Jul 13, 2010

CPB selects NFCB affiliate as its liaison with black pubradio

CPB is backing the National Federation of Community Broadcasters as its service provider for African American public radio stations. The decision, announced after a meeting of African American station reps at NFCB’s Community Radio Conference last month, adds a third ethnic radio group to NFCB’s roster — African American Public Radio Stations (AAPRS).

This is a new group — not the preexisting, similarly named African American Public Radio Consortium led by Loretta Rucker, which applied unsuccessfully for the grant.

NFCB already provides an organizational umbrella for Native Public Media and Latino Public Radio. “We have experience and a track record of dealing with the diversity of our industry,” said new NFCB President Maxie Jackson, who forged strong relationships with many African American station execs during his previous jobs as a station programmer and consultant.

The federation will hire a project manager and assemble a group of station advisors to help the stations with fundraising, programming, professional development, institutional positioning and community engagement. Development Exchange Inc., the National Center for Media Engagement, public TV’s National Black Programming Consortium, and Public Radio Exchange have signed on as partners with the project, Jackson said.

As the group develops, NFCB will study the feasibility of creating fundraising hubs for African American stations. “The African American stations need to do a much better job in aggregating financial resources,” Jackson said. Groups of up to five stations would improve fundraising results by sharing fundraising staffs, expertise and equipment.

CPB’s one-year grant of $300,000 is renewable, subject to an evaluation of NFCB’s progress in meeting stations’ needs.

Earlier in June, CPB discussed the pending RFP with African American station reps in St. Paul, Minn. “We wanted to hear what people had to say, and the meeting reinforced our selection,” said Bruce Theriault, senior v.p. of radio. “They confirmed the issues, priorities and things they wanted to deal with.”

CPB’s selection of NFCB for the role complicates the future of the African American Public Radio Consortium led by Loretta Rucker. The consortium, which was NPR’s partner in creating a series of talk shows targeting black listeners — Tavis Smiley to News and Notes and Tell Me More, lost Michael Eric Dyson as host of a new talk show after a short run last spring. CPB backed a new Dyson show, now in production at Baltimore’s WEAA, but declined a funding proposal for Upfront with Tony Cox, the consortium’s successor to its broadcast with Dyson. Upfront ceased production in May.

Rucker recently said the consortium would welcome CPB’s assistance to African American stations, no matter who won the grant.

Was George Schultz doc funding too closely linked to former Secretary of State?

The funding of a documentary on former Secretary of State George Schultz is coming under scrutiny by The New York Times as well as FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting). It's a three-part series titled "Turmoil and Triumph" that began on PBS Monday (July 12) and runs the next two Mondays, produced by Free to Choose Media.

Sources for financial backing for what the Times dubs "this tribute" include the Stephen Bechtel Fund (where Schultz was president for seven years, as well as a board member), and Charles Schwab (Schultz was a board member on the Charles Schwab Corp.). FAIR points out that this means the doc was "partially sponsored by corporations linked to Shultz's corporate career." And it cites several reviewers who commented that they thought the doc was overwhelmingly positive.

John Wilson, PBS programming chief, told the Times that PBS evaluates programs on their merits. "PBS has a vivid track record of covering this administration’s key players. It goes without saying this is not our first look at the Reagan White House and not the last."

FAIR, meanwhile, posted PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler's contact info and urged readers to call or e-mail him with their concerns.

Maryland candidate protests MPT online interview vs. broadcast

When Maryland Public Television invited candidates to do interviews for its website, one literally replied, "Go to hell" -- because he feels that public broadcasting is on television, not on the Web.

Larry Unger, MPT's chief operating officer, said the station has done televised debates for some statewide offices in the past. This year, it is conducting short interviews with statewide and Congressional candidates to be posted on its website. "People don’t want to sit through a program and watch interviews with all of the candidates," Unger said. "That would take a really long time. This way, they can do what they want, and all of the interviews will be available to them."

Invitations to participate went out to 48 candidates last week; seven or eight candidates have already made appointments for their interviews, Unger said. But Blaine Taylor, a Democrat challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski in the primary, wrote his scathing response to the invitation e-mail from MPT.

"I think it’s foolish, outrageous and insulting,” Taylor said in an interview with MPT receives state taxpayer funding, so it should be doing a public service by broadcasting the interviews on television, Taylor said. He insisted he wasn't concerned about the audience numbers, but rather the principle. "The two key words are 'public broadcasting,'" he said. "You paid for it, I paid for it, all taxpayers paid for it. It’s what they should be doing."