Jun 9, 2009

Texas-sized deal to bring Triple A to Dallas

KERA in Dallas will launch a Triple A public radio station in the nation's fifth largest market with its purchase of 91.7 FM, a noncommercial radio frequency owned by religious broadcaster Covenant Educational Media under the call letters KVTT. The deal, announced today and billed as the largest radio transaction of 2009 to date, was brokered by Public Radio Capitol and partially financed by its Public Radio Fund. Other lenders include National Cooperative Bank and FJC, a public foundation that offers a special loan program for nonprofits. With a potential audience of 5.5 million listeners in the Dallas/Fort Worth metropolitan region, the transaction is a major expansion for public radio's Triple A format, according to Erik Langner, who has been working on the deal since January 2008. "We did a lot of due diligence with the board to see how other public Triple A radio stations were operated," KERA marketing chief Debra Johnson tells a local blogger for the Dallas Observer. "We . . . decided it was an opportunity we couldn't pass by because it would probably never present itself again." KERA President Mary Ann Alhadeff promises a "very, very rich musical discovery experience" in this interview with a KERA News reporter. The new station is slated to launch this fall. KERA also posted a FAQ on the transaction here.

Can funder-filmmaker relationships be saved? Perhaps The Prenups can help

"The Prenups: What Filmmakers and Funders Should Talk About Before Tying the Knot" is an informative new site "dedicated to improving communications and collaborations among filmmakers, funders, strategists and advocates," according to the Center for Social Media, which advises the project. Money people, policy people and film people each bring different skills, needs, concerns and assets to collaborations, the center says. The Prenups explores why some funder/maker relationships thrive, while others don't.

Prepare now to receive emergency info after DTV transition, Red Cross warns

Now the Red Cross is getting involved in the final DTV transition, which occurs June 12. In a press release, the group said the switch from analog to digital signals "will have a real effect on the disaster preparedness plans of many people who have relied on small portable televisions with antennas for emergency communications in a disaster." Those sets won't work without a converter box, as Broadcasting & Cable points out. The FCC issued a statement (PDF) instructing viewers to connect a battery-powered digital-to-analog converter box to continue to receive emergency warnings in a power outage.

Think tank examines Budget Hero user data

Remember Budget Hero? That's the interactive national budget game launched in May 2008 by American Public Media. Players use the same economic model and data as the Congressional Budget Office, choosing from among more than 160 policy options to try to balance the budget. The game caught on quickly: Within three weeks it had been linked in at least 100 blogs. Since its inception about 10 percent of players, around 15,000, left enough anonymous data to do some crunching. David Rejeski, director of the Serious Games Initiative at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in D.C., offers up some interesting stats. Popular policy options include bringing troops home soon, cutting pork barrel spending, cutting military spending by 10 percent and capping and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. Also, more than 50 percent of the players earned two or more of the 10 possible badges and played multiple times. In an October 2008 piece for Current, Contributing Editor Louis Barbash wrote that Budget Hero "is not by any means a comprehensive tool for estimating budget impacts of various policies, but it does give users a sense of the magnitude and interconnectedness of the policy promises that get thrown around during campaigns."

Station cuts continue, Wisconsin hit

Wisconsin Public Television is cutting five positions. Gone are three unfilled slots, and two contracts that will not be renewed, James Steinbach, WPT director of television tells Travel expenses have also been cut. One of the network’s flagship shows, the half-hour weekly magazine In Wisconsin also shrinks from 19 new episodes per year to 13. Steinbach cited the ongoing recession and state budget woes. Milwaukee Public Television, distinct from the Wisconsin network, also has frozen hiring and salaries, reduced use of freelancers, and dropped programs with no underwriting support, says Ellis Bromberg, g.m.

APTS Twittering, Facebooking

Now pubcasters can keep up with the Association of Public Television Stations through its Twitter account and Facebook page. Jeffrey Davis, vice president of communications, said in an email to Current that APTS will use Twitter to update stations on legislative and regulatory hearings, press conferences, projects of importance and other tweets. On its Facebook page, visitors can read APTS news updates, post links and comments, and find out about hearings and other events. Davis said APTS hopes both will "enhance the presence of APTS in the online community."