Oct 5, 2011

Republican National Committee sanctions OPB presidential debate in March 2012

Oregon Public Broadcasting will produce and provide to NPR and PBS stations exclusive coverage of a Republican presidential debate at its studios on March 19, 2012. The debate "will come at a critical time in the campaign," said OPB President Steve Bass in a memo to stations. "Super Tuesday is on March 6 but delegate counts indicate that it will not be possible for the nomination to be won by any candidate by then. Political observers believe that the nomination contest could very likely go into the late spring."

The Republican National Committee has officially sanctioned the debate, which "virtually assures the participation of the front-running candidates," Bass said.

"We believe that this is the first presidential candidate debate that has ever been exclusively available through the nation’s public broadcasting stations (both TV and radio)," Bass added.

No decisions have yet been made on the moderator or panelists for the event, which is sponsored by the Oregon Republican Party. The Washington Times is also a media partner.

WFMU convenes radio, digital innovators to explore radio's future

The freeform broadcasters of Jersey City's WFMU are producing the first-ever Radiovision Festival in New York later this month, a weekend-long confab to highlight creativity in radio and technology's potential to unleash it.

On Oct. 29, panelists from WFMU's own talent roster will be joined by the likes of This American Life creator Ira Glass, media innovator Kenyatta Cheese, and blogger Andy Baio of, among many others, for a day-long symposium on the future of radio. On "Hack Day," Oct. 30, code-writers, digital story-tellers, musicians and others will "reinvent radio" by using WFMU's Free Music Archive to create new programs and software applications.

The festival opens Oct. 28 with a live performance by Joe Frank that's already sold out, but tickets are still available for the symposium and Hack Day. The event coincides with WFMU's annual Record Fair, also held at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan.

WFMU General Manger Ken Freedman described his objective for the festival in a recent interview with Radio Survivor: "I think it’s more important than ever to explore how radio is evolving and changing and taking on new forms. The very question of 'What is Radio?' is now debatable, which it never was before. It’s exciting to discuss these ideas with radio artists and digital pioneers."

New PBS UK channel will be promoted as "where television matters"

PBS UK, launching Nov. 1 in Great Britain, has hired the Braben firm to handle public relations and boost brand awareness, "as it looks to target ‘upmarket adults’ under the banner ‘where television matters,'" reports PR Week. "Our job is to make the channel famous," said Braben Director James Matheson. "We will position the channel as a British curator of American content and help it gain the trust and reputation that it enjoys in America."

Houston Public Media selects commercial TV veteran as executive director

Lisa Trapani Shumate is the new executive director and general manager of Houston Public Media, the umbrella organization for the University of Houston's KUHT-TV and its KUHF (88.7 FM) and KUHA (91.7 FM) radio stations, reports the Houston Chronicle. The university announced plans in January to merge its TV and radio stations, which employ about 165 people, to streamline operations and improve fundraising.

Shumate will continue in her current post as director of programming and marketing for local CBS affiliate KHOU until assuming her new responsibilities in November. Previously, she was an executive director at Belo Corp., a Dallas-based company that owns 20 commercial broadcasting television stations and two regional 24-hour cable news television channels. She also was a reporter and manager of marketing and special projects at ABC affiliate KTRK in Houston.

The paper said Shumate would not speculate on possible staff consolidation, but said the merger "is an opportunity for everybody to work across the aisle. It's no different than what is happening at any media outlet where people publish for the web or shoot their own video. It's happening on the TV side already."

John Profitt, c.e.o. of Houston Public Radio, said he "will be a team player with the organization and it will be up to (Shumate) how she wants to move forward." The Chronicle said John Hesse, station manager of Channel 8, was not available for comment Tuesday afternoon (Oct. 4).