Jul 23, 2008

Haarsager's "joyless decision" on Bryant Park

Interim CEO Dennis Haarsager explains NPR's decision to cancel Bryant Park Project to fans who are lobbying to save the show: "For non-commercial media such as NPR, sustaining a new program of this financial magnitude requires attracting users from each of the platforms we can access. Ultimately, we recognized that wasn't happening with BPP." In an earlier posting on his Technology360 blog, Haarsager reveals his personal conflict over a decision he describes as "joyless." "I'm not sure how someone who has done articles, speeches and consulting about the importance of disruptive investments . . . , supported the BPP initiative when I was an NPR board member, and is now trying to shape NPR into more of a digital company, finds oneself on this side of a decision to end this great project." Meanwhile, Jeff Horwich, host and principal blogger for Minnesota Public Radio's In the Loop, refutes the idea that BPP's demise signals the end of NPR's efforts to attract younger audiences. [Scroll down for Horwich's July 15 posting on the tactical failures of BPP and Fair Game, another series that, like In the Loop, aimed to serve web savvy listeners under age 35.]

"What's wrong with WNYC?"

Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff isn't happy that WNYC has taken PRI's "illuminating" To the Point off the air, and he's unimpressed with the station's explanation that they want to put new, more diverse voices on the air. Hentoff calls To the Point's replacement, Michel Martin's Tell Me More, "a reasonably competent but basically undistinguished magazine-style show—sort of like 'smooth jazz' radio in contrast to Newark's WGBO-FM." When he called WNYC's public relations folks, says Hentoff, he "got a whiff of WNYC's yearning for younger demographics—just like the commercial stations. That's the reason for The Takeaway, the new alternative to National Public Radio's invaluable Morning Edition, which used to be heard on both AM and FM. The Takeaway, a breezy but often marginal hour-long show, makes me jump ship to WNYC-FM at 8 a.m., which is now the only place to hear the far more invaluable and in-depth Morning Edition." Hentoff says he's seen many angry letters from listeners to WNYC about To the Point. "'Diversity,' of course, is as vitally essential in radio as it is everywhere else," says Hentoff, and he points to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now as a "continually invigorating example."

Nova ScienceNow: grotesque, tantalizing

"Take a little of the grotesque, a lot of the tantalizing and a heavy dose of friendly analogies, and you have Nova ScienceNow, a science program in a newsmagazine format that will leave laymen of almost any age feeling smarter and better informed," writes New York Times critic Neil Genzlinger in a review of tonight's episode on the leech's return to the medical field, scientists' search for extraterrestrial signals, creating stem cells without the use of embryos, and a new deep-sea camera. [Episode website.] "Pretty much everything gets an analogy, apt or ridiculous," says Genzlinger. "Stem-cell treatments would be like putting fettuccine in a blender and making a cheesecake out of it. Yes, [host] Dr. [Neil deGrasse] Tyson puts some fettuccine in a blender." The info is all "served up brightly, and at a level that a child can grasp but that doesn’t bore an adult." NOVA, the mothership of this newsmag spinoff, isn't exactly shining--the show's ratings have been decreasing since 2004 (Current, May 27, 2008).

Newscasts provided for commercial station

Starting today, Santa Fe Public Radio (KSFR) will provide five newscasts every weekday to commercial KVSF-FM, owned by Hutton Broadcasting LLC, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported. The Triple A station ("Project 101.5") will air the newscasts at about 7:25, 8:25, 9 and 9:25 a.m. and 5:20 p.m. In the regional AP competition, KSFR has been named New Mexico News Station of the Year for four years in a row and has received more than 50 awards in five years.