Feb 28, 2007

KAZU and KUSP consider merging top management

California's KAZU-FM and KUSP-FM are considering a collaboration that could streamline their management and allow them to produce more local programming. "In the end, this is really just about ensuring we have the capacity to serve our communities," said Duncan Lively, KAZU's station manager, in the Santa Cruz Sentinel. Read the stations' news release (PDF). Maker is Queen and five other ideas.

Sue Schardt shares thoughts inspired by last week's Integrated Media Association and Beyond Broadcast conferences. "This was the first time I’d heard so many people admitting -- in the halls, not on the podiums -- that they’re afraid," she writes.

Five terrible fake pledge-week specials on PBS

Merlin Mann shares five terrible fake pledge-week specials. "Surviving members of every 50s doo-wop band fight to the death with clubs -- shirtless and totally coked-up -- in massive Thunderdome-like arena."

Feb 27, 2007

For-profit companies win pieces of edtech grants

PubTV groups that received three big federal Ready to Teach grants are paying substantial sums to for-profit subcontractors, Education Week (registration required) reports in tomorrow's issue. Mary Ann Zehr's article doesn't criticize the decisions but points to them as examples of increased outsourcing to for-profit researchers. PBS and WNET both turned to Hezel Associates for evaluation of their edtech projects; the Syracuse, N.Y., company is expected to bill $8 million total. Rocky Mountain PBS is subcontracting $1.75 million or about 35 percent of its grant to Digital Directions International. In contrast, Education Week says, Alabama PTV subcontracted to nonprofits EDC and Boston College.

Connecting Iowa: KHKE Tower Collapses

The broadcast tower of Iowa Public Radio's KHKE-FM collapsed recently, falling prey to "an inch-think coating of ice and 30-40 mile per hour winds," says IPR's Todd Mundt. The network is putting up an interim low-power antenna while it determines how to pay for rebuilding.

Charlotte Observer | 02/24/2007 | The gift of gab: More listeners tune in for talk

Listeners to WFAE-FM in Charlotte, N.C., spend more time with their station than listeners to any other station in the country, reports the Charlotte Observer. They listen to WFAE an average of 7.8 hours a week. Miami's WLRN is second with a Time Spent Listening index of 7.3 hours.

Great Falls Tribune - - Great Falls, MT

In a stunning and suspensefully narrow turn of events, dog owners outpledged cat owners in this year's Pet Wars event on Montana Public Radio, winning by just 13 votes. The cats won last year by 32 votes, reports the Great Falls Tribune.

"Selected Shorts" sets sail

A Selected Shorts cruise sets off from Dubai next month, with host Isaiah Sheffer, Morning Edition commentator Frank Deford and several actors on board. Public TV viewers paid thousands of dollars in 2004 to schmooze at sea with Jim Lehrer and other personalities.

"BBC World" outgrows its niche status

In a profile of BBC World anchor Katty Kay, the Washington Post reports that news program's "niche audience" numbers 1 million American viewers, a stat that puts the show ahead of most hosted cable news programs.

Feb 23, 2007

Be Warriors: Marine recruitment on PBS

The Marines, a Feb. 21 documentary directed by former PBS program exec John Grant, prompted many viewers to write to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler using phrases such as "propagandistic paean," "utter piece of garbage," and "infomercial . . . recruiting our youngsters to the 'warrior ethos' of the Marines." In his weekly webcolumn, Getler agreed with the film's critics. "I felt as though PBS was the willing victim of friendly fire from the producers and, especially, the funders on this one and didn’t take any visible action to protect itself," he wrote. "This is really a very well done testimonial and recruiting film masquerading as a documentary."

Feb 22, 2007

Teams announced for CPB Talent Quest

Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and a trio of prominent women producers called "Launch" will field the two teams competing in CPB's Talent Quest, the corporation said this week. Launch includes Mary Beth Kirchner, Julie Burstein and Marge Ostroushko. PRX, which is run by a bunch of guys, frankly, plans to choose its talent through four elimination rounds on the Web. Each team will choose three potential pubradio hosts (to be announced at PRPD in September) and work with them on pilots. The winner will be announced early in '08. CPB will lay out the contest for the public Feb. 28 on the set of Austin City Limits. This FAQ explains the plan.

Liroff moves to system strategy post at CPB

David Liroff, the WGBH v.p. who’s already a prominent national voice in system planning, got that job officially this week. CPB hired him as senior v.p., system development and media strategy, overseeing station grant policy, technology investments and other wonky important matters. He succeeds Andy Russell, who moved to PBS this month.

Feb 20, 2007

GAO: Toy (etc.) deals "unlikely" source of big money

A newly released report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (79-page PDF, see pages 6-7 and 44-52) found little to support the view of Rep. Ginny Browne-Waite (and AIM) that public broadcasting has become a "billionaire" from merchandising deals. The Florida Republican made the claim in 2005 before asking for the GAO study. Few programs generate back-end revenues, GAO explains. The successful ones pay license fees of only 2.5 to 7.5 percent of merchandise retail prices, anyway, and neither PBS nor CPB is likely to get much of that because they don't make big front-end investments. That's pretty much what Current reported in 1995 when politicians claimed Barney was making PBS rich.

Views on an XM/Sirius merger

Doc Searls shares his thoughts about the possible merger of XM and Sirius: "I don't care how diverse the programming becomes, it's still coming from too few companies. When the choice gets down to one, I guarantee that programming will have a homogenous quality to it." One programmer sees some upsides. "Public/community radio, with its hook of no commercials, will inevitably gain from a pool of listeners who won’t be as excited about paying $20 a month for programming that changes from when they signed up," writes Ernesto Aguilar, p.d. of KPFT-FM in Houston.

Feb 16, 2007

Radio Station Cries 'Enough' -- Won't Quote From Certain News Stories Relying on Unnamed Officials

The news director at KSFR-FM in Santa Fe, N.M., has told his staff not to use nationally published news stories that rely on unnamed U.S. officials as sources. "What we have suspected and talked about at length before is now becoming clear," wrote Bill Dupuy. "'High administration officials speaking on the condition of anonymity,' 'Usually reliable Washington sources,' and others of the like were behind the publicity that added credibility to the need to go to war against Afghanistan and Iraq." Numerous blogs have picked up on the story and praised Dupuy's decision.

Report: FCC can legally regulate broadcast violence

A draft of a long-awaited FCC report suggests that the Congress could ask the commission to regulate broadcast violence without violating the Constitution, according to the Los Angeles Times. A bipartisan group of lawmakers asked the FCC in 2004 to look into whether it could constitutionally regulate such content; unlike with indecency, the Supreme Court has never ruled that the FCC could regulate on-screen violence.

Scripting News: WNYC spam

Blogger Dave Winer complains about the spam he's received since donating to New York's WNYC. "Of course I have asked to be removed from the spam list, and how tacky is it to ask for a pledge less than a month after getting a gift of $100."

NPR's social media summit

NPR has convened a meeting of high-profile bloggers and Web 2.0 thinkers in Washington, D.C., this week to discuss the network's future in social media. Not surprisingly, there's plenty of online, on-the-scene coverage from this crowd. NPR's Andy Carvin has notes and videos on his blog. Robert Paterson: "The theme is becoming the new reality of the shift from Consuming to Creating." Doc Searls: "Seems to me that public broadcasting is way too long on policy and bureaucracy and way too short on engagement." (Searls is taking pictures, too.) Jeff Jarvis: "NPR should be a network of networks." Zadi Diaz: "The more I sat there and listened, the more I became convinced that NPR's future seems to be in opening themselves up to their listeners ... and in turn listening to them."

Feb 15, 2007

Poynter Online - A Conversation With Corey Flintoff

Poynter's website presents MP3s of conversations with Corey Flintoff, an NPR newscaster and reporter who recently has been filing stories from Iraq. "Flintoff says journalists should be cautious of recent reports about Iran's role in the war as well," writes Leann Frola. "He says he's skeptical of the 'so called' evidence that Iran is providing roadside bombs that are killing soldiers like the ones he interviewed. You just don't know when you can't see it for yourself, he says."

Journalists "have a long way to go to regain the public's trust "

Frontline producer Raney Aronson chatted with Washington Post readers about the public affairs show's state-of-journalism doc, "News War: Secrets, Sources & Spin." The program, the first segment in the four-part "News War" series, debuted Tuesday and is available online.

CPB seeks stations for outreach grants

CPB released a request for proposals this week for stations interested in participating in its community engagement initiative, a two-year collaboration between the corporation and the Harwood Institute for Public Innovation, a community organization consulting group based in Bethesda, Md. The project will offer participating stations--which must already be pursuing community engagement efforts--coaching, ongoing support and access to the Harwood Institute's resources in order to strengthen and expand those efforts. The stations will receive $20,000 to fund their projects and reimbursement for the cost of any travel to workshops. CPB will pick 12 stations of various market and budget sizes and licensee types to participate by March 9.

Discovery Education targeted for more cuts

The corporate restructuring announced this month by Discovery Communications President David Zaslav will likely bring more cuts to its education division, according to Broadcasting & Cable.

Feb 14, 2007

Chester seeks recommitment to noncommercialism

While urges its troops to back "permanent funding and independence from partisan meddling" for pubcasting, media reform activist Jeff Chester wants to see a trust fund only if it supports a "truly noncommercial" system. Such a system would reserve 30 percent of its funds for news and public affairs, air kidvid without commercial underwriting and bring in half of its programs from independent producers. He advises: "We shouldn't help save 'Big Bird,' if all the public is going to get is more of the same of what we have today." Chester discusses his recommendations in Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy, just published by the New Press.

Johanson gets her direction

Former PBS interactive chief Cindy Johanson will join the George Lucas Educational Foundation next week as chief operating officer. The new position reports to Milton Chen, executive director and former education topper at San Francisco's KQED. Lucas, the director of Star Wars, said he wants Johanson's help in making the foundation's website "the best archive of films, articles and tools for creating successful schools."

APTS seeks DTV channel carriage by satcasters

House Telecom Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) told pubTV managers yesterday that he'll support their call for satellite TV operators to carry the digital TV signals of local pubTV stations. APTS wants DirecTV and EchoStar to carry their local signals if it carries those of any stations. APTS achieved a digital carriage agreement with large cable operators in 2005 after seeking federal action. A deal with smaller operators is expected soon, APTS said.

NAB urges satcasters to stop using FM modulators

National Association of Broadcasters has asked the XM and Sirius satellite radio companies to stop using tiny FM transmitters to connect their satellite receivers with the audio systems in subscribers' cars. NPR also has objected to the gizmos.

Eye to eye, wing to wing

In March many public TV stations will air Winged Migration, the hit 2003 theatrical release that put the viewer in the sky, flying alongside geese and other twice-yearly migrants. The distributor, American Public Television, is recommending (PDF, page 3) Jacques Perrin's doc for broadcast on Earth Day, April 22.

Feb 12, 2007

Giovannoni shares credit for Grammy-winning album

David Giovannoni, an influential audience researcher in the world of public radio, shares credit for an album that won a Grammy last night. Lost Sounds: Blacks and the Birth of the Recording Industry, 1891-1922 took the award in the Historical Album category. Giovannoni served as production consultant and contributed album notes, technical assistance and records from his collection. (Via RadioSutton.)

Technology360: Trusted Space interviews

"We must as an industry stop thinking within radio and television silos," writes Dennis Haarsager on his blog. "It's a distinction that is important to us, but is totally unimportant to our listeners and viewers in an on-demand world. But NPR isn't chartered to worry about television, PBS isn't chartered to worry about radio, and decades of bad blood makes it difficult to build a unified future. We need to get over it and we may need a new institution to do it. Separate systems won't work."

New Republic: Why does the Beeb do it better?

A New Republic blogger reviews two BBC radio shows and asks, "Why are there so many excellent program(me)s on BBC Radio 4 with no American counterpart?"

Feb 8, 2007

Edwards temporarily takes reins at AFTRA

Bob Edwards will assume presidential duties for the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists next month when current National President John P. Connolly departs. Connolly is leaving AFTRA to become National Executive Director of Actors' Equity Association. Edwards, now AFTRA's First National Vice President, will assume presidential duties until April.

Feb 6, 2007

Public radio snarky? Yep, when show's 'Fair Game' -

The Sacramento Bee profiles public radio's Fair Game. "A public radio reporter from one of our pilot stations heard the show and told me, 'Faith can ask all the questions we can't ask but want to,'" says the show's e.p. of host Faith Salie.

Oregon Public Broadcasting Exec Dies

Michael A. Tondreau, v.p. of engineering at Oregon Public Broadcasting, died Jan. 30 of cancer, according to Tondreau worked for OPB for more than 40 years and served on the PBS Engineering Committee.

Feb 5, 2007

NPR: What's in a Name?

NPR's Michel Martin seeks a name for her show and has asked her community of Web visitors for suggestions.

Feb 2, 2007

Unhappy classical fans in Texas can apply for LPFM

Despite a "significant number" of objections, the FCC will allow Kilgore Junior College in Kilgore, Texas, to sell KTPB-FM, its noncommercial station, to a religious broadcaster. But the commission has taken an unusual step and given KTPB's unhappy listeners a one-time chance to apply for a low-power FM license that could restore a classical music station to the community. (PDF.)

This liberal wants his WESUN

The return of classical music on Washington's WETA-FM has left the city without Weekend Edition Sunday, and the editor-at-large of the American Prospect is not happy. "Is there cosmic justice in the fact that people in the hollows of eastern Kentucky and the remote plains of Nebraska can hear a serious couple hours' worth of radio news on Sunday mornings, while those of us who have taken the good time, trouble, and expense to deposit ourselves in the nation's political nerve center -- and even enmesh ourselves in its sordid particulars -- can't?" he asks.

TV critics get their wish for "The War"

PBS will debut Ken Burns' The War on Sept. 23, one week later than originally planned. The Washington Post's Lisa de Moraes reports on the schedule change, which television critics clamored for during the recent press tour, and consults anonymous commercial network programmers. They describe the switch as "monumentally stupid."

Feb 1, 2007

David Folkenflik, hot wiseacre

Thanks to FishbowlDC, we learn that NPR media reporter David Folkenflik owns four suits and had a scrambled-egg-and-tomato sandwich for breakfast. Not only that, but people think he is hot.