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Apr 30, 2010

After half a century, WNED's Daly retiring from broadcasting

Dick Daly, senior consultant at Buffalo's WNED, is retiring after more than 50 years in broadcasting, the station has announced. Daly has been with WNED since 1987, when he was hired as radio veep, overseeing classical music station WNED-FM and news station WEBR-AM (later WNED-AM). In 1993 he became senior v.p. of broadcasting, which put television operations under his guidance. Daly’s broadcasting career began in 1957 in Minnesota as a reporter, news director, and news editor. In 1967, he was an accredited correspondent reporting on the Vietnam War for NBC affiliate WDSM in Duluth, Minn. Daly moved to Minnesota Public Radio in 1973. There "he was critical in the development of a nationally known news operation and statewide network," the station said.

Big FCC/pubcasting meeting today

Don't forget about today's important FCC meeting to discuss "Public and Other Noncommercial Media in the Digital Era." It will be streamed live here from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Panels include: "A 1967 Moment … A Vision for Public Media," "Varieties of Public and Noncommercial Media," "Purposes of Public and Noncommercial Media," "New Platforms, Approaches and Structures," "New Strategies for Supporting Public and Noncommercial Media" and "Communications and Regulatory Policy."

Dancing with the (pubcasting) star

Louisiana Public Broadcasting President Beth Courtney takes to the stage to show off her dancing prowess on May 8 as the Big Buddy Program sponsors its fourth annual “Dancing With the Stars Baton Rouge" fundraiser, reports 2theadvocate.com. Audience members can bid to dance with Courtney and other local celebrities, as well as Elena Grinenko and Fabian Sanchez, who have appeared on the hit TV show Dancing With the Stars.

Apr 29, 2010

Our blog is on the move

Current's blog, keeping you linked to all things pubmedia, is now also located at http://currentpublicmedia.blogspot.com/. You may click there for news updates, as well as the blog archive.

For RSS feed subscribers, please update your feed subscriptions to
http://currentpublicmedia.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default.

Fear not! Your intrepid Cloggers (Current bloggers) will continue to bring you the very latest news from around the country.

Texas Tech Public Media continues growth

After four years of negotiations, Texas Tech Public Media's acquisition of KUTX in San Angelo is complete — the latest move in its "explosive growth" during the last several years, according to Lubbock Online. The station is now KNCH 90.1 and began transmitting April 4 from Lubbock. Home base for Texas Tech Public Media is KOHM-FM, South Plains Public Radio.

New station heads in Florida and Illinois

WEDU in Tampa Bay, Fla., has a new president and CEO: Susan Howarth, former head of WCET in Cincinnati, reports the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Howarth joins the station next month. That means Dick Lobo finally gets to retire. He wanted to leave in September 2009 but agreed to remain until a successor was appointed.

Jack Neal is the new g.m. at WEIU FM & TV in Charleston, Ill., reports the Eastern Illinois University newspaper, the Daily Eastern News. Neal joins the station from his post as station manager at PBS affiliate KUHT at the University of Houston.

Letters from WWII flying vets still strafing PBS Ombudsman's desk

If it's Thursday, it's Mailbag time, courtesy of PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler. This week, letters continue to arrive from World War II veterans reacting to the American Experience doc, "The Bombing of Germany." Viewers also weigh in on several Frontline programs.

Fueled by donuts, KRWGers meet their constituents in New Mexico

KRWG staffers were out early yesterday morning to chat with viewers and listeners, reports the Deming (N.M.) Headlight. "With coffee in one hand and a donut in the other," as the paper said, folks from the New Mexico State University PBS affiliate met with customers at the 5 a.m. Donuts shop in Deming to get their input on programming and other station matters. "When we added Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me, it will be a year ago in July, it was because of these conversations," said Glen Cerny, executive director of university broadcasting at the station, in Las Cruces, N.M.

Apr 28, 2010

Pubmedia Working Group to assist Public Media Corps, WGBH's World channel

The Public Media Working Group (PMWG) and American University's Center for Social Media will focus on two "signature collaborative opportunities" for this year, according to the Center. PMWG sprung from the Center's 2009 paper, "Public Media 2.0: Dynamic, Engaged Publics," and is comprised of advocates with "a commitment to increasing users’ access to and engagement with public media." PMWG provides an opportunity for much-needed collaboration, the Center noted. "Innovators within the system are currently isolated, lacking spaces for sharing best practices and identifying joint strategies." This year, the partners will first work on the National Black Programming Coalition's Public Media Corps. "Entering into its beta period in June, the project will provide concrete ways for the PMWG to experiment with and document strategies for collaboration, evaluation and resource-sharing," the Center said. Next, work will turn to development of the online presence for WGBH’s World (background, Current, Sept. 8, 2009).

New report seeks to develop nonprof news best practices

"Ethics for the New Investigative Newsroom" (PDF), a report with recommendations from a round-table meeting of leaders in nonprofit journalism, stresses that the news entities be transparent about funding, vet donors carefully, and establish walls between reporters and funders. The paper is one of the first attempts to establish best practices for the growing field of nonprofit journalism. It was published by the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication, based on a roundtable there in January. More from the Columbia Journalism Review.

Apr 27, 2010

Map details cable access channel providers across America

The Alliance for Community Media, representing more than 3,000 PEG (public, educational and governmental) access organizations, helped compile a map showing providers of local cable access TV channels nationwide (click to enlarge). Included are nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, government agencies and multi-jurisdictional authorities; still to come are libraries and cable providers. For more information, visit the Sustaining Democracy in a Digital Age blog from the New America Foundation, a D.C. think tank.

Ted Garcia leaving TV post at CPB

Ted Garcia, CPB's senior vice president, television content, is departing effective Saturday, according to a note to public broadcasting stations and an internal CPB memo. Garcia had been in the post since February 2008. His duties included overseeing and managing CPB's national public television programming initiatives. Previous to that work, he had been g.m. of KNME-TV in Albuquerque, N.M. Garcia will remain as a consultant through Sept. 30. Korn/Ferry is searching for his successor. Meanwhile, Vice President John Prizer -- vice president, television program development and senior adviser to the president, television programming special projects -- will fill in.

KWBU in Waco shutting down by June 1

Citing an impending $400,000 budget shortfall, PBS affiliate KWBU in Waco, Texas, is ending its broadcast at the end of May, according to a statement from Joe Riley, station president. The move will not affect its NPR broadcast. Riley told Current that it hasn't yet talked to nearby PBS affiliates to as to the future of its channel. "The first thing we had to do, was let our staff know," he said. Ten full-time and four part-time employees are affected, about two-thirds of the staff. KWBU is a community licensee but associated with Baylor University and housed on campus, Riley said. For about 10 years the university has provided "just under half, but certainly the biggest chunk of support" for the station's budget. Community support never materialized, and the station began living on a university line of credit. That backing finally ran out this year, "a little sooner than anybody had anticipated," Riley said. With a June 1 end of fiscal and no funds to make up its deficit, the station was forced to face what Riley termed "the worst case scenario," and shut down. Radio is safe, for now. "Baylor has assured us they will continue funding us at the same level as last year for this year, and freeze any payments and interest on the line of credit," to keep the FM signal going. The station started out in 1978 via a translator for KNCT in Killeen. In 1989 it became KCTF, its own station in Waco. In 2000 it changed its call letters to KWBU and KWBU-FM and began broadcasting NPR programming. Riley said he will be speaking to PBS, CPB and the FCC as the station moves through the shut-down process.

Talk trash at tomorrow's Peer Webinar

The National Center for Media Engagement, along with ITVS and CPB, are offering a Peer Webinar tomorrow on resources and tools for multiplatform outreach and engagement. It'll feature an exploration of how ITVS uses its content in unique ways, such as a Garbage Dreams online game ("Start with one neighborhood, one factory and one hungry goat ... "). There'll also be a preview of the new ITVS website for broadcasters, producers and teachers. It all kicks off at 2 p.m. Eastern, register here.

Apr 26, 2010

CPB selects Tovares to head up Diversity and Innovation efforts

Joseph Tovares is the new senior vice president for Diversity and Innovation at CPB. Pat Harrison, CPB president, said in a statement that Tovares "will work to extend public media’s reach and service through innovation.” The statement said Tovares "was responsible for overseeing the implementation of the NPS/Diversity and Innovation fund agreement for CPB," which was yet to be publicly announced (Current, April 19). He has also served as senior director of operations for Television Programming. Before his CPB tenure he was executive producer for La Plaza, the Latino production unit at WGBH; and series editor and director of New Media at American Experience. His station experience includes KLRN in San Antonio; KLRU in Austin, Texas; and KET in Lexington, Ky. Tovares had been working in the position since Joaquin Alvarado's departure late last year for American Public Media (Current, Dec. 9, 2009).

FCC task force starting work on National Broadband Plan initiatives

The FCC is assembling a spectrum task force to coordinate long-term planning and implementation of recommendations in the National Broadband Plan, reports Broadcasting & Cable. One main goal is promoting the possible auction of spectrum to create more space for wireless broadband (Current, Feb. 8). Heading up the task force will be Julius Knapp, chief of the Office of Engineering Technology; and Ruth Milkman, chief of the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. Members will include heads of the Enforcement, International, Media, and Public Safety and Homeland Security bureaus, and the Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis.

Pubradio's newest classical stations setting records for listenership, fundraising

Since its conversion into a listener-supported public radio station last fall, New York's classical WQXR has gained more than 127,000 listeners--enough to make it the top-rated public radio station in the country, the New York Times reports. This despite its move to a less powerful frequency last fall under new owner WNYC. The WQXR audience is also responding generously to on-air fundraising appeals. The February pledge drive blew past its $750,000 goal to raise $1.3 million from some 10,000 WQXR listeners, 57 percent of whom had never donated to WNYC before. Likewise, Boston's classical WCRB--now under the ownership of WGBH--recently set a new record for the most money raised from radio listeners in a single day.

Apr 24, 2010

Upcoming FCC workshop to focus on noncom media

Public and noncom media is the focus of the next FCC "Future of Media" workshop Friday in Washington, D.C. Subjects include: Potential for greater collaboration among public broadcasters, PEG channels, noncommercial web-based outlets, and other new media entities; infrastructure needs and assets of public and other noncommercial media; and possibilities for new kinds of noncommercial media networks and associated funding models. The speaker and panelist list is a who's who of pubcasting, including CPB Board Chairman Ernest Wilson, CPB President Pat Harrison, NPR President Vivian Schiller, Frontline Executive Producer David Fanning, PBS President Paula Kerger, APM's Digital Innovation Senior veep Joaquin Alvarado, PRX Executive Director Jake Shapiro, NPR's Digital Media Senior veep Kinsey Wilson, and APM President Bill Kling. There'll be a streaming video feed of the event from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Apr 23, 2010

KUT is favored choice to revive campus music venue

The University of Texas is looking for a new entity to manage the Cactus Cafe, a campus music venue and bar, and KUT-FM is the hands-down favorite among student leaders, the Austin American-Statesman reports. The public radio station has offered to work with student organizations to program music events, but it doesn't want to manage the bar. "I don't want a line item in KUT's budget for alcohol," says Stewart Vanderwilt, g.m., during a public forum on options for the cafe. Early this year the university announced plans to shut down the money-losing venue, but, after an outcry from students and Austinites, it's now looking for ways to make it self-supporting. Vanderwilt suggested a combination of ticket sales and philanthropic support. "There are KUT donors who might give an extra $100 a year to be part of the 'Cactus Producers Club' or something," he says.

Youth bring home RFK Journalism Awards for radio

Two of public radio's youth media training units received 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Awards for radio reporting. Youth Radio won in the international category with Rachel Krantz's investigation of hidden abuses of homosexuals in the military. Her story aired on NPR's All Things Considered. WNYC's Radio Rookies earned top recognition for domestic reporting with "This is the South Bronx," first-person narratives of teens living in poverty, by Miguelina Diaz, Keith Tingman and Amon Frazier.

Apr 22, 2010

Virginia legislators vote to restore pubcasting funds

The Virginia General Assembly rejected a proposal to end subsidies for the state's public television and radio stations. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell proposed the two-year phase-out as part of a package of budget amendments that lawmakers took up yesterday. House legislators debated vigorously before voting 52-43 to maintain funding for the next two years, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "Broadcasters say that previous budget cuts have forced them to use nearly all state aid for programs in public schools," the Washington Post reports.

Apr 21, 2010

In shift to local newsgathering, Michigan Radio drops Environment Report

Michigan Radio will end national production of The Environment Report, a news service producing daily interstitial news spots, in June. Three staff working on the show will be reassigned to local reporting: Lester Graham, host and senior editor, will create a new investigative/enterprise reporting unit; Mark Brush, senior producer, becomes the network's online news content specialist; and reporter/producer Rebecca Williams will host a local/regional version of the show, covering environmental issues affecting Michigan and the Great Lakes. The Environment Report went national in 2008 but didn't secure carriage in enough major markets to secure underwriting, according to Graham. Michigan Radio, which has been subsidizing the production, is restructuring its news room to focus on local news gathering, online reporting and investigative coverage. The Environment Report was created by the Great Lakes Radio Consortium, a news service covering environmental issues for stations in the Upper Midwest. Since GLRC launched in the early 1990s, stations in the Northwest, Northeast and the Ohio River Valley have created similar news collaboratives.

NJN starts planning departure from state oversight

The New Jersey Network is beginning its transition to an independent nonprofit. Republican Gov. Chris Christie called for the pubcasters to sever from the state by Jan. 1, 2011, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer. The move ends a four-decade relationship. The governor's office cited budgetary concerns. "In these tough economic times, there are things that can be done by the private sector [that] should be done by the private sector," Sean Conner, a Christie spokesperson, told the paper. Howard Blumenthal, interim NJN executive director, told the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee yesterday that stations would continue to provide not only broadcast programming but also multiplatform content, adding, "we'll do more, we'll just do it with less." Democratic Sen. Barbara Buono told the panel: "It would be a shame if NJN didn't continue. A lot of people have come to rely on it. We stand ready -- I'm sure I speak for every member on this committee -- to move forward and would like to be an integral part of the process."

Apr 20, 2010

APM affiliate agrees to buy FM in Palm Beach

After trying for five years to sell its public TV/radio combo in Palm Beach, Fla., Barry University has unloaded the FM station separately. Classical South Florida, an offshoot of Minnesota-based American Public Media, will buy WXEL-FM for $3.85 million, offer jobs to its present staff and program the classical/news station separately from its all-classical Miami station, WKCP, the Palm Beach Post reports. “CSF plans to strengthen its classical music programming while continuing to provide NPR news and public affairs content to the region,” according to a joint CSF/Barry news release. The university north of Miami, which rescued the shaky WXEL in 1997, was talking with at least three prospective buyers last fall, but the Palm Beach school district decided to spend its loose change on schooling instead, and Barry hasn’t reached an agreement with either Miami’s WPBT or a Palm Beach nonprofit formed to acquire WXEL.

Nonprof news orgs and pubcasters take part in investigative reporting symposium

Pubcasters were well represented at the fourth annual Reva and David Logan Investigative Reporting Symposium this past weekend, sponsored by Berkeley University's Graduate School of Journalism. Here's a followup by reporter Chris O'Brien of the San Jose Mercury News, on MediaShift. Participating in panels were: David Fanning and Raney Aronson-Rath of Frontline; Susanne Reber of NPR; Linda Winslow of PBS Newshour; and reporter Amy Isackson of KPBS, San Diego. O'Brien calls the meeting "inspiring," and takes note of the attendance of reps from nonprofit news orgs that didn't exist until the last year or two. "Whatever one thinks of the wisdom of these models, I take it as a positive sign that people are moving past the talking phase and into the doing phase," he notes.

San Mateo's KCSM rallying after serious funding woes

A donor has stepped forward with $400,000 to help struggling KCSM-TV/FM in San Mateo, Calif., reports the San Matean. The station is also finalizing a $120,000 spectrum lease agreement to share about one-third of its Mbps bandwidth with Sezmi, which meshes wireless broadcasting with broadband Internet for an alternative source of TV programming. The station is negotiating two more spectrum lease agreements worth about $100,000 each, including with KQED in San Francisco. All that sufficiently reassured KCSM's Board of Directors at the San Mateo County Community College District, and it voted to provide a one-year funding extension. In January the station raised only $30,000 of a $1 million fundraising goal, and it dropped PBS last year due to funding problems.

Jim DeRogatis brings his sound opinions to Vocalo.org

Music journalist Jim DeRogatis is leaving the Chicago Sun-Times to take a full-time teaching position at Columbia College Chicago and take up blogging for Chicago Public Radio's Vocalo.org. Chicago media critic Robert Feder, a former Sun-Times colleague who began blogging for Vocalo last fall, broke the news. “We have always wanted a blogger to cover music for blogs.vocalo.org,” Justin Kaufmann, senior content developer for Chicago Public Radio tells Feder. “Jim is arguably the best music writer in Chicago, if not the nation. We couldn’t be happier. He is going to take our blogs to a whole new level.” DeRogatis's blog, PopNStuff, launches June 1. He'll continue to co-host Sound Opinions, the weekly public radio show produced by Chicago Public Radio.

UPDATE: DeRogatis tells CityPages.com: "The blogging is going to be pretty intensive," he says. "I'm going to be doing basically what I've been doing at the Sun-Times, minus the more trivial chasing-your-tail stories. As a blogger I'll have more freedom to give more insight and not worry about the daily newspaper restrictions, what that job entails."

Get a peek at "Need to Know"

The promo for WNET's new Need to Know is up, check it out here. The weekly news show premieres May 7. That kickoff will be the culmination of the Friday night schedule upheaval, which included Bill Moyers' Journal, Now and Worldfocus all ending (Current, March 22, 2010).

Apr 19, 2010

Broadcasters still wary of "voluntary" spectrum giveback

TV execs weren't very reassured after FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's speech to the National Association of Broadcasters last week in Las Vegas, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Most are still concerned about a voluntary giveback of broadcast spectrum for the growing mobile-device market. Although the chairman has stressed that any spectrum reallocation wouldn't be mandatory, NAB President Gordon Smith read in his keynote address from the FCC's National Broadband Plan: “The government’s ability to reclaim, clear and re-auction spectrum is the ultimate backstop against market failure and is an appropriate tool when a voluntary process stalls entirely.” According to the plan, a trust fund created by proceeds from public broadcasting spectrum givebacks would be available to pubcasters that participate (Current, Feb. 8, 2010).

Apr 18, 2010

Virgina pubcasters latest to face state funding phase-out

"Gov. Bob McDonnell is gunning for Big Bird," says the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch. The GOP governor wants to phase out funding to the Community Idea Stations pubcasters in Richmond and Charlottesville over the next four years, beginning with $592,835 between 2010 and '12. One bright spot: "I'll probably oppose that," said Democratic Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles J. Colgan. "It's quite a bit of money for those stations. That's a pretty good hit." The Legislature takes up work on the budget this week.

Apr 17, 2010

CPB requests $604 million for fiscal 2013

CPB President Pat Harrison appeared on the Hill this week to make the agency's fiscal 2013 advance appropriation request of $604 million. She also made FY11 requests of $59.5 million for digital initiatives, and $32 million for Ready to Learn (background, Current, Sept. 2, 1996). President Obama's current budget includes an FY13 CPB advance appropriation of $460 million. Harrison spoke before the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies of the Senate Appropriations Committee on April 12.

Apr 16, 2010

FCC adviser to depart for post at Aspen Institute

Blair Levin, President Obama's National Broadband Plan adviser, is leaving his work at the FCC for the Aspen Institute, Broadcasting & Cable reports. His new title there: Communications & Society Fellow. CPB has long worked with the institute, participating in think-ins including its Roundtables on Public Service Media in March 2009 (PDF). CPB President Pat Harrison credited that work in her announcement last month of CPB's $10 million local journalism initiative (Current, April 5). Levin's last day with the FCC will be May 7.

PBS ombudsman's weekly Mailbag tackles World War II bombing campaign

Michael Getler, PBS ombudsman, is warning readers that this week's column is long. But if you're interested in the history of America's aerial bombing campaign against Nazi Germany, check it out. It's a continuing discussion going back to the American Experience doc "The Bombing of Germany" in February.

Apr 15, 2010

IdahoPTV loses some state funds this year, but gains a bit in FY11

Idaho Public Television has survived a proposed phase-out of its state funding (Current, Jan. 25, 2010) and actually ended up with a little boost. Gov. Butch Otto had asked the Legislature to drop the station's nearly $2 million annual funding gradually over four years. Instead, in its appropriation signed by Otter this week, IdahoPTV loses $141,000 this fiscal year, receives an appropriation of $2.4 million in FY11, and its full-time equivalent positions are limited to 33.

Apr 14, 2010

You say you want a revolution....

A new website titled Revolution PBS has drawn the attention of pubcaster/blogger John Proffitt. Proffitt notes that whatever person or group writes the anonymous site, which puts forth ideas for a radical reorg of the system, "shows a better understanding of the member station model than most 'civilians' I’ve met over the years. Perhaps its someone that’s done their homework, or perhaps it’s an 'insider' looking to anonymously get some ideas a little traction."

Apr 13, 2010

Monsignor out as g.m. at KMBH in Harlingen, Texas

Monsignor Pedro BriseƱo, the controversial g.m. of dual licensee KMBH in Harlingen, Texas, (Current, March 16, 2009 and May 1, 2008) has been reassigned to full-time parish work, local TV station KGBT is reporting. The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville owns the station. Bishop Daniel Flores, recently installed in the diocese, told the station's staff this morning, saying regional growth of the Catholic Church requires more clergy in churches. Former KMBH Chief Engineer John Ross will be interim g.m. while the board searches for a replacement. KMBH's ongoing problems — ousted board members, a pledge drive with six callers — prompted a push by a local group to establish another radio station. Complaints that it was not meeting requirements for federal funding resulted in a CPB audit of grants in fiscal 2007 and '08, as Current reported in October..

It's opening day for new WNET studio at Lincoln Center

WNET/Thirteen's new studio at Lincoln Center opens today, reports the New York Times. The glass-front facility on the corner of West 66th and Broadway in Manhattan "is truly a metaphor for what we want to be in New York,” President Neal Shapiro told the paper. “We want to be transparent about the things we do and we want to be facing out to the public. Here we are in the center of arts and culture.” The space was originally envisioned as retail, so many changes were made: Designers outfitted the stairs with cushions and outlets so producers can work on the steps. Thirteen offers artist renderings here.

Apr 12, 2010

Spectrum giveback concerns NAB president

National Association of Broadcasters President Gordon Smith (right) said the FCC's call for a spectrum giveback is sort of like that scene in "The Godfather" -- an offer broadcasters can't refuse. In an interview with Broadcasting & Cable, Smith also had harsh words about FCC Chair Reed Hundt's recent revelations that the agency decided in 1994 to push broadband over broadcast. "Frankly, I was rather offended, as a former member of the Senate Commerce Committee, that his secret musings were never shared with the elected representatives of the American people as it relates to such a profound policy change," Smith said. "I think it was alarming and deeply disappointing, and every member of Congress should be offended by it."

Apr 9, 2010

New contract for NPR's broadcast techs

An NPR bargaining unit of 64 broadcast technicians ratified a new five-year contract negotiated by the National Association of Broadcast Engineers and Technicians/Communications Workers of America. The new contract gives NPR more flexibility on jurisdictional rules over uses of new technology in the newsroom. A no lay-off clause specifies that no jobs will be terminated "for reasons other than budget or programming changes," but up to 17 NABET workers may be offered voluntary buy-outs, according to an NPR statement. "Both NPR and NABET recognized the need to address staff reductions carefully, and committed to fair and generous treatment of those who will be affected in coming years," the statement said.

CPB IG issues reports on WHYY, and KDNA-FM in Washington State

Two CPB Inspector General reports are out. There's an examination of KDNA-FM in Granger, Wash., triggered by complaints it was shirking requirements for public meetings and financial record keeping, and an audit of CPB grants to WHYY in Philadelphia for fiscal years 2007 and '08.

KDNA broadcasts to a rural area of Washington State about 225 miles southeast of Seattle; it programs mainly for migrant workers. It has this official station website, which says it's the only full-time educational Spanish-language pubradio station in the nation. There's also a competing site detailing what it calls "the troubles" at that station for nearly two years -- including a monthlong strike last year that triggered a longtime board member to resign. The 34-page IG report found that its licensee, Northwest Communities' Education Center, did not "materially comply" with CPB requirements on restricted grant funds, did not accurately report non-federal financial support (NFFS), and did not meet open meetings and open records requirements. In her response, Mirta Laura Contreras, KDNA's interim executive director since mid-March, cited the station's "significant challenges" of the past months that led to the complaints. The station "generally agreed" with most of the IG's findings.

The report on WHYY is a routine funding oversight audit. Among findings: That WHYY improperly claimed some $403,000 of other transactions and payments as direct revenues and NFFS, which resulted in CPB making excess grant payments of around $30,000 in fiscal '09 and about $7,500 in FY10. Also, it said that around $235,000 was not "expended timely within the grant period" due to project delays. WHYY CFO A. William Dana penned the station's response, which agreed on several points including the NFFS reporting issue.

Pubcasting + pubaccess = pubmedia?

Public access channels and public broadcasting need to collaborate, and soon. So writes Colin Rhinesmith, community media and tech manager for Cambridge Community Television in Massachusetts. He admits there's a huge cultural gap: Most pubcasters, he says, are dismissive of the so-called PEG (public educational governmental) channels; pubaccess advocates think pubTV doesn't represent the public. However, PEGs "are trusted institutions in many local communities. They are uniquely positioned to serve youth, seniors, poor people, immigrant communities, communities of color, and other historically disenfranchised groups with access to media and digital literacy training. They should receive public support to do so ..." He says many of those centers are launching citizen journalism projects, which mesh nicely with pubcasting's news push. He charted out the possible partnerships, which also include commercial news orgs.

Ombudsman points to another diversity challenge for NPR

NPR Ombudsman Alicia Shepard applied a different lens to recent complaints about the lack of diversity of NPR's programming--the presence of women as commentators and news sources--and was discouraged by what she found. Males dominated the roster of regular commentators across all NPR newsmagazines across a 15-month period and comprised 74 percent of the news sources quoted on the air, according to a content analysis conducted by her staff from April 13, 2009 to Jan. 9, 2010. Morning Edition cohost Steve Inskeep challenges the study's methodology in Shepard's column about her findings. Shepard's objective wasn't to produce a scientifically rigorous analysis, she writes: "My goal is to get NPR journalists to think more seriously about integrating female sources into stories and work harder at getting them on shows. The same is true for the voices of blacks, Hispanics, and other minorities." NPR is taking steps to identify and audition new, diverse voices for its programming, Shepard reports. Carol Klinger, a veteran booker for All Things Considered, has been assigned to find and recruit these new sources, focusing specifically on the topics of politics, arts and national security. When NPR came under fire last year for failing to recruit, train and retain journalists of color, it hired Keith Woods, a veteran journalist with expertise on newsroom diversity, as v.p. of diversity in news and operations.

"Surround Vision" from MIT may have pubcasting participation

WGBH isn't publicly confirming anything, but the TG Daily news site is hinting the station may be a part of the MIT Media Lab's latest project. Surround Vision allows hand-held device users to actually see the action happening off the edge of the screen -- say, point the cellphone to the left and see what's happening over there, beyond the original frame of view. WGBH has "a long history" with the Media Lab in the past, the site points out, and could be assisting with user studies on this project. "We always learn from working with [research scientist Michael Bove] and his group," Annie Valva, WGBH’s director of technology and interactive multimedia, told the site. She elaborated on the MIT news site that such a technology "helps us leverage more value over things that we shoot and create but don’t happen to get to air.” Here's a video of Surround Vision from the Electronista blog.

PBS viewers have many religious views for ombudsman

The latest Mailbag of PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler is full of letters about programs or segments on Buddhism, Mormon theology and Catholicism.

PubTV safe from spectrum grab, FCC chairman says at House hearing

Public television stations will be protected from involuntary reallocation of broadcast spectrum during the possible upcoming auction, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski reassured a House broadband plan oversight hearing yesterday. Broadcasting & Cable reports that the statement was in response to Democratic California Rep. Anna Eshoo (above), who voiced concern over what she termed "a treasure" that needs protection. The FCC's National Broadband Plan calls for 120 MHz of television spectrum to be reallocated to make way for the increasing needs of mobile devices (Current, Feb. 8). It also proposes a public media trust fund fed by proceeds to pubcasters for their spectrum.

Apr 8, 2010

Towson cites economic pressures in withdrawing WTMD's bid for new home

WTMD Radio has withdrawn its proposal to renovate, manage and occupy Baltimore's historic Senator Theater. A top administrator at Towson University, licensee of the public radio music outlet, explains on the station's website: "Due to the continuing economic pressures faced by the State of Maryland and thus Towson, we have determined that it is best not to take on this new complex venture. With the added uncertainty of the economic climate that we will face the remainder of this year, we must concentrate on the needs of our students at this time." G.M. Steve Yasko tells station supporters: "I want you to know that WTMD and everyone at Towson University fully believes in the station's mission, music and the need to find a new home for the station."

NPR taps another CBC investigative reporter

NPR has recruited Sandra Bartlett, a veteran CBC Radio journalist, for its new investigative reporting unit. She joins her former CBC colleague Susanne Reber, NPR deputy managing editor for investigations since January, who announced the hire today in a memo to staff. "Sandra has worked in radio news and documentary production for more than two decades and has been an instructor and mentor of investigative journalism programs at CBC Radio, where she was part of the Investigative unit," Reber writes. Bartlett reported daily news and produced documentaries while on several foreign assignments. She also started a new radio production, World This Weekend, a half-hour news show that she founded and directed. Bartlett has been involved in research and writing of major TV investigations and docu-dramas, including The David Milgaard Story, about a wrongful murder conviction, and Conspiracy of Silence, about a cover-up protecting murderers of an aboriginal teenager. She has won numerous honors for investigative reporting, including an award shared with Reber and others for an examination of stun gun use by police in Canada, the 2008 Michener Award for public service journalism. Bartlett begins work at NPR early next month. Since launching three months ago, NPR News Investigations has produced reports on sexual assaults on college campuses, the radicalization of the Christmas Day bomb suspect, and problems in the bail bond system, among other topics.

PBS Interactive director Morgenstern heads for Current TV

Angela Morgenstern, longtime senior director of PBS Interactive, has departed for Current TV, aka "Al Gore's network" (Wikipedia), according to several sources. She'll have the title of vice president of content. Previous to her PBS post she claimed several awards for her development of the Frontline website, and was an online producer/content developer at KQED in San Francisco. Before her pubmedia career she helped launch MTV News.

Guide to indie pubradio distribution stirs up PRX response

Jake Shapiro, executive director of Public Radio Exchange, responds to some criticisms of the PRX distribution system in the latest edition of AIRblast, which recently published a two-part guide to pubradio program distributors by indie producer Barrett Golding. In the latest installment, producers questioned PRX's decisions over which programs merit heavy promotion; Golding also suggested that talks between PRX and the Public Radio Satellite System's ContentDepot might eventually lead to a partnership between the two services. In his response on PRX.org, Shapiro describes the conversation as one-way. "Over the past five years--starting before the launch of ContentDepot--PRX has repeatedly and unsuccessfully proposed working with PRSS on integrating our systems, sharing code and standards, and other collaborative ideas....We see it as a big missed opportunity to create more efficient distribution options for public radio, and make the most of the investments in PRX’s leading-edge web application and related tools."

Dingell asks FCC for broadband clarifications, including for noncoms

Broadcasting & Cable is reporting that Democratic Michigan Rep. John Dingell has sent the FCC commissioners letters asking for clarification of the National Broadband Plan with respect to several issues, including public broadcasting. The former House Energy and Commerce Committee chair wants to know if spectrum give-back will remain voluntary even if the goal of 120 MHz is not achieved; if the FCC would involuntarily reallocate noncom spectrum from stations decline to participate (Current, Feb. 8, 2010); and if the FCC have to propose amendments to the Public Broadcasting Act. In the letters Dingell said he would like answers by April 16.

Computer science camp for girls will use OPB materials

Oregon Public Broadcasting is a partner in a $554,000 project funded by the National Science Foundation for a three-year computer science camp for middle-school girls, according to the organizer, Pacific University. The camp, dubbed Girls Gather for Computer Science (G2CS), will provide mentors, field trips and beach housing. The funding also goes toward tracking the participants for a decade. A total of 90 girls will attend starting next year. OPB will create video profiles of women computer scientists and interactive games.

Apr 7, 2010

Annenberg selects pubcasters for arts journalism institute

Three public broadcasters will head to USC Annenberg’s School of Journalism in Los Angeles next month as part of the annual National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Arts Journalism Institute in Theater and Musical Theater, the school announced this week. Attending will be: Ian Buckwalter, a theater critic on NPR.org; Elizabeth Kramer, arts and humanities reporter, Louisville Public Media in Kentucky; and Emiko Tamagawa, associate producer, WBUR’s “Here and Now,” Boston. Participants will engage in writing workshops and individual master classes May 17-27.

Newspaper cites "Saddle Up" in tax-credit misappropriation case

Pubcasting show Saddle Up With Dennis Brouse is caught up in a tax-credit controversy, reports the DesMoines Register. The director of the state film office, which lures film and TV productions companies to Iowa to generate revenue, was fired last September. He's charged with official misconduct and goes on trial Friday. The state wants to hold him responsible for approving what the attorney general's office calls "blatantly false, fraudulent and exaggerated" claims for state tax breaks. The newspaper obtained documents detailing the projects involved, which include Saddle Up. The paper reports that Brouse's show was awarded the most tax credits of any production in the past two years, some $9.3 million. Filmmakers do not typically pay cash or taxes on sponsorships, and prosecutors say sponsorships should not qualify for subsidies under Iowa law. The newspaper had Ross Johnson, an industry rep for producers and financiers, look over Brouse's records. "I've seen hundreds of budgets, but this takes the cake. I've never seen anyone trying to claim these (sponsorships) as a cash transaction." The paper said Brouse did not return its calls; Current also left a message for his publicist. The show, produced by Changing Horses Productions, is distributed by Executive Program Services and carried on more than 100 stations. UPDATE: EPS told Current in an email: "Our agreement with Changing Horses Productions was for distribution of Saddle Up With Dennis Brouse. We had no involvement with the production or financing of the series and no involvement with, or knowledge of, any dealings with the State of Iowa."

Launch of Apple's iPad is buzzworthy for NPR

Amid all the buzz over the launch of Apple's iPad last weekend, the free app and specialized website that NPR created for the device are getting lots of attention--and generating lots of downloads. Some 30,000 proud new iPad owners downloaded the NPR app on Saturday, according to the Wall Street Journal. "Apple says it sold more than 300,000 iPads as of Saturday, which means about one of every 10 iPad buyers on day one downloaded the NPR app," the Journal reports. "We're excited about this latest innovation because we think it brings us closer to capturing NPR's unique identity on a digital platform," blogs Kinsey Wilson, senior v.p. of NPR digital media, on NPR.org. "The iPad's casual touch-screen navigation seems more conducive to immersive reading than even the lightest laptops." The Society for News Design interviewed the senior designers on NPR's iPad prototyping project, Paulo Lopez and David Wright Jr. "It was important for us to have a good experience on launch day because our research indicated that a large number of NPR listeners would also be heavy iPad users," they said. "As an organization, we’ve made significant investments in our visual storytelling, design and technical infrastructure. Launching quickly on this platform was a perfect opportunity to put to use some of what we learned."

Apr 6, 2010

Digital Distribution Fund grants again available

Round 15 is now open for Digital Distribution Fund grants from CPB. Funding for television transmission facilities, digital translator projects and digital centralcasting projects is available. Stations should note that CPB is now accepting applications only for centralcast master controls that serve more than one station (Current, March 1, 2010).

AIRblast: an indie's guide to pubradio distribution

Barrett Golding, producer of Hearing Voices, describes the ins and outs of public radio distribution in a two-part series for AIRblast, the newsletter of the Association of Independents in Radio. He talks with program directors and other producers about how they use Public Radio Exchange and the Public Radio Satellite Service's Content Depot. Part I covers the basics--what are PRX and PRSS, and how do they work? Part II examines what types of programs are most likely to be acquired by p.d.s. and how producers are compensated (or not). Richard Paul, an indie producer who sells a lot of programs on PRX, advises his indie colleagues: "Producers should put a value on their show. If you offer it for nothing, stations will consider it worthless."

Comcast triumphs over FCC in key net neutrality ruling

Comcast has won an important lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission that may threaten its ambitious broadband agenda, reports the Washington Post. In a unanimous decision (36-page PDF), three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that FCC doesn't have authority to require Comcast, America's largest broadband services provider, to treat all Internet traffic equally, a concept known as "net neutrality" (Wikipedia). The judges examined whether the FCC has authority over broadband services, categorized separately from phone, cable television and wireless; the FCC now has only "ancillary authority" over broadband. The ruling says in part: "The Commission may exercise this 'ancillary' authority only if it demonstrates that its action . . . is 'reasonably ancillary to the . . . effective performance of its statutorily mandated responsibilities.' The Commission has failed to make that showing." Reaction continues to come in, here's a roundup compiled by Broadcasting & Cable. And here's a look at winners and losers from the Wall Street Journal's Digits blog. Thomas Lendar, president of the Technology Policy Institute think tank, pointed out that the FCC might try to "reclassify broadband as a telecommunications service, subjecting it to traditional public utility-type regulation." The agency rolled out its much-anticipated National Broadband Plan last month, its massive recommendation to Congress on how to achieve high-speed access to more Americans.

Apr 5, 2010

Moth Radio Hour returns with major foundation grant

The MacArthur Foundation awarded a two-year, $200,000 grant for production of The Moth Radio Hour, a series of live story telling performances that debuted last year. Jake Shapiro, executive director of Public Radio Exchange, recently announced that PRX will begin releasing new episodes for public radio broadcasts next month. "The Moth Radio Hour is the realization of a ten-year long dream to bring The Moth to public radio," said Lea Thau, executive and creative director of the New York-based nonprofit that stages popular story telling performances. "We have long felt that radio was the perfect medium for our stories to reach a wider audience, and we are grateful to the MacArthur Foundation for making this possible." Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media is producing the series.

A famous head, a lost mouth and the History Detectives

Thanks to PBS's History Detectives, Andrew Jackson's mouth will be returned to his head. It's part of an upcoming episode filmed on the USS Constitution, according to Military.com. Puzzled? Here's a hint, a quote from the New York Times: “I believe in destiny, and I truly believe that somehow the mouth was meant to be held safe for these many years by the various members of a boating business family.” That should clear things up for you. Anyway, huzzah to the History Detectives team for the important find.

Apr 4, 2010

Home-brew beer law could endanger WYES fundraiser

WYES in New Orleans is fretting over how the pending Louisiana Homemade Beer Law will affect its long-running International Beer T asting, a popular fundraiser that features home brews, according to the Times-Picayune. The bill would set limits on how much home-brewed beer can be transported from a household to beer tastings, and make the sale of homemade beer illegal. Randall Feldman, station manager, said he needs to know whether admission charged would be classified as a sale of home brew. Also, he noted, restrictions on amounts can be transported per household would result in a smaller festival. "I have many questions I want to follow up with," he told the newspaper.

Apr 1, 2010

This Budd's for you, but not for the CBC

CBC Radio has canned Barbara Budd, co-host of As It Happens — radio that's too cheeky to be Canadian. She leaves the nightly call-out news program April 30. “I would never, never, ever walk away from a show that I still truly love,” Budd told the Toronto Globe & Mail.

As with NPR decisions that led to Bob Edwards’ departure from Morning Edition, the CBC is putting more reportorial folks in hosting jobs, Guy Dixon wrote in the Globe & Mail. “In a general sense, it’s true that with the evolution of the show, we are looking to put more of a focus on hosts who are also journalists,” a CBC spokesman told Dixon.

Budd acknowledges that she's a presenter in a fizzy, congenial interview on CBC-TV. Her earlier career as an actress caught up with Budd, says her onetime CBC boss, former NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin in his blog. “After 17 years on the job, Barbara is a journalist, as far as I am concerned.” Dvorkin suspects that the CBC regards radio talent as expendable and wants to try out younger TV journalists on the show.

Budd or the CBC made her departure more graceful than Edwards’ was. Budd said on CBC’s website that many strangers had recognized her voice over the years and would typically remark, “Well, I’m so glad to finally put a face to the voice.” And she'd reply, “We’ll, I’m so glad to put a face to the ears.” So Budd has asked listeners to send photos for that purpose (address: aih@cbc.ca).

The program is distributed in the States by American Public Media.

Connection to community important to "New Muslim Cool," report details

"New Muslim Cool: Engaging Stakeholders in the Filmmaking Process" is the latest Public Media 2.0 Field Report from the Center for Social Media at American University. The ongoing series of case studies, funded by the Ford Foundation's Future of Public Media project, focuses on participatory and multiplatform work. "From development to production to distribution and outreach, all stages of this media project are characterized by a strong connection to the community portrayed in the film," the Muslim hip-hop world, according to the report. Find out the challenges overcome and creative approaches used in the PBS film here (PDF).

APTS names Thompson interim president

Lonna Thompson will serve as interim president and CEO of the Association of Public Television Stations in the wake of Larry Sidman's departure (Current, March 14). The Board of Trustees approved the appointment effective today. Thompson also will continue in her current role of executive veep and general counsel for APTS.

Car rams through wall at WPBS in northern New York

WPBS in Watertown, N.Y., got a jolt early last Saturday when a car crashed through one of its walls, reports Newzjunky.com, a northern New York news site. Fortunately, no one was inside the station. A 19-year-old was driving by the station at 4:27 a.m. when, he told police, he swerved to avoid a dog. The car veered into oncoming traffic, struck a curb, went airborne and landed in the side of the PBS affiliate's building. Timothy Ames, director of technology and chief engineer at the station, told Current no word yet on costs to repair the damage. The driver was treated for a leg injury and charged with failure to keep right and driving at an unreasonable speed.