Sep 15, 2009

Maryland cuts 10 percent of workforce

Maryland Public Television has announced 18 layoffs, or about 10 percent of its staff, effective Oct. 6. There will also be furloughs, according to a station statement. Job cuts come from the technology, content, institutional advancement, communications and administration units. MPT President Robert Shuman said there'll be no loss of programming.

CPB invests $505k in Michael Eric Dyson Show

CPB announced major funding to producers of the Michael Eric Dyson Show, a midday talk show for African-American audiences that launched in April on public radio stations in 18 markets. The $505,000 grant to producing station WEAA in Baltimore covers one year, but CPB anticipates multi-year support, according to a spokeswoman. In a news release, CPB President Pat Harrison described CPB's commitment to ensuring a "diversity of voices in public radio." "[T]his grant . . . is an investment in that commitment and an expansion of the relationship between public media and diverse audiences," she said. "We're very pleased that CPB is investing in WEAA's national production capacity," said LaFontaine Oliver, g.m., who launched the show in collaboration with Loretta Rucker of the African American Programming Consortium. "And we're excited about bringing Michael Eric Dyson's exploration of important issues to a national audience through Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and other public radio stations." Morgan State University, WEAA's licensee, is one of 105 HBCU institutions nationally.

CPB board mulls getting information more directly to public

The CPB Board, meeting at headquarters in Washington, D.C., today pondered an intriguing concept: Using advertising, or even scrolling information at the bottom of commercial TV news broadcasts, to bring more attention to the important work being done by pubcasting. In a conversation sparked by talk of the new CPB-funded, several members commented on the need to get that H1N1 resource directly to the public, not relying entirely on local stations to push it out to local viewers. CPB is "continually frustrated" by the public not knowing how connected it is to communities, said CPB head Pat Harrison. "We need to take a look at what we can and can't do, and how much money it would require." Is it possible for the flu portal address to be included in a scroll beneath, say, newscasts on MSNBC, FOX or CNN? Or advertising directing consumers to the portal on commercial networks? Billboards, or ads in airports? But then there's the sensitive issue of tax money being used to buy advertising. But as outgoing Board Chair Chris Boskin noted, "Taxpayer money is paying for this information, which is important to taxpayers." Member David Pryor discussed approaching billboard companies for free ads as a public service. Harrison suggested the board explore the advertising issue for both the flu portal as well as the systemwide economic outreach initiative that grew out of the mortgage crisis project (Current, July 14, 2008).

PRX assists cross-border training for Spanish-language journalists

Public Radio Exchange has partnered to create a site for sharing community web and radio reports across borders. Its collaborator, the International Center for Journalists, yesterday announced the two-year project funded by the McCormick Foundation. ICFJ trainers will work on radio and web skills with journalists for participating Spanish-language radio stations in the United States and Latin America. The project kicks off with a panel discussion about broadband access in minority communities at the National Press Club Sept. 17.

Civil rights footage found in stations' attic search

Stations uncovered forgotten doc footage on several civil rights movements as they prepared for the preservation phase of the CPB-funded American Archives pilot project. Included were recordings of movement leaders Langston Hughes, Thurgood Marshall, Gloria Steinem and Harvey Milk as well as the Ku Klux Klan, some on 16mm film unseen for decades.

CPB hopes to use the project to raise funds for a wider preservation effort. In the second phase of the project, 22 stations get grants to preserve and digitize historical content. Project manager Oregon Public Broadcasting said it will give CPB-funded grants totaling $2 million. The pilot focuses on the civil rights movement plus more recent recollections of World War II produced to accompany the PBS series The War.

TV grantees include WTVS, Detroit; WNET, New York; WHUT, Washington, D.C.; KCPT, Kansas City; and the Louisiana, Iowa and Arkansas state networks. Radio grantees include WYSO, Yellow Springs, Ohio; Minnesota Public Radio and Pacifica Radio, Berkeley, Calif. Radio/TV joint licensees include WSIU, Carbondale, Ill.; Wisconsin Public Television and Radio; WGBH, Boston; WVIZ/WCPN, Cleveland; WQED, Pittsburgh; WOUB, Athens, Ohio; WKNO, Memphis; WILL, Urbana, Ill.; WCNY, Syracuse, N.Y.; Mississippi Public Broadcasting; KQED, San Francisco; and Texas Public Broadcasting Association. First-phase grantees were announced in June.