Jan 12, 2010

Press tour introduces critics to PBS winter programming

The Television Critics Association winter press tour is under way in Pasadena, Calif. Tomorrow is the big day for PBS, with 12 previews and an executive session (schedule here, Word document). Highlights: Actress Jamie Lee Curtis will be onstage for Dirt! The Movie; she's the narrator. Also, John Densmore, drummer for the Doors, will appear as a panelist for When You're Strange: A Film About the Doors from American Masters. Director Jonathan Demme talks about Tavis Smiley's upcoming specials. And Daniel Ellsberg will be on hand Saturday for POV's preview of The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers.

Pubradio talent pool compromised by 2009 losses, Schardt warns

For public radio's field of independent producers, 2009 was a year of both retrenchment and movement, writes Sue Schardt, executive director of the Association of Independents in Radio, in an AIRmuse feature story assessing the state of affairs from the perspective of indies. Network shows that had been platforms for the creativity of AIR members were canceled, but a new CPB-funded initiative to experiment with multi-platform production, Makers Quest 2.0, took flight and garnered support from both stations and networks. "The ability of public radio to retain and cultivate its talent pool remains compromised, and there is no clear resolution in sight," Schardt writes. "This is a significant crisis, not only for AIR, but for stations, the networks, CPB, and all concerned about the viability of the industry going forward." She sees opportunities ahead in the push by outside constituencies to restructure public broadcasting as public media, and by the growth of AIR's membership to a historic 760 members, an increasing portion of which are young adults just beginning their careers. Schardt also shares four tenets that bolster her resolve to forge ahead, despite the setbacks, including this one: "Put energy towards the projects, the people, the organizations who create a positive charge, who 'get' your vision."

Idaho governor proposes phasing out statewide pubTV funding

Idaho Gov. C.L. Otter is looking to end funding for the Idaho Public Television statewide network over the next four years starting with fiscal 2011, reports the New West Boise news site. IdahoPTV, affiliated with the state board of education, gets about $1.5 million yearly for the network, about $1 million for salaries for 11 administrative and technical positions and $350,000 to lease of the station’s Boise facility. The governor told the Spokesman-Review newspaper he thought IdahoPTV could survive loss of the funding. “They really do have an opportunity to bring in outside money and to become self-sufficient,” Otter said. Peter Morrill, IdahoPTV g.m., told New West: “We’re not going to be dramatically cutting and still have a statewide system.” Meanwhile, Boise Weekly said station's telephone message yesterday said, "We are unable to personally answer your telephone call at this moment due to the fact that our staff is in a staff meeting to discuss the governor’s recommendation to cut funds for Idaho Public Television."

Fleming, former CPB head, dies at 93

Robben Wright Fleming, former president of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, died Jan. 11 at age 93 in Ann Arbor, Mich., reports numerous media outlets including the Capital Times of Madison, Wisc. During his CPB tenure from 1979 to '81, he secured the original Annenberg Project funding vital to the growth and stability of CPB and its programs, the newspaper notes. He also was president of the University of Michigan during the turbulent 1960s and '70s, when student protests of the Vietnam War shook the campus.

"Funky chickens visit KLRU"

Really. Check out the Austin, Texas, station's blog for the wacky video. Guess what song accompanies it?

Learn more about Public Media Corps in webinar tomorrow

The National Black Programming Consortium is hosting a webinar on its Public Media Corps initiative at 2 p.m. tomorrow. The social media project hopes to expand the reach and relevance of public media to underserved groups, a statement says. Speaking at the webinar will be Jacquie Jones, executive director of the consortium; Kay Shaw, director of the corps; and Nonso Christian Ugbode, the consortium's digital media director. (Ugbode recently wrote a column for Current on the project.) They'll detail the goals of the national initiative, its use of digital tools and its local residency program. Register online for the event. David Leroy of TRAC Media Services recently told Current the project created quite a buzz at a PBS round robin late last year.