Jul 18, 2008

'Wrench' a jalopy, viewers say

There's been no shortage of dismissive reviews of Click & Clack's As the Wrench Turns, the animated Car Talk spin-off PBS launched July 9. Now viewers weigh in, and it's not much prettier. "Click and Clack? Surely, you jest!" Mary Sykes of Raleigh, N.C., wrote to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler. "That you who preach journalistic integrity would subject your viewership to such dribble on such a class act station is almost beyond repair."

Three stations win My Source awards

CPB announced yesterday its My Source Radio Testimonial Awards, given to three public radio stations and the listeners who recorded promotional spots about the roles the broadcasters play in their lives. The winners were Vermont Public Radio, KWMU in St. Louis, and WBGO in Newark, N.J. “Through the My Source testimonials we are hearing directly from the people who use and value public radio and the important role it plays in their lives,” said CPB President Pat Harrison at the Public Radio Marketing and Development Conference in Orlando.

WGBH to turn off mega-billboard

Boston’s WGBH will temporarily shut down its huge electronic screen, visible to drivers on the Massachusetts Turnpike, reports the Boston Globe. LEDs in the screen are turning off due to overheating, and the station plans to fix the problem. (Story in Current about the screen and WGBH’s new headquarters.)

Multiplatform town hall addresses St. Louis foreclosure crisis

Rob Paterson reports on the first town hall meeting held as part of the Facing the Mortgage Crisis project at St. Louis’s KETC-TV. “St. Louisans could see the enormous amount of help that was there for them,” he writes on the FASTforward blog. “They could hear stories of all the things that could happen for bad or good. They could feel hope.” (Coverage in Current.)

Feulner abruptly signs off in Utah

The former president of KPCW in Park City, Utah, unexpectedly left his morning show Tuesday to go on sabbatical, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. Blair Feulner, who started the station in 1980, cited a dispute with the station’s board. “The board of trustees will have to meet to determine whether we want to revisit Blair Feulner’s employment status,” said a board member. (Via the PRPD blog.)

Sesame Workshop prepares to unveil new website

An upcoming revamp of Sesame Street’s website will feature a live-action Muppet guide and an option that can help prevent children from straying to other websites, reports the New York Times. Sesame Workshop is taking the site seriously. “We view this as really the future of the workshop, as becoming the primary channel of distribution down the line,” Gary E. Knell, president, told the paper.

SnagFilms: streaming docs from PBS, others

Todd Mundt takes note of SnagFilms, a site for viewing documentaries online that has PBS as a partner. “PBS has made a few moves like this — each of them smart,” he writes. “I’m watching less over-the-air public TV than ever, despite having four multicast channels on my TV, but I’m watching more PBS than in years, on other platforms that I use a lot — from Netflix (”Napoleon” was this week’s home viewing) to iTunesU and now SnagFilms.”

Cartoon Tom and Ray are cute, but...

Wednesday’s PBS debut of Tom and Ray Magliozzi in animated form gets a mixed review from the New York Times's Ginia Bellafante, who calls As the Wrench Turns “indisputably adorable” but says, “A television program with scripts and scene boards and illustrators doesn’t merely impede their spontaneity. It also carries the vague hint of ambition, and the Magliozzi brothers have built a career relishing in the joys, essentially, of just sitting around.” (Earlier Current article.)