Nov 21, 2011

With Super Committee failing to agree, CPB may lose $35 million

Pat Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, expressed disappointment over the announcement today (Nov. 21) that the congressional deficit-reduction Super Committee could not reach agreement to avoid automatic budget cuts. All domestic discretionary spending, which includes the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, could now be subject to an 8 percent across-the-board cut effective Jan. 1, 2013, Butler said. For CPB, that equals about $35 million of its $445 million appropriation.

"The Super Committee’s assignment was never going to be easy — that’s why there was a Super Committee — but I know from direct conversations with some of the committee members that serious, good-faith efforts were made to reach the $1.2 trillion deficit reduction goal and more," Butler said in an email to Current. "The outcome is disappointing, and the work Congress has to do before adjourning this year is challenging, but we remain hopeful that good decisions and good policy will be made in the weeks ahead — including a commitment to continue federal support for the good work public broadcasters are doing in education, public safety, job training and other essential services."

Burrows, who helped guarantee pubradio funding via CPB, dies at 94

Ed Burrows, a former public radio station manager who was instrumental in turning the Corporation for Public Television into the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, died Nov. 20 in Edmonds, Wash. He was 94.

According to the National Public Broadcasting Archives at the University of Maryland Libraries, where Burrows's papers reside, his public radio career began in 1948 as program director at WUOM, Ann Arbor, Mich. He helped create WGVR in Grand Rapids in 1961, and in 1966 he was made manager of WUOM and WGVR. While at WUOM, Burrows helped charter the radio division of the National Association of Educational Broadcasters (NAEB), National Educational Radio (NER).

In 1967 the Carnegie Commission Report recommended that a Corporation for Public Television be created to receive and give out federal funding. But the word "radio" did not appear in the report, which "was a product of educational television advocates through and through," wrote Jack Mitchell in his 2005 book, Listener Supported: The Culture and History of Public Radio. "Few cared that radio was left out." However, Mitchell notes, "a very few crusty old radio guys did care," including Burrows, who managed to persuade his board to hire an advocate at the NAEB office in Washington, Jerrold Sandler. The two then worked with Dean Coston, a former WUOM chief engineer who went on to become a deputy undersecretary of Health, Education and Welfare responsible for shepherding through Congress legislation relating to education — including educational TV. Coston was able to literally insert "and radio" after each mention of "television" in the legislation. (Click here for an excerpt from Mitchell's book that describes the sneaky yet effective strategy.)

Burrows was also an active producer. From 1968 to '70, and again from 1975 to '80, as part of a cultural arts program titled The Eleventh Hour, Burrows interviewed some 500 artists including Alvin Ailey, Robert Bly, Peter DeVries, Joyce Carol Oates and Kurt Vonnegut.

He served as director of the National Center for Audio Experimentation at the University of Wisconsin in Madison from 1970 to '73, when he returned to WUOM/WGVR as executive producer, a position he held until his retirement in 1982.

Burrows was born in Dallas in 1917. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in literature from Yale. There, he was a class poet and member of the editorial board of the Yale Literary Magazine. He received his master's degree in literature from the University of Michigan, where he was won a Hopwood Award for creative writing. Burrows continued to write poetry throughout his lifetime; his first book, The Arctic Tern and Other Poems (1957) was a finalist for a National Book Award.

He served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Naval Reserve, working as a deck and combat information officer for carriers in the Pacific theater from 1943 to '46.

Burrows is survived by his wife of 39 years, Beth Elpern Burrows; by three sons from a previous marriage, David, Daniel and Edwin; and by five grandchildren.

"Ed asked that there be no ceremonies in connection with his death," his family said in a statement through Michigan Radio. "If people wished to remember him, he suggested that they support their local poets."

StoryCorps' Day of Listening: "Let us give thanks for teachers who changed our lives"

StoryCorps chose a special theme for this year's National Day of Listening, the four-year-old public radio tradition of encouraging Americans to take time out over the Thanksgiving holiday to recognize their loved ones through the simple art of intimate conversation.

Instead of family members, participants are being asked to set aside some time on Friday, Nov. 25, to recognize favorite teachers. "National Day of Listening 2011 will send a powerful and necessary message to teachers across the nation: that they matter, and that we as a nation are grateful for the impact they have on our lives," said David Isay, StoryCorps founder and radio documentarian.

As in previous years, National Day of Listening coincides with the day after Thanksgiving, one of the biggest shopping days of the year. "A lot of people think of it as Black Friday and a shopping day," Isay said during a Nov. 21 appearance on KUNC in Greeley, Colo. "This is a way to do something a little more meaningful."

Audie Cornish of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday got the ball started on Nov. 20 by interviewing her high school history teacher Lynn Harding. Retired since 1999, Harding recalled that some students shortened her last name to "Hard," reflecting what her classes were like for them.

"You pushed me a lot," Cornish says to Harding.

"Yes, that's what I remember," Harding replies. "But it didn't harm you in any way we can see."

In addition to recording face-to-face interviews, participants can share a memory or express thanks to teachers on Facebook, Twitter (@storycorps #thankateacher) and YouTube, where the animated short of a feared but revered Sunday school teacher, "Miss Devine," is being featured to promote National Day of Listening.

News of NPR's Infinite Player, dripping with sarcasm

On the Nov. 20 edition of his KCRW broadcast le Show, host Harry Shearer delivers a sardonic reading of a Nov. 17 blog post, "NPR test-drives personalized Infinite Player." Shearer, who has many notable film and TV credits but is perhaps most famous for his voice work on The Simpsons, has been a frequent critic of NPR since 2010. That's when the network declined to give airtime — even as paid underwriting spots — to his documentary about the failures of the federal levee system surrounding New Orleans, The Big Uneasy. Readings from trade periodicals are a regular feature of le Show.