Jun 30, 2010

Years later, columnist still thinks NPR is a "cultish echo chamber"

The Miami Herald's columnist Glen Garvin recently came across a piece he wrote in June 1993 bashing NPR. Now he writes: "NPR remains a cultish echo chamber with a tiny audience anchored in a dying medium, funded almost entirely with money extorted from taxpayers. Other than that, public radio is great." Here's the original 7,300-word column that ran in the Chicago Reader.

"The Old Scout" steps aside, for now

Garrison Keillor is taking a hiatus. Nope, not from pubradio's popular Prairie Home Companion, but rather from "The Old Scout," his weekly newspaper column. The Star Tribune in Minneapolis says Keillor told his syndicator, Tribune Media Services, that he wants to complete a screenplay and start writing a novel. No word on when he'll return to his newspaper writing.

N.C. college station hopes to become the latest NPR affiliate

The radio station at Gaston College in Dallas, N.C., is beginning the process of becoming an NPR affiliate, according to the Gaston Gazette. The catalyst, officials at the community college say, was losing a state grant when the Legislature zeroed out college radio funding this year. Fundraisers weren’t bringing in enough money to WSGE and the college had to make up the shortfall. The station has applied for a CPB grant that would help pay for becoming an NPR affiliate; it will hear on that in July.

Kerger signs on for three more years at PBS

PBS CEO Paula Kerger has inked another three-year contract, according to PBS. No word on salary. According to a 2009 survey of nonprofits by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Kerger was making $534,500 at the end of fiscal 2008, up from $424,209 in 2007. During 2008 she had $60,198 in benefits and an expense account of $11,225.

Uproar in Charlottesville over pubradio format change

A change in format at WTJU, the University of Virginia pubradio station in Charlottesville, is the subject of dueling forums, a walkout by a longtime DJ and an upcoming town hall meeting. The furor began, according to the C-Ville arts and news site, when new g.m. Burr Beard sent an internal e-mail describing “The All New Consistent and Reliable WTJU." The station currently plays an eclectic mixture of music selected by DJs. The proposal would drop the number of weekly hours for rock and jazz and institute a rotation of four songs per hour, chosen by department directors from 20 releases and electronically placed on a DJ’s program log for airplay each hour. All this has not gone over well with DJ's, notes C-Ville. WTJU’s former Rock Music Director Nick Rubin told Radio Survivor that station staffers and fans were “shocked and appalled” about the short notice and little debate over the change. But as Burr said in the internal email, obtained by C-Ville: "It’s not enough to expose people to new music when it’s just a smattering of all kinds of music." He added that the overhaul is a response to a downturn in fundraising and low station listenership—"7,500 weekly, the smallest of any noncomm station serving Charlottesville." In addition to his previous work as g.m. and program director of WXLV-FM at Lehigh Carbon Community College, Beard is "one of the great hammer dulcimer players of the late 20th and early 21st centuries," according to his website.

WV pubcasters seeking permission for staffers to work pledge drives

The West Virginia governor's office is attempting to determine whether Educational Broadcasting Authority employees can still participate in on-air pledge drives for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Charleston Gazette is reporting. A recent legislative audit determined that pubcasting staff should not provide services for the network's two fundraising nonprofs, the Public Broadcasting Foundation and the Friends of Public Broadcasting. Friends organizations supporting pubcasting in both West Virginia and Florida have recently come under scrutiny (Current, June 21, 2010). The groups give pubcasters more flexibility and speed in purchasing and contracting than government procedures usually permit and they can pay for programming or other mission-related activities that the stations couldn’t otherwise afford.