Nov 26, 2011

WGBH's voice of Boston Symphony Orchestra writes memoir

Ron Della Chiesa, longtime broadcaster and host of Boston Symphony Orchestra performances on WGBH, has a new memoir out, Radio My Way. Among the memories he shared with the Boston Globe was what he considers to be the "worst interview" he ever did, with singer Eartha Kitt during his MusicAmerica show that ran from 1978 to '96, also on WGBH. "I was playing this rare recording of 'Lilac Wine,' and she said: 'It was stupid of you to play that. It’s one of the worst things I’ve ever done.' I couldn’t go to black; it was live. She had a reputation for being tough."

Interesting aside: A 1996 story in Current about MusicAmerica's cancellation, due to a schedule overhaul, said "the change has met a surprising level of resistance. About 2,000 Della Chiesa fans have called or written in complaints, and a group has organized into "Save MusicAmerica." Fans got Tony Bennett to speak on behalf of the program at a recent Boston concert, have set up a phone hotline, and are asking people to request a return of their pledges."

WGVU Meijer Public Broadcasting Center's namesake dies at 91

Frederik G.H. Meijer, a billionaire grocery magnate and philanthropist whose famous generosity benefited Michigan and whose name resides on the Meijer Public Broadcast Center at Grand Valley State University's Grand Rapids campus, died Friday (Nov. 25). He was 91.

"Fred's support for PBS and NPR has enriched the lives of everyone who watches television and listens to radio in West Michigan," Michael Walenta, general manager at WGVU, said in a statement. "We will be forever in his debt."

Meijer was No. 60 on this year's Forbes 400 Richest Americans, with an estimated net worth of $5 billion.

Here's his obituary in the Grand Rapids Press, which notes, "he delighted in seeing what his money could do for the area’s hospitals, colleges and cultural institutions."

APM reviewing congresswoman's request to drop Allianz sponsorship of APHC

A Florida congresswoman wants American Public Media and other media outlets to stop airing underwriting spots and advertising by Allianz AG, a German insurer that did business with the Nazis, reports the Miami Herald. Allianz is one of two corporate underwriters of A Prairie Home Companion.

GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, who heads the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, is backing a bill that would allow Holocaust survivors to sue the insurer and has launched a letter-writing campaign aimed at blocking it from advertising in America until it pays off all Holocaust survivors’ life insurance claims. During World War II, the Herald says, Allianz insured concentration camp facilities as well as sent money to the Nazis instead of rightful Jewish beneficiaries.

APM execs told the newspaper that they are reviewing the congresswoman's request but have not made a decision on Allianz’s underwriting. the congresswoman also contacted NPR; a spokesperson there declined to comment, saying only that stations are independent entities.

The Associated Press also reported on Nov. 15 that Holocaust survivors have been raising questions about Allianz's sponsorship of broadcast programs, including A Prairie Home Companion. The Associated Press said American Public Media told survivors in an email to contact Allianz directly to discuss their concerns.

Allianz has a website, "Allianz During the Nazi Era," explaining the corporation's history during World War II.

KCET to air exclusive on-set footage of "Doc Martin" production

Starting Dec. 8, KCET will feature eight-minute, behind-the-scenes clips of the popular British dramedy Doc Martin following each episode, the Los Angeles indie pubcaster announced Saturday (Nov. 26). Bohdan Zachary, v.p. of broadcasting and program development, spent time on the series set earlier this year, interviewing the actors and hanging out in Port Isaac, North Cornwall, U.K., where the show takes place.