Oct 12, 2010

Forty years ago: KPFT bombed off the air twice in its first year

Pacifica Radio's KPFT in Houston "was the first radio station in the United States to be bombed off the air" in May 1970, soon after going on the air, recalled Rick Campbell in a Houston Chronicle blog. That October, 40 years ago this month, the station was dynamited into silence a second time during a broadcast of Arlo Guthrie's song "Alice's Restaurant."
Three members of the Ku Klux Klan were arrested; two got off by testifying against Jimmy Dale Hutto, who was convicted and sent to jail. He allegedly planned to bomb the Pacifica stations in Berkeley and Los Angeles.

When the station resumed broadcasting in January 1971, PBS's Great American Dream Machine covered the event live. "Outside this room, people are celebrating free speech," said station manager Larry Lee on PBS, "and something is wrong when free speech is a cause for celebration, and there are armed police out there guarding us." Guthrie wrote a song for the occasion, including these lyrics: "When I get to Houston, pull out my strings, walk to the station, you can hear me sing — you get bombed, all God's chillun get bombed."

How to use video games for more than fun

"Gaming for the Greater Good" is the intriguing title of the Wednesday (Oct. 13) webinar from the National Center for Media Engagement. Learn how video games can do much more than entertain. Online will be Gabrielle Cayton-Hodges, research fellow at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop; Felix Brandon, general manager of MoneyIsland, an online financial literacy game; and Alexa Belajac, director of education and community engagement at WYEP-FM. Register here.

First Core Publisher news site explores upstate New York economy

The first Core Publisher news site from Public Interactive is up and running to "rave reviews" from sponsoring station WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., according to the Core blog. Innovation Trail is a collaboration among WXXI and four other upstate New York stations: WNED in Buffalo, WRVO in Oswego, WSKG in Bringhamton, and WMHT in Schenectady. The CPB-funded site focuses on the area economy. The blog says this is the "alpha version" of the website.

NPR study oversimplifies barriers to audience growth, Sutton says

NPR's latest audience study provides good insights for promotion, marketing and multi-platform service strategies, but its recommendation that NPR adopt a less formal presentation style "is an over-simplification that public radio cannot afford to accept," writes John Sutton, Maryland-based public radio marketing consultant, on his blog. Many programming changes over the past decade have moved public radio to a more conversational style that's accessible to a broader audience--from host changes at Morning Edition, launch of Public Radio International's The Takeaway, to the reinvention of economics reporting by This American Life and Planet Money, he notes. "Yet the latest research once again shows that public radio’s elite and highbrow sound remains a barrier to growth. Changing hosts and presentation style hasn’t changed the perception. Public radio’s audience has grown despite the perception among non-listeners that it is elite and highbrow. That doesn’t add up, unless the objections to public radio’s style are not the true barrier to listening."

Radio K at University of Minnesota loses CPB funding

CPB has cut $50,000 in funding from the University of Minnesota's Radio K due to low ratings, reports the school's Minnesota Daily newspaper. Radio K marketing director Alex Gaterud told the paper that the station gets about five times that much from student services fees, but it will still feel the loss. "In any public radio or public broadcasting setting, that’s a huge hit,” Gaterud said. “We’re confident we can deliver [an] excellent product continuously, but we’re still looking to fill that gap.” The ratings were gathered via Arbitron's Portable People Meters, which have been controversial in the past for producing much lower numbers than the previously used listener diaries (Current, Sept. 21, 2009). Radio K is currently in a pledge drive. Its homepage features a witty donation request: The big, bold words BE AWESOME, with a corresponding button to "Contribute now"; BE SLIGHTLY LESS AWESOME to continue to the website. In September, Radio K was voted one of the "40 Best Little Radio Stations in the U.S." by Paste, a culture mag, which points out it's the oldest station in Minnesota.

UPDATE: A CPB spokesman tells Current that Radio K (KUOM) has "for several years" met neither of the CSG Audience Service Criteria, of community financial support or measurable audience goals. Five years ago, CPB informed the station that funding would be discontinued for fiscal 2011 if the situation didn't change; the station received annual updates that it was not recovering. The station's FY10 CSG was $63,071.