Jan 30, 2012

WCVE in Virginia plans "puzzle-solving" fundraiser

WCVE, Central Virginia's Community Idea Stations, is planning a unique fundraiser for this spring: A "puzzle-solving event" designed by Ravenchase Adventures in Richmond, Va. The Big Idea Challenge runs April 29 through June 2 and the station hopes to raise $250,000 to supplement its on-air pledge dollars.

"With the uncertain status of government funding, we have been looking for lots of different ways to reach out beyond our traditional audiences and involve folks who peripherally know about us but may not be as close," Lisa Tait, vice president for development at WCVE, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "We wanted something different to tie in with our mission and with the people who like public broadcasting, who are intellectually curious."

Teams will pay a $30 entry fee for contest. Challenges change weekly and will highlight five areas pubTV "impact areas" — arts and culture, history, science, children's education and news/public affairs. Teams earn a point for each dollar of fundraising, and up to 500 points by solving weekly puzzles. Participants can raise money in any way they'd like, such as soliciting donations, or hosting a bake sale or lemonade stand.

"As far as we know, we are the only public broadcasting station in the country to break the mold," Tait said, "and there are a number of stations around the country watching attentively to see how successful we will be."

APTS, CPB, PBS ask FCC to exempt pubTV stations from new reporting requirements

Three national pubcasting organizations are encouraging the FCC to exempt pubTV licensees from any new public interest reporting requirements, in a Jan. 27 filing with the commission. The Association of Public Television Stations (APTS), Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) prepared the filing in response to the FCC's notice of inquiry in November 2011 soliciting input on a proposal "to replace the issues/programs list that television stations have been required to place in their public files for decades with a streamlined, standardized disclosure form that will be available to the public online."

“We support the commission’s effort to standardize information about their public interest programming and activities,” said Lonna Thompson, APTS c.o.o., in a statement Monday (Jan. 29). “However, we strongly encourage the commission to exempt public television licensees from burdensome reporting requirements given public television licensees’ demonstrated success in delivering upon their mission to provide programming that addresses the needs and interests of their local communities.”

At Realscreen Summit, Kerger envisions potential for PBS Foundation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — At the packed "Looking Ahead with the Pubcasters" session at Monday's (Jan. 29) Realscreen Summit, PBS President Paula Kerger once again spoke of the potential the PBS Foundation holds for the future of the organization.

"It’s just starting to ramp up," she said of the foundation. "It isn’t the full answer for us because the amounts of money are reasonably low, but it has given us a little more flexibility to do some things relatively more quickly." One example: PBS was able to acquire a film on Steve Jobs soon after the Apple founder's death on Oct. 5, 2011; Steve Jobs — One Last Thing premiered on PBS member stations the next month. "But more importantly," Kerger said, "we can make investments on the front end knowing that we have the foundation providing money on back end."

"In the years I spent at WNET," said Kerger, who worked in development and served as c.o.o. during her 13-year tenure at the New York station, "an absolute game changer there was having an endowment. There’s seed money to get projects started, it provides production funds upfront and also provides finishing funds, that last little bit needed to bring a project to closure. We’re envisioning the foundation doing that at a national level.”

Kerger has long been focused on bolstering the coffers of the PBS Foundation. The New York Sun noted in a January 2006 story when she was appointed PBS president that "as a founding trustee of PBS Foundation, formed last year to raise private funds, Ms. Kerger helped to secure $13 million. In this capacity, she also demonstrated her sensitivity to the sovereignty of the member stations by establishing a station advisory group that developed protocols for solicitation."

Also in 2006, in an interview with Current, Kerger said, “There’s been a lot of skepticism and concern about the foundation and that it might compete with local stations. I really think there is great opportunity there.”

And in an interview in May 2011, Kerger told Current that she would be focusing more time on foundation work. “Part of it is to help the stations," she said, "and part is to begin to cultivate relationships with funders.”

The Realscreen Summit continues through Wednesday at the Renaissance Washington, D.C., Downtown. More than 1,500 delegates from 24 countries are attending the sold-out nonfiction content conference. Also appearing on the pubcasting panel were Ralph Lee, the new head of the factual unit at Channel 4 in Great Britain, and Kirstine Stewart, e.v.p. of English services at Canada's CBC. Moderator was Jane Root, former Discovery Channel U.S. president, and founder and chief executive of Nutopia.

In Des Moines, IPR listeners get new all-classical service, more changes to come

Iowa Public Radio has completed launch of its new all-classical service in Des Moines. IPR Classical now airs on two commercial FM frequencies — KICP 105.9 and KICL 96.3 — that were purchased last summer for $1.75 million.

The signal expansion gives IPR Classical a broadcast footprint of more than 400,000 potential listeners and improves the outlook for membership and underwriting income.

WOI 90.1 FM, IPR's flagship channel in Des Moines, continues to split its broadcast day between NPR News and classical music, but that could change soon. IPR looks to expand the reach of its Studio One format, which combines news and alternative music programming, and is evaluating format switches for its other Des Moines area stations. Decisions on programming changes are still pending, according to Al Schares, music director.

In a signal expansion project that will realign public radio services for listeners in western New York State and across the Canadian border, Buffalo's WNED will complete its $4 million purchase of WBFO-FM on March 1. Station officials announced the sale closure date last week, but are not ready to talk about their programming plans.

Oklahoma legislators introduce two bills to zero out pubcasting funds to OETA

Two Oklahoma lawmakers are proposing ending funding for Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, the pubTV network based in Oklahoma City, reports the Tulsa World newspaper. Senate Bill 1689 would end state money for "public media or establishing a statewide educational television system," and OETA is the only Oklahoma public media to receive such funding. Pubradio KOSU and KGOU receive funding indirectly through their university licensees schools, not through appropriations. House Bill 3039 would end OETA funding over the course of five years. "If that money were to go away, this would be a very different operation, and it would not — could not — continue to be a statewide operation," said John McCarroll, OETA executive director.