Jun 30, 2007

Does she have a date with a Python?

Is this a scam? Not long ago a young woman knocked on a family's door in western New York state and asked for a donation toward raising $5,000 for a trip to England, where she'd appear with John Cleese on a program that PBS supposedly will air Oct. 17, reports Kansas City Star critic/blogger Aaron Barnhart. But a couple of her statements sounded fishy, including the claim that Cleese worked on Upstairs Downstairs. What's up with this? Barnhart's e-mail address.

Jun 29, 2007

Talk host considers running for Senate

Jeff Golden, a talk host on southern Oregon's Jefferson Public Radio, said yesterday that he'll leave the air while considering whether to run for the Senate against incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, AP reported.

Open Source disbands

Yesterday's Open Source was the last from the webcentric pubradio talk show, which went "on a summer hiatus" and is disbanding its staff, wrote host Chris Lydon and producer Mary McGrath on the show's blog. They hope to maintain the blog and to relaunch the show in the fall. Why shut down? They explained that "a brand-name media company that had asked to partner with us had changed its mind." The show was running out of money despite a $250,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation in March and recent listener donations. The Boston-based show's distributor, PRI, and its home station, WGBH, dropped it in recent weeks, the Boston Phoenix reported. Mike Janssen profiled the show in Current. More in Current's next issue.

Jun 25, 2007

Wall Street doubts Sirius-XM merger

Low stock prices for Sirius Satellite Radio indicate Wall Street is doubting the company will merge with its competitor, XM, Bloomberg News speculated.

Jun 22, 2007

For legal peace, KOCE pledged channel to Daystar

KOCE will give religious broadcaster Daystar Television Network one of its DTV multicast channels in exchange for Daystar dropping its persistent litigation to gain control of the channel that the public TV station bought in 2003. KOCE and Daystar yesterday swore not to disclose the terms of their mediated settlement, but the Los Angeles Times cited a description from "a source familiar with the settlement." [Attribution corrected.]

Jun 21, 2007

Terse statement: KOCE survives challenge

KOCE will remain a public TV station but is not disclosing so far the terms of its settlement with religious broadcaster Daystar Television, which contended that it was high bidder for the license sold to the KOCE Foundation in 2003. A station spokeswoman released this terse statement today: "KOCE-TV Foundation and Daystar Television are pleased that they have reached a settlement to the parties’ mutual satisfaction. This brings to conclusion all the outstanding litigation between the parties and results in a complete dismissal of all claims against the KOCE-TV Foundation and the Coast Community College District. KOCE-TV Foundation will continue to own and operate KOCE-TV as a PBS member station. The terms of the settlement are confidential and the parties are prohibited from commenting further on its terms." Even though a state appeals court last year voided the college district's sale of the station to the KOCE Foundation, KOCE was attempting to keep ownership.

Jun 19, 2007

New pubTV satellite system moves into second phase

PBS has issued an RFP for an Internet Protocol-based system to handle server-based program delivery via public TV's new satellite system, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Enabling non-real time distribution represents the second phase of the $122 million Next Generation Interconnection System, which got its last bit of funding from Congress this year (Q-and-A with APTS President John Lawson). PBS hopes to deliver around 150 non-real time program hours and 50 real time hours by December 2008, but roughly 50-75 stations still lack the necessary hardware to use file-based delivery. RFP responses are due July 2.

Jun 15, 2007

humble Farmer humbled

Maine Public Broadcasting Network is dropping jazz host Robert Skoglund, a 28-year Friday night fixture, after a lengthy feud over the content of Skoglund's folksy commentaries. Better known as the humble Farmer (the "h" signals his humility), Skoglund was officially fired after he refused to sign off on commentary guidelines that prohibit hosts from taking stances on controversial issues, among other no-nos. The move ended an eight-month spat that started in November when network execs pulled an episode of The humble Farmer, saying it was critical of an upcoming ballot initiative and they didn't want to seem as if the station was weighing in on the issue. Skoglund responded by submitting his shows completely devoid of commentary and waging a letter and e-mail campaign that cast the pubcaster as an agent of censorship.

College may sell pubTV station in Moline, Ill.

Fiscally pinched Black Hawk College in Moline, Ill., is considering selling or leasing out public TV station WQPT, Quad-Cities Online reports. The college trustees will hear the proposal June 21.

One story, reported three ways, on

"It was really a matter of going out with something else in mind, something beyond the tasks required for a good radio piece," says NPR's Howard Berkes in a Poynter Online Q&A devoted to multimedia story-telling. Berkes' recent feature on Arizona physician and aerial photographer Michael Collier, which was the most e-mailed story on for 48 hours and remained on the top-10 list for a week, is the starting point for this reporting how-to.

Jun 14, 2007

CPR governance, HD planning under fire

Frances Koncilja, an attorney who resigned from Colorado Public Radio's board last week, is challenging the lack of transparency in decision-making by CPR leaders. "They're talking about reducing the size of the board and selling the AM stations," Koncilja tells the alternative weekly Westword, "and I find that an irresponsible way to govern an organization, especially when none of this was discussed at the board meetings." CPR broadcasts its news and information service on AM stations in three markets. Board Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher tells Westword that Koncilja's criticisms are based on "a significant misunderstanding" about CPR's long-term plans for high-definition radio services.

Jun 13, 2007

NPR on musical pledge specials

NPR reporter Lynn Neary surveys PBS's nostalgia-driven music specials for All Things Considered. Coming soon: The Clash.

Donor group asks judge to reverse sale of WCAL

SaveWCAL, a group of St. Olaf College alumni who opposed the 2004 sale of the classical music station to Minnesota Public Radio, are challenging the sale in court, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages. Attorney Michael McNabb argues that WCAL was a charitable trust created by its donors and held by the university, and St. Olaf needed a judge's permission to liquidate it.

Jun 6, 2007

Meet the Pubradio Talent Quest semi-finalists

Public Radio Talent Quest announced 10 semi-finalists in its contest for new pubradio on-air talent. Contestants whose entries received the most online votes are compiled here and the judges' favorites are here.

Jun 5, 2007

Classical format doubles WETA's audience

WETA-FM's recent switch to an all-classical music format is paying off big time, the Washington Post reports.

Jun 4, 2007

FCC responds to indecency ruling

Commissioners Kevin Martin (chairman) and Michael Copps aren't happy about today's court action. "I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that 'shit' and 'fuck' are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience," Martin said in a statement. Copps warned that any broadcaster "who sees this decision as a green light to send more gratuitous sex and violence into our homes would be making a huge mistake."

Court throws out indecency action

In potential tide-turning win for broadcasters, a federal appeals court in New York threw out FCC profanity rulings against Fox and ordered the commission to provide better justification for its controversial "fleeting expletives" policy, Broadcasting & Cable reports (PDF of ruling here). The decision was narrow in focus but casts broader doubt on the legal sustainability of the FCC's holding that "fuck," "shit" and their derivatives are presumptively indecent, regardless of context. The commissioners first staked out that position in the 2004 Bono decision, which, coupled with Congress' later ten-fold fine level hike, left broadcasters more skittish than ever about airing edgy content (related story and timeline).

Faith Salie: not your typical pubradio host

Faith Salie's quick humor and willingness to express astonishment Valley-Girl style ('Oh my God!') gives Fair Game a "loosey-goosey" unpublic radio sensibility, according to the New York Times.

New HQ, expansion plans for Youth Radio

Youth Radio's recent move into new headquarters allows the organization to pursue plans to expand its media training program and production output, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Jun 1, 2007

1452 pubradio wannabes want your vote

Don't miss your chance to vote in the first round of Public Radio Talent Quest, an online search for new on-air hosts. Voting closes tomorrow, June 2.

Tribune columnist says KPCW exec's salary doesn't jive with station's mission

Non-profit leaders in Salt Lake City, including KPCW-FM founder Blair Feulner, have "figured out a way to get rich running companies that don't make money," writes Salt Lake Tribune columnist Rebecca Walsh. "The United Way scandal it's not. But it's similar." In 2005, Feulner was paid nearly $180,000 while the station ran a $600,000 deficit and its "low-wage journalists . . . [begged] for listener donations" twice a year.

Mini-newscast on mini-screen

Deutsche Welle, Germany's overeseas broadcaster, now offers "DW-TV News" one-minute hourly newscasts for cellphones in English or German, the Association for International Broadcasting reports. It offered phonecast updates on World Cup soccer in 30 languages. Click for DW's download or streamed video. Some U.S. pubcasters are reaching toward mobile audiences, Current found last year.