Dec 3, 2009

House approves satellite reauthorization bill

The House has passed the Satellite Home Viewer Update and Reauthorization Act by a vote of 394 to 11, with 29 members not voting. Association of Public Television Stations President Larry Sidman noted, “This legislation reflects a reasoned approach to the satellite carriage needs of public television stations across the country.” The bill allows satellite operators to carry out-of-market network TV station signals for viewers who don't receive an adequate signal from their nearby station. The Senate version of the bill, the Satellite Television Extension and Localism Act, passed the Commerce Committee on Nov. 19.

Pubradio talents share interviewing tips

Virtuoso Voices, the production shop creating interview clips for classical music stations, has updated and republished its extended tip sheet on interviewing performers. "Interviewing 3.0" features advice from some of public radio's best-known hosts (Bob Edwards, Robert Siegel, Susan Stamberg), as well as its most experienced music producers (David Brown, John Diliberto, Marco Werman and Brian Newhouse, among others). Terry Gross isn't among those sharing trade secrets; but, reading through the guide, it becomes apparent that the craft of interviewing isn't a secret, it's a disciplined skill that has much to do with being prepared, listening carefully and not being afraid to ask the hard, obvious or even dumb questions. Producers David Srebnik and Cynthia May first developed the guide as a presentation to the Association of Music Personnel in Public Radio; the latest version, expanded with help from Tom Huizenga of NPR Digital, offers advice that applies to any and all interviews.

FCC offers 67 spare local FM frequencies for noncomm use

For a week in February (Feb. 19-26), the FCC will offer 67 local FM frequencies assigned to specific cities and towns. The commission postponed the filing window from December on the request of public media groups seeking more time to prepare. (Original announcement.) Though the frequencies will be reserved for noncommercial use, they remain unused in the commercial FM band — that is, above 92.1 MHz. The places on the list were chosen because at least 10 percent of their population now have access to no more than one noncomm radio service. The FCC will use a point system giving preference to local applicants with local boards and to those who don’t hold other licenses. These are mostly small cities and towns; among the larger or better known are Terre Haute, Ind., and Bozeman, Mont. Though the list includes Amherst and Canton, the FCC refers to Amherst, N.Y. (not Massachusetts) and Canton, Ill. (not Ohio). Five are in Indiana and five in Illinois. Most of the channels are designated for Class A, the weakest category of full-power FM stations, with transmitter power limited to 6 kilowatts. To coordinate with this FCC window, the Commerce Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration will extend its annual deadline for related equipment grant applications until Feb. 26.

Ramsey to pubradio: to court younger listeners, get creative, be bold

What should public radio do about the aging of its audience, as documented in the latest Walrus Research report? Given that the trend parallels a much more profound shift of aging among the U.S. population as a whole, media analyst Mark Ramsey writes, any attempts to create "younger-oriented versions" of NPR's tentpole news magazines would be the "wrong way to go."

"That's like asking Lady Gaga to cover a Peggy Lee tune and expecting it to be a hit, assuming Lady GaGa would even be interested in covering it (which she would not)," Ramsey writes on his blog Hear 2.0.

Repeating a point he made during a 2008 keynote speech to the Public Radio Program Directors conference, Ramsey notes that Jon Stewart of the Daily Show is "more popular among public radio listeners than the vast majority of public radio personalities. Jon Stewart does a type of news show. Jon Stewart reaches younger audiences." Ramsey also recommends Slate's weekly political podcast, Gabfest. "It reaches exactly the kind of younger, college-educated crowd that public radio has coveted. It sells out its occasional live events. And, of course, it's not on public radio."

WordGirl and Clifford enter the app world

Scholastic Media, the international children's publishing, education and media company, is introducing iPhone and iPod apps for several kid's shows including PBS's Clifford the Big Red Dog and WordGirl. Clifford's is titled BE BIG with Words; kids are rewarded with pictures of words they spell. For WordGirl fans there's Word Hunt (above), in which players save a city from villains by using vocabulary words. They're available from the Apps Store.

WGBH HD archives now available through Getty Images

Getty Images, one of the world's largest creators and distributors of still images, footage and multimedia, is now offering WGBH Educational Foundation's extensive library of high-def footage, it announced yesterday. Included are series such as Nova, Frontline and American Experience, as well as limited runs. The agreement gives producers, filmmakers, corporate and entertainment clients access to the offerings. Check out WGBH's footage here.

February deadlines set for PTFP equipment grant applications

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has set Feb. 4 as the application deadline for most grant applications for the fiscal year 2010 round. (Federal Register notice.) An exception: Feb. 26 is the deadline for new noncommercial FM station projects filed in the FCC’s weeklong application window that closes the same day (see item above). The agency's PTFP staff will hold webinars for applicants in coming weeks. NTIA staffer Walter Sheppard is seeking station executives to review applications—who aren’t applying for grants this year.