Dec 17, 2009

Bohdan and Paul talked sneakers

How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin is bringing back some McCartney memories for KCET programming guru Bohdan Zachary. Turns out he actually chatted with Paul McCartney -- yes, gabbed, in person, for several minutes, with THE Paul McCartney -- backstage at a 1976 Wings Over the World Tour concert stop at Madison Square Garden. A buddy of his was a longtime friend of Paul's wife Linda. As Linda and his friend caught up, Zachary and the former Beatle visited. "First, he complimented me on my 'cool shoes' (old sneakers I'd hand painted) and engaged me in conversation all about me," Zachary recalls. "He particularly enjoyed hearing about my home life in Detroit, loved that I spoke only Ukrainian until I was 6 years old, and that I secretly listened to 'Abbey Road' on headphones every night before I went to bed."

Local Community Radio Act passes House

The House yesterday approved the Local Community Radio Act, which would effectively remove channel-spacing regs that have previously blocked new low power FM stations in urban areas (Current, Sept. 20). Reclaim the Media reports that the Act "would allow for the creation of hundreds, possibly thousands, of new, low power FM radio stations dedicated to broadcasting community news and local perspectives to neighborhoods across the country." The Senate version has been okayed by the Commerce Committee, but a full Senate vote has not been scheduled.

Kasell says he'll be "NPR's roving ambassador," complete with magic tricks

NPR news voice Carl Kasell, who'll do his final broadcast for Morning Edition on Dec. 30, chatted with Ozarks Public Radio yesterday about his past and future. Topics included his North Carolina accent ("All of us who were born below the Mason-Dixon line, at some time had to deal with it, to get rid of it. . . . I read some books on the subject and worked with some very good people who did not have an accent and who would help me along the way to get rid of it") and his next adventures ("I’m going to be NPR’s roving ambassador. I’ll be attending fundraisers, any kind of an event a station has and would like to have me there to help out, give a speech, do a little magic. I’m an amateur magician. Anything I can do to help an NPR station, I’ll be there and do it"). He'll also continue his on-air duties as "official judge and scorekeeper" on Wait Wait . . . Don't Tell Me!

Film, radio producers among United States Artists fellows

Frequent producers for public radio Scott Carrier of Salt Lake City (Hearing Voices), and Elizabeth Meister and Dan Collison of Three Oaks, Mich. (Long Haul Productions), were among 50 individuals named United States Artists fellows for 2009. Also three film/video producers: Cruz Angeles of New York (Sundance 2009 debut Don't Let Me Drown), Charles Burnett of Los Angeles (first episode of The Blues, Killer of Sheep), Heather Courtney of Austin, Texas (Los Trabajadores on Independent Lens) and Renée Tajima-Peña of Los Angeles (Calavera Highway on P.O.V., 2008). Each will receive an unrestricted $50,000 grant. United States Artists was founded in 2005 in response to a finding of an Urban Institute study that 96 percent of Americans appreciate the arts but only 27 percent believe that artists contribute to the good of society. The Ford, Rockefeller, Prudential and Rasmuson foundations donated $22 million to establish USA; additional donors' gifts go 100 percent to the artists. Diane Kaplan, former head of Alaska Public Radio Network, is president of the Rasmuson Foundation and secretary/treasurer of USA.

Biden announces first broadband stimulus grants today

Eighteen broadband stimulus projects in 17 states worth $182 million will be announced today by Vice President Joseph Biden in Dawsonville, Ga. Public broadcasters are among the many nonprofit and commercial entities vying for the funds (Current, Sept. 21) in four categories: middle mile, to build or improve high-speed connections to communities; last mile, connecting users to their community's broadband infrastructure; public computing, to expand computer centers; and sustainable broadband, for projects that promote broadband demand. UPDATE: No public broadcasting projects announced in this round. Biggest single grant this time is $39.7 million with $9.9 million in matching funds, to Albany, N.Y.-based ION Hold Co., for 10 middle-mile fiber optic segments in 70 rural communities in New York, Pennsylvania and Vermont. Smallest: A $106,503 loan with $87,405 in matching funds for Big Island Broadband/Aloha Broadband Inc., to provide high-speed service to an unserved area of some 600 residents and businesses in the northern part of the island. More announcements are coming periodically through February 2010 for this first round of grants. Rules for the final round should be announced in January, with all funding awarded by September 2010.