Apr 5, 2011

Studies show strength of Ready to Learn literacy initative

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service on Monday (April 4) released a report, "Findings from Ready to Learn: 2005-2010," (PDF) that distills several research and evaluation studies of the early childhood literacy initiative funded by Congress and the U.S. Department of Education in 1992.

Among the findings:

— PBS shows featuring Ready to Learn concepts motivate children to request trips to bookstores or libraries for books;

— preschool-age children who watch Sesame Street spend more time reading for pleasure in high school, and they get better grades in English, math, and science than kids who don't;

— when Ready To Learn video, online, and print materials were combined with teacher training, lesson planning, and classroom instruction, kids from low-income backgrounds were able narrow or close the achievement gap with middle-class kids.

As part of its 2005-10 grant award to CPB and PBS, the Education Department required that at least one-fourth of Ready to Learn funding — more than $20 million of $72 million — be devoted to studies and evaluations of its programs.

Construction to start this month on new St. Louis Public Radio building

St. Louis Public Radio will break ground for its $10 million new home on April 15. General Manager Tim Eby says the three-story, 27,000-square-foot building is expected to take a year to complete. It'll be just east of the city's PBS member station KETC.

FCC launches beta version of latest website

The beta version of the Federal Communications Commission's new website is now live. "This beta launch isn’t a beta in a traditional sense," writes FCC Managing Director Steven VanRoekel on the Official FCC Blog page. " will change again — and quickly. It’s an approach that’s fairly foreign to the way most agencies work on the Web. But we’ll build this new experience on a solid, future-ready platform; we’re taking a page from the online entreprenuer’s playbook, releasing products quickly and often, and letting the many eyes of the Web drive the continuous improvement we hope will come to embody."

APTS salutes another champion: Sen. Harry Reid

America's Public Television Stations presented a Champion of Public Broadcasting Award to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), a key ally in the battle to preserve federal funding for public broadcasting.

Sen. Reid has been an advocate for increasing CPB aid and for preserving Ready to Learn, the federal program that provides funding for some PBS Kid shows. This year, Sen. Reid been an outspoken opponent of House Republicans' efforts to defund CPB and NPR.

After the House approved H.R. 1076 last month, Sen. Reid declared that the bill was "unlikely" to gain any traction among Senate lawmakers.

"Harry Reid steps in the ring every year on our behalf to 'float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee,'" said Tom Axtell, g.m. of Vegas PBS. APTS announced the award as it capped its annual Capitol Hill Day confab of legislative strategy sessions and Hill visits on April 5.

APTS reserves its Champion award for members of Congress and other individuals "who have had a tremendous impact on the ability of public television stations to meet the most critical needs of the communities they serve," according to its announcement. It named Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) as pubcasting champions last week.

Jim Lehrer wins National Press Club's prestigious Fourth Estate Award

PBS NewsHour newsman Jim Lehrer is this year's recipient of the Fourth Estate Award, the highest honor from the National Press Club. “Jim Lehrer has embodied the time-tested core values of journalism dating back to when many people had only black and white screens and continuing through today's era of high definition television and social media,” National Press Club President Mark Hamrick said in a statement. "Amid the cacophony of a sometimes shrill media landscape, he has remained the true voice of reason, balance and fairness.” Lehrer is the 39th recipient. Previous award winners include Walter Cronkite, Christiane Amanpour and David Broder. The club will present the honor at a dinner event later this year.