Jul 28, 2011

WNED acquires WBFO, two other stations, from University of Buffalo in $4 million deal

WNED is paying the University of Buffalo $4 million to operate WBFO-FM 88.7 and two other New York stations, the parties announced today (July 28). Talks have been ongoing for more than a year (Current, March 1, 2010). The stations, which also include WUBJ-FM 88.1 in Jamestown and WOLN-FM 91.3 in Olean, will retain their call letters and frequencies. Their signals reach large portions of western New York and southern Ontario, serving approximately 90,000 listeners weekly. The university will use the proceeds of the sale to provide student scholarships and support for faculty research, it said.

Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy holds first meeting on future of pubcasting

In the first of an ongoing series of discussions on the future public broadcasting, the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy (CCLP) convened executives, journalists, policymakers and others in Washington, D.C., this week, to focus on funding threats to the system. The wide-ranging conversation at the gathering, presented with participation of Current, touched on topics ranging from new ideas for centralized fundraising, to financial stress on local news coverage, to diversifying audiences. CCLP will organize future meetings "on public broadcasting, its mission, and its financial and public support," it said.

More than 35 participants included Pat Butler, c.e.o. of the Association of Public Television Stations; Vincent Curren, CPB c.o.o.; Caryn Mathes, g.m. of WAMU-FM; Andy Russell, s.v.p. of strategy, research and ventures for PBS; Craig Aaron, president of media reform advocate Free Press; Melinda Wittstock, c.e.o. of Capitol News Connection; George Rivera, exec producer of eHarlem TV; Maxie Jackson, president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters; Mark Lloyd, Federal Communications Commission office of general counsel; Kevin Klose, former NPR president; and Michele Salcedo, president of the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Essential Public Media predicts big ratings boost by fall

Station leaders of the new Essential Public Media believe they can top the former WDUQ's best audience numbers — in fact, by quite a bit, they told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "We think the potential is there, if not to double the listenership, then to go over 200,000 to 225,000 listeners per week," Lee Ferraro, general manager of new owner WYEP, said on Wednesday (July 27) during a meeting with newspaper reporters and editors. "It's not going to happen overnight. We hope to be there by fall." WDUQ averaged about 145,000 listeners per week over the past  months; its record was 180,000 listeners per week in 2009.

WYEP partnered with Public Radio Capital on the sale earlier this year (Current, Jan. 24) that generated controversy among the former jazz station's fan base. But much of the criticism over the format change to news has died down, said Marco Cardamone, board chairman of Essential Public Media and WYEP. "We've really turned the corner on a lot of public perception," Cardamone told the paper. "That feels good, given where we were three to four months ago."

Knight-Batten honor goes to NPR's Carvin for his "new form of journalism"

NPR's Tweeter extraordinaire Andy Carvin has won a Knight-Batten Award for having "pioneered a new form of journalism" during the recent Arab Spring uprising. "By using his Twitter account as a newsgathering operation, he has demonstrated how reporting can be done remotely and created a highly engaged community of more than 50,000 Twitter followers," said a release from J-Lab, which administers the honors funded by the Knight Foundation. (J-Lab and Current are both journalism centers at American University's School of Communication.) The Knight-Batten Awards recognize creative uses of technology to engage citizens in public issues and showcase compelling models for future newsgathering.

McCain criticizes Reid's debt-ceiling plan for including spectrum auction payments

A proposed auction of television spectrum has now become tangled up in the onerous ongoing debate over raising the debt ceiling, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday (July 27) to criticize the debt-ceiling plan of Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) for including payments to broadcasters as part of incentive auctions that could run into billions of dollars. "Television broadcasters got the spectrum for free," he said. "Now we're supposed to ask the taxpayers to give them a billion dollars to give back spectrum that they owe?" Although he corrected that word to own, "his original seemed to better capture the tenor of his criticisms," B&C notes.