Mar 28, 2012

Patricia Simon stepping down from helm of PBS39

Patricia Simon, president of PBS39 in Bethlehem, Pa., is leaving the station after 10 years to pursue other opportunities, reports the local Express-Times. Station Board Chair Jamie Musselman announced today (March 28) that Timothy Fallon will act as c.e.o. while the board of directors begins a search for a new leader. Fallon has been involved with the station since 1995 and served as chairman 2002-04.

WTMD to move from Towson campus to City Center

NPR member station WTMD-FM is moving from an 1,800-square-foot facility in the center of the Towson University campus to an 8,000 square-foot broadcast and community gathering place this fall in the new Towson City Center. The new home will provide a live-music performance space, a community meeting room and classroom, studios and offices. WTMD’s General Manager Stephen Yasko said on the station's website that the new building will be contain than a pubradio station serving the Baltimore region. “We’ve designed this space to be a combination: a music lovers’ clubhouse, community meeting space and education center," he said. "Our listeners and the public will be invited into WTMD every day to experience the best in national and Baltimore bands.” WTMD members also may use the space for social and corporate events. The station also plans to move its transmitter and antenna to atop the City Center, to provide a better quality signal to its current coverage area and possibly extend its signal reach slightly farther west.

"Masterpiece" and KPBS split $1 million gift to Masterpiece Trust

The Masterpiece Trust has received a $1 million gift from San Diego philanthropist Darlene Shiley. It's the largest gift to date for the Trust, which was established in January 2011 to allow major donors to directly support the Masterpiece strand, and enable those donors to provide part of their gift to a local station. Half of Shiley's gift, made on behalf of her and her late husband Donald, will go to KPBS in San Diego.

Shiley was one of the first donors to the Trust, with a previous gift of $250,000.

Other stations that have received a local portion of major gifts to the Trust include WNET, New York City; Vermont Public Television; WTCI, Chattanooga, Tenn.; WGBY, Springfield, Mass.; and WTTW, Chicago.

The PBS NewsHour recently revealed it is modeling a giving effort on Masterpiece Trust, to be called Friends of NewsHour.

How about affinity credit cards to help support the pubcasting system?

Matt MacDonald of PRX has an idea for funding pubcasting. "Public radio and television stations should collaborate and work together with Visa, Mastercard or American Express to create an nationally branded affinity public media credit card," he writes in a blog post today (March 27), which is an extension of his recent session at IMA. "Each transaction made with that credit card would get rounded up to the nearest dollar and the card holder uses a website that allows them to determine how it gets allocated back out to participating stations, programs and producers."

If there are 170 million people using public media each month, MacDonald writes, "then there are a large number of credit card transactions each day performed by public media consumers. With a coordinated effort could public radio and television stations switch 1 percent of their consumers over to using a public media branded card?" If so, and if that 1 percent of 170 million averaged one transaction daily with an average round-up of 52 cents, that could generate more than $322 million annually for the system, he notes.

CPB Board okays $7 million for seven-station centralcast project in Florida

The CPB Board on Tuesday (March 27) unanimously approved spending up to $7 million for a joint master-control project linking six stations in Florida and one in Georgia, similar to its centralcast project in New York state (Current, Oct. 3, 2011). The Jacksonville Digital Convergence Alliance LLC will run one master control for WJCT in Jacksonville; WFSU, Tallahassee; WPBT, Miami; WBCC, Cocoa; WUCF, Orlando; Tampa stations WUSF and WEDU; and WPBA, Atlanta. The facility will be in Jacksonville. CPB estimates cost savings to the stations of $15 million to $20 million over the next 10 years.

Also at the meeting in Washington, D.C., Michael Levy, e.v.p., corporate and public affairs, updated the board on the Appropriations Committee’s request for a report on possible alternative support sources for stations in lieu of federal funding. Levy said CPB has hired Booz & Co. to analyze the short- and long-term impact of the hypothetical elimination of federal funding, as well as revenue outlooks from various sources. Levy said he expects research to be completed by mid-April, which will be shared with stakeholders. A draft of the report should be to the CPB Board by the end of May and is due to Congress June 20. A similar report CPB commissioned in 2010 revealed no high-revenue options that are relatively easy to secure (Current, April 18, 2011).

Tim Isgitt, s.v.p., government affairs, also reported that CPB secured 116 signatories from the House of Representatives on its letter of support for pubcasting funding addressed to leaders of the Labor HHS Appropriations subcommittee. Six Republican members signed the letter, “which is six more than last year,” Isgitt noted.

Stalking the wild pubradio reporter

KPCC is giving the public a rare (tongue firmly in cheek) chance to see the public-radio journalist in its natural habitat — "an idyllic and fragile Eden free from the bias and bile of the 24-hour news cycle" —  in this hilarious two-minute pledge promo. In the takeoff on a wildlife doc, an intrepid explorer/host intones, "Make no mistake, the future of this highly developed species is imperiled. Only one thing can save it: A symbiotic relationship with another highly developed species — the public radio listener."

KVCR president put on administrative leave for "undisclosed matter"

Larry Ciecalone, president of dual licensee KVCR in San Bernardino, Calif., has been placed on administrative leave "while an undisclosed matter is investigated," the Press-Enterprise in Riverside is reporting. Bruce Baron, chancellor of licensee San Bernardino Community College District, announced the decision to the station staff Tuesday (March 27). He told the newspaper that the issue was a personnel matter and declined to discuss details. The investigation is expected to take about three months. During that time, Baron will head up station operations, TV Station Manager Kenn Couch will oversee both TV and radio, and Charles Fox remains head of the new First Nations television, funded by the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (Current, July 26, 2010). KVCR is one of three PBS member stations working to collaborate in the Los Angeles market (Current, Dec. 12, 2011).

UPDATE: Mel Rogers, president of PBS SoCal, PBS primary station in Los Angeles, tells Current he's not sure "how this will all play out" in regard to the collaboration. The three station partners are scheduled to meet early in May in a collaboration-related meeting with CPB there. Strategic program scheduling and online cross promotion continues with both KVCR and KLCS. "We continue to do events with KVCR, and a small bit of on-air cross promotion as well," he said.

"We are also discussing internally the need to be helpful to our sibling stations as we go forward," Rogers said. "I'm not sure what that means exactly but we, obviously, want to make sure public bandwidth is preserved and well-utilized for the good of the 18 million people in this region."