumped on the doc.

Kids Sprout competitors: nap time and snack time

That's what Sandy Wax, president of PBS Kids Sprout, tells the Philadelphia Inquirer in this interview. The digital cable channel for preschoolers, now carried in 37 million homes, recently moved into Philadelphia's new Comcast Center. Comcast is one of the principal partners on the channel, along with PBS, Sesame Workshop and London-based HIT Entertainment. The 24-hour channel runs ads but has "very strict policies" about what it accepts, Wax says. No sugary cereals, for example, but "[we] love the Geico gecko," she says.

Feb 25, 2008

Brandon: No useful data from venting listeners

"You know, this is not a forum that gives us usable research," WYPR President Tony Brandon says in a Baltimore Sun column on the Feb. 20 community meeting that drew some 300 supporters of fired host Marc Steiner. Brandon sat "at the front of the auditorium, with his back to the crowd, and didn't speak during the meeting," the Sun reported. The new mid-day show hosted by Steiner's replacement, former Sun columnist Dan Rodricks, debuts today at noon.

More responses to "Is PBS Still Necessary?"

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, the NewsHour's Jim Lehrer and NewsHour viewers respond to the recent New York Times column, "Is PBS Still Necessary?" Lehrer tells the New York Observer: "I read that and I said, my god, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about. I don't know where he got his position. But it wasn't based on any reporting."

Musical flair of two NY pubradio stations

The New York Times reports on what two local stations have done and are doing (here and here) to keep music alive on pubradio.

Feb 22, 2008

Steiner fracas continues in Baltimore

Three weeks after Baltimore's WYPR-FM dumped Marc Steiner, fans of the longtime talk-show host are still registering their dissatisfaction. Online hubs of activity include the glitzy Bring Steiner Back and the somewhat humbler Save the Steiner Show. Supporters of Steiner can also sign a petition, buy T-shirts and join a Facebook group. More than 300 Steiner fans attended a meeting of WYPR's Community Advisory Board Feb. 20 to voice their unhappiness, reports the Baltimore Sun. "Without Marc Steiner, I don't listen to WYPR," said one. "I'm not going to renew my membership unless Marc Steiner is back on the air." Reflecting on the meeting on his blog, Steiner wrote, "This is about community, about building community and a radio show that drew diverse communities together." Here's audio from the meeting (MP3).

Pittsburgh station swap gets new wave of attention

Recent coverage of Sen. John McCain's conflicts of interest has refocused attention on his role in the attempted sale of WQEX-TV, sister station of Pittsburgh's WQED, and his ties to lobbyist Vicki Iseman, who was involved in the deal. Iseman was "terrific, very aggressive and very supportive of what we were trying to do," said WQED President George Miles in a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article. In a defense of McCain published on the Huffington Post, Lanny Davis, WQED's lobbyist at the time, says "what I wanted Senator McCain to do, he refused to do. And he did so out of a concern of appearances of impropriety. That is a fact." (Earlier coverage in Current of the WQEX sale.) UPDATE: Today's Democracy Now! features an interview with Angela Campbell, the attorney for the community groups that tried to block the sale of WQEX.

Mundt heads to Louisville

Todd Mundt, until recently the director of content and media for upstart network Iowa Public Radio, is leaving for the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky. He'll serve as director of new media strategies at the Partnership. Donovan Reynolds, president of the three-station network, previously worked with Mundt while head of Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor.

New Hampshire pubTV splits from university

New Hampshire Public Television is separating from the The University System of New Hampshire, reports the Portsmouth Herald News. USNH will continue to hold NHPTV's broadcasting license, but the station's board will take over management of day-to-day operations, including employment. Steps to make NHPTV, which has been part of the university since 1960, a separate nonprofit will take place over the next year. "This change is an opportunity for NHPTV to more nimbly adapt and respond to viewer needs and interests," said station head Peter A. Frid, "and to provide targeted educational programs, partnerships and services to the greater New Hampshire community."

Feb 20, 2008

Americans won't pay "twice" for TV?

"There's a fundamental difference between paying for radio and paying for a channel on TV," writes syndicated columnist Ben Grabow. People don't give money to PBS, he says, because "television, unlike radio, requires a subscription" and viewers don't want to "pay twice" for a TV connection and content. Not accounting for digital over-the-air signals, Grabow writes, "a new television fresh from the box, unlike its black and white predecessor, offers nothing but fuzz" and "with local stations scaling back the analog signal, [it] all but requires a monthly cable or satellite fee."

KUSP attempts to preempt other potential KAZU suitors

After an extended courtship that culminated in merger talks last year, two California pubradio stations serving the Monterey Bay area are reassessing their future relationship. Late last week KUSP in Santa Cruz offered to purchase or take over management of Pacific Grove's KAZU, but California State University at Monterey Bay's nonprofit foundation, which holds KAZU's license, was cool to the overture. The CSUMB Foundation withdrew from merger negotiations last December, and the KUSP Board put together its offer after learning that CSUMB was talking with broadcasters outside the region about managing KAZU. Local news organizations chasing down the story include the Register-Pajaronian, Santa Cruz Sentinel and local NBC affiliate KSBW. CSUMB's foundation is "in no hurry to sell," reports KSBW correspondent Dale Julin, "that means, meantime, both stations are continuing to annoy listeners by playing exactly the same NPR shows at exactly the same time." Update: In an op-ed published today, Democratic Rep. Sam Farr calls for CSUMB to reconsider the benefits of the proposed merger.

A better search tool

"Public radio and TV has so much wonderful inventory--if I cannot find it, has it any value?" asks Robert Patterson in his blog. Writing from the FASTForward tech conference about "search-driven innovation," he writes, "I have come to the conclusion that higher levels of search--enabling me to have it my way and to reflect back in real time my preferences to the producers--is going to be key to any system that public media rolls out."

Live from Toledo

"This is novel in public radio," says classical DJ Greg Kostraba about his live, in-studio program on WGTE-FM 91 in Toledo, Ohio. "You have to go to big cities for programs like this," he tells the Toledo Blade. Kostraba invites local and visiting musicians into a Steinway-equipped studio for the half-hour Live from FM 91, and he recently won a producer-of-the-year award from eTech, a state agency focused on education through technology. 

Feb 19, 2008

Silent phones and dire warnings at KMBH

KMBH-FM in Harlingen, Texas, canceled its February fundraising campaign after receiving only six pledge calls in three days. "[T]his lack of financial support only aggravates our situation and may force us to make drastic changes on our service to the Rio Grande Valley," KMBH warned visitors to its website. "[T]hose who HAVE NOT GIVEN THEIR FINANCIAL SUPPORT will not have any right to complain when their favorite radio station changes or even vanishes from the air!!!" The station, a joint licensee operated by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, has been under scrutiny of the local newspaper for lack of transparency in its governance and financial reporting. The McAllen Monitor's recent story on the aborted pledge campaign prompted one reader to comment about concerns that the diocese has attempted to censor content on the TV and radio stations. "Perhaps another entity should take over the ownership of both stations. Or, better yet, another public radio affiliate could set up shop in the Valley."

"All white people's opinions are developed from Public Radio"

The blog "Stuff White People Like" explains why Caucasians love public radio so much. Be sure to read the comments and follow the link to "Does Anything Make You Feel Instantly Older than Donating to Public Radio?"

Feb 15, 2008

Boskin brings journalism background, KQED ties to CPB Board

The San Francisco Chronicle profiles Chris Boskin, a member of the CPB Board with a long career in the magazine business. "I would call her a 'Bay Area Republican,'" says Nick Donatello, chair of KQED's board. "She's not at the extreme. But because she has been close to the Washington scene, she knows how the game is played."

Maryland county makes pitch for NPR HQ

Officials in Montgomery County, Md., have made a pitch to lure NPR to the city of Silver Spring, reports the Gazette. NPR has narrowed its search for 400,000 square feet of office and studio space to Silver Spring and two sites in D.C. The network has said it will choose a location by the end of May.

Longtime PBS director dies at 86

Kirk Browning, who directed 185 Live from Lincoln Center telecasts and other performance programs for PBS, died Feb. 10 at the age of 86, reports the New York Times. “Kirk contained the entire history of cultural television in our country,” said John Goberman, series producer of Lincoln Center.

Rick Steves' side gig: questioning pot policy

Public TV traveler Rick Steves is host of Marijuana: It's Time for a Conversation, a new 30-minute DVD produced by the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State. The group has launched a multimedia campaign to question the fairness of U.S. policies regarding marijuana use and possession. "I've traveled throughout Europe and seen how they handle marijuana use and enforcement. I've learned that more thoughtful approaches can work," Steves said in an ACLU release. "We need the understanding to go beyond 'hard' or 'soft' on drugs and find a policy that is 'smart on drugs'."

Feb 14, 2008

Twitter: great source for breaking news

"I usually find out about breaking news on Twitter faster than any other network – broadcast or otherwise," says NPR's Andy Carvin in a Christian Science Monitor story on the micro-blogging application. Pubcasting consultant Rob Paterson, also a source in the Monitor story, has proposed that pubcasters set up Twitter Clubs to cover the March 4 Ohio primaries.

Feb 13, 2008

PubTV foodie has new column in Washington Post

Andres Viestad, host of pubTV's New Scandinavian Cooking with Andres Viestad, launched a new monthly column for the Washington Post today. The column, called "The Gastronomer," is about "the science of everyday cooking," according to the editor's note. "Kitchen science tends to forget the enjoyment part of gastronomy; it can be far too demanding when it suggests how we can improve the way we cook," writes Viestad in his first installment. 

Volunteers sought to review PTFP apps

NTIA is seeking station chief execs and other senior management as volunteer reviewers for grant applications in March and April. The agency said it needs 20 or more, working in teams of three, to review stations' funding requests to the Public Telecommunications Facilities Program between March 24 and April 11. "PTFP has an engineering staff, so it also cannot use station engineers as reviewers," said a memo circulated by program officer Walter Sheppard. Contact Sheppard at 202-482-1949 or wsheppard -at- Volunteers won't be reviewing apps from their own or related stations, of course. PTFP grant applications are due Feb. 22. The appropriation for fiscal year 2008 is down from $22 million last year to $16.8 million. Guidelines are summarized in the Federal Register.

WYPR hires Steiner replacement, scraps pledge drive

WYPR in Baltimore has hired Baltimore Sun columnist Dan Rodricks to replaced talk-show host Marc Steiner. Rodricks will inherit Steiner's noon to 2 p.m. slot on Feb. 25 and follow a similar call-in format. The station canceled its winter pledge drive in the wake of listener outcry about Steiner's firing. Station v.p. Andy Bienstock said the station will hold a combined winter and spring drive in April, after listeners have had a chance to hear the new show, reports the Sun. Steiner, who helped raise money to buy the station from Johns Hopkins University in 2001, was fired Feb. 1. Management cited the show's falling ratings and said it was too Baltimore-centric for its geographical reach. Steiner cited differences with President Tony Brandon said he and management had conflicting opinions about the role of public radio in the community.

Connecticut pubTV part of new local sports network

Connecticut Public Television and WFSB, the local CBS affiliate, are creating the Connecticut Sports Network. The network will broadcast high school and collegiate sports from across the state, beginning with the state high school basketball championships in March. Games will air on the digital and primary channels of CPTV and WFSB. Video of games will be posted on a new website,, which is yet to come. In a video realease on, Connecticut Public Broadcasting President Jerry Franklin said the network also hopes to do some documentary-style programming about the state's sports. CPTV is already a major broadcaster of UConn women's basketball.

Feb 12, 2008

Who's at fault for HD Radio's shortcomings?

Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher surveys the HD Radio offerings of D.C. stations and finds only two outlets--WHUR and WAMU--have made big commitments to creating "real radio" experiences for HD listeners. The majority of D.C. stations are half-heartedly programming their HD channels and barely promoting them. "HD remains a promising technology, but so far, many more people listen to the new programming via online streaming than on an HD radio," Fisher concludes. "Listeners are voting with their ears, and they're choosing Web-based and mobile audio, in part because most HD radio programming just isn't compelling enough to lure people to a different gadget." Radio researcher and HD skeptic Mark Ramsey takes issue with Fisher: "If you have something good, why place it in an HD ghetto when it can achieve instant critical mass--and be monetized accordingly--in the bright light of day on a full and ubiquitous FM signal?" he writes on his blog Hear 2.0. Listeners prefer online and mobile audio service because of the convenience they offer, not because they deliver original programming. "I am sick and tired of radio stations being blamed for the difficulties of HD," he writes.

Feb 11, 2008

Lawson moves on, joining Ion Media Networks

Public TV’s top lobbyist for seven years, John Lawson, moves to a maverick commercial TV network March 14 as executive v.p., policy and strategic initiatives of Ion Media Networks, he announced today. Station reps at an Association of Public Television Stations meeting gave a standing ovation to Lawson, who had led their defense against budget cuts, negotiations for DTV carriage on cable and DBS, and creation of a new federal emergency alert net using DTV. Ion, formerly known as Paxson Communications and part-owned by NBC Universal, has more commercial TV stations than any U.S. broadcaster. Lawson, who helped develop the Open Mobile Video Coalition, will play a leading role in a new video service for mobile devices that Ion plans to put on its DTV signals next winter. Besides its main channel, built on familiar network reruns, Ion operates two DTV multicast channels, Ion Life, a health/wellness channel, and the qubo literacy service for kids. Lawson became APTS president in March 2001.

Garcia heads CPB TV programming

CPB filled its top TV programming vacancy today, hiring Ted Garcia, g.m. of KNME-TV in Albuquerque, N.M., as senior v.p. for television content, the corporation announced today. Garcia is also a member of the PBS Board and chairs its Interconnection Committee and the PBS Enterprises Board of Directors. He succeeds Greg Diefenbach, who leaves the job this month. Garcia joined the Albuquerque pubTV station in 2001, after 20 years at pubTV’s KETC in St. Louis, where he rose from director of operations to senior v.p. He also worked in NFL football coverage and for CBS’s St. Louis station, KMOX.

Many DTV receivers predicted to fall off the "cliff"

Centris, a market research firm in Los Angeles, warns that 5.9 million over-the-air digital TV receivers will lose access to at least one of the major TV networks when analog TV transmission goes away one year from today, the New York Times reported. Many will fall prey to the "cliff effect" of digital signals, which simply disappear from the screen instead of degrading with ghosts, static and snow as analog signals do. Centris said signals in Las Vegas, Philadelphia and St. Louis would peter out 35 miles from the transmitter, not at 60-70 miles as analog signals do. It's worst in St. Louis, where topography helps block signals for 10 percent of receivers. It's not as bad in Vegas, where 2.5 percent falter. Though most over-the-air receivers now rely on rabbit-ears antennas, those won't always do the job. Centris regularly surveys household phone, cable and other subscriptions, DVD usage and other competition, for every census area.

One bad call on Super Tuesday

PBS's NewsHour and NPR were among the news organizations that mistakenly named Sen. Hillary Clinton the winner in the Missouri Democratic primary on Super Tuesday. For their live election coverage, both organizations relied on the erroneous Associated Press projection that Sen. Clinton had won the race, explained pubcasting ombudsmen Michael Getler of PBS and Alicia Shepard of NPR in their most recent columns. "Obviously, we wish we hadn’t been among those using the incorrect call, but we have no independent resources for checking the numbers,” NewsHour Executive Producer Linda Winslow tells readers of Getler's column. "We talked about it on the air, saying we and other news orgs had called the state when it appeared Clinton had won with 96 percent of the vote counted," wrote NPR's Ron Elving, one of two political editors to sign off on the decision to call Missouri for Clinton, in an email to Shepard. She concludes that the goof had no effect on the outcome of Super Tuesday's primaries, but a "concerned listener" who responded to Shepard's column says it undermined NPR's credibility.

Feb 8, 2008

Annual display screen production moving toward one per person worldwide

The world population of flat panel displays appears to be growing much faster than the world population of people. Worldwide, manufacturers' shipments of panels, from tiny ones in phones to huge ones in HDTVs, have passed 3 billion a year and will pass 5 billion a year in 2015, according to DisplaySearch, a market research company. Even with the considerable assistance of the human sexual drive, the people population is growing just 77 million a year, having accumulated just 6.65 billion, the Census Bureau estimated. In the United States, 2.4 million HDTV sets were expected to be bought in time for the Super Bowl, the Consumer Electronics Association crowed. HDTV models now make up 95 percent of LCD set sales, TV Week reported.

ABC News, WNET team up for North Korea broadcast

ABC News will collaborate with New York's WNET-TV to produce a Feb. 26 broadcast of the New York Philharmonic from North Korea, reports the New York Times. The broadcast will be distributed via PBS as well. "I didn’t want to just show a concert," said Neal Shapiro, WNET's president, about the collaboration with ABC. "It was a historic place at a historic time."

NPR's Stewart doesn't need any more shoes

NPR's Alison Stewart, host of the Bryant Park Project, talks with the New York Observer about leaving commercial TV for public radio. She says she appreciates being free from the emphasis placed on appearance in TV: "[T]here was a certain element of like, wow, NPR is a place where I could grow old gracefully."

Feb 6, 2008

WYPR president goes on air to explain Steiner firing

Anthony Brandon, president of WYPR in Baltimore, went on the air yesterday to explain the firing of host Marc Steiner. Brandon said the ratings for Steiner's local public affairs show were declining, and the host's refusal to make changes in the program left management with no choice, reports The Baltimore Sun. A pre-taped interview with Marc Steiner preceded the Brandon segment, during which Steiner said he and management have different ideas about the role of public radio in the community. Later on his blog, Steiner wrote that Brandon "has constantly attempted diminish what I and our listeners did six years ago in raising funds to purchase what was then WJHU" and the station has been "hijacked." Steiner and Brandon's on-air interviews with Maryland Morning host Sheilah Kast can be streamed here.

Preparing to fight proposed budget cuts

Pubcasters may not be as successful at fighting off federal budget cuts as in the past, says NPR head Ken Stern in a New York Times article about the Bush administration's proposed budget. “I worry that this gets lost in a whole lot of other issues,” he said. John Lawson, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, was confident next week's pubTV lobbying day in Washington would help fend off cuts.

Feb 5, 2008

Bush budget includes $20 million for DTV education

The Bush Administration budget includes an extra $20 million for DTV education, Broadcasting & Cable reports. The money would go to the FCC for DTV awareness efforts. In its original DTV transition bill, Congress only set aside $5 million for consumer education, to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The total $25 million federal outlay "is far too little to educate a nation of 300 million people," said John Dingell (D-Mich), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The government "should not be attempting this transition on the cheap.”

Park City licensee to "spin off" Salt Lake's KCPW

KCPW-FM/AM in Salt Lake is up for sale. The board of Community Wireless of Park City, licensee of Park City's KPCW and sister KCPW, voted unanimously to "spin-off" its Salt Lake stations "in order to better focus its attention on serving its KPCW listeners in Summit and Wasatch Counties," according to a statement issued on Sunday. The board authorized Ed Sweeney, KCPW g.m., to form a new non-profit that would raise money to purchase KCPW's AM and FM outlets, but it will accept offers from other interested nonprofits. The Salt Lake Tribune reports that KCPW has been losing money since 2006.

CPB budget cut follow-up

More on the Bush Administration's proposed cuts to CPB's appropriations: Pubcaster advocate Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told Broadcasting & Cable that "the Administration’s proposal to slash funding is short-sighted and I fully expect Congress to reject it. " Ken Stern, NPR c.e.o., calls for "renewed support" from the more than 2 million citizens who called lawmakers to complain about the last real funding fight in 2005, citing a recent Pew report that highlighted NPR's growing news offerings. Not all cultural programs fared as poorly as pubcasting--the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Kennedy Center, among others, are slated to receive slight funding bumps, the Washington Post reports. Meanwhile, an OMB spokesman tells the Los Angeles Times that "The administration's proposal is consistent with the evolving role of public broadcasting in a marketplace that has benefited from the tremendous growth and diversity of programming."

Bids for Yahoo leave pubcasters little time to work on their "business model problem"

What would a Microsoft (or Google) takeover of Yahoo mean for public TV and radio? It will accelerate the growth of online advertising revenues, and traditional media will lose money so fast, "it will be too late to reinvent yourself then," predicts pubcasting consultant Rob Paterson. Public TV and radio have to move quickly to solve their "business model problem," Paterson writes, by figuring out how to "offer the best content from TV and Radio AND keep the stations whole."

Review: Lives 2 finds poetry in famous family trees

The New York Times gives high marks to African-American Lives 2, the follow-up to Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s celebrity genealogy investigation that aired on PBS in 2006. The four-part series begins Wednesday and, the Times' Felicia R. Lee writes, "belies its sleepy name with the poetry of history, the magic of science and the allure of the family trees of Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, Tina Turner, Don Cheadle, Tom Joyner and Maya Angelou."

Feb 4, 2008

White House cuts CPB funding for 2009 and beyond

President Bush's proposed federal budget for fiscal 2009 recommends deep cuts for public broadcasting: the $400 million that was previously approved for CPB next fiscal year would be cut in half and the White House would rescind $220 million from a 2010 advance appropriation of $400 million. In addition, the White House provides no advance appropriation for CPB in 2011 and no additional monies in 2009 for digital conversion costs or upgrades to the Public Radio Satellite System. The cuts represent a 56 percent reduction of CPB funding from 2008 levels, according to CPB. In a statement issued this morning, CPB President Patricia Harrison described the proposed cuts as "draconian." With such politically unpopular proposals as a freeze on all domestic programs and $178 billion cuts to Medicare, the White House will have a hard time exerting its will with Congress in the upcoming budget process, according to Politico.

Chris Anderson's "dark thoughts" about listening to and supporting public radio

Switching to an iPhone has changed the way Wired editor Chris Anderson listens to public radio, he writes on a blog tied to his influential book, The Long Tail. By capturing his favorite programs as podcasts, Anderson avoids pubradio pledge drives but voluntarily answers Ira Glass's appeal for contributions toward the bandwidth bill of This American Life. "I just don't care that much about KQED, and now that I've got another way to get the shows I like, I don't really feel much of a connection to it," Anderson writes. "Now that I get my radio via podcast, I don't have to take the bad shows with the good. I've got an a la carte menu, and I assemble my own schedule with what I want and when I want it. My feelings about radio stations are mixed, but my feelings about individual shows are crystal clear." Pubcasters Todd Mundt and Dennis Haarsager reacted to Anderson's conclusions on their own blogs, as did Robert Paterson, an organizational consultant advising stations on their new media strategies.

Feb 3, 2008

WYPR fires the talk host who led its creation

On Friday, Baltimore news/talk station WYPR fired Marc Steiner, the talk show host who led the 2002 campaign to create a freestanding station when Johns Hopkins University wanted to sell it, the Baltimore Sun reported today. Steiner blamed differences with President Tony Brandon; management blamed falling ratings for Steiner's midday show, which focuses on Baltimore affairs. WYPR plans a show called Statewide with a wider scope befitting the station, which now has repeaters in the western and eastern reaches of Maryland.

Feb 1, 2008

Election voices

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler says NewsHour's state-focused "Big Picture" series, which features discussions with citizens about election issues, is "exactly what public television ought to be doing." However, "the press, in general, and television in particular, including PBS, did not do a good job at the time of explaining the implications of Democratic primaries in Michigan and Florida," he says. Getler received letters on both topics, including one from a viewer upset by the lack of African Americans in the NewsHour's Colorado discussion group.

Jane vs. the pigskin

It would be a shame "if 'Miss Austen Regrets' goes more unseen than most Masterpiece fare because of PBS' scheduling, which forces the hollow-eyed Jane to compete against several dozen heavily muscled gentlemen in padded uniforms," says Variety of Superbowl Sunday. "It's the kind of dunderheaded scenario, frankly, from which even the dashing Mr. Darcy would be hard-pressed to affect a rescue."