Aug 20, 2009

Julia Child, toaster-oven chef

So many Americans have fond memories of Julia Child's legendary cooking shows on PBS. But Bohdan Zachary, chief programmer at KCET, is lucky to have memories of a very special experience: visiting Child in 2002 in her apartment at a Montecito, Calif., seniors' complex. "Julia was the one and only resident allowed to turn her guest bedroom into a kitchen," noted Zachary, who was there with a camera crew to interview Child for a retrospective to run during a fundraiser. Zachary made an interesting discovery in the kitchen -- a toaster oven. Child told him she enjoyed learning new ways to prepare food using the handy little appliance.

What does it mean to be a "NextGen" station?

The availability of station webstreams through iPhone apps such as the Public Radio Player "ramps up the pressure on local broadcast stations to figure out what their unique value proposition is, given the opportunities for bypass," says PRX's Jake Shapiro in this extensive Q&A with Xconomy Boston. Mobile phone subscribers are increasingly using the devices to tune into the pubradio outlets and programs of their own choosing, but it will be a "some time" before this new distribution technology cuts into the audience for pubradio's traditional broadcast service, he adds. "So one of the risks is actually that there isn’t the same sense of urgency, because it doesn’t feel like a crisis, even though there is a fairly widespread agreement that the transformation is underway." Stations offering their streams on the Public Radio Player and programming secondary channels now have a "leg up" in transforming themselves into multimedia hubs, Shapiro says, but it won't be a cakewalk: "[T]hey have a window of time where a direct appeal to a sizeable audience can help them develop a Web presence that’s meaningful. And they have a lot of potential assets at play. But there is still some strategic confusion, I think, over what it means to be a next-generation station." Shapiro elaborates on the challenges of creating the player, and what it will take to convince Apple to allow public media to solicit donations on its iTunes platform, in the full interview.