Mar 22, 2011

Regional WAMC raises $188K for Japan disaster relief

In a special one-day fund drive, WAMC Northeast Public Radio raised more than $188,000 for disaster relief in Japan. The station, based in Albany, N.Y., but heard through 22 transmitters in several states, asked for and received an FCC waiver from the rule that noncommercial stations ordinarily can raise funds only for their own operations. WAMC organized the drive in cooperation with American Red Cross of Northeastern New York, and the proceeds went directly to the Japanese Red Cross. "There wasn’t a moment the phones weren’t ringing, and the empathy and love for those in need came roaring through," said station President Alan Chartock. In 2005, the station raised more than $500,000 in a one-day drive for victims of Hurricane Katrina.A more recent drive, including a performance by James Taylor, raised more than $200,000 for earthquake relief in Haiti.

See also this roundup of disaster relief resources from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

University of Alabama buys WHIL-FM for $1.1 million

The University of Alabama purchased WHIL-FM from Spring Hill College on Monday (March 21) for $1.1 million, pending federal approval, reports the Press-Register. Spring Hill College, in Mobile, had lost $160,000 in fiscal 2010 on the station. The university will transmit WHIL programming from Tuscaloosa. The university already operates WUAL Alabama Public Radio.

NPR's Twitter connections "left of center," Duke data shows

An analysis of NPR’s connections on Twitter "shows it has the sort of network you’d expect to see from a left-of-center person or institution," reports Forbes today (March 22). The mag cites data from a Duke University study examining whether Twitter could be used to plot ideological affiliations of political candidates. As part of that study, researchers looked at the Twitter networks of individuals and brands in the media. 

Forbes asked Duke researcher David B. Sparks where NPR's Twitter connections fell on the study's conservative-to-liberal curve (right). He said somewhat to the left of center, but further to the right than CBS News anchor Katie Couric, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times or NBC News anchor Brian Williams.

Of course the results don’t directly reveal the ideologies of the entities, only the makeup of the networks that surround them, Forbes noted. “However, for the purposes of our paper and possibly for thinking about the media, perceptions may be what is actually important,” Sparks said.

Forget local when shooting for national distribution, filmmaker says

PubTV station relations consultant Jennifer Owensby Sanza, who produced "The Teachings of Jon" about her brother and his challenges with Down syndrome, has advice for first-time filmmakers aiming to see their work on PBS. "Many producers make the mistake of rushing to their local PBS station, begging them to air their program," she writes on The Independent. "STOP RIGHT THERE! Yes, it is important to find out if you have the support of your local station — you may want to partner with them as a presenting station down the road. But don’t air the program anywhere until you have exhausted EVERY national opportunity first (and there are several). Airing locally may disqualify your program for national broadcast."

She also says that getting her doc onto pubTV "felt like walking through a minefield, blindfolded."

Pubcasters advise FCC to "carefully evaluate" any channel-sharing proposals

The G4 — the Association of Public Television Stations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Service and National Public Radio — on March 18 filed a 19-page document with the Federal Communications Commission commenting on its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on spectrum allocation. In it, the orgs say that pubcasting would support "certain goals" by the FCC to maximize efficient use of spectrum (Current, Feb. 8, 2010), "but is concerned with the potential ramifications of a number of proposals."

One topic of talk among stations: Channel sharing. The FCC is pondering letting two or more TV stations — commercial and noncommercial — share a single six-megahertz channel, "thereby fostering efficient use of the U/V Bands," as it said in the NPRM. The public broadcasters said they may support that, "in certain circumstances."

"The reservation of spectrum exclusively for noncommercial and educational use, which dates back to the earliest days of FM and television regulation, serves a vital public interest and has been critical to the growth of public broadcasting," they say in the filing. "Any de-reservation of TV channels would be an extraordinary step that must be carefully evaluated." The groups advised that channel sharing should be totally voluntary, could not result in loss of universal pubTV service, and should permit the pubTV station to continue to support its local public service mission. Also, there should be a guarantee that, "at all times, there will be a continuing place on the reserved channel" for noncoms.

In related news, according to a March 2 FCC filing, APTS President Patrick Butler and Lonna Thompson, APTS e.v.p. and c.o.o., met with FCC officials to discuss channel sharing and related issues in the NPRM.

"Civil War" April rebroadcast will premiere on mobile media

The first episode of "The Civil War" by Ken Burns will debut on the free PBS for iPad and PBS App for iPhone and iPod Touch on Thursday (March 24), 10 days before the entire film is shown on the air. The rebroadcast honors the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The series will air nationally on PBS from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern April 3-7 (check local listings). The first episode will also be streamed on, April 4-10. The Civil War attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990, and established Burns as a star documentarian.

No comment on KSMQ president's departure; board announces search for replacement

The board of directors for Austin, Minn.-based KSMQ Public Television announced today (March 21) that they are looking a new station president to replace Marianne Potter. The Austin Daily Herald is reporting that Potter, who had been with the station about two and a half years, left two weeks ago. "A KSMQ spokesperson would not comment on the circumstances regarding Potter’s departure," the paper said. NETA Consulting is assisting in the search.

Detroit PTV opening second studio in heart of city

Detroit Public Television is opening a satellite studio in the heart of Detroit, in the historic Maccabees Building — former home to the Lone Ranger radio show when it debuted in 1933, and Soupy Sales program in the 1950s, according to webmag Model D. The project builds on the partnership between DPTV and Wayne State University, which has already invested $100,000 in renovations. "We're going to back up our high-definition mobile television production truck behind the studio and start producing television right away," said station President Rich Homburg, while rehab work continues. "The good news is, we can immediately start to produce there, with an eye towards expanding the footprint and really expanding the service of that studio to Detroit."