Advertisement

Mar 31, 2009

Telecom exec named to head NTIA

The White House nominated Lawrence E. Strickling to head the Commerce Department's NTIA, the agency that administers annual rounds of PTFP matching grants to help pubcasters buy equipment. He and Julius Genachowski, the nominee for FCC chair, are both friends of the Obamas from Chicago, the Washington Post pointed out. Both Strickling and Genachowski graduated from Harvard Law and went to the FCC, Strickling as chief of the Common Carrier Bureau and Genachowski as chief counsel. Before serving as policy coordinator in the Obama campaign, he worked at three telecom companies, most recently the optical fiber service provider Broadwing Communications. His new agency, NTIA, will dispense some $4.7 billion in grants for broadband service improvement as part of the stimulus package.

Intel chips in some cash for NewsHour

PBS’s NewsHour with Jim Lehrer has signed a major new corporate underwriter, Intel Corp., through the rest of 2009. As part of the deal, NewsHour staffers will help plan and moderate several small meetings on national issues and a larger conference on innovation this year, says spokesman Rob Flynn. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the program will thank Intel with a 30-second underwriting credit and a short mention at the other end of the show, plus short mentions on Tuesday and Thursday. The NewsHour also has underwriting from Chevron Corp., Grant Thornton LLC accounting and consulting, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and more than a dozen other foundations.

No snacks for thrifty PBS board

How bad is the economy? So bad that treats for PBS board members are disappearing. At the meeting today in Arlington, Va., Chairman John Porter quipped to the board, "Symbolic of the careful work being done on the budget, there will be no snacks at break time. We're doing every single thing to make certain the budget is as tight as possible." Board members didn't go hungry, as lunch was indeed provided. Also announced at the meeting, good news for stations: PBS dues will remain at fiscal 2009 levels for FY10.

HuffPo launches investigative unit with $1.75 mil

The Huffington Post has unveiled details of its expansion into investigative journalism. With an initial budget of $1.75 million, the Huffington Post Investigative Fund will hire 10 staff journalists who will coordinate stories with freelancers. Work produced by the investigative team will be available for any publication or website to use at the same time it is posted on the Huffington Post, said Arianna Huffington, co-founder and editor-in-chief. The Atlantic Philanthropies and other unnamed donors backed the venture. In its report on the HuffPo's new unit, Poynter's E-media Tidbits points to other nonprofit and philantrophic efforts to produce investigative reporting, including OhmyNews.com. The Korean international news site, which launched in 2000, is the model for HuffPo's set-up combining efforts of professional and citizen journos.

Channeling ire over NPR fundraising

That brouhaha over a proposed NPR pledge drive? It's based on outdated assumptions about the potential for pubradio growth, according to marketing consultant John Sutton. "The industry is losing money each year by not allowing NPR to raise money directly from listeners," he writes emphatically on RadioSutton. "We know from past research that listeners to two stations will support both stations and give average or above average gifts. They have room in their budgets to do both. Even now. Even in this economy....The issue here shouldn't be whether or not NPR should be allowed to raise money directly from listeners. The issue should be how NPR and stations can work together to grow the revenue pie with stations and NPR making appeals." Meanwhile, over at Fried Bagels, WEOS general manager Aaron Read channels the anger of station execs by comparing NPR to A.I.G., the failed financial company that's come to symbolize the excesses of Wall Street. "NPR took our money (affiliate fees) and promised us that all their ridiculous amounts of growth (multiple foreign bureaus, NPR West facility, new NPR HQ building, Day to Day, Bryant Park Project, News & Notes, etc) would be good for all affiliate stations and was necessary to do. And we had to do it because the consequences were too big a downside to risk not doing it." The analogy is imperfect, Read acknowledges, but "on a visceral level, that's what people are thinking...and thus the parallels are very strong."

Author looks to a more dynamic public media

Jessica Clark, author of a a recent white paper on public media, shares thoughts on the future of public broadcasting in an interview at MediaShift Idea Lab. One point: "'Legacy media' is top-down, one-to-many media: print, television, radio, even static web pages. We're advancing a more dynamic, relevant definition of public media -- one that's participatory, focused on informing and mobilizing publics around shared issues."

Mar 30, 2009

Some stations lagging in PBS dues

PBS station paid dues are running about 4 percent behind last year at this date, network CFO Barbara Landes told the board at today's meeting in Arlington, Va. As of Friday, figures were down 4 percent compared with this same time last year. That's actually an improvement since January, when dues were down 8 percent compared with January 2008. Landes said PBS had been "tracking closely" the payment of dues, for both timeliness and amount. "Any threat to the flow of dollars has significant implications for PBS as well as producers," she added. Landes reiterated that PBS does not waive dues or late fees for stations.

Nonprofits in dire straits, report says

The nation's nonprofits are in serious trouble, according to a report released today by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. It's a survey of 986 nonprofits in markets across the country. Among the troubling findings: 31 percent don’t have enough cash to cover more that one month of expenses; 12 percent expect to operate above break-even this year; 16 percent think they'll be able to cover operating expenses in 2009 and '10; 52 percent expect the recession to have a long-term or permanent negative financial effect on their organization. This link offers both a summary and another link to the full PDF report.

Employees grumbling over KQED head's salary

The nearly $400,000 salary of KQED president Jeff Clarke is creating discontent within the station, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. That's a pretty good chunk of change considering the station has laid off 30 employees, cut 13 percent of its budget and froze executive salaries until 2010. Senior managers also voluntarily reduced their salaries 13 percent. "In this economy, [Clarke's salary] just doesn't make sense," Kevin Wilson, president of Local 51 of the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians, to which most of the station's employees belong.

NPR will join PBS managers at meeting

Reps from NPR will be attending this year's PBS General Managers' Planning Meeting May 11 in Baltimore. The meeting coincides with the annual PBS Showcase. At today's PBS Board Meeting, member Jennifer Lawson said she's pleased with the growing collaboration between the two pubcasting entitites. "I love the fact that we're including NPR as part of these meetings," said Lawson, g.m. of WHUT in Washington, D.C. "It's wonderful that there are more and more forums and circumstances that bring all of us together as public media." The board meeting runs through tomorrow at PBS headquarters in Arlington, Va. Issues before the governing group include Station Services membership policies and fundraising programming dues in overlap markets.

Schiller favors planned NPR.org fundraiser over national on-air appeals

Top NPR personalities have proposed that the network mount a national pledge drive to help close its widening budget gap. There is a historic precedent for the idea, Special Correspondent Susan Stamberg tells the Washington Post: NPR appealed for direct listener support in 1983, when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. "Think how much we'd be able to do now if were were doing something similar," Stamberg says. But during an interview with Current last week, NPR President Vivian Schiller downplayed the proposal for an NPR pledge drive. "They are not our listeners," she said, nodding to the on-air fundraising prerogatives of member stations. NPR is moving forward with an online fundraiser via NPR.org, Schiller told Current, but all proceeds will go to local stations. In a tweet reacting to the Post's story, former Weekend America host John Moe imagined stations' response to NPR pledge appeals: "NPR thinking of having its own network pledge drive. Stations thinking of taking up pitchforks, torches, battering rams, those peasant hats." Check out reactions from the Post's readers here.

Mar 29, 2009

Royal succession: Age of Kings begat Masterpiece

The first big British TV import and a model for PBS's Masterpiece, the BBC's 15-part An Age of Kings, is available now for the first time in 40 years, J. Hoberman writes in the Sunday New York Times. (The set on DVD sells for $32.99 at Tower.com.) Compiled from Shakespeare's history plays — from Richard II, through the Henrys to Richard III — the series was broadcast live in Britain in 1959, with Judy Dench when she was younger but lovely nevertheless, and imported on kinescopes. Two non-network commercial stations aired it first and then National Educational Television. David Stewart looked back at the series in Current.

Boucher details work ahead

Rick Boucher (D-Va.), new head of the House Communications, Technology & Internet Subcommittee, recently laid out his priorities for Broadcasting & Cable magazine. They include reauthorization of the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act, which allows distant viewers, mainly rural, to receive network signals even if they cannot get a local affiliate delivered over the air. Boucher also wants to tackle Universal Service reform, industry funding of telecommunications service to hard-to-reach areas.

Mar 28, 2009

Texas college ponders future of station

Odessa (Texas) College trustees are mulling radio partnerships as an attempt to keep its public broadcasting station on the air, according to The Odessa American. The college can't afford to keep paying around $100,000 a year to cover the station's budget shortfall. Texas Public Radio in San Antonio is interested in either helping manage the station or taking it over, but trustees would like to see a local coalition running the station.

Mar 26, 2009

OTM issues apology, correction on "Infinite Mind" show

On the Media has apologized for what it called a "lapse in journalistic judgment" concerning a November 2008 story on the public radio show The Infinite Mind. Dr. Fred Goodwin, the show's host, had stirred controversy when The New York Times reported that he had accepted more than a million dollars in speaking fees from drug companies and talked about their brand-name drugs on the show. Infinite Mind producer Bill Lichtenstein had previously denied, in statements on his production company's website, knowledge of the psychiatrist's links to pharmaceutical firms. But OTM 's report about the flap relied on an account from an anonymous Infinite Mind producer who claimed the show was in fact aware of Goodwin's activities. Host Brooke Gladstone said on March 13's broadcast that OTM should have checked the allegation with Lichtenstein, who said his producer told him she had "no first-hand evidence that (Lichtenstein) knew of any fees." Gladstone said not checking with Lichtenstein was "a mistake, it wasn't fair and it didn't serve our listeners." The Infinite Mind ran for 10 years, ceasing production at the end of 2008. It was distributed to public radio stations and ran on NPR's Sirius Satellite Radio channel.

Idaho g.m. testifies on the Hill about DTV transition woes

Peter Morrill, g.m. of Idaho Public Television, told a House subcommittee today that public broadcasting fund cuts threatened the completion of the digital transition at his station, according to Broadcast & Cable magazine. In Idaho, he said, some coverage will be lost due to "those darn mountains." However, due to "the short time frame and desperate economic conditions, it is extremely difficult to finance and deploy the transmitters." He asked the committee to give stations two years to build out the systems, and to make money available without requiring matching funds.

PBS veep mulls more British programs

Will PBS be featuring ever-more British content? Senior v.p. for programming John Wilson tells Broadcast Now, a British magazine, that the economy is forcing the network to use major investments for programs "really vital to the schedule. We cannot afford nice-to-have programming; it has to be must-have programming." Wilson also says the poor economy may mean PBS will be turning more to UK suppliers for lower-cost acquisitions "when we feel it's the right kind of content." The mag calls PBS "a major buyer and co-producer of British factual and entertainment programming."

WQED head to ask for further salary reduction

George Miles Jr., president of WQED in Pittsburgh, has already taken a hefty salary cut and is asking his board to slice off perhaps 10 percent more. Revenues at the station are expected to fall almost 17 percent this fiscal year. His first salary cut took his compensation from $306,259 to $235,000. He hasn't ruled out layoffs at the station, which has already frozen salaries, reduced pension contributions, cut health-care spending and eliminated travel and meetings.

OPB to oversee American Archive initiative

Oregon Public Broadcasting will develop the pilot project for the American Archive program, CPB announced today. The archive will preserve content from past years of pubcasting for future access by educators, students, historians and the public. As initiative manager, OPB will oversee the pilot to save content related to the civil rights movement and World War II, as well as administer grants to stations to assist in acquiring and digitizing the content. Here's background from Current on the project.

Mar 25, 2009

New Hampshire cuts five jobs

New Hampshire Public Television announced five layoffs today. President Peter Frid said the cuts are part of a restructuring. Several other vacant spots will not be filled. “We have seen a significant drop in fundraising revenue in individual giving, corporate underwriting and foundation grants. Reducing staff was our last resort,” Frid said in a statement.

CPB unveils multimillion initiative backing economic coverage and collaborations

CPB announced details of its Public Service Media Economic Response Initiative, a package of grants investing in programming and station-based projects that deal with the economic crisis. Grants to be awarded could total as much as $7.8 million, according to a CPB news release. Programs and projects comprising the initiative include a $2.5 million digital collaboration among major national producers to produce comprehensive news coverage and distribute it on multiple platforms with links among the offerings and customization tools for stations. In addition, CPB will provide $2.3 million to NPR, Marketplace, The World, Capitol News Connection, Frontline and WNET's Worldfocus to enhance their economic coverage. Producers of Sesame Street will receive an unspecified amount of aid for a multimedia project for families dealing with economic hardship.

Facing the Mortgage Crisis is the largest grant program for stations. It provides $1.59 million for radio and television stations in 32 markets with the highest foreclosure rates. CPB will also provide up to $1 million in "economy response" matching grants to radio and TV stations working with community partners to create content and outreach projects. Another $200,000 will be awarded for stations that convene dialogues with civic leaders and citizens around local or regional economic issues. In addition, CPB's Public Media Innovation Fund is focusing its next two grant rounds on projects creating new media education tools, applications and content on financial literacy. In its fourth round, which is now open, the fund will award a total of $200,000 in CPB aid.

Mar 24, 2009

Another college station looking for a new operator

Oregon Public Broadcasting may take over operations of KMHD, a jazz and NPR News station in Gresham, Ore., under a partnership agreement negotiated with Mt. Hood Community College, KMHD licensee. The college, which proposes to transfer operations to OPB on July 1, anticipates state funding cuts of at least $4 million in 2009-10, according to MHCC President John J. Sygielski. Transferring the station's operations to OPB "is one of the areas where we can reduce costs without compromising a music institution that is important to the College and the community,” Sygielski said. OPB intends to continue operating KMHD as a jazz station.

Masterpiece wins "Conscience" award from Emmy academy

The PBS series Masterpiece has won a Television with a Conscience award last week for its God on Trial program. The honor is from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the group that presents the Emmys. This is the first such award for a PBS show, according to the network. Seven other programs on commercial networks and premium channels also received awards. God on Trial is a fictional account of a group of Auschwitz prisoners debating the goodness of God, a co-production of Hat Trick Productions Ltd. and WGBH.

NewsHour starts up Global Health Unit

NewsHour has launched a Web site for its new Global Health Watch Unit. This week the show began a three-part series on HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis in South Africa. The new unit is funded by a $3.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Idaho pubTV digital signal coverage in jeopardy

PBS viewers in several areas of Idaho are in danger of losing Idaho Public Television's signal. A state legislative committee just rejected a proposed $150,000 in matching grants for federal funds that would have paid for translators to eliminate the holes in digital coverage, which includes parts of Boise. " ... at this point, I’m not sure what were going to do as we don’t have match money,” g.m. Peter Morrill said.

More pubradio fundraising specials in the works

The pubradio marketing consultants who produced the end-of-year fundraising special "The Best of Public Radio 2008" plan to create a "best-of" summer show that will take pledges via a national toll-free number, according to this project report from John Sutton & Associates. For a 2009 year's end special to be broadcast in December, the project hopes to incorporate text giving. A follow-up survey of contributors to the December 2008 fundraiser found that the more ways an individual listens to public radio, including online listening to more than one station, the more likely he or she is to contribute.

Lehrer's 19th novel now in stores

PBS newsman Jim Lehrer's 19th novel, Oh, Johnny (Random House), goes on sale today. In an interview with USA Today, Lehrer details his writing technique, which involves checking into hotel rooms in his hometown of Wichita, Kan.

Pubradio weekly audience approaches 33 million

The cumulative weekly audience for NPR programming and newscasts grew 7 percent to 27.5 million listeners last fall, according to an NPR news release announcing record-setting growth in just-released Arbitron ratings for Fall 2008. Total listening to NPR stations reached 32.7 million, a 6 percent increase. All Things Considered boosted its weekly cume to 13 million listeners, a 15 percent increase from Fall 2007, and nearly 14 million listeners tuned into Morning Edition each week, a 9 percent increase. In the Washington Post's story on NPR's Fall 2008 numbers, the weekly cume of 23.6 million listeners reported for all NPR programs excludes listeners to NPR newscasts, according to an NPR spokeswoman.

Mar 23, 2009

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania ...

Here's a Q&A with Kathleen Pavelko, CEO and president of WITF in Central Pennsylvania, in which she discusses not only her upcoming fight to save $900,000 in state funding but also the station's controversial new 75,000-square-foot headquarters -- which cost $26.9 million.

Kansas defeats pubcasting funding shift

The Kansas House today voted down a motion that would have transferred the state's entire $2.1 million in public broadcasting operating grants to home-based services for citizens with disabilities, according to The Kansas City Star. Rep. Virgil Peck offered the motion, which would have been an amendment to the budget bill. He said Kansas has more more critical services to fund than public TV and radio. The measure was defeated 42-74.

Celebrating Sesame Street guest songs

The staff at MusicRadar.com ("The Place for Music Makers") details its fave songs by guest stars during the 40 years of Sesame Street. Videos on the site include Johnny Cash as "Johnny Trash" singing Nasty Dan to Oscar the Grouch.

Colorado initiates special campaign

Colorado Public Radio is creating a "Drive to Thrive: Campaign of Confidence" to generate revenue to meet its revised membership budget of $1.6 million for the fiscal year, reports Denver's Westward blog. Sue Coughlin, station v.p., details the plans in a letter to staffers: "Activities will include customized mail and telemarketing appeals, campaign-related promos, a $100,000 member challenge, targeted major donor solicitations, a timely web presence and a few additional days of on-air fund raising. The Campaign of Confidence will begin in earnest on April 1st and continue through June 30th with a final countdown during our June Drive. Leading up to the June Drive, we will have two short mini campaigns -- one day of fund-raising on April 22nd and a two day effort May 13th & 14th."

Mar 21, 2009

Ready to Learn grants now available

CPB has announced Ready to Learn grants so pubcasting stations can work in collaboration with state education agencies to "assess, align, and integrate research-tested and curriculum-based RTL products and services into early childhood education." A one-year planning grant of up to $50,000 will be awarded to up to five stations with state educational agency partnerships. Deadline is April 27.

Ombudsman examines "UltraMind" pledge program

PBS ombudsman Michael Getler writes about the ongoing controversy over the pledge program The UltraMind Solution in his latest column, More Pledge Madness. It includes a Q&A with Joseph A. Campbell, v.p. of fundraising programming for PBS.

Mar 20, 2009

WFMU showcases 14 bands at SXSW tonight

WFMU, the free-form community radio station in Jersey City, N.J., will be broadcasting live from South by Southwest this evening, beginning at 8 p.m. ET. The station teamed up with Aquarius Records to showcase 14 bands at Spiro's in downtown Austin. Half of the sets will be broadcast live and others recorded for a later date.

Hear the fade down of NPR's Day to Day and News and Notes

The last broadcasts of NPR's Day to Day and News and Notes transmit today from NPR West, the network's production facility in Culver City, Calif. If you can't listen live on an NPR station, audio streams from both broadcasts will be available via the shows' websites (here and here) after 3 p.m. ET. The blog LA Observed has an appreciation of the "nice job" that Day to Day has done in saying good-bye to its listeners.

Pledge program prompts columns

An online column about a PBS pledge-drive special, The UltraMind Solution, has sparked a debate on Salon.com. The show offers a combination of books, DVDs and home questionnaires to reportedly help participants sharpen their minds and lessen depression and anxiety. The program ran during pledge drives and related items were given as pledge bonuses. Dr. Robert Burton, a former hospital chief of neurology, calls physician and author Mark Hyman's medical theories a "fringe opinion" and is troubled by the show's appearance of an infomercial. Hyman responds that his program is based on sound medical research and is grateful for PBS's "courageous stand" in airing the show.

It's a beautiful day for Fred Rogers news

Mr. Rogers has arrived in Pittsburgh. Well, actually it's a 7,000-pound figure of the late PBS star. The nearly 11 foot tall likeness will be the centerpiece of a new Tribute to Children park on the Ohio River facing the city. The legendary Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was produced for more than 40 years at the WQED studios in Pittsburgh. In other Fred Rogers news, everyone is encouraged to wear a cardigan sweater -- his trademark -- today in honor of what would have been his 80st birthday. Family Communications is hoping to turn his birthday into an annual tradition of community service, to be known as "Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Day. "The sweater is the fun part," says Margy Whitmer of Family Communications, the show's producer and distributor. "It reminds you of Fred."

Mar 19, 2009

Updates on new Native stations at Native Radio Summit

Reps from 30 Native public radio groups with new FCC construction permits for stations are invited to Native Public Media's annual Native Radio Summit, April 1 at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters Conference in Portland, Ore. Native Public Media will make presentations on its New Horizons Project, which is assessing how Native stations serve their communities, and its Blueprint Project, which will assist the new licensees. NFCB Conference details at www.nfcb.org. Native Public Media: www.nativepublicmedia.org. Contact: Camille Lacapa, Network Services Manager at clacapa (at) nativepublicmedia.org or 602-810-8193.

Next round of budget cuts includes reduced compensation for NPR execs, negotiations with unions

In meetings with the NPR staff today, President Vivian Schiller announced that a new round of budget cuts is needed to meet revised revenue forecasts for 2009 and 2010. In addition to discretionary cuts made last week (including the cancellation of some newspaper subscriptions) NPR has reduced executive compensation by more than $500,000, according to Dana Davis Rehm, senior v.p. "The cuts that we made in December are not sufficient to cover what we need to do now," Rehm said, describing "pressure on every single one of our revenue sources" and worries about the financial condition of stations. NPR management suspended contributions to retirement plans of all NPR executives from April 1 - Sept. 30. In addition, v.p.s at all levels will forgo salary increases this year and next and work without pay during the last payroll of 2009, Rehm said. Next week management enters negotiations over how the cutbacks will affect its unionized workforce. Rehm declined to specify how much NPR seeks reduce its spending under its revised forecast, but anticipates "fast track" decision-making and an announcement by early May. "I don’t want to float numbers publicly until I feel they’re very solid," she said.

CPB seeks nominations for its top award for public TV leadership

March 27 is the deadline for nomination for the Ralph Lowell Award, named for the late founder of WGBH. Questions to Kimberly Bowser at CPB, 202-879-9668. More information posted online.

Newspaper columnist to NPR: if you don't subscribe, why should we pledge?

After reading a memo leaked to Romenesko about NPR canceling its newspaper subscriptions, Hartford Courant columnist Rick Green fired off a terse blog entry that concluded, "Memo to self: cancel pledges to WFCR and WNPR." And you can imagine the chain of reactions that set off. WNPR's John Dankosky reported on the controversy, and appears to have defused it, here.

Mar 18, 2009

CNN news exec will lead Georgia Public Broadcasting

Teya Ryan, a former CNN producer and executive, has been named president and executive director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, the network announced today. Ryan, who starts April 1, is GPB's first top exec in five years without “acting” or “interim” in her job title. Ryan started her career in pubTV at KCET in Los Angeles, produced environmental and business news for CNN and rose to head CNN Headline News and then in 2002 CNN's domestic news channel. Her work has won seven Emmys and two cable ACE awards. In 2004 she briefly worked for then-PBS President Pat Mitchell, a fellow CNN alumna, to plan the PBS Public Square channel. The network’s overspending in the late '90s caused the state to bring in state accounting officials -- Claude Vickers, James Lyle and Bonnie Bean -- to run the network for much of the past nine years. After Lyle retired in 2004, GPB’s former legislative liaison, Nancy Hall, served as interim director until November 2008, when former c.f.o., Bonnie Bean, was named acting director.

Sesame military family program airs for Pentagon reps

Pentagon officials today got a sneak peek at Coming Home: Military Families Cope With Change, a new Sesame Workshop special. On hand were Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn and Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. The half-hour program starring Queen Latifah and singer John Mayer tells stories of injured service members returning home, and explores the struggles they and their families face. The program airs on PBS April 1 at 8 p.m. Eastern (check local listings). The show is part of Sesame Workshop's Talk, Listen, Connect initiative.

Who is the Development Professional of a year like this?

The Public Radio Association of Development Officers is soliciting nominations for its 2009 Development Professional of the Year -- a station-based individual who has demonstrated excellence. The recipient will be announced at the Public Radio Development and Marketing Conference, July 8-10 in San Diego. Nomination deadline: midnight, May 15. Rules and nomination form are posted at www.pradoweb.org. See more scintillating possibilities in Current's Opportunities.

Funders sought to revive "Day to Day"

In a feature on the impending demise of NPR's Day to Day, the Los Angeles Times reports that Bill Davis, president of KPCC in Pasadena, Calif., is trying to raise $500,000 to create a "daughter" of the Los Angeles-based midday show. Its last broadcast via NPR is Friday, March 20.

FCC announces final station DTV transition dates

The FCC has released its list of stations terminated digital service on or before the June 12 deadline. Of PBS stations, 125 will transition on June 12. Of those switching before that deadline, 14 will do so this month, 37 in April, six in May and one on June 10 -- that's KRWG in Las Cruces, N.M. Why? Because June 12 is a Friday. "The regular phones aren't manned over the weekend," Glen Cerny, director of broadcasting, told Current. "We felt it was important to be here when we turned off the analog for any calls. I talked to our engineers, and we just thought it better to be here. Just to reduce that anxiety." Here's the FCC list of stations transitioning on June 12, and those going before. (Both are PDFs.)

Pubcasters cover South by Southwest

NPR Music's coverage of the 2009 South by Southwest music festival revs up in earnest tonight with a live stream of the NPR-sponsored showcase that features the Decemberists performing their new release, Hazards of Love. A guide to all the SXSW performances produced by NPR Music and pubradio stations is here, but you can also follow via this twitter feed and this blog. In this All Things Considered segment, NPR's Bob Boilen previewed this year's festival and reveals which bands he's most interested in seeing live. SXSW coverage by hometown station KUT in Austin is here. KEXP in Seattle and KCRW in Santa Monica also offer exclusive live performances for their hometown and Web audiences. PBS's coverage of last weekend's SXSW Interactive and Film conference, including an interview with NPR's Andy Carvin, is here, and Poynter Online reports on a March 15 panel discussion of APIs for media organizations that included NPR Digital's Daniel Jacobson.

Congress members try to bring back KUHT politics show

Houston-area congressmen, University of Houston and Houston PBS are in the midst of a political drama regarding KUHT's weekly political program Red, White and Blue. Soon after the November election the show, with local GOP and Democrat co-hosts, was suspended. It was one of the few local shows about politics. That prompted U.S. Rep. Al Green to write to UH Chancellor Renu Khator, saying in part: "The entire viewing area gained from the public discussions generated by the hosts in a format we observed to be both balanced and challenging.” State Rep. Ellen Cohen, D-Houston, also expressed her support to Khator. Recently General Manager John Hesse said the program will be reinstated, but a meeting last week with its co-hosts was postponed.

AOL hires veteran journalists for political website launching next month

With its plans to launch a new political website in April, AOL is moving into the business of delivering original news content, according to this story in The Wrap. Top editor is Melinda Henneberger, a veteran of the New York Times, Newsweek and Slate; writers include Carl Cannon of National Journal, USA Today columnist Walter Shapiro, and Patricia Murphy, creator of citizenjanepolitics.com. AOL is calculating that the "glut" of experienced journalists looking for work has created a new opportunity "to create a New York Times-like empire on the Internet--one that is native to the web and knows how to use its strengths and quirks," The Wrap reports.

Mar 17, 2009

This year's Beyond Broadcast conference will be sponsored by USC

Date and place: June 3-6 at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The theme: Public Service Media from Local to Global. Henry Jenkins, founder of MIT's Comparative Media Program and soon to be USC faculty member, will be the keynoter the first day. Other USC speakers include J-Prof. Michael Parks and comm Prof. Jonathan Taplin. USC will assist a number of attendees from overseas who might not come without aid; prompt nominations are sought. Register online. The first three annual Beyond Broadcast events were held by Harvard, MIT and American University.

Sorta related item: Cinny Kennard, managing director and managing editor of emptier and emptier NPR West since 2003, returns to USC as a professor. Kennard has also worked as a CBS News correspondent in L.A., London and Moscow and local newsie in Dallas, Houston, Ft. Wayne, Ind., and Norwalk, Conn.

On Transom, Mitchell talks up training, recruitment of pubradio talent

Doug Mitchell, a former NPR producer who established the Next Generation Radio training program, has taken up a residency on Transom.org, where he shares insights from his experience and tips for those looking to recruit and train new public radio journalists. "Talent development must continue, not be eliminated," Mitchell writes. "Find a way. Once you have the people you want, work to keep them. Don’t do things desperately, but methodically and deliberately. If you can’t help five, help one." The discussion board for Mitchell's Transom dialogue begins with testimonials of his many contributions to public radio.

Lidia talks about her 50-year love of Italian food

Lidia Bastianich, host of the cooking show Lidia's Italy on PBS, talks to The Dallas Observer about her passion for Italian food, and why she's on TV: "I just want to divulge as much information as I can." She also has five cookbooks, three other TV series and six restaurants to her name.

Mar 16, 2009

Pew surveys find increased perceived believability rankings for NPR News

NPR is one of few national broadcast news organizations to see its "believability" ratings increase last year in survey research by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, according to the State of the News Media, the annual report from Pew's Project for Excellence in Journalism. Twenty-seven percent of survey respondents said they believed "all or most" of what NPR reported, an increase of 5 percent from surveys conducted in 2006. The percentage rating PBS's NewsHour as highly believable remained at 23 percent, unchanged since 2004. Political ideology continues to influence the credibility ratings that respondents gave to specific news organizations, and NPR saw a bigger increase in its credibility ratings by Democrats (37 percent of whom described NPR as highly credible) than Republicans (18 percent). [Scroll down on this page to charts on Broadcast & Cable credibility.]

NOW on PBS $1 million in red, announces eight-week furloughs

NOW on PBS is $1 million short for 2009 and has announced all employees will take unpaid, eight-week furloughs this year. John Siceloff, executive producer, said in a memo to staff that no one will be laid off. He cited "severe cuts" in grants to the show by philanthropies struggling with "plummeting endowments." Ironically, the announcement comes just as the show was awarded the prestigious Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Political Journalism, given by the Annenberg Center at USC.

Mountain Lake PBS faces 28 percent state funding plunge

Mountain Lake PBS, located at 1 Sesame Street in Plattsburgh, N.Y., is facing a 28 percent loss in its budget if the state's 2009 budget proposed by Gov. David Paterson is approved. President and CEO Alice Recore told the local Press Republican that 14 members of the State Assembly have sent a letter on behalf of New York pubTV stations to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, asking that $5.7 million in funding be restored, which would bring the reduction down to about 20 percent -- in line with other education funding cuts.

BBC World Service producing daily segment for WBUR's Here & Now

Producers of Here and Now have forged a new content partnership with the BBC World Service. Beginning today, the BBC will contribute a daily segment to the midday news magazine, which is produced at WBUR in Boston. Public Radio International, which distributes both Here and Now and BBC World Service programming to U.S. public radio stations, announces the new partnership here. "PRI has consistently found that strategic partnerships enhance the quality of content, which helps listeners better understand our interconnected world," said Michael Arnold, PRI content director.

John Williams scores new theme for "Great Performances"

Five-time Academy Award winner John Williams's new theme music for Great Performances will debut March 25 on its production of King Lear. “After 36 years of showcasing the best in the performing arts for American audiences, we wanted to reinvigorate our Great Performances broadcast identity for today’s digital HD generation,” executive director David Horn said in a statement.

Pew journalism project issues sixth annual report on State of the News Media

"The problem facing American journalism is not fundamentally an audience problem or a credibility problem," according to The State of the News Media, an annual report from the Project for Excellence in Journalism. "It is a revenue problem—the decoupling, as we have described it before, of advertising from news." The Columbia Journalism Review has a quiz to test your recall on changes since 2004, when the project issued its first report.

Media creators ponder their "Ethics, Money and Mission"

This year's Making Your Media Matter conference, "Ethics, Money and Mission," featured an appearance by George Stoney, an early advocate of public television and now an NYU professor and filmmaker. Nonprofit heads, funders and students from as far away as Nigeria and Kenya participated in the event last month; videos and links to various reports are now on the website of the Center for Social Media of American University, which organized the event.

Mar 14, 2009

Arkansas stations 50 percent off fundraising projections

Fundraising is 50 percent off projections at the Arkansas Educational Television Network Foundation. Executive Director Allen Weatherly cited the recession and reception issues during its DTV transition. Those problems affected KETS in central Arkansas and KETZ in southeast Arkansas. The foundation is the broadcaster's 501(c)(3) nonprofit fundraiser.

Mar 13, 2009

FCC issues rules for final stage of DTV transition

The FCC today announced station requirements for the last stage of the digital transition. Rules for stations that have not yet transitioned include notifying viewers of potential signal loss, providing information about antennas in viewer education campaigns, and reminding viewers of the importance of rescanning digital TVs and converters. The deadline is now set for June 12.

Mar 12, 2009

Spy story from 'This American Life' slated for movie screens

Variety reports that This American Life and Endgame Entertainment will produce a feature film based on the Arthur Phillips short story "Wenceslas Square." The spy love story was featured on This American Life last summer. TAL's Ira Glass and Alissa Ship, who handles film rights and development, will produce the film with James D. Stern of Endgame Entertainment.

Mar 11, 2009

Sesame severs 20 percent of staff; takes heat on "Good Night Show"

Sesame Workshop announced today that it is cutting 67 of 355 positions, citing "the unprecedented challenges of today’s economic environment." Also today, Harvard University psychologist Susan Linn, who heads up Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, asked the PBS KIDS Sprout network to dump The Good Night Show, an evening program about a puppet getting ready for bed. “It is disturbing that that even as late as 9:00 p.m. – after three hours of television viewing – Sprout would encourage its preschool audience to ask parents for even more screen time,” Linn said in a statement on the group's website. Sandy Wax, head of Sprout, told The Associated Press that says she lives in the "real world" where families watch television, and is trying to do her best to put on programs that help parents.

G4 requests OMB meeting for $307 million FY2010 pubcasting supplemental

CPB, APTS, PBS and NPR on March 6 jointly submitted a letter to Peter Orszag, director of the Office of Management and Budget, requesting a meeting "in the next two weeks" regarding a $307 million supplemental funding request for fiscal 2010. The leaked document appears on the Talking Points Memo website. "Some local stations may disappear entirely, undermining the universal service mandate of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967," the letter states. It adds that the "longstanding mechanism" of two-year advance funding for CPB, "while vital to public broadcasting, is ill-suited to the current economic crisis." Supplemental funding for FY2012 would be "simply too late" for stations, so a line item for FY2010 is "indispensable" for the system. A $211 million supplemental for fiscal FY2010 was requested during APTS Capital Hill Day in February for CPB and PBS. The additional $96 million is NPR's supplemental request, according to an NPR spokeswoman. That is usually made separately for public radio stations.

Saberi's parents report recent phone call

The parents of Roxana Saberi, the freelance journalist detained without charge by the Iranian government, received a phone call from their daughter on Monday, according to this local news account. "She just said she loves us,” Reza Saberi, Roxana's father, told the Fargo InForum. “But she said, psychologically, it’s really hard to be in prison. It sounds like she’s under great pressure.” Brian Duffy, managing editor of NPR News, said that news organizations have a responsibility to speak up on her behalf. Saberi "provided valuable and accurate reports from a very important and interesting part of the world," Duffy said. "She’s someone we feel responsible towards. To remain silent would be totally inappropriate.”

MPR request for state aid tops $1.3 million

Advocates for Minnesota Public Radio appeared at the state Capitol in St. Paul yesterday to make the case for funding requests pending before the state legislature. MPR seeks $850,000 to build three new stations and $525,000 to convert some existing stations for HD Radio broadcasts, according to KARE-TV in Twin Cities. In addition, the state network is asking lawmakers for a portion of the revenues generated by the so-called Legacy Amendment, which Minnesota voters endorsed last fall. The Legacy Amendment primarily provides taxpayer funds for clean water protection and natural resource conservation, but it includes a dedicated pool of money for arts, arts education and preservation of Minnesota's cultural heritage and history. "MPR is the largest cultural organization in the state," said Jeff Nelson, MPR public affairs director. "830,000 people listen to MPR every week."

Cookie Monster hits CapHill

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack yesterday told The Washington Times that Cookie Monster was always his favorite Sesame Street character, and that beets were his least favorite vegetable. The revelations followed a press conference during which Cookie Monster told the Capitol Hill crowd he was there "to get more cookies. Do you think I came to town for a Cabinet position?" The fun was all part of an event highlighting Healthy Habits for Life: Get Healthy Now, the new collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the National Women, Infants and Children Association (WIC), a nonprofit that helps low-income pregnant and nursing women with nutrition information and food assistance.

Mar 10, 2009

Webinars tomorrow and March 25 on innovation grants

CPB's Public Media Innovation (PMI) Fund is offering risk-capital grants of $5,000 to $50,000 for innovative projects that foster the understanding of economics. Total for this round: $200,000. Deadline: midnight, April 17, no exceptions. An hourlong webinar will be held twice, at noon March 11 and March 25, for grantseekers who want to hear about the project. Sign up for the webinar online. Projects must be connected with a public broadcasting station but can primarily use other platforms. The users can be chilidren, teens or adults. Grant requests can be just two or three pages in length, with budgets and timelines. Web: Details are online including request for proposals. Project website: www. publicmediainnovation. org. Questions: publicmediainnovation @ gmail.com or Richard Tait, program manager, 845-876-2577.

News organizations issue joint appeal on behalf of journalist detained in Iran

Top execs from seven news organizations, including NPR and PBS, are appealing to international human rights groups to verify the health and well-being of Roxana Saberi, a freelance journalist who is being held in Evin Prison in Tehran. Saberi, who has reported for NPR, ABC News and the BBC among others, was detained by Iranian authorities on Jan. 31 and has been denied contact with her family since Feb. 10. "We now ask that the specific charges against Roxana Saberi be made public," the execs said in a jointly issued statement. "If no charges are filed, we now urge her immediate release and ask that she be given permission to return to her home country, the United States." Media execs signing the letter include Vivian Schiller of NPR, David Westin of ABC News, Jon Williams of BBC News; Paula Kerger of PBS; Robert Thomson of Fox News; and Simon Marks of Feature Story News. UPDATE: The official statement issued by NPR is here.

Where is Farai? Guest hosting on the Takeaway

After a January exit from the soon to be canceled NPR series News & Notes, Farai Chideya is guest hosting The Takeaway with John Hockenberry this week. Regular co-host Adaora Udoji is on leave.

Mar 9, 2009

CPB hires Lightpath evangelist to promote diversity, innovation

JoaquĆ­n Alvarado, advocate for the National Public Lightpath fiber optic network for public media, will join CPB June 30 as senior v.p. for diversity and innovation. With PBS and NPR, CPB endorsed the Lightpath project for federal stimulus spending in January, and at last month’s IMA Public Media Conference, Alvarado urged involvement in the expansion of fast Internet broadband service. (He describes the Lightpath idea in this video.) Alvarado is founding director of the Institute for Next-Generation Internet at San Francisco State University and a board member of the Bay Area Video Coalition and Latino Public Broadcasting. Earlier in the decade, Alvarado worked on films, as cinematographer and associate producer on Alcatraz Avenue (2000) and writer and director on The Silent Cross (2003), and he has written scholarly articles on ethnic diversity in media.

GM drops funding for Ken Burns, citing "financial crisis"

General Motors is ending its long financial support of public broadcasting documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, due to the automaker's dire business outlook. GM had covered 35 percent of each film's budget and funded outreach under a 10-year contract inked in 1999, and had financially supported Burns' work for years before then. The last film made with GM backing is The National Parks: America's Best Idea, a six-part series airing this fall. "We've been proud to be associated with Ken's work over the years, as he is certainly the 'gold standard' of documentary filmmaking," GM spokeswoman Kelly Cusinato told The Detroit News. "But the company's financial crisis has forced GM to rein in such spending."

Mar 8, 2009

Mixed news from New England stations

An update on three New England pubcasters via The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Mass.: WAMC in Albany, N.Y., has cut staff by 5 percent through attrition and layoffs. Also, Word to the Wise, a longtime daily feature, was discontinued after Merriam-Webster withdrew its funding. WHMT in Schenectady, N.Y., with a budget deficit of $235,000, just mailed its 30,000 members letters marked "urgent, action needed!" G.m. Scott Sauer cited "a serious financial shortfall" during the December fund drive. New York pubcasters also have started a webpage, SaveNYPBS.org, to counter Gov. David Patterson's pending 50 percent funding cut. Happier news at WFCR in Amherst, Mass., where a recent two-week fund drive brought in almost $200,000, exceeding the station's goal by $15,000.

Pubcasters write in Washington Post's Outlook

Two NPR staffers contribute to today's Washington Post Outlook section. Steve Inskeep writes about his travels through Iran. He reports that "some of the most insightful words I heard came from a guard at Iran's holiest shrine." And Senior Editor Greg Myre reviews the book, Kill Khalid: The Failed Mossad Assassination of Khalid Mishal and the Rise
of Hamas
.

Mar 7, 2009

In case you missed it ...

NPR head Vivian Schiller spoke to Bob Garfield for On the Media this week. The transcript will be available March 9. Listen to the interview here.

Sesame partnering with WIC nutrition program

Sesame Workshop next week will announce a collaboration with the federal Women, Infants and Children Nutrition program, reports Packer.com, the business newspaper of the produce industry. Characters will extol the healthy delights of fresh fruits and vegetables, as part of the Workshop's Healthy Habits for Life program. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack will be on hand when the announcement of the project is made March 10 in Washington.

Mar 6, 2009

Western Reserve reduces by 10 percent both salaries and hours

Western Reserve Public Media in Kent, Ohio, has made cuts due to a downturn in state, federal and private funding. The station cut full-time staff salaries by 10 percent, instituted a 10 percent reduction in weekly hours and froze overtime. One staffer was laid off. The station's monthly printed program for members has been reduced from 20 pages to 12. It also suspended production of three other publications. All changes were effective March 1.

NPR featured in social media podcast

Andy Carvin, NPR's social-media chief, talks about the network's strategy for connecting with its audience in a new podcast interview featured on The Chronicle of Philanthropy's website. Other podcasts in the Social Good series include Turning Online Friends into Funders, Building a Network that Works and Using Text Messaging to Raise Money.

Mark Seifert to NTIA

Former FCCer Mark Seifert will head the policy side of the NTIA's allocation of broadband stimulus grant and loan funding. Seifert is a past staffer for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and was a Common Carrier Bureau deputy chief. Reps of the NTIA, the FCC and the Rural Utilities Service are meeting next week to decide how to distribute the $7 billion-plus in the economic stimulus package to provide broadband to unserved and underserved areas.

Station gets state funds for tower removal

Ruby Calvert, g.m. of Wyoming PBS, reports that the station has secured $75,000 from the state to remove its tower and analog antenna. Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed a supplemental appropriation bill March 5 that provides the station's funds. Removal of the deteriorating, 50-year-old tower, which stands nearly 9,000 feet up Limestone Mountain near Lander, will take place this summer. See Current's story detailing Wyoming's challenges.

Sprout releases iPhone apps for the wee

Cable channel PBS Sprout, a joint venture of PBS, Sesame Workshop, Hit Entertainment and Comcast begun in 2005, has released two iPhone apps for preschoolers, available for free at Apple's App Store. Sprout Player streams 3- to 4-minute Sprout shows and offers parents a peek at Sprout's programming schedule. Dress Chica is an extension of a Sprout website game where kids can drag items of clothing onto the chicken mascot. Kids can also make Chica dance by shaking their parents'--or their own?--phone. The apps were created with the New Wave Entertainment studio.

APTS asks FCC to allow early DTV transitions

In a filing to the FCC, the Association for Public Television Stations is asking that pubTV stations wishing to do so be allowed to transition to digital this month or next. Numerous stations want to switch to digital as soon as possible for technical and financial reasons. But the commission last week proposed no more analog shutdowns until April 16. Also in an FCC filing, Wisconsin Public TV asked that it be permitted to transition on April 5. The FCC has proposed various deadlines and requirements for the new June 12 deadline.

Mar 5, 2009

Center details future foundation giving

The Foundation Center has compiled information detailing how the economic climate may be affecting foundation giving. The list includes several longtime pubcasting supporters, such as the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which "will maintain or increase grantmaking in 2009, despite the performance of the market to date," and the Ford Foundation, which "will honor all outstanding commitments to its grantees and will increase the percentage of its endowment that is paid out in grants in 2009 and 2010."

Mar 4, 2009

NTIA gets additional DTV coupon funding

Some four million viewers on the waiting list to receive DTV converter coupons should start getting those soon. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has its funding and coupons should be flowing next week. On Jan. 5, NTIA announced it had run out of money for the $40 federal coupons that subsidize purchase of converters. The Obama administration put $650 million in the economic stimulus package to allow NTIA to start sending out the coupons once again.

Obama formally announces FCC nomination

As was expected, President Barack Obama has announced his intent to nominate Julius Genachowski to head the FCC. The president cited Genachowski's diverse and unparalleled experience in communications and technology, with two decades of accomplishment in the private sector and public service. Genachowski formerly worked at the commission as chief counsel to Chairman Reed Hundt, and as special counsel to FCC General Counsel (later Chairman) William Kennard.

WEAO makes cuts, adds pledge drives

WEAO in Northeast Ohio has made salary and publication cutbacks and added three pledge drives in an attempt to get back into the black for the end of its fiscal year in June. One employee was laid off, full-time salaries were cut by 10 percent, weekly work hours were reduced 10 percent and overtime was frozen, all as of March 1. The station's monthly program guide for members went from 20 to 12 pages, and three additional publications were suspended through June. Extra pledge drives are planned for April, May and June.

Waco satellite viewers may be without KWBU for two years

DISH Network viewers of KWBU in Waco, Texas, may be without their local pubTV station for up to two years, reports the Waco Tribune. Interim station g.m. Clare Paul said problems began when a retransmission notification from DISH was mistakenly sent to KWBU’s previous CEO, who left the station in August. Paul said she tried to contact DISH but did not hear back until New Year’s Eve 2008, when the staff was away. The next day, area DISH subscribers had no KWBU. “We have contacted our attorney in Washington, D.C., and he’s contacted their attorney, Paul said. Right now, it’s legal talking to legal. We are very frustrated.” In December 2007, APTS reached an agreement with DIRECTTV for local digital carriage. DISH was not in that agreement. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has introduced legislation requiring satellite carriage of public television stations’ complete digital signals where no carriage agreement between the satellite provider and the local station has previously been reached. Meanwhile, Waco viewers still receive the PBS station KNCT in Belton, which covers their area.

Mar 3, 2009

Corporate giving down, Conference Board reports

The Conference Board reports 45 percent of businesses have reduced donations to nonprofits this year, and another 16 percent were considering doing so. Thirty-five percent of companies said they would make fewer grants this year, and 21 percent said those grants would be smaller. The figures are based on a February 2009 survey of 158 companies.

Economics seminar for reporters seeks applicants by next week

The Knight Center for Specialized Journalism has extended its application deadline to March 12 for its seminar on economic reporting. The seminar on "The Economy: Bringing the Big Picture Home," the recession's effects and possible remedies, will be held April 14-17 at the University of Maryland, College Park. The center covers costs of the seminar, meals and lodging. Details online.

NYTimes.com goes "local" with new community blogs

Pubcasting leaders have been talking up the opportunity to fill the void left by ailing newspapers by stepping up online coverage of local news, and the NYTimes.com has already unveiled an experimental website aimed in that direction. The Local, which launched yesterday with coverage of three New Jersey communities, is exploring "how to serve and engage audiences in new ways," writes Times' veteran Tina Kelley, who runs the site with three journalism students. "This is not a we-talk-at-you-and-you-listen kind of site," Kelly writes. "The Local will be built and maintained with your help, contributions, advice, admonitions, creations, words and pictures. And, yes, I suspect with your heckling, too." In addition to stories on train delays, snow day school closings and deer population control, the site showcases artwork of local students on "The Fridge" and sponsors a New Yorker-style cartoon caption contest.

UPDATE: Fort Greene and Clinton Hill, two neighborhoods in Brooklyn, also get "The Local" treatment. Andy Newman, a veteran Times staffer who's managing the site, describes it "as a glorious if cacophonous chorus of your voices singing the song of life itself in these astoundingly varied and vibrant neighborhoods."

Vermont pubradio reduces salaries

Vermont Public Radio is cutting executive pay 7.5 percent and the other 43 full-time employees' salaries will be cut 2 percent, due to a sharp decline in business underwriting, according to the Times Argus in Barre, Vt. The station was originally expecting $2.1 million in revenue for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1, but has revised that projection to $1.5 million. So far this fiscal year the station has received $544,245 in underwriting revenue. VPR has nine full-power stations around Vermont. Underwriting support is also down at nearby New Hampshire Public Radio, although no cuts are planned.

Mar 2, 2009

NPR's Schiller mulls strengths of public and commercial media

NPR prez Vivian Schiller spoke at the National Press Club in Washington today, focusing on what commercial media can learn from pubcasting--and the other way around. Public broadcasters, she said, shouldn't be shy about promoting and marketing themselves aggressively, as their commercial cousins do. And for-profit media would do well to take note of the dedication of the public broadcasting workforce. “There are 8,000 people that work in public radio … Nobody in public media is there because they think they’re going to get rich fast, or even slow. They’re all motivated by the mission.”

Obama deduction proposal debate continues

There's disagreement in the nonprofit world over the potential effects of President Barack Obama's proposal to reduce charitable deductions for wealthy donors, The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. Some groups such as Independent Sector and the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning say the move would put a damper on donations; others analysts say the change wouldn't make much difference.

Mar 1, 2009

Tucson pubstation considering sharing facilities with cable-access channels

Tucson's PBS station, KUAT, is considering sharing facilities with two cable-access media centers for budgetary and space reasons, according to a report in the Arizona Daily Star. Station rep Wendy Erica Werden told Current that talks are "only in the concept stage." Partners in the consolidation would be Access Tucson and the city-owned Tucson12.tv. The three would work together in a single production center in the city's downtown. Access Tucson had already shut down for the month of June to make it to the end of the fiscal year. KUAT g.m. Jack Gibson told the Arizona Daily Star that state funding is being cut and large donations are down. But Werden told Current that the station is in "sound financial condition," and underwriting revenues are on target. Sharing a facility is one option the station is considering, especially to alleviate space problems on the University of Arizona campus.

Viewers speak out on MPT programming decision

David Zurawik of the Baltimore Sun comments on a monthslong controversy he sparked with a column on Maryland Public Television's decision not to carry two docs: "It started in December when I complained on the blog about MPT not airing two extraordinary independent films from the celebrated PBS series Independent Lens and P.O.V. One was Doc, a revelatory biography of the post-World War II literary figure and founder of The Paris Review, Harold 'Doc'" Humes. The other was Inheritance, the searing account of a woman named Monika Hertwig and her journey to come to terms with the legacy of having a father who was a Nazi camp commandant." Zurawick writes he was "floored by the response to that post among area viewers who were clearly fans of public TV--not MPT."