Jun 23, 2009

"30 Minute Music Hour" rocks on

Wisconsin Public Television's 30 Minute Music Hour, in its second season, "seems to grow more ambitious with each episode," according to The Paper, a webpage of the Madision, Wisc., arts mag Isthmus. The first season began with live online performances that would run on the pubTV station a few days later. This year, the show won't be posted permanently until it runs on TV a few days after the initial web performance. Musicians play live on the Web and answer questions from a "moderator-turned-stage manager," as The Paper says. It's the brainchild of producer Andy Moore, who added: "So far, I haven't found anyone else on a professional soundstage putting up a live, 30-minute set of music with four cameras and a professional director."

New theater coming for Austin City Limits

Austin City Limits, the KLRU-owned pubTV favorite, next year moves to a new home. The name is still being decided but may be Austin City Limits Theater. The show's 320 seats will grow to 2,750. It'll cost around $40 million by the time it's finished around October 2010. The ACL stage will be moved from its University of Texas studio to the new theater.

WashPo, CQ veteran to join NPR Digital

NPR hired Mark Stencel, a veteran of the Washington Post and Congressional Quarterly, as its new managing editor of digital news. "His mix of experience in breaking news, political reporting, digital innovation, technology leadership and the business is wholly unique and impressive," wrote his new NPR bosses Dick Meyer and Kinsey Wilson in this memo announcing the appointment. Stencel is leaving Governing magazine and, where he is executive editor, deputy publisher and a columnist/blogger.

Sesame Street coming soon to Tampa Bay's Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay (Fla.) knows how to get to Sesame Street -- build it. It's planning a Sesame children's attraction similar to the one at the Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Va., location. The park filed plans with the city on June 12 for a roller coaster and four buildings, including a 3,513-square-foot "character support and photo" facility. A Busch Gardens rep said an official announcement will come later this summer.

Smiley brings 37 pizzerias to Indiana

Pubcaster Tavis Smiley, a native of Kokomo, Ind., is opening 37 Marco's Pizza franchises during the next five years in an effort to create some 1,000 jobs in the Indianapolis area. The outlets will be in areas that need economic development. Smiley estimated the restaurants will generate at least $1 billion into the state economy over 20 years. His first local pizzeria opened in April with a staff of about 20 workers. The second should be in operation before the end of the year.

Ombud's advice on the torture question: "show don't tell"

"I recognize that it's frustrating for some listeners to have NPR not use the word torture to describe certain practices that seem barbaric," writes NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard in a column responding to complaints about NPR's editorial policy. "But the role of a news organization is not to choose sides in this or any debate." Shepard shares excerpts of a recent memo by David Sweeney, managing editor of NPR News, advising journalists to use euphemisms such as "extreme" or "harsh" interrogation techniques. She proposes that journalists describe rather than characterize controversial methods such as waterboarding: "[R]eporters could say that the U.S. military poured water down a detainee's mouth and nostrils for 40 seconds. Or they could detail such self-explanatory techniques as forcing detainees into cramped confines crawling with insects, or forced to stand for hours along side a wall. A basic rule of vivid writing is: "Show, Don't Tell." Be sure to read comments reacting to Shepard's online column. More reactions on's Romenesko and Salon.

KCET drops its 45-year-old program guide

Citing a "downturn in our sources of revenue," KCET president Al Jerome has announced the station will discontinue its printed program guide, effective immediately. "This is not an easy decision to make," Jerome said in a statement. "The magazine has been a part of KCET for nearly 45 years." KCET is offering KCET eNews in an e-mail form biweekly for programming information and printable listings.

Ex-GPBer indicted in theft of $21,000

A former Georgia Public Broadcasting finance department employee was indicted Monday on 46 counts of felony theft. Belinda Davis, also known as Belinda Botley Usher, allegedly stole more than $21,000 in a complicated fraud scheme. She was terminated from GPB in February 2008 when the theft was discovered. "We can't comment on this indictment but I can tell you that we hope for a quick resolution and justice," station spokeswoman Nancy Zintak told Current. "At GPB our highest priority is to be good stewards of our member support and their trust, and we will continue to do so."