Jun 11, 2009

Forty-five positions gone as PBS works to balance budget

PBS today announced job cuts and other cost reductions during a staff meeting at headquarters in Arlington, Va. It faces a $3.4 million deficit in next fiscal year’s budget, spokesperson Jan McNamara told Current. A total of 45 positions, or about 10 percent of the staff, are affected, including elimination of vacancies. A six-month salary reduction of 3.85 percent for all nonunion employees starts July 1. On Jan. 1, 2010, company retirement contributions will fall from 8 percent to 6 percent; those will resume by July 2010, McNamara said. A hiring freeze currently in place will continue, and other cuts including travel will be made. No merit raises will be given. McNamara said the moves will eliminate about half the deficit. The PBS Board of Directors votes on the budget at its upcoming meeting, June 15 and 16.

NewsHour collaborations are up and running

The NewsHour unveiled two of its collaborative reporting projects on-air and online this week. Generation Next, a follow-up to Judy Woodruff's 2006-07 series on young Americans, began its month-long run with reports airing on the NewsHour and NPR on Monday. Patchwork Nation, a multimedia project examining how the recession is affecting different types of communities, also launched with feature reports by the Christian Science Monitor and KWMU in St. Louis. The Monitor created Patchwork Nation as a reporting project for the 2008 election; as part CPB's big intiative backing collaborative multimedia projects dealing with the recession, it teamed up with the NewsHour and 14 pubcasting stations to focus the coverage on economics reporting.

WNETers take a run for charity

A team of runners from WNET participated in yesterday's J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge run in Central Park. Led by Stewart Roberts of the underwriting department, participants (above) included Janice Fuld, Ashlinn Quinn, Samantha Gibb, Arielle Altman, Kristin DiQuollo, Kathryn Minas, Corey Nascenzi and Maura Thompson. The JPMorgan Chase Foundation has donated more than $1.75 million to nonprofits from runs in six countries on five continents during the past three years, according to its website.

Perhaps Gwyneth prefers green eggs?

During a recent appearance in Seattle, Anthony Bourdain had an odd question for fellow celeb chef Mario Batali about actress Gwyneth Paltrow: "Why would you go to Spain with the one b*tch who refuses to eat ham?" Paltrow is co-host of Batali's PBS show Spain ... On the Road Again. But Bourdain asked it with a wicked grin, so it's all in good fun. Paltrow, an avowed macrobiotic eater, has a website, GOOP, that raves about the virtues of the diet. Paltrow has another link to pubcasting: She was a guest on Food Matters with Mark Bittman, part of CPB's Public Radio Talent Quest.

NPR to memorialize longtime pubmedia producer Sheryl Flowers

NPR is planning a gathering to remember pubcaster Sheryl Flowers (right), who died Monday at age 42 after an 18-month battle with breast cancer. The event will be at 5 p.m. June 15. Anna Christopher, NPR spokesperson, said details are still being finalized. Flowers was a longtime executive producer of The Tavis Smiley Show on public radio and television, and current director of communications for Smiley’s production company. In an audio statement on the show's website, Smiley called Flowers “the creative force, the genius most responsible for making me sound a whole lot smarter than I am.” A full obituary will run in the June 22 issue of Current.

"Mosque" doc especially pertinent now, filmmaker says

"The Mosque in Morgantown" filmmaker Brittany Huckabee hopes it helps audiences realize the similarities and differences between religions because "that’s pretty important in a time when Americans are trying to engage with the larger Muslim world, to understand what’s going on here at home inside the often closed doors of mosques." The film, part of the America at a Crossroads project, premiered at the Metropolitan Theater in Morgantown, W.V., last night. It centers on Asra Nomani, who entered the mosque to pray in the main hall where only men were allowed. Her move caused reactions through the mosque there as well as others across the country. The film debuts on PBS on June 15. Here's more on the Crossroads project from the Nov. 6, 2006, Current.

More "WordGirls" coming to PBS

PBS is ordering an additional 26 episodes of its popular WordGirl program on PBS Kids GO! That brings the total number of half-hour shows to 78.

OPB transmitter returns after lightning short-out

One of Oregon Public Broadcasting's transmitters, hit by lightning last week, is up to full power again -- just in time to be shut down permanently on Friday for the DTV transition. “That’s kind of the joke around here,” Everett Helm, director of engineering, told the Gazette-Times in Corvallis, site of the transmitter. Helm said this was a rare occurrence: The lightning appears to have caused carbon to form inside the antenna’s electronics, which caused the equipment to heat up slowly and eventually short out over the weekend.