Jan 30, 2008

KOOP ex-volunteer torched the station over music picks, officials charge

On Jan. 5, Paul Feinstein, a 24-year-old former KOOP volunteer angry about past playlist decisions, poured gasoline over the community radio station's control panels and lit them on fire, Austin fire officials say. The resulting blaze caused more then $300,000 in damage and knocked the station off the air until last week, when it resumed operations in a donated studio. Feinstein has been charged with second degree felony arson and could face two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Feinstein, who has no criminal record, had clashed with another volunteer because his selections for an overnight Internet-only program had been changed, according to the Austin American-Statesman. He quit the station about a week before the fire. "We are kind of worried that people will look at us like a bunch of idiots," Andrew Dickens, the president of KOOP told the American-Statesman. "Who the hell would have thought somebody would have snapped?" Ironic detail: Feinstein's jazz program was called "Mellow Down Easy."

Detroit radio vet will head pubTV station

Detroit Public Television's new president, as of Friday, will be Ritschard (Rich) Homberg, who has been v.p. and g.m. of CBS's all-news WWJ-AM for more than a decade, the Detroit Free Press reported. Homberg succeeds Steve Antoniotti, who resigned in April after an apparent conflict with his board. "My strongest interests are in local programming and really working to complete the capital campaign," Homberg told the newspaper.

NYTimes on WNET's Shapiro: He's not shy

WNET's new president Neal Shapiro, who came from NBC News, "hasn't been shy about putting his at times unorthodox stamp on WNET and his own team in place," write Elizabeth Jensen in a New York Times article about his first year at the station. "Four of the station's top executives have left," and Shapiro says a coming restructuring of staff may lead to "change behind the scenes." The story highlights his focus on local documentary, online video, and a new arts program with him as host. "Mr. Shapiro said he was reveling in no longer chasing Britney Spears interviews and in having an educational department to work with," writes Jensen, "but he acknowledged that he found the pace at his new employer slow. 'One of the things that I think I can bring here is to try to make us a little more nimble,' he said." 

Flailing WTVP strikes new deal with Bank of America

WTVP in Peoria, Ill., has struck a new deal with Bank of America to settle the station's debt, writes station President Chet Tomczyk on the WTVP website. The bank accepted WTVP's offer to settle the station's debt at $5.2 million, due by February 28. See Current's story on the station's debt problems here.

Gates incorporates genealogy into new mag

Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard professor and host of the PBS series African American Lives, is heading up The Root, a new online magazine launched this week by The Washington Post Company. The magazine, aimed at a black audience, covers politics and culture and features interactive tools for readers to track their ancestry.

PBS puts free educational content on iTunes U

PBS is now offering free multimedia educational content on iTunes U, the educational area of iTunes. Housed in the "Beyond Campus" section, the offerings--video, lectures, interviews, teacher guides--come from KQED, WETA, WNET and WGBH.

Competition for Colorado news listeners

The channel swap planned for Colorado Public Radio's KFCR News and KVOD Classical stations will cut off service to music lovers in Fort Collins and bring competition for news listeners now served by Greeley's KUNC, reports the Coloradoan.