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Dec 22, 2006

Profile of BBC's Katty Kay

MarketWatch's Jon Friedman profiles Katty Kay, a co-anchor on BBC World News and Washington correspondent for the British network. "Yes, BBC World reaches 281 million households worldwide," Friedman writes. "But, like soccer, the BBC remains second-string, and probably always will be, to the tradition-bound American audience."

With Congress in recess, Bush appoints Bell

With a recess appointment of Warren Bell to the CPB Board, President Bush circumvented Senate opposition to the controversial nominee, reports the Los Angeles Times. (CPB press release.)

Dec 20, 2006

More 'Postcards from Buster' on PBS

The New York Times reports on the return of Postcards from Buster, the PBS children's series that was "attacked by the secretary of education, pilloried by conservatives, then abandoned by its underwriters" after a 2005 episode portraying the lives of real kids with lesbian parents.

GAO reports on Smithsonian's TV deal

The Government Accountability Office concluded that the Smithsonian followed contracting guidelines in negotiating its controversial programming partnership with Showtime Networks, but the institution failed to provide sufficient information about the deal to policymakers and filmmakers. After reviewing the contract and Smithsonian internal policies, GAO investigators report that it's too early to determine whether the partnership will limit filmmakers' access to Smithsonian archives. Reporters for Associated Press (via freepress) and the Washington Post interpreted GAO's conclusions differently.

WFMU, WXXI get grants from payola fund

WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., and WFMU-FM in Jersey City, N.J., received grants from the New York State Music Fund, which was created from settlements between the state and major record labels over violations of payola laws.

Dec 18, 2006

WETA May Fill Classical Music Gap Left by WGMS - washingtonpost.com

WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., might return to airing classical music if the city's sole classical outlet, a commercial station, switches to sports news, reports the Washington Post. WETA abandoned classical for news/talk last year after losing audience for some time. The Post's Marc Fisher praises the potential return to classical: "Finally, the notion that public radio exists to serve the public in ways that commercial radio cannot or will not crept back to center stage." Meanwhile, pubradio consultant John Sutton calls it "a lost opportunity for all of public radio."

Dec 14, 2006

The Scientist profiles Radio Lab

The Scientist writes up NPR's Radio Lab. "People are still daunted by words like 'physics' and 'biology.' Say 'science' and they get a funny look in their eyes," says co-host Robert Krulwich. "Say 'Travolta' and they know exactly where they stand . . . You've got to bring them over gently." (Current article about the show.)

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: The NPR Holiday Road Race

Andy Carvin offers another peek into the wacky holiday customs of NPR employees. This time, it's the NPR Holiday Road Race.

Winer takes offense at This I Believe plea for funds

Blogger Dave Winer says he submitted an essay to This I Believe, the series airing on NPR's newsmags, and never heard back--until he got an e-mail asking him for a donation. "I poured my heart into the essay, after spending a year thinking about what to write," he writes. "Now I gotta wonder, if I don't send the money, will they consider my essay. Or if I do send the money will they run it?" TIB co-producer Dan Gediman apologized, Winer reports (scroll down), and NPR has tried to distance itself from the whole thing. (Via Romenesko.)

Bloggers blast 'GBH report

WGBH's Beat the Press took a beating for an erroneous report about bloggers who are funded by political campaigns. The Boston Herald and the Boston Phoenix report on the controversy and a blogger for Blue Mass Group proposes his own set of remedies.

Dec 13, 2006

Rieu tour rakes in moolah for PBS stations

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports on the money-making prowess of telegenic Dutch violinist Andre Rieu, whose current U.S. tour is being co-sponsored by many PBS stations.

WDET-FM manager resigns - 12/12/06 - The Detroit News Online

Michael Coleman has resigned as g.m. of WDET-FM in Detroit after a year and a half in the job, reports the Detroit News. "I was hired to do a specific job and we changed the format, restored balance to programming, brought the roots music programs back and increased audience numbers substantially," Coleman said. "I'm looking forward to the next great adventure."

Lubinsky spins nostalgia for Sirius listeners

T.J. Lubinsky, producer of PBS's Doo Wop pledge specials, will spin vinyl and take listener requests on Doo Wop Gold, a weekly show debuting on Sirius Satellite Radio tonight, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Producer 'pulls the plug' on "Inside Albany"

AP reports that Inside Albany, a public affairs series broadcast by New York public TV stations since 1975, will shut down production on Dec. 31. "The frustration of not being able to cover more stories and the strain of running a business while running after news has caused us to decide to end Inside Albany’s long run," the producers said in a statement.

Dec 12, 2006

Coda for the Classics: Public Radio's Failed Mission - Raw Fisher

The Washington Post Marc Fisher surveys his city's public radio offerings in the wake of news that a commercial classical station is likely to be sold and change format. "Washington will now become the largest city in the country with no classical music on the radio at all," he writes. "Listeners will have no choice but to look to pay satellite radio for the classics--or for many other genres of music."

Discovery cuts education group jobs

Discovery is cutting 84 jobs from Discovery Education, the division that sells educational videos and digital educational material to schools, the Washington Post reports. Discovery Education aggressively expanded in 2004, buying up competitors as it tried to establish a leadership position in the K-12 market.

Dec 8, 2006

Redskins Owner Set to Buy Last Classical Station - washingtonpost.com

WGMS-FM, a commercial station in Washington, D.C., that is the city's sole classical outlet, could change hands and switch to a sports-talk format, reports the Washington Post. Dan DeVany, g.m. of public WETA-FM, would not speculate as to whether his station would return to a classical format if the sale of WGMS goes through. (Current article about WETA's switch to all-news, 2005.)

RadioSutton: Promoting the Competition?

John Sutton raises some questions about fears of competition from satellite radio: "If local programming is the future of public radio, especially the local content inserted in Morning Edition, then why is satellite radio considered serious competition? It shouldn't be, unless the talk about local programming being the future is more bravado than reality." Meanwhile, execs at Sirius Satellite Radio say they see value in a potential merger with XM Satellite Radio, their sole rival, reports the Washington Post.

Dec 7, 2006

Public radio and story

Robert Paterson contemplates what lies at the heart of the public radio experience: ". . . [A]t the heart of good public radio is Story. And that Story is a 'Transforming Process' that at its best tells each of us about how to be more human."

Boston newspapers on Becton's retirement

The Boston Globe reports on WGBH President Henry Becton's plans to retire and the Boston Herald posts the memo sent to WGBH staff this morning.

WGBH names Abbott to succeed Becton next October

Henry Becton will retire as WGBH president Oct. 1, 2007, and will be succeeded by Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Abbott, the Boston station's board unanimously decided Dec. 6. WGBH released this statement.

Dec 6, 2006

Audio clips of Bob Fass

The New Yorker has declined to post on its website the article about WBAI host and freeform pioneer Bob Fass that appears in this week's issue. But you can download two MP3s of clips from Fass's Radio Unnameable, one of which is 90 minutes of a 1966 appearance by Bob Dylan.

NPR : 'This American Life' Is Ready for Its TV Close-Up

NPR's Lynn Neary reports on the This American Life TV show as it prepares for its debut next year. "I don't see any positive aspect of being on camera," says host Ira Glass. "I am 47 years old, I don't like looking at myself. After a certain point, no one likes looking at themselves on television. There's just no upside."

LA Observed: Upheaval at 'Weekend America'

American Public Media has dropped Barbara Bogaev as co-host of Weekend America and is relocating some of the show's staffers to St. Paul, Minn., according to an internal memo posted at LA Observed.

Release: KOOP’s New Home -- Rolas de Aztlan: KPFT Notes

KOOP-FM in Austin, Texas, is moving into new studios this week, 10 months after its former studios burned to the ground.

PBS coffee said to be sweetly balanced

PBS Blend -- a coffee that's "sweetly balanced and smooth, with full flavor and a rich finish" -- will be sold by Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which announced it today from Waterbury, Vt. The coffee is grown in Mexico with environmentally responsible practices, and its Fair Trade Certified label indicates the farmers get a fair price, the company said. Green Mountain ranked No. 1 in Business Ethics magazine's list 100 "best corporate citizens," not far above Starbucks, and No. 98 among Fortune Small Business magazine's top 100 fastest-growing small stockholder-owned companies, right after Peet's Coffee.

Dec 5, 2006

Old Media’s Options: Co-opt New Media, Take Its Lead—Or Both at Jake Shapiro blogs sometimes.

"I would argue that the nascent social media phenomenon and a threatened public media field would mutually benefit from an early embrace," writes Jake Shapiro on his blog. "Social media needs some of the articulation of the values and aspirations that have guided the best of what public broadcasting has achieved, and public media needs to break out of its broadcast borders to fulfill its public service media mission regardless of the particular technology delivery platform."

Verizon to add PBS Kids Sprout

Verizon will soon add the digital cable channel PBS Kids Sprout (Current story about the channel's launch here) to its FiOS TV service. The fiber-based digital TV service is currently available in parts of California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Virginia, and will soon be available in parts of Delaware and New Jersey.

Dec 1, 2006

Buffalo News - Keillor is home on the prairie

"The sort of radio that seems to prevail is radio that has a very clear voice of its own," says Garrison Keillor in an interview in the Buffalo News.

Nov 29, 2006

Lehrer to Colbert: "I am bias free"

"You can make fun of me all you want, but it takes courage to be boring five nights a week," the NewsHour's Jim Lehrer tells Stephen Colbert during an appearance on Comedy Central's Colbert Report. Lehrer also declared himself to be "bias free." [Scroll down to stream a two-part video clip.]

Nov 28, 2006

Gore headlines pubTV's 2007 teacher convention in NYC

Former Vice President Al Gore will headline the 2007 edition of the WNET/WLIW regional teachers’ convention. The New York pubTV stations’ second annual Celebration of Teaching and Learning, March 23-34, 2007, pins its theme to the 50th anniversary of Sputnik’s launch. Last year's celebration drew nearly 7,000 area teachers.

YouTube to show up on Verizon cell phones

A deal to be announced today by Verizon Wireless and YouTube will bring YouTube videos to cell phones, according to the New York Times. The service will offer a limited selection of YouTube fare and requires a $15 monthly subscription to Verizon's VCast service.

New York's WNET launches media blog

WNET unveiled blogthirteen, which is devoted to coverage of media. It offers a daily briefing that compiles links to news and features on a wide range of media topics and a weekly column by President Bill Baker.

Nov 22, 2006

Thanksgiving meal time-savers

Christopher Kimball of America's Test Kitchen offers some time-saving tips for cooks who are planning Thanksgiving menus. Mashed potatoes can be prepared ahead of time and reheated tomorrow, but instant mashed potatoes are out of the question, he tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep.

Nov 21, 2006

Pubcasters Focus on Tech Issues -- Radio World

CPB is disappointed that fewer public radio stations are applying for grants to support conversion to digital broadcasting, reports Radio World. CPB is surveying stations to determine why they aren't applying and is contacting them to let them know that the money is available.

CBS challenges FCC ruling on 2004 Super Bowl

In a lawsuit filed yesterday, CBS contends that Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" during the 2004 Super Bowl was an "unscripted, unauthorized and unintended long-distance shot of Ms. Jackson's breast for nine-sixteenths of one second." The Los Angeles Times reports that the network is challenging the FCC's $550,000 fine for the incident, which was broadcast to an estimated audience of 90 million and was deemed indecent by the FCC.

Nov 20, 2006

RED HERRING | Gather.com Collects $10M

Gather.com announced last week that it raised $10 million from Hearst, McGraw-Hill and other investors, reports Red Herring. (Current article about Gather.)

What Does Someone Believe? One Man Has the Answer - New York Times

A psychology professor who has analyzed NPR's "This I Believe" essays has found "that Southerners, men and people older than 65 were the most likely to talk about religion," says a New York Times article about the series.

Blogger finds pubcasting lacking from Web 2.0 perspective

"Why is former MTV VJ Adam Curry better at building community than radio and television stations that depend on the community for their very existence?" asks a blogger at LostRemote. "Public broadcasting online should be the ultimate long tail of user-contributed content, with a natural geographical cross matrix linking the affinity groups." (Via Technology360.)

Technology360: Classical music and the cod liver oil theory of broadcasting

"[I]t's unfair and bad statistical analysis to blame news for the diminishment of classical and jazz music and, worse, for the diminishment of civic engagement in our culture," writes Dennis Haarsager in his response to the National Endowment for the Arts study of classical music on public radio.

Frontline rebuts criticism of "A Hidden Life"

Last week's Frontline documentary examining the downfall of former Spokane, Wash., Mayor Jim West prompted complaints of factual errors by the editor of Spokesman-Review, whose own journalistic ethics and investigative tactics came under scrutiny in the program. Frontline rebutted the newspaper's criticism on its own discussion page. Producer Rachel Dretzin fielded questions about the documentary in an online chat.

Nov 16, 2006

Nielsen to debut VOD ratings next month

Nielsen Media Research will begin offering video-on-demand ratings in December, the New York Times reports (via mediabistro). Rentrak, a company based in Portland, Ore., already tracks VOD viewing but it only releases data that cable companies approve. If VOD viewing habits hold steady through December, more than two billion on-demand programs will be watched this year, based on Rentrak data.

Downtown home for Phoenix station

The Phoenix City Council yesterday okayed planning for a building on Arizona State University’s downtown campus that will house pubTV station KAET and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism, the Arizona Republic reported yesterday. Construction would begin next spring and the building would be occupied by fall 2008.

Nov 15, 2006

Past role of new Sprout host raises eyebrows

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler revisits the firing of PBS Kids Sprout host Melanie Martinez last summer and finds a story rich with "irony and hypocrisy" on the actress recently selected to replace her.

White House reappoints Tomlinson to overseas broadcast post

President Bush yesterday reappointed former CPB Chair Kenneth Tomlinson to his other federal post, chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, overseer of Voice of America and other overseas radio and TV services, the AP reported. The State Department's inspector general criticized Tomlinson on several matters in August but did not seek a criminal investigation; Tomlinson's defenders downplayed the accusations. He quit the CPB job after a report by CPB's inspector general. Just last month the BBG named a new VOA director, Dow Jones and Wall Street Journal veteran Danforth Austin, and a new director of VOA-TV, Russell Hodge, head of the Maryland production company 3 Roads Communications. Austin replaces Wayne Jackson, who was roundly criticized by VOA's employee union.

Nov 14, 2006

WAMU and WTMD collaborate to bring AAA music format to Washington on HD Radio channel

WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C., launches a digital channel today that carries programming from WTMD-FM, an noncommercial Adult Album Alternative station in Towson, Md. The channel can be picked up only by listeners with digital radios.

Nov 13, 2006

Workers at public station KQED authorize strike

Unionized technicians at Northern California Public Radio (formerly KQED) in San Francisco have voted to authorize a strike, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The 130 employees are frustrated with the slow pace of contract negotiations, says a spokesman with the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians.

To the NEA, News-Laden NPR is Making a Classical Mistake - washingtonpost.com

A study by the National Endowment for the Arts criticizes public radio for favoring news programming over classical music in recent years, writes Marc Fisher of the Washington Post. "We work in a complicated media environment," says Ken Stern, c.e.o. of NPR, in response to the report. "We have to fish where the fish are." UPDATE: Here's a link to the study (PDF).

Nov 9, 2006

Fair Game in Dallas

The Dallas Morning News profiles Fair Game, the new weeknight show of news and humor from Public Radio International. "This show is proof that public radio is not humor-impaired," says Jeff Ramirez, radio p.d. for KERA-FM in Dallas.

Marimow inquired about Inquirer job months ago

According to the New York Times, former NPR v.p. for news and (briefly) ombudsman Bill Marimow, hired yesterday as editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, expressed interest in the job as far back as August. Marimow officially takes the reins in Philly Nov. 27.

Nov 8, 2006

Marimow to leave NPR for Inquirer

Bill Marimow, NPR's former v.p. for news who stepped down last month to become the network's ombudsman, today was named editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the paper reports (press release here). Marimow previously worked at the Inquirer for 21 years, helping the paper win two Pulitzer Prizes. Marimow wrote a total of two columns as NPR ombudsman. There is no word on his replacement.

Nov 7, 2006

The War to air at 8 p.m., despite minor profanity

PBS announced this week that Ken Burns' seven-part World War II doc, The War, will air over two weeks (four nights the first week, three the second) beginning Sept. 16, 2007. The episodes will air at 8 p.m. even though the doc includes some profanity. (Burns, in an interview with the New York Times, described the salty language as "so minor and so appropriate to the story.") Stations can opt to delay broadcast until 10 p.m., or the beginning of the FCC-observed "safe harbor" for edgy content, as numerous pubcasters did with David Grubin's Marie Antoinette in September.

Nov 6, 2006

Was Inskeep betraying bias?

Listener complaints prompted Bill Marimow, NPR's ombudsman, to review an interview of Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) that aired on Morning Edition, and the ombud concludes that host Steve Inskeep was tough but fair on his subject. "What some listeners may hear as incivility or rudeness may simply be the product of a broadcast journalist making a tenacious effort to steer an experienced politician toward providing responsive answers instead of reading from a scripted playbook of party messages," Marimow writes.

KNCT takes heat for cancelling "Now"

Mary Beth Harrell, the Democratic challenger in Texas's 31st congressional district, accused local PBS station KNCT in Killeen of trying to hurt her campaign by "blacking out" the Nov. 3 edition of Now. The program, which examined how the war in Iraq has affected voters' attitudes in the community, will air tonight, according to KWTX, the local CBS affiliate.

Nov 2, 2006

Pubradio's entree into "the book" delayed

Arbitron announced Thursday that it will postpone reporting ratings for public radio stations alongside those of commercial stations, according to Mediaweek. Broadcasters had asked the ratings company to wait until it could report satellite and Internet radio listening as well.

Public Radio Partnership dismisses four in shakeup

The new president of the Public Radio Partnership in Louisville, Ky., dismissed four employees yesterday, including a v.p. of programming and marketing, reports the Courier-Journal. "Though difficult, I'm pretty confident these changes were the right ones to make," says Donovan Reynolds, who took charge at the station in September after leaving Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor.

Nov 1, 2006

CPB's Bode not sure the NewsHour is as balanced as he thought

In his most recent report, CPB ombudsman Ken Bode looks at Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting's study of NewsHour guests, released Oct. 4, and sees merit in its criticisms. Noting a statement released by NewsHour e.p. Linda Winslow in response to the study (included in this Current article), Bode says, "I come away with the feeling that the folks at the NewsHour shouldn't seem so reflexively dismissive of the criticism this time." PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler's earlier take here.

NPR : A Daunting Challenge Awaits NPR Ombudsman

In his debut column as NPR's ombudsman, Bill Marimow surveys the work ahead of him. "Based on my conversations with Jeffrey Dvorkin, NPR's first ombudsman, who held the job for more than six years, I'll be doing a lot of listening," he writes.

MacNeil to host Crossroads project

Robert MacNeil, former co-anchor, with Jim Lehrer, of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, will host next spring's America at a Crossroads series, the project's producing station, WETA in Arlington, Va., officially announced today. (See also the New York Times.) MacNeil, whose role with the series was also mentioned at last month's PBS Development Conference, will anchor the CPB-launched series and provide spot reporting as necessary. The 11 initial Crossroads docs, funded largely by $20 million in CPB grants, will air 9-11 p.m. (EST) nightly, April 15-20, and will explore the "challenges confronting the world post 9/11," according to WETA. First announced in 2004, the project was criticized last year by some system programmers and received press scrutiny during last year's CPB controversy for including ideologically skewed programs in its lineup. Project producers say all programs will be rigorously vetted and that the series will be balanced overall.

Oct 31, 2006

Woodruff to host Bloomberg election coverage

TV news vet Judy Woodruff, special correspondent for the NewsHour, will host Election Night coverage next week on Bloomberg TV, a 24-hour business-and-financial news cable channel, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer (via CTAM SmartBrief). Woodruff spent much of last summer working on a broad youth-focused multimedia PBS initiative, Generation Next. An hour-long doc will debut on PBS in January.

Andy Carvin's Waste of Bandwidth: Chick or Treat

"The Chicken Man is in the house today" at NPR. Consider yourself warned.

Oct 27, 2006

NPR asks FCC for modulator recall

NPR has asked the FCC to recall millions of FM modulators that enable drivers to play iPods and satellite radios through their car stereos, reports the Baltimore Sun. The network found that nearly 40 percent of the devices have signal strengths that exceed FCC limits, "enabling them to break into FM broadcasts in nearby cars with unwanted programming." Non-commercial radio stations are especially vulnerable to interference because while newer modulators can be tuned to any FM frequency, older models still in use only offer consumers a choice from frequencies below 89 MHz. The FCC says NPR's request is under review. See also Radio World.

KQED members disenfranchise themselves

The membership of San Francisco's KQED gave up their right to elect the station's board of directors in a three-week mail balloting, the San Francisco Chronicle reports today. They voted two-to-one to end the board elections, which the station said were expensive ($250,000 was the cost cited) and delayed decision- making. Large majorities also voted to change the licensee's name to Northern California Public Broadcasting and make five other changes to its legal documents, according to KQED's announcement yesterday. KQED said it received about 30,000 ballots from its membership of 190,000, or about 15 percent of those eligible. Most stations have self-elected boards or are parts of larger nonprofits that do.

Oct 26, 2006

Iowa Public Radio starts blogging

Iowa Public Radio has started a blog for communicating with its listeners as it morphs its three formerly disparate stations into a unified statewide network. "Iowans will be able to talk back to us, and they’ll be able to talk among themselves," writes Todd Mundt, IPR's director of content and media, on his blog. (Earlier coverage in Current of the network's genesis.)

Yahoo highlights PBS.org blog

Yahoo made Remotely Connected, a PBS.org collaborative review blog, its website pick of the day for Oct. 26. The PBS project invites "a small, diverse group of bloggers" to comment "on major PBS programs airing in October and November, in an open forum."

Survey: 1 in 10 online consumers use Internet to watch TV

A new survey by the the Conference Board's Consumer Internet Barometer says 1 in 10 online consumers now watches TV online, reports Multichannel Newswire. The most popular methods for viewing the broadcasts are streaming and free download, according to the survey: "Very few consumers are willing to pay per download or enroll in subscription services."

Oct 25, 2006

NPR won't air ads for controversial film

NPR won't carry sponsor credits for the British film, "Death of a President," Reuters and others report. The movie is presented as a documentary following the investigation into President Bush's murder in October 2007. NPR says the film is likely to generate controversy and news stories, and doesn't want listeners to suspect that coverage is influenced by a sponsor relationship. CNN, which is also refusing ads for the film, is doing so because of "the extreme nature of the movie's subject matter," Reuters reports.

Morrill profile

Boise Weekly profiles Peter Morrill, g.m. of Idaho PTV.

Oct 24, 2006

Founder of WXXI dies

Harold Hacker, a founding director of WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., has died at the age of 90, reports the Associated Press.

MacArthur unveils digital media initiative

How does the widespread use of digital media affect young people and change the way they learn? The MacArthur Foundation will spend $50 million over five years to help answer this question. In addition to funding research and learning projects for its Digital Media and Learning Initiative, the foundation also launched Spotlight, a blog covering developments in in the field. PBS TeacherSource blogger Andy Carvin reports on the initiative in his latest column.

Pledge drive photos

Savor the vicarious thrills of a public radio pledge drive thanks to these photos from Spokane Public Radio. Mmmm mmmm, smell that bacon!

WFDD considers citizen journalism center

WFDD-FM in Winston-Salem, N.C., is considering creating a center for citizen journalism, reports the Winston-Salem Journal.

Global "Sesame Street ": more than numbers and letters

The Los Angeles Times reviews The World According to Sesame Street, a documentary examining Sesame Workshop's international co-productions in three countries. The film launches the new season of Independent Lens.

Oct 23, 2006

MPR's Buzenberg heads to Center for Public Integrity

Bill Buzenberg will join the Center for Public Integrity next year as its executive director. He is now senior v.p. of news for American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio in St. Paul and served as news v.p. at NPR in the '90s. Based in Washington, D.C., CPI does investigative reporting and research on public policy issues.

Mixing journalism and social favors

After interviewing Wal-Mart Chief Executive H. Lee Scott in August about the company's new environmental initiative, PBS's Charlie Rose will co-host a private dinner tonight honoring Scott for his environmental work. Is there something wrong with this? PBS doesn't think so, but PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler does.

Pacifica, FSRN Reach Deal -- Rolas de Aztlan: KPFT Notes

The Pacifica Foundation and Free Speech Radio News have agreed to work toward integrating FSRN into the radio network, Pacifica announced last week. The progressive newscast airs on more than 90 stations.

Vermont Public Radio bars candidate for fear of profanity - Boston.com

Vermont Public Radio barred a third-party candidate for the U.S. Senate from an upcoming forum because of fears that he might use profanity on the air, reports the Associated Press. Peter Diamondstone, a Liberty Union party candidate, was expelled from a debate last week and handcuffed after using profanity and exceeding time limits.

Katherine Lanpher's midlife adventure could inspire others to take a leap, too

The St. Paul Pioneer Press profiles Katherine Lanpher, the former host of a talk show on Minnesota Public Radio who left for New York to join Air America. "There were nights in those first months when I wondered if I'd wrecked the rest of my life," she says. "That is what's so great about the book. I wrote my own rescue."

Technology360: HD Radio PAD: solutions in search of problems?

Yet more skepticism about HD Radio -- this from John Proffitt of KAKM-TV/KSKA-FM in Anchorage, Alaska. "I'm just deeply concerned that the 'neat' stuff HD Radio 'could' do is oversold and cannot possibly deliver -- not technologically, but in terms of market acceptance."

Oct 19, 2006

NPR : We've Run Our Course, But Stay Tuned...

NPR is ending its "Mixed Signals" blog but expects to create some new ones. "The scattershot nature of Mixed Signals didn't really work," writes JJ Sutherland, who asks the blog's readers to share their ideas for NPR's future blogs and online interactions with listeners.

Oct 18, 2006

John Sutton: NPR may be overstating cume

Consultant John Sutton looks at how different methods of calculating cume audience for public radio produce varying results. "There is strong evidence that the National Public Radio network Cume is overstated by as much as 15 percent," he says.

Oct 17, 2006

Study finds link between autism, tots' TV

Slate reports on a Cornell University study that found a statistically significant link between autism rates and television viewing by children under the age of three.

WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Open Post: College Radio Stories

Commenters on WFMU's blog share stories about working in college radio.

Discovery thriving with smarter fare

Discovery has boosted its ratings by returning to its educational roots, says Advertising Age (via SmartBrief, from the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing).

Nielsen-funded study to examine new media use

Ball State University's Center for Media Design will conduct a pilot study "examining how individuals consume traditional and emerging video platforms inside and outside the home," reports Adweek. The study, commissioned by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence, is part of the ratings giant's efforts to get a better handle on measuring emerging platforms such as video-on-demand and broadband video.

Oct 16, 2006

UMass Lowell to pull support for Open Source

The University of Massachusetts-Lowell will end support for public radio's Open Source as of December, reports the Lowell Sun. "It's basically an expensive program that, given our financial situation, doesn't make sense for the university," said David MacKenzie, the university's interim chancellor. "I just felt we had other things that were higher on the priority list." The show's producers "haven't the least hesitation" in promising to keep it going, writes host and co-creator Christopher Lydon on Open Source's blog. "We need your help and encouragement as we have from the start, or maybe just a little more so," he tells listeners. (Current article on the show.)

Disney gains audience, buzz factor

In the kid's media biz, "the buzz today is around Disney," according to the New York Times.

Andy Carvin reviews Google for Educators

PBS TeacherSource blogger Andy Carvin is underwhelmed by Google for Educators, a new website for K-12 teachers.

CPB hires ad exec to lead public awareness campaign

CPB hired ad and PR veteran Del Galloway to lead its Public Awareness initiative.

Moyers: "Tomlinson had a chilling effect"

Bill Moyers on PBS, from a Boston Globe Q-and-A: "It’s a place where if you fight you can survive, but it’s not easy. The fact of the matter is that Kenneth Tomlinson had a chilling effect down the line."

WRFG's Ebon Dooley dies

Ebon Dooley, co-founder and broadcast director of WRFG-FM in Atlanta, died Oct. 12, according to the station. Dooley also represented affiliate stations on the Board of Directors of the Pacifica Foundation. Greg Guma, Pacifica's executive director, called Dooley "a warm and courageous man." "He was truly committed to the idea that radio could bring about social change, that the things we do make an actual difference," said a WRFG host in the Atlanta Progressive News.

Marimow steps down as head of news at NPR

More on the resignation of NPR's Bill Marimow in the Baltimore Sun. "He was committed to excellent journalism, but the job also requires attention to other things, to radio programming and the connection of that programming to member stations," Jay Kernis, NPR's v.p. of programming, tells the paper. "His attention was focused on part of the picture, and we needed focus on a bigger picture." Also, the latest version of the New York Times' article.

Oct 13, 2006

NPR's Marimow steps down as news veep

Bill Marimow resigned last night as NPR's v.p. of news and will become its ombudsman, reports the Washington Post. NPR staffers told the Post that Marimow and Jay Kernis, v.p. of programming and his immediate boss, had clashed about "the scope and nature of his responsibilities." UPDATE: The New York Times has posted an expanded version of its original article. "Colleagues said that Mr. Marimow, a long-time print journalist and investigative reporter, was perceived as having failed to adapt quickly enough to radio, particularly as radio converges with the Internet," the Times reports. "They also said that he was on the wrong side of an internal power struggle." NPR's Nell Boyce, blogging at Mixed Signals, writes about the decision from the inside in a long post. She says the mood at the meeting where Marimow's resignation was announced was "solemn" and that Marimow was conspicuously absent.

This American Life offers podcasts

This American Life will offer its show in podcast form for the first time starting this weekend. Each episode will be available free for a week, and subscribers to the show's podcast through Audible.com will get a refund. TAL's listeners have been critical of the show's approach to digital delivery.

Radio World NewsBytes

The FCC will not accept minor change applications during the application window for an upcoming auction, according to Radio World.

Oct 12, 2006

Women of NPR lend names to goats

Your next cheeses from Wisconsin might come from goats named after Cokie Roberts and Nina Totenberg, notes the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Fantome Farm in Ridgeway, Wis., is home to a herd of goats named after "inspiring women," including the NPR analyst and reporter. (Via NPR's Mixed Signals.)

CPB Board's Pryor recovering after major heart surgery

Former U.S. Sen. David Pryor, named last month to the CPB Board, is expected to make a full recovery after undergoing quadruple bypass surgery Wednesday in Little Rock, Ark., reports the Arkansas News Bureau. Pryor was admitted to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Monday night after complaining of chest tightness and pressure, the paper reports. The 72-year-old Pryor previously underwent bypass surgery following a heart attack in 1991.

Grant turns up volume on UB program - Business First of Buffalo:

WNED in Buffalo, N.Y., and the University of Buffalo are preparing to launch a public radio series based on oral histories of African-American women, reports Buffalo Business First. The producers received $280,000 for the project last year from CPB.

Oct 11, 2006

Austin City Limits to leave longtime home

Austin City Limits will move out of its studio on the University of Texas campus, its home for the past 32 years, and into a new downtown Austin facility in 2009, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Bill Stotesberry, KRLU g.m., says the new theater will be roughly the same size as the current studio but will accomodate three times as many seats.

PRPD general sessions

The Public Radio Program Directors Association has posted audio files of general sessions from this year's PRPD conference at its website.

O'Bryon fills Boland's chair in SF

Linda O'Bryon, a creator and onetime co-anchor of pubTV's Nightly Business Report at WPBT in Miami, joins San Francisco-based Northern California Public Broadcasting (KQED/KTEH) as chief content officer, says the Sun-Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. O'Bryon is now NBR's executive editor and g.m. of WPBT's NBR Enterprises. John Boland, her predecessor in San Francisco, set off an instance of musical chairs when he moved to PBS as its first chief content officer in June.

Oct 10, 2006

WITF Spotlight: I Can Laugh About It Now: My Most Embarrassing Moment On-Air (or In-Print)

Staffers at WITF in Harrisburg, Pa., share embarrassing moments from their broadcasting career: "I have one, but it involves transposing the initial consonants in the phrase 'forty bucks,' so I'm guessing it'll be inappropriate to share."

Habeas Motion by PNB

The Pacifica Foundation passed a resolution last week empowering its executive director to "use the resources of the foundation to educate and inform the public" about U.S. Senate Bill 3930, which addresses the rights of detainees. The legislation "has given President Bush extraordinary and chilling power to indefinitely detain and try prisoners in the so-called war on terror," the resolution says.

RadioSutton: New Arbitron Survey, Same Results (mostly)

John Sutton looks at the latest national Arbitron data for public radio's audience, which shows continuing declines in most measurements, although cume rebounded somewhat. "The loss of Share means public radio is losing ground in the radio marketplace," he writes. "A decline in Loyalty, if further analysis shows that's the case, means that public radio listeners are still using the radio but choosing to spend an increasing amount of the radio listening time with commercial broadcasters."

An Interview with NPR Digital's GM Maria Thomas | Digital Media Wire

NPR's upcoming music website will not directly offer song downloads, says Maria Thomas, v.p. of digital media, in an interview with Digital Media Wire. Thomas also says that it's unlikely public radio will create a central web portal, an idea espoused by Mark Fuerst, executive director of the Integrated Media Association, in a Current commentary.

Motorola to offer pubradio content

Motorola announced yesterday that it will offer programs from NPR, Public Radio International and American Public Media to mobile phones via its iRadio service.

Oct 5, 2006

Cal State Long Beach picks Mt. Wilson as prospective operator of KKJZ-FM

The California State Long Beach Foundation has chosen Mt. Wilson FM Broadcasters Inc. as the prospective operator of KKJZ-FM (PDF). The foundation's Board of Directors heard recommendations tonight from an evaluation committee. Also bidding were Pacific Public Radio, the nonprofit that has run the station since 1987; Southern California Public Radio, the L.A. sibling of Minnesota Public Radio; and the Jazz Institute of Los Angeles. Mt. Wilson already operates two commercial outlets: K-Mozart, an FM classical station, and KKGO-AM, which airs adult standards. (More coverage in the Long Beach Press-Telegram.)

Ohio county to lose NPR

Adams County in Ohio stands to lose its sole NPR station with the sale of WVXW-FM to a Christian broadcaster, reports the (West Union) People's Defender. Cincinnati Public Radio is selling the station after acquiring it from Xavier University last year. The county's Chamber of Commerce is urging residents to ask the FCC to block the sale.

KQED asks members to give up the vote

In a ballot mailing to 190,000 local supporters, KQED asks its members to waive their rights to vote on major corporate decisions and elections of the board of directors. "This is about money and this is about responsiveness," Board Chair Nick Donatiello told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's up to the members if they want to spend this money on elections. It could buy a lot of programming."

Oct 4, 2006

This American Gripe

A devoted fan of This American Life takes issue with Chicago Public Radio's approach to offering the show's audio online: "They could save money by encouraging filesharing of their shows instead of wasting money fighting it."

Online Q&A with Frontline's Martin Smith

Martin Smith answered online questions about "Return of the Taliban," his Frontline documentary that debuted on PBS last night.

Louisiana g.m. arrested for sex solicitation

The g.m. of a public radio station in Shreveport, La., was arrested Monday for soliciting sex from a minor over the Internet, reports the Shreveport Times. The minor was in fact an undercover officer.

The Doc Searls Weblog : Monday, October 2, 2006

Doc Searls shares six pieces of advice for public radio as it adapts to changes in media. (Via Jake Shapiro.)

FAIR finds rightward bias on "NewsHour"

In a study released yesterday, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting tracked the guests appearing on PBS's NewsHour and found that Republican males were over-represented as news sources, according to this AP wire story.

Oct 3, 2006

KOCE supporters react to veto

"We'll do everything we have to do to try and retain the license," KOCE President Mel Rogers tells the Los Angeles Times, reacting to Gov. Schwarzenegger's veto of a bill designed to end the legal wrangling for control of the station.

Study finds PBS Kids promotes fast food too

When her preschooler began humming the jingle from a McDonald's commercial, Cleveland pediatrician Susan Connor decided to analyze the sponsorship spots that surround TV shows for tots. She found that fast-food companies are the predominant sponsors of preschool fare on PBS Kids and the Disney Channel, both of which "promote themselves as ad-free," reports the Associated Press. The study, published this month in the medical journal Pediatrics, concluded that the ads targeting preschoolers on Nickelodeon and sponsorship messages on PBS and Disney "took similar approaches and used similar appeals, seeming to promote the equation that food equals fun and happiness." [abstract]

Whiting's Writings - Diatribes - War in Heaven

John Whiting reviews Uneasy Listening, Matthew Lasar's latest chronicle of the battles within Pacifica Radio. "As the backroom plots continually recycle, the story begins to read like an endless reality-TV pirate game in which the protagonists are made to walk the plank and then try to get voted back on board," he writes.

Oct 2, 2006

calendarlive.com: MEDIA - Is there anything he isn't doing?

The Los Angeles Times profiles Tavis Smiley: "In an era where Jay Leno and David Letterman use guests as comedy fodder and Charlie Rose has become a courtier to the barons of the Eastern media elite, Smiley is a reminder of the days when talk show hosts were conversationalists, not sycophants or joke meters."

Conservatives should stick up for Tomlinson, NRO says.

National Review Online blogger Stephen Spruiell comes to Kenneth Tomlinson's defense, urging fellow conservatives not to "stay silent while Democrats tear down Tomlinson’s reputation just because he’s a conservative."

With 'Radio Lab,' Krulwich and Co. Will Stretch the Shape -- and Sound -- of Reporting - washingtonpost.com

The Washington Post's Marc Fisher profiles NPR's Radio Lab, which enters its second season this fall. ". . . [T]here is a music to these nonfiction stories, a beat and a rhythm that feel fresh, and that's something that good old public radio dearly needs," he writes.

reviewjournal.com -- News - Staying Smooth amid the Storm

The future of KCEP-FM in Las Vegas is in doubt as the station's parent organization, the Economic Opportunity Board, struggles with a debt of $1.9 million, reports the city's Review-Journal. "We're being sued by a sausage company," says the EOB's executive director. "That was definitely a low point."

Sep 28, 2006

Oberlin's alumni mag on Radio Lab

In a profile in the alumni magazine of Oberlin College, Radio Lab hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich discuss the show and its ties to their shared alma mater. "It feels like an extension of conversations I used to have at Oberlin," Abumrad says. "There's a playfulness that connects it to college. I hope that’s not just regression." A coda to the article features other Oberlin grads in public radio contemplating the connection between their college and their jobs.

YouTube - Sesame Streets

Put dialogue from Scorcese films into the mouths of Grover and Big Bird and you get Sesame Streets. (NSFW. Via WFMU's blog.)

Sirius drops PRI

As of Tuesday, Sirius Satellite Radio stopped carrying programs from Public Radio International.

Sep 27, 2006

FCC on LPFM and a public file violation

In actions announced today, the FCC denied a low-power FM application on localism grounds and fined WXLV-FM in Schnecksville, Pa., $10,000 for failing to maintain its public file (PDFs).

Knight seeks proposals for digital community connections

The Knight Foundation will spend $5 million in the first year (and perhaps $25 million over five years) for innovative digital prototypes, initiatives and experiments that improve connections among people in communities. Application deadline for the Knight Brothers 21st Century News Challenge: Dec. 31. Guidelines are posted at www.newschallenge.org. Applicants need not be journalists or have printing presses or transmitters. The foundation adds: "Nothing is too far out to qualify."

Hear 2.0: What the new Arbitron rules mean to you

Mark Ramsey comments on Arbitron's decision to include ratings for noncommercial radio in its market reports. "Public radio will now be on commercial radio's radar like never before," he writes. "Commercial radio will more aggressively learn from public radio, compete with it, and counter-program it." (Via Technology360.)

Soldiers' language wiped by fears of FCC

The New York Observer's NYTV columnist reports on how FCC indecency rules inhibit PBS's coverage of the war and other topics. “It’s a really sorry state of affairs if we’re Disney-fying combat,” says filmmaker Martin Smith, whose Oct. 3 Frontline documentary, "Return of the Taliban," will air without f-words spoken by soldiers in combat.

Sep 26, 2006

Center for Citizen Media: Do Public Media Believe in the Public?

Dan Gillmor and Dennis Haarsager share thoughts from last week's Open Content and Public Broadcasting conference, held at WGBH in Boston.

Robert Paterson's Weblog: Change - Seth's View - Public Radio

". . . [W]hat about an Internet Channel for Public radio that is run by the rebels and that has the new as its focus?" asks Robert Paterson in a blog post about innovation in public radio.

NPR Is Hiring a Blogger

NPR is looking for a full-time blogger for its Mixed Signals blog. "Other qualifications not mentioned are a strong liver and deep fondness for insult-flinging world leaders. Willingness to drunk-dial foreign bureaus on deadline also a plus," writes current blogger JJ Sutherland.

Ex-salesman sentenced in radio fraud

A former advertising rep for Michigan Public Media was sentenced to 18 months of probation last week for embezzlement charges, the Detroit Free Press reports. Jeremy Nordquist was one of three former MPM employees involved in the case. (Earlier coverage in Current.)

PubTV stations axe bio of Marie Antoinette

Fearing FCC fines from risque moments in David Grubin's historical biography of Marie Antoinette, Rocky Mountain PBS pulled the program from last night's schedule. The questionable scenes were "nothing worse than what you see on TV elsewhere," RMPBS President James Morgese told the Denver Post, "but in this era of heightened sensitivity by the FCC, fines are pretty stiff."

Las Vegas station to auction former ITFS channels

Sprint, NextWave, Clearwire and other wireless companies may bid on 72 MHz of microwave bandwidth worth an estimated $9 million to be leased at auction in coming weeks by the operator of Las Vegas pubTV station KLVX, the Clark County School District Board, says Las Vegas Business News. The FCC is letting businesses repurpose and reorganize the underused spectrum once used for ITFS school services, as Current reported in April. Wireless companies already own adjacent spectrum, which they plan to use for city-wide services resembling Wi-Fi.

Sep 25, 2006

"Maya and Miguel" introduces sign language

A new episode of Maya and Miguel debuting today introduces Marco, a character who speaks American Sign Language. The New York Times reports on the difficulties of animating sign language, as well as the socialization issues that producers sought to address in the program.

They got Google's attention

Vanderbilt University's 38-year archive of TV news broadcasts doubled its exposure on the Web, and nearly doubled its videotape rental income by catering to search engines, according to the Center for Social Media at American University.

Contesting conclusions of "Warhol" and "Now"

Viewers complain to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler about the "stupid promo" that disrupted the conclusion of Ric Burns's American Masters bio of Andy Warhol. Others, including the American Conservative Union, took exception to Now's recent reports (Sept. 1 and Sept. 8) on voter registration.

Sep 22, 2006

FCC to decide soon on multicasting

The FCC will act soon on authorizing multicasting for digital radio, said Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein at the National Association of Broadcasters conference in Dallas. But talks about public interest obligations on the new channels are causing a holdup, Radio World reports.

Diefenbach will be CPB TV production grantmaker

Greg Diefenbach, a longtime executive producer at a major supplier of PBS programs, Devillier Donegan Enterprises, is CPB's new senior v.p. for TV programming. At DDE he oversaw the PBS world history series Empires ("great eras of struggle ... explosive creativity, ultimate depravity...") among 100 hours of programming. He succeeds Michael Pack, who returned to documentary production. Pack colleague John Prizer remains at CPB as an advisor to President Pat Harrison.

Sep 21, 2006

Stern is named NPR's c.e.o.

NPR's Kevin Klose will cede his role as c.e.o. of the network Oct. 1 to Ken Stern, now executive v.p. Klose will continue serving as president and will lead a collaborative fundraising initiative to support public radio. Stern, who joined NPR in 1999, will assume all management duties.

Warren Bell: candidate for "This I Believe" essay?

Warren Bell is undoubtedly a vocal conservative, but does he support federal funding of public broadcasting? Conflicting accounts of the CPB Board nominee's views on pubcasting influenced the Senate Commerce Committee to drop Bell from today's nomination hearing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Sep 20, 2006

Senate committee drops Warren Bell nomination

Television comedy writer Warren Bell will not appear at tomorrow's Senate confirmation hearing for CPB Board nominees, according to an news release posted by the Commerce Committee.

Where did NPR's burger money go? - The Boston Globe

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam asks what Joan Kroc's gift has done for public radio. "Two hundred twenty-five million dollars later, public radio certainly hasn't gotten worse," he writes. "But I don't hear that it has gotten any better."

Andy Warhol looks a scream

Filmmaker Ric Burns explains to the New York Times why "Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film," debuting tonight on PBS's American Masters, is a "nerd film." Reviews in the Hollywood Reporter and San Francisco Chronicle note the artist who famously set the standard of 15 minutes of fame for everyone has himself been given four hours. Newsday's reviewer is disappointed that Burns "skims past" the less inspiring chapters of Warhol's life, "such as the endless evenings he spent cozying up to celebrities at Studio 54."

APTS may join fight against CPB Board nominee

The APTS Board will decide later this week whether to oppose Senate confirmation of CPB Board nominee Warren Bell. "We have not hesitated to express our strong reservations to the members of the Senate Commerce Committee about him," APTS President John Lawson tells Broadcasting & Cable. "We had hoped that he would come forward and reach out and help allay some of the fears that we have, but we haven't seen any attempts like that."

Sep 19, 2006

Senate may help CPB Board break deadlock

The CPB Board yesterday voted to reelect Cheryl Halpern as chair, but was unable to break a deadlock over nominees for vice-chair, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Gay Hart Gaines, a Republican fundraiser from Florida who was nominated for a second term as vice chair, will extend her service as vice-chairman until the board elects a successor by majority vote. The Senate Commerce Committee may help speed the board's decision making. It will hold a hearing on Sept. 21 on all three pending CPB Board nominations.

Chayes on post-Taliban Afghanistan

The Washington Post profiles Sarah Chayes, a former NPR reporter who left the network in 2002 to work for a nongovernmental organization in Afghanistan. Her new book, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, is "the kind of fleshed-out portrait that even the best on-the-run journalism rarely provides," writes Bob Thompson.

Reflections on PRPD

Jake Shapiro concludes a wrap-up of last week's Public Radio Program Directors conference with an observation that the annual meeting feels "a bit stuck." "Given NPR's New Realities meetings and the 'unconference' experiments underway elsewhere, it would be helpful to break out of panel mode for some open facilitated meetings -- tap into the wisdom of the crowd," he writes. Mary McGrath of public radio's Open Source also reflects on the conference: "Public broadcasters have been slow to wake up to the opportunities afforded by the Web. Some of the old timers just want to be retired before they have to really deal with it. Some are just confused or clueless or broke. Others, like the stations that carry Open Source, embrace the future of their medium with all of its uncertainties." (Keep reading for interesting comments from OS listeners.)

Sep 18, 2006

Nick beta-tests website for parents

Aiming to extend its relationships with parents of Nick Jr. kids, Nickelodeon is beta-testing a social networking website for parents, the New York Times reports. The site, ParentsConnect.com, allows registered members to blog and plans to add user-generated video.

What should Kenneth do?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram weighs in on the latest controversy involving Kenneth Tomlinson, the former CPB chairman who's in hot water over his leadership of the federal Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Sep 14, 2006

Tomlinson dodges attempted ouster

Democratic members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting efforts and is headed by Kenneth Tomlinson, tried to force the former CPB chair from the panel in response to a State Department probe suggesting he's abused his authority while on the job. The measure failed on a party line vote, however. Tomlinson has said the allegations stem from partisan divisions on the board.

FCC allegedly buried media study that supported localism

According to a former FCC lawyer, the commission ordered staffers to destroy copies of a 2004 report that suggested media ownership consolidation would hurt local TV news coverage, the Associated Press reports (via USA Today). That conclusion, the AP notes, is at odds with arguments the commission made "when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market." The report came to light earlier this week during the Senate confirmation hearing for current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who said he did not know about the study in question. Martin succeeded former chair Michael Powell in 2005. A copy of the localism report, an anti-consolidation petition and a Godfather-esque shot of former FCC chief Powell are available at activist coalition site, stopbigmedia.com.

So many TV shows, what's a parent to do?

Associated Press reports on the dilemmas that parents face in limiting preschoolers' exposure to TV.

Sep 13, 2006

Tucker Carlson, "Dancing with the Stars"

Now here's something you'll really like: YouTube has a clip of Tucker Carlson's first (possibly last?) appearance on ABC's Dancing with the Stars, courtesy Wonkette.

NBC enters download biz, Apple aims at living rooms

The New York Times reports on two new developments in the race to get ahead in the "My Time" media biz: NBC created a new company that will distribute video to various Internet sites and reportedly take a 50 percent split of the ad revenues. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs yesterday unveiled a wireless device, dubbed iTV, that will pull video and music from the computer to the television. Apple also announced the pricing structure for downloads of new movies offered by its iTunes online store.

Huffington Posties take aim at "NewsHour"

A Huffington Post plug for last night's NewsHour segment on the ABC docudrama "Path to 9/11" drew some negative comments, and a lukewarm defense, of the NewsHour itself.

Farai Chideya replaces Ed Gordon at NPR's News & Notes

NPR said it has named Farai Chideya, a correspondent and sometime host for News & Notes, to replace Ed Gordon as host of the weekdaily public affairs hour. The network will also add online interactivity to the show produced with African-American pubradio stations. Chideya is founder of the Pop + Politics website and former talk host of San Francisco's KALW-FM who has worked for ABC News, CNN, MTV, Oxygen cable channel and Newsweek. Nicole Childers was promoted to e.p. NPR and Gordon swapped some finger-pointing this summer over responsibility for the program's limited carriage.

Digital theatrical screenings before PBS debut of Warhol bio

Ric Burns' four-hour American Masters bio, Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, is having digital theatrical debuts hosted by pubTV stations that began Sunday in 20 cities around the country, WNET announced. (The late artist's brother, Paul Warhola, will appear at tomorrow's screening in the Pittsburgh area, where Warhol grew up.) Emerging Pictures, which seeks to put arthouse films on more screens around the country, is distributing to theaters [15 listed].

Sep 12, 2006

Common Cause targets CPB Board nominee

"He is the wrong man in the wrong job at the wrong time,” says Common Cause President Chellie Pingree, in a press release announcing an e-lobbying campaign against Senate confirmation of CPB Board nominee Warren Bell. The nominee's lack of interest in the field and provocatively anti-P.C. sense of humor disqualify him for the appointment, Common Cause says in a report posted on its website today.

Nielsen to expand into radio ratings?

TV ratings juggernaut Nielsen Media Research is in talks with Clear Channel's electronic ratings service about measuring radio listening, potentially threatening Arbitron's control of the industry, Mediaweek reports.

Sep 11, 2006

State accuses contractor with safety violations in Iowa tower deaths

A state agency has cited a tower service company for three violations of safety regulations involved in a fatal accident on an Iowa Public Television tower near Des Moines, TV Technology reported. Three workers, including the proprietor of the company, were being lifted to change light bulbs on the tower when they fell 1,200 feet and died in the March incident.

Caleca and Mendes depart PBS this month

Two of PBS's top technical officers are leaving this month: Ed Caleca, senior v.p. of technology and operations, and Andre Mendes, chief technology integration officer, according to TV Technology. Caleca leaves Sept. 15 and Mendes Sept. 29, the magazine's website said.

Amy Goodman to begin newspaper column

King Features Syndicate will begin distributing a weekly current-affairs column by Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman on Oct. 24, Editor & Publisher reports. She predicts "Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier" will bring out voices of the "silenced majority." Goodman and her journalist brother David are co-authors of this year's Static: Government Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back, now available at Wal-Mart!

Sep 8, 2006

PRI to launch evening comedy/variety show

This fall Public Radio International will launch Fair Game with Faith Salie, an hourlong evening program featuring interviews, political satire and in-studio musical performances. Host Salie has done standup comedy and appeared on TV shows including Significant Others and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

Sep 7, 2006

Performance Today, SymphonyCast move to APM

Beginning early next year,
American Public Media in St. Paul, Minn., will produce public radio's Performance Today and SymphonyCast. NPR will end production of the shows as it prepares an online music service, which will include the classical music shows and other offerings from APM. (Coverage in the Washington Post.)

Sep 6, 2006

Conclusions and speculation on the effects of tots' TV

The New York Times reviews recent research findings on what toddlers learn from television while Slate speculates on whether there's a link between autism and TV watching in early childhood.

WNIT to relocate to South Bend

WNIT in Elkhart, Ind., plans to move to downtown South Bend in 2009, taking over a building to be vacated by the local CBS affiliate.

Sep 5, 2006

WTC's blue and white collar heroes

Of the two documentaries airing tonight that recall the fiery collapses of the World Trade Center's twin towers, New York Times Critic Virginia Heffernan prefers Spike TV's program over PBS's. "Once you give in to the program’s pointy-headedness, though, the pedantry is not worthless," she writes of Nova's "Building on Ground Zero."

Bozell to hand over reins of PTC

Brent Bozell will step down as president of the Parent's Television Council, the group that led the charge against broadcast indecency after Janet Jackson's 2004 "wardrobe malfunction." His successor is Tim Winter, a former NBC executive who wants to work collaboratively with broadcasters, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Claim: New TV tech will double visible color palette

Researchers in Switzerland say they're developing a nano technology that will allow future TVs to present every color the human eye can see, or roughly double the range offered by current plasma, LCD and projection screens, Wired reports. It will likely take at least eight years to get the technology, which uses an elastic, rather than fixed, diffraction grating that can be tuned to present additional colors, into commercial products.

Sep 1, 2006

Emmy broadcast prompts obscenity complaint

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Parents Television Council filed an FCC complaint over obscenities uttered by two actresses during the Aug. 27 live telecast of the Primetime Emmy Awards.

Ombudsman on PBS's online ads

Viewers aren't complaining much about PBS's online advertising practices, writes PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler, but criticisms leveled by media activist Jeff Chester are healthy. The objections are forcing "an airing about how this very important, and unique, public broadcasting service is gliding into a new source of revenue," Getler writes.

Tavis Smiley's "Covenant"

Writing for The Nation, Amy Alexander examines the impact of Tavis Smiley's The Covenant with Black America. "One doesn't just read The Covenant With Black America," she says. "Rather, to read this nonfiction manifesto-cum-workbook is to become part of a multimedia movement aimed at increasing black political and economic power."

Aug 31, 2006

Deep linked video increases exposure, bandwidth costs

AOL and Microsoft video services are deep linking to public TV content, reports Dennis Haarsager via his Technology 360 blog, which allows users to access pubcasters' video while bypassing their home pages (and sponsor messages). The search engines generate much more traffic than sites can attract on their own, but "the desire to control content we produce runs deep within the television industry, so it's bound to stir things up as more people realize . . . how some video sites are accessing content," Haarsager writes. In addition, "bandwidth costs are going to be impacted by links you don't control." AOL includes advertising on its video search page but Microsoft, which added video search to its Windows Live Beta, does not for the time being.

Tomlinson to lose another broadcasting post?

A Senate panel is tabling President Bush's re-nomination of former CPB chair Kenneth Tomlinson to the Broadcasting Board of Governors in the wake of a damning probe into his actions as U.S. broadcast chief, Reuters reports (via the Washington Post). The BBG oversees government international programming like Voice of America, Radio Sawa and Radio and TV Marti. Tomlinson's current term as BBG chair ends when Congress adjourns later this year, but President Bush could re-install him without opposition with a recess appointment. Elsewhere, a Bloomberg columnist wonders "Why do preachy Republicans behave so badly?"

Will AIR help to rehab journalism's image?

Journalism thinkers hope WNET's "AIR: America’s Investigative Reports" gives "the profession a badly needed image boost," reports the New York Times. The weekly public affairs show, which debuts Friday, will showcase notable news investigations.

Aug 30, 2006

Web projects rethinking investigative journalism

Calling all citizen journalists: Jay Rosen, NYU journalism professor and media blogger, may have an assignment for you. His NewAssignment.net, an experimental project partially funded by Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, aims to use both media pros and amateurs to develop a new, collaborative form of investigative journalism. Have an idea for an investigation? Rosen is looking for suggestions. See also PBS.org's Mark Glaser and other examples of collaborative civic journalism initiatives, such as the Sunlight Foundation's "Exposing Earmarks" project.

Tomlinson responds to allegations

Kenneth Tomlinson responds to the report by State Department investigators on his activities as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors: "I believe it will become clear that this investigation was inspired by partisan divisions," he says.

Aug 29, 2006

Tomlinson accused of missteps in other federal gig

A State Department probe found that former CPB Chair Ken Tomlinson improperly gave a job to a friend in his continuing role as chair of the board that oversees Voice of America, the New York Times reported today. Investigators also allege that he supervised his horse racing stable from a government office. A two-page summary of the report said Tomlinson billed the government for more days of work than permitted, including days when he also billed hours to CPB. Three members of Congress, alerted by a whistleblower, asked for the probe in July.

Two different takes on "Waging a Living"

A study in contrasts: National Review Online and the New York Times review "Waging a Living," Roger Weisberg's P.O.V. film about the working poor.

Update on pubTV's digital rights working group

The task force charting a digital rights acquisition strategy for public TV posted a summary of its conclusions on the Affinity Group Coalition's website.

PBS pundit's label revisited

After the flap about misleading on-screen identification of "conservative commentator" Karen Czarnecki, Ombudsman Michael Getler and his readers offer PBS and producers of To the Contrary a few pointers on Journalism 101.

Spectrum auction nets close to $13.5 billion

The ongoing auction of reclaimed government spectrum for wireless services has shown the licenses to be even more valuable than some predicted, reports Broadcasting & Cable. With 1,004 of 1,122 licenses sold to high bidders such as Verizon and T-Mobile, the government has gained more than $13.4 billion for the treasury. An auction of reclaimed analog broadcast spectrum will happen in 2008.

KOCE bill attacked as a "scandal"

A former California Republican party official sees an "Orange County scandal" in a state legislature bill favoring pubTV station KOCE, which would "cheat" taxpayers and benefit the interests of the station's wealthy board members by allowing a community college district to sell the station to a nonprofit operator rather than accept the high bid of a religious broadcaster. The bill [text in PDF] would create an exception to state surplus-property law. The community college district is appealing the May court decision that voided the station's sale to a new pubTV licensee.

Aug 28, 2006

Fred Jacobs on public radio's success

Consultant Fred Jacobs urges his audience of commercial radio execs to pay attention to public radio's success: "How is Public Radio pulling this off - without marketing, without Harley giveaways, and without two guys in the morning talking about Mel Gibson? They're about quality programming and a value system that comes through loud and clear day in and day out."

Where TV beats print's price

If you wanted some archival news, which would you buy? A video clip from ABC News @ $1.99 or an article from the New York Times archive @ $3.95? Noted in AdWeek and a World Association of Newspapers blog.

Mirren wins Emmy for HBO miniseries

Helen Mirren won a Primetime Emmy for her performance in Elizabeth I, an HBO/Channel 4 drama that also received the statuette for outstanding miniseries. Barry Manilow was PBS's winner in last night's live Emmy telecast, winning for his performance in a fundraising program.

Lawsuit revives interest in Barney parodies

The New York Times reports on a lawsuit filed last week that seeks to protect the First Amendment right to publish online parodies of Barney, the PBS Kids character that some adults love to hate.

Critics don't want ads on PBSKids.org

Some children's and consumer advocates aren't happy about PBS's plan to add banner ads to PBSKids.org beginning Oct. 1, reports the Los Angeles Times. "Children are basically inundated with marketing and the PBS website was in some ways a sanctuary," said Susan Linn, a psychologist and co-founder of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood in Boston. "This is just one more step in the commercialization of PBS and children's programming." Said a PBS spokesman: "This is going to be very smart and respectful, and anything that will appear online will be in the spirit of what is on PBS on air." PBS will sell banners across the tops of PBS.org and PBSKids.org. The former has included sponsored links since January, and individual show sites within PBSKids.org currently include logo links for kid- and mom-targeted sponsors such as Chuck E. Cheese and Kellogg's. National Public Broadcasting's new online sales division will represent PBS.org in its marketing efforts, the network announced last week.

adn.com | alaska wire : Money woes change Anchorage public television, radio

Alaska Public Media is laying off seven workers to offset a growing deficit, reports the Anchorage Daily News. The network's president attributes the shortfall to declining state support and rising costs in programming and other areas. Alaska Public Media operates the Alaska Public Radio Network and TV and radio stations in Anchorage.

Aug 25, 2006

WQED-FM revises approach to classical format

WQED-FM in Pittsburgh is reducing the chatter during its classical music programming and making its selections more accessible to casual listeners, reports the city's Post-Gazette. "We've recommitted to the classical music format -- and to make sure every show we offer is speaking in a contemporary, welcoming, down-to-earth voice," says Susan Lyons, executive director.

LongmontFYI - NPR host wants science to be ‘sexy’

Ira Flatow, host of NPR's Talk of the Nation Science Friday, discussed media coverage of science at a biotech conference in Denver Wednesday. Check out the anecdote from Flatow's days at CBS: "You want me to wear a white lab coat, don't you?" Flatow has started a nonprofit, TalkingScience, to draw more attention to developments in science.

Aug 24, 2006

'The last sage' -- NPR's Schorr nears 90, still musing on the news

A Washington Jewish Week profile of NPR's Daniel Schorr features details about Schorr's early days rarely reported in other write-ups. "In preparation for his 1929 bar mitzvah ceremony, Schorr went to a local cheder (Jewish primary school) where his Hebrew prowess earned him a gold watch and a train ride to Philadelphia," writes Paula Amann.

Stations grow audience after going all-news

The audience for WVXU-FM in Cincinnati grew 20 percent over the last year since the station was acquired by Cincinnati Public Radio and went all-news, reports the city's Post. "I think our success will probably be a blueprint for ... other markets," says CPR president Rich Eiswerth. CPR's WGUC-FM, which became all classical, saw no audience growth. Meanwhile, KAZU-FM in Pacific Grove, Calif., has attracted more listeners since an all-news switch, reports the Santa Cruz Sentinel, while community station KUSP-FM has lost some listeners and missed fundraising goals in recent years.