Mar 30, 2006

At NPR's blog, Robert Smith is sizing up the competition: the new Washington Post radio station that launched this morning. "You want to take this outside for a debate over globalization? I didn't think so."
"National Public Radio recently issued a testy note to Boston Acoustics, complaining about reception problems with a radio NPR had bought in huge numbers for giveaways," reports the Philadelphia Daily News.

Mar 29, 2006

Public radio reporter and producer Kathy McAnally died March 24 of cancer. She was 55. This remembrance aired on San Francisco's KQED-FM, where McAnally worked for many years.
Rebecca Roberts, daughter of Cokie, will host a new local talk show on WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., starting this summer. (Second item.)

Mar 28, 2006

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler addresses viewer complaints about pledge programming and posts letters from pledge-weary pubTV fans in his most recent column. "PBS needs to change its name!" writes a viewer in Grand Rapids, Mich. "My suggestion is to call PBS the 'Please Buy Something' network."

Mar 27, 2006

CPB is accepting applications for another round of digital conversion grants to public radio stations.
Reverbiage is "a news feed aggregator featuring NPR News Headlines."
CPB plans to launch a Station Renewal Project for pubradio stations that could fall short of new audience service criteria for Community Service Grants. A recent Request for Proposals seeks a pubradio professional to serve as a consultant on the project.

Mar 24, 2006

See Chicago Public Radio's Torey Malatia get all Glengarry Glen Ross at his station's pledge drive. Also, the station is offering a This American Life 100th Anniversary mug as a premium (that's right, 100th anniversary).
The San Mateo County Community College District will appeal the $15,000 indecency fine the FCC levied against KCSM-TV for naughty words uttered in an March 2004 installment of PBS doc, The Blues. KCSM was notifed of the commission's decision last week. Washington, D.C.-based law firm Morrison and Foerster will represent the district on a pro bono basis.
The University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., has taken its public radio station off the market. The university was not satisfied with the proposals it received for KUOP-FM but will put the station back on the market within a year. Capital Public Radio in Sacramento will continue to operate the station.
The Columbia Journalism Review looks at the case of Clark Parrish, a religious broadcaster whose companies snapped up hundreds of FM translators from the FCC a few years ago only to turn around and sell them. "Based on the average sale price for one of their translators, their remaining spectrum holdings, which the FCC granted free, could be worth as much as $8.7 million," CJR says. (Earlier coverage in Current.)

Mar 23, 2006

New York's WNYC-AM/FM is moving from the city's Municipal Building into larger digs in lower Manhattan that will include a 3,700-square-foot performance space.
The Los Angeles Times reports that on April 17 Hollywood's Egyptian Theatre will show free continuous screenings of The Armenian Genocide, the controversial documentary debuting on PBS stations that night. Filmmaker Andrew Goldberg rented the theatre after KCET in Los Angeles declined to broadcast both the film and the panel discussion that PBS commissioned to follow it.

Mar 21, 2006

Consultant Robert Paterson has been working with NPR on its series of systemwide meetings, New Realities. On his blog, he shares conversations with WBEZ's Torey Malatia, KCRW's Ruth Seymour and Bill Buzenberg of Minnesota Public Radio.
A new commercial AM/FM news-talk station in Washington, D.C., hopes to attract a chunk of public radio's audience by combining a livelier sound with meatier coverage, reports the Washington Post's Marc Fisher. The Post is partnering on the station with Bonneville International, owner of the city's successful WTOP-AM.
NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin says a recent NPR story took a condescending attitude toward small-town media.
Arbitron will begin rolling out its Portable People Meter, a new audience-measurement technology, in July, reports Radio Magazine. Consultant John Sutton warns that the PPM's introduction could bring new limitations on some of the most useful data that pubradio gets from Arbitron.
Michael Coleman tells the Detroit Free Press that he did not embezzle from Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor, his former employer. Coleman is now g.m. of WDET-FM in Detroit. A Detroit News columnist compares news of the embezzlement charges to "hearing that your mother has been brought up on shoplifting charges."
If pediatricians agree that media screen time is not appropriate for children under age two, why are Sesame Workshop and a leading child advocacy organization co-producing a DVD series for babies? "Essentially it is a betrayal of babies and families," one critic of the new brand of infant media and toy products tells the Washington Post. Child development experts have asked Zero to Three, the advocacy group that's co-producing the Sesame Beginnings DVD series, to end its association with the Workshop. "We believe that your partnership . . . is exploitative of both babies and parents and severely damages your credibility as an advocate for the health and well-being of young children," write the leaders of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, in a March 17 letter.

Mar 20, 2006

Breaking with his custom not to write about PBS programs until after they've aired, Ombudsman Michael Getler wades into the controversy over The Armenian Genocide.

Mar 17, 2006

Consultant and blogger Robert Paterson gives a sneak peek at a New York Times feature about NPR's growth in the post-Kroc era, dated for Sunday. "To put it in perspective, the [Baltimore Sun] just closed my old Beijing bureau," says Frank Langfitt, a Sun alum and NPR reporter. "NPR just opened a Shanghai bureau. It's night and day."
The Prometheus Radio Project says the FCC could open a filing window for full-power noncommercial FM frequencies within six months, reports Radio World.
The website for the Prairie Home Companion movie is up, complete with trailer. "Radio like you've never seen it before."
"NPR over the years began taking itself enormously seriously — as it should," says Bob Edwards in a Newsweek online article about his XM gig. "In the end I was so micromanaged that they were telling me how to pronounce syllables of words."

Mar 16, 2006

Three former employees of Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor were charged this morning with felony embezzlement. They are accused of illegally taking money, food, airline tickets, furniture, a pool table and other goods and services. One former employee, Michael Coleman, is now g.m. of WDET-FM in Detroit.

Mar 14, 2006

Digital video recording pioneer TiVo is introducing a new service that will automatically record and aggregate educational kids programs, the Associated Press reports (via USA Today). The new tool, which will debut mid-year and be part of TiVo's recently launched KidZone parental-control feature, will record shows tagged with the "E/I" label that denotes educational and informational programming for kids. It will also include a list of shows recommended by the Parents Television Council, Common Sense Media and Parents' Choice Foundation. The service will be free but is only available to subscribers with standalone Series2 machines.
Kontiki Inc., the Silicon Valley company behind Open Media Network, has been bought by VeriSign Inc. for $62 million, according to, which calls Kontiki "among the few legitimate [peer-to-peer] solution providers out there and certainly the one with the most traction among the media industry." [VeriSign news release.] The firm provides online players for the BBC, AOL and other online video contestants. Pubcasting exec Dennis Haarsager, who has worked with Kontiki chief Mike Homer to shape OMN as a model for pubcasters online, views the sale as a positive sign.

Mar 13, 2006

The investigation into Michigan Radio in Ann Arbor now underway includes a look at underwriting incentives given to station employees, reports the Detroit Free Press. A former account exec received a pool table, Persian rugs and meals at local restaurants in exchange for underwriting spots, according to his attorney.
A former Voice of America employee questions whether public radio stations should carry the BBC World Service without warning listeners that the service is funded by the British Foreign Office. ". . . [I]t is disturbing that a foreign broadcaster has taken such a prominent role in U.S. public radio," writes David Pitts in the Washington Post.
"Terrestrial radio might be hyping a technology that isn’t quite ready for prime time," writes consultant Paul Marszalek after a frustrating experience with an HD radio. ". . . The fact is, while HD's lack of compression does sound a lot better than satellite, it just doesn’t work as well."
Studies forecast that more people will be listening to podcasts than HD Radio by 2010. "How much are you investing in podcasting vs. HD radio?" asks Mark Ramsey.
Improperly installed satellite radios are interfering with some listeners' enjoyment of noncommercial radio, reports the (Allentown, Pa.) Morning Call.
Lamar Marchese, g.m. of Nevada Public Radio in Las Vegas, is retiring. Marchese co-founded the station in 1979.
Today Discovery Education unveils Cosmeo, the consumers' version of its unitedstreaming service to K-12 schools. For a monthly subscription fee of less than $10, households with school-aged kids and high-speed Internet connections can buy access to curricular material from Discovery's library, as well as that of other "educational content providers such as Scholastic Corp. and the Public Broadcasting Service," reports the Washington Post.

Mar 10, 2006

The latest Audience 2010 report (PDF) sizes up the stalling of public radio's audience growth and its impact on fundraising. This year's individual giving could come in at least $30 million short of what it might have been had audience growth continued. Public radio "is no longer a growth industry," the report says.

Mar 9, 2006

CBS's Showtime Networks and the Smithsonian Institution announced plans for a Smithsonian On Demand service for cable TV and other multichannel distribution starting in December. They'll offer a library of 40 hours of programming, refreshed monthly, including docs, children's programming and event coverage. Other branded Smithsonian Networks projects are expected to follow.

Mar 8, 2006

Merlin Mann selects five more excellent public radio names.
Baltimore's WYPR-FM aims to boost its wattage soon, a move which could drown out 10-watt WMUC-FM, the station operated by the University of Maryland in College Park. The tiny station is the only college station in the Washington, D.C., area.
Donovan Reynolds, who recently resigned as director of Michigan Public Media in Ann Arbor, says he prompted investigations of his station last fall by reporting "suspicious business practices" to the University of Michigan, which holds the station's licenses. Reynolds tells the Detroit Free Press that he resigned "because serious things occurred on my watch and I had to accept responsibility."
Phil Redo is leaving WNYC-AM/FM to return to commercial broadcaster Greater Media, where he will oversee five Boston stations. Redo is WNYC's v.p. of station operations and management.
Georgia Public Broadcasting has bought an FM station in Rome, Ga., reports the Rome News-Tribune. And in other station news, WDIY-FM in Bethlehem, Pa., will manage and program WXLV-FM in Schnecksville, Pa., a station licensed to Lehigh Carbon Community College. (Coverage in the Allentown Morning Call.)

Mar 6, 2006

The latest Audience 2010 report (PDF) from the Radio Research Consortium finds Arbitron's methodology to be reliable, which means it can't be scapegoated for public radio's audience loss. "Public radio's national loss of audience momentum is real," the study says. The previous Audience 2010 installment let satellite radio off the hook.
The University of Michigan is investigating its public radio and TV stations after the abrupt resignation of director Donovan Reynolds, reports the Detroit Free Press.

Mar 1, 2006

WFMU's Professor checks in on the Satellite Sisters, formerly of public radio, and his words are not kind: "Some of the urgent topics recently on the Satellite Sisters show: 'As you listen to the weather forecast this winter, think what it means for your animals' and 'Look a salesperson in the eye when you say goodbye' and most importantly 'Wipe down exercise machines and mats at the gym after using them.' I'm NOT kidding."
New York's WNET will not air a controversial panel discussion that was scheduled to run April 17 after the doc, The Armenian Genocide, the Associated Press reports (via Newsday). The forum has been criticized by Armenian-American groups and community leaders for including scholars that deny that the early 20th century killing of more than 1 million Armenians by Turkish forces qualifies as a genocide (earlier post). Activists protested the follow-up panel outside WNET Saturday, but a station spokeswoman said yesterday's choice to 86 the add-on was "an editorial decision." An online petition urging PBS to pull the panel discussion has received more than 15,000 signatures.