Feb 29, 2012
Feb 28, 2012
"Makers" filmmaker Dyllan McGee called the online-first approach "the future of documentaries." The 59 interviews on the site so far include Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, tennis great Billy Jean King, newswoman Barbara Walters, entertainment icon Oprah Winfrey and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. In 2013, PBS will premiere a related three-hour documentary telling the story of the women's movement over the last 50 years. WETA in Arlington, Va., will develop national outreach.
"Washington wisdom has it that we are likely to bump along this year with a series of stop-gap funding measures through the election; and that the mother of all lame-duck Congresses will come back after the elections to deal with a host of pressing tax and spending issues," Butler said. "Uncertain as these prospects may be, we can take great confidence in the fact that we have earned the support of some of the most powerful Republicans and Democrats in this city. And we have made ourselves a force to be reckoned with in Washington, D.C."
His full speech to pubcasters is online here.
Today (Feb. 28), participants travel to Capitol Hill to meet with legislators, where they'll be greeted by a pep talk from pubTV documentarian Ken Burns.
Feb 27, 2012
The FCC has denied the request of a Native American college in New Mexico for more time to build a new noncommercial FM station. (PDF of decision.)
Navajo Technical College in Crownpoint, N.M., had run into a number of setbacks as it worked toward getting its new station on the air. To start with, the school blew past its FCC-imposed deadline for starting the station due to a misunderstanding. It then revealed to the FCC that it couldn’t build the station at the location it had initially proposed because the solar-powered facility at the site would produce too little power. NTC blamed this error on a consultant who has since been fired.
The college was able to find an alternate location but found that a station at the new site would reach a smaller audience than had initially been promised to the FCC. That nullified its permit, which was given on the condition that the larger audience would be served.
NTC now has the option of appealing the decision, or it may be able to start over with a new application, according to an FCC spokesperson.
On his blog, media strategist Mark Ramsey argues that the old Arbitron diaries were better at showing which stations a listener actually values and engages with, as opposed to PPM, which doesn’t depend on a listener’s impressions to record and deliver data. Check out his video.
If Ramsey is right, what are the implications for public radio? Are stations that have abandoned diaries missing out on valuable information, and, if so, how to recover it?
EDGE winners are Detroit Public Television for its Great Lakes Now coverage (Current, Oct. 17, 2011), and PBS Hawaii for Hiki Nō (“Can do”), its news production project with dozens of the state’s schools. The Brugger Award went to Catherine Ann Stevens, a former longtime WETA Board member and wife of the late pubcasting champion Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska).
In Detroit, for the first time, six major entities focused on issues concerning the Great Lakes — the International Joint Commission, the Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Areas of Concern Program, the Great Lakes Commission, The Healing Our Waters/Great Lakes Coalition and Environment Canada — hosted events in the same city during the same week. DPTV delivered on-air, online and on-demand coverage Oct. 11-14, 2011, distributed to 22 broadcast partners in 23 markets including Canada, reaching some 300,000 viewers, listeners and web users. In accepting the award, station President Rich Homberg said the production “was one of the most complex Detroit Public Television has ever put together,” with an HD uplink, 14 HD cameras and crew of more than 30.
Leslie Wilcox, president of PBS Hawaii, and Robert Pennybacker, v.p. of creative services, accepted that station’s honors for Hiki Nō, which launched in January 2010. Wilcox said 73 middle and high schools across six islands now participate, and the numbers are growing; two elementary schools are also involved in the “enormously labor intensive project.” Station staffers mentor teachers in journalism and video production and students create content that has grown into a weekly primetime program, 52 weeks a year. Pennybacker said “most people thought we were crazy,” when the station announced the project, “and I guess we were, but it works. Every Thursday Hawaii gets to see the future of media and it looks pretty good.”
APTS President Pat Butler called Catherine Ann Stevens a “stalwart support” of public broadcasting, on Capitol Hill as well as in Alaska, who “volunteered for special duty” during the most recent federal funding crisis, adding that her honor is “richly deserved.” Stevens said, “I’m so enthused to see so many people here, this is what it’s all about,” and wished the participants luck during their visits to the Hill on Tuesday.
Media critic Jay Rosen takes a look at NPR’s new ethics handbook, released last week, and likes what he sees, particularly the handbook’s guidance regarding balance and fairness in reporting. “At all times, we report for our readers and listeners, not our sources,” the guide says. “So our primary consideration when presenting the news is that we are fair to the truth.”
“With these words, NPR commits itself as an organization to avoid the worst excesses of ‘he said, she said’ journalism,” Rosen writes on his PressThink blog. “It says to itself that a report characterized by false balance is a false report. It introduces a new and potentially powerful concept of fairness: being ‘fair to the truth,’ which as we know is not always evenly distributed among the sides in a public dispute.”
Rosen’s post also includes a brief Q&A with Matt Thompson, an editorial product manager at NPR, who co-wrote the new handbook.
Feb 26, 2012
Three new board members participated in the meeting: Dr. Roger Gose, board chair of Central Wyoming Community College in Riverton, Wyoming PBS’s licensee; Allan Pizzato, executive director of Alabama Public Television in Birmingham; and Landri Taylor, lay trustee, Rocky Mountain PBS in Denver.
Feb 25, 2012
O'Neil points out that the after another PBS Brit hit, Upstairs, Downstairs, won best drama series twice, in 1974 and '75, the TV academy moved it to the best limited series category so it wouldn't compete against favorite American shows like The Waltons and Kojak. "But Upstairs, Downstairs triggered a new outcry when it beat the hugely popular mini Rich Man, Poor Man," O'Neil notes.
The 2012 Emmy Awards will be broadcast Sept. 23.
Feb 24, 2012
When Wilson joined NPR as senior v.p. and general manager of digital media in 2008, the position was parallel to the senior news exec post then held by Ellen Weiss. Knell's restructuring elevates Wilson in NPR's organization chart to supervise all of NPR's content areas — news, programming and digital media.
"In Kinsey and Margaret, we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR — and how we continue to innovate and evolve," Knell said in a news release.
In an interview with NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik, Knell described his objective to create "a unified and strategic approach" to providing news, cultural programming and other content across radio, online and mobile platforms, according to Mark Memmott, blogger/reporter for NPR's The Two Way. "Radio is not going away, radio is going everywhere," Knell reportedly said.
Additional changes in NPR's executive ranks to take effect immediately:
Eric Nuzum, acting v.p. of programming, takes the job permanently, succeeding Smith as she officially takes over as news chief;
Keith Woods, v.p. of diversity in news and operations, expands his collaborative work with NPR stations to bring greater diversity to public radio's audiences. He now reports directly to Knell.
Joyce McDonald, v.p. for membership and audience partnership, also directly reports to Knell.
Knell adopted the new reporting structure for Woods and McDonald to ensure that he has "a direct line into NPR's work with its community of stations."
Feb 23, 2012
The trouble is, NPR has no control over Keillor or his nationally syndicated weekly program. Neither does Minnesota-based American Public Media Group, which distributes Prairie Home Companion to public radio stations. Prairie Home Companion is not a news program -- it's an entertainment show -- and Keillor's own production company is responsible for its content.
"Mr. Keillor's political opinions and activities are his own, and do not reflect the views of APMG or its affiliated companies," said Bill Gray, spokesman. APM's ethical policies prohibit those who work in news and public affairs programming from participating in partisan political activities, but "Mr. Keillor is not a journalist, and thus his political opinions and activities do not have an impact on how news is presented to listeners."
NPR has spent more than a year updating its ethical standards to withstand the white-hot scrutiny that came after the firing of news analyst Juan Williams, and public radio and TV have just adopted an industry-wide code of editorial integrity, yet the field can't get around the glee that political foes will take in bashing public radio when given the opportunity.
Michigan Radio News Director Vincent Duffy sees nothing unethical with Keillor's decision to host the fundraiser, but he describes it as "a bone headed move."
Keillor "is certainly aware that most of America probably thinks he has an office down the hall from Terry Gross and the Car Talk guys," Duffy writes on his blog. "He also must be aware that a large crowd in America enjoys pointing fingers at NPR and screaming, “Liberals!” and working to cut the ever dwindling amount of public tax dollars that stations receive."
Duffy faults Keillor for failing to consider how his political activism affects the local stations that carry his program. Stations take heat from angry listeners who write or call them and, in some cases, cancel the membership donations that make it possible for them to acquire and broadcast Prairie Home Companion.
APM understands the difficulty that Keillor's activities have caused for stations, but it remains focused "solely on the programs that his production company produces for us," Gray said. "We trust that audiences clearly understand the difference between news programming and entertainment programming."
Feb 22, 2012
Asendio objected when he and two journalists from his newsroom were required to participate in a "Meet the Producers" breakfast and panel discussion, which the station hosted this morning (Feb. 22). Involving WAMU reporters in the meeting was an unethical breech of the station's editorial firewall, Asendio said in an interview with Current, and the sort of interaction that he forbid during his six-year tenure as news chief.
"I maintain a strict firewall between the working journalists in the newsroom and the funders who fund the station," Asendio said. "It's my responsibility to keep them separate." Donor-only events involving reporters are especially problematic, he said. "Journalists should not participate in those events."
Asendio challenged Program Director Mark McDonald about the meeting and later took his objections to General Manager Caryn Mathes, who gave him an ultimatum. "She said that by not participating in a major station event I would be making a 'permanent and irreversible statement about whether I was part of her management team,'" Asendio recalled.
"I could either not show up and be in trouble, or show up and violate my ethics, so I tendered my resignation," Asendio said.
In a statement, WAMU said the donor meeting had been structured to prevent one-on-one contact between reporters and donors. Nine WAMU reporters and producers participated in the panel talk, which McDonald moderated, discussing the process of producing news reports and talk programming and taking questions from the audience.
"Allowing people to see the impact that their investment makes in our work is completely appropriate," the WAMU statement said. "However, the station does not permit crossing the line between a funder seeing that impact and a funder being allowed input into the planning process for coverage."
Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, who broke the story of Asendio's resignation on Feb. 21, believes that Asendio may have over-reacted to the donor meeting. "Holding a panel discussion exclusively for donors to discuss the station’s mission and approach to the news — that seems like a fair way to keep your funders feeling appreciated while at the same time preventing the corruption of your news product," Wemple wrote. "Asendio appears to believe that the alarm should sound whenever a WAMU journo gets close enough to a WAMU donor to smell her breath. Too often such encounters are genuinely innocent social exchanges."
"A bona fide breach of Asendio’s firewall takes place when donors exert pressure on the newsroom’s story choices and execution," Wemple wrote.
A veteran of CBS Radio who led WAMU's news room through a dramatic expansion, Asendio had become increasingly uncomfortable with efforts within public radio to reel in big gifts by introducing donors to journalists, he told Current. He recalled a recent meeting with development staff from NPR and WAMU in which he was told: "'Major donors expect access.'"
"I said, 'I don't do that. They can have access to me, but not my reporter. I'd rather not have the money.'"
WAMU officials declined requests for interviews.
Disclosure: WAMU is licensed to American University, which manages Current as a separate journalism unit within its School of Communication. This post has been updated.
On its website, Vision Media Television references its relationship with Joan Lunden, but Lunden has posted a warning distancing herself from similar firms on her own website. PBS also includes a warning on its website, and cites Vision Media Television among various entities claiming to produce content for broadcast on national public television for a fee.
In Indianapolis, several nonprofits have been contacted by the company, which asks for up to $26,000 to cover production costs, and claims the content will run on public television. The New York Times covered the firm's pitch as far back as 2008, when Vision Media was using retired broadcaster Hugh Downs' name, and Current wrote in 2004 about a Boca Raton firm using a similar approach and dropping the names of veteran newsmen Morley Safer and Walter Cronkite.
"Downton Abbey enabled us to reach audiences that are not just the typical PBS audience, including younger people, and gave us a chance to establish ourselves as the area's PBS station," Mel Rogers, station president, told Schneider. Downton's season finale on Sunday (Feb. 19) scored a 2.3 rating and 4 share in the Los Angeles market.
"There was no high-def television or satellite reception back then," he recalls. "A special antenna was needed to even get WJWJ's signal. One of our initial tasks was teaching viewers how to avoid a snowy picture by manually fine-tuning their sets for Channel 16. A safecracker's dexterity would have helped."
As for production, "field reports were videotaped," he writes, "but the nightly newscast was live — television at its most daring and mistake-prone. Slips of the tongue could render one (or both) anchors helpless with mirth. Nothing to do but laugh out loud when one of us referred to septuagenarian Strom Thurmond as 'South Carolina's senior citizen' rather than — correctly — the state's 'senior senator' in Washington."
"No story was too large or small for our newscast," Pillow says. "We profiled candidates seeking city, town and county seats. We forecast nonprofit fundraisers. We encouraged pet adoptions from the animal shelter. We beat the drum for downtown revitalization. We celebrated the history of Decoration Day at the Beaufort National Cemetery. We tracked Hurricane David's winds and rains until the storm knocked out our power. We covered the Heritage links and the Family Circle Cup tennis courts."
"Against commercial TV odds," he notes, "we somehow gained a core constituency of everyday people so engaged in what we did that they committed extra time and effort to welcome us into their lives, into their homes, on a regular basis. And were proud to tell us about it. That's a WJWJ legacy that even today's budget-cutters in Columbia can't take away."
Feb 21, 2012
UPDATE: Journalist Dave Hughes, who runs DCRTV, an independent website about radio and television in the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore area, reports that Asendio told him: "I resigned as news director at WAMU because I did not agree with an upper management decision to have reporters meet with donors at a donor-only station-sponsored event. It is my long held and oft-stated belief that working journalists should not be subjected to the real or perceived influence of the individuals and/or foundations who fund the work of the newsroom."
Jim Lehrer, PBS NewsHour executive editor, said in a statement, "Mark Shields and David Brooks deserve this and all other awards there are or ever will be for civility. They live it and practice it ways that are truly unique.”
"Incivility threatens the long-term health of our democracy," Mullen writes in the Post-Gazette. "But the harsh truth is, we're not doing anything serious to change it. Instead, incivility is too often rewarded. And civility is usually taken for granted or ignored. If we're serious about enhancing civility, we must shine a bright light on the unsung heroes of democracy today — the many women and men who practice partisan politics passionately but with civility, each and every day. Civility will become a norm only when rewards for civility become a norm."
Mullen has high praise for the Friday evening on-air dynamic between Brooks and Shields, which the show has dubbed "Political conversation, not a shouting match." "Every week Mr. Brooks and Mr. Shields come together on PBS NewsHour to vigorously debate the issues of the day, respecting each other as they do so," he writes. "They demonstrate that civility does not require one to be tepid. Mr. Brooks proudly argues from the right; Mr. Shields from the left. But they advocate their views with steadfast civility."
Mullen concluded: "Civility is a choice. We must help public servants and candidates make that choice. Until we do so, we are part of the incivility problem — no matter how politely we sit on the sidelines."
UPDATE: Video of the presentation is now online here.
Feb 20, 2012
Journalists from another public media news organization, California Watch, also won a Polk for medical reporting for "Decoding Prime." Lance Williams, Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig wrote a yearlong series of articles showing how a California hospital chain increased its Medicare reimbursements by classifying patients as suffering from rare medical conditions. "The stories, which appeared in newspapers across California, offered a glimpse into the broader problem of waste, fraud and abuse within the nation’s $2.5-trillion health care system," LIU said.
Honors will be presented at a luncheon April 5 in New York City. The awards have been administered by LIU since 1949, memorializing CBS correspondent George W. Polk, who was slain covering the civil war in Greece in 1948.
The NPR Board observed a moment of silence for Emmons at its Feb. 24 meeting in Washington, D.C., and adopted a resolution marking his passing. “The words used to describe Tim by colleagues across the country,” it reads in part, “are ‘genuine,’ ‘inspirational,’ ‘wise,’ ‘modest,’ ‘intelligent,’ ‘tireless,’ a ‘quiet giant,’ a ‘champion for public radio’ and — over and over again — ‘courageous,’ in his career, in his life, and facing death.”
Emmons arrived in 1988 as program director at WNIU, licensed to Northern Illinois University, and was instrumental in the creation of WNIJ in 1991. As p.d., he hired and supervised a WNIJ news team that won 32 national, regional and state news awards. He left to be program director at St. Louis Public Radio; during his three years there, that news team won nearly 20 awards. Emmons returned to Northern Public Radio in 1995 as station manager. Two years later, he became director and general manager. “Over that time,” the station said in a statement, “the stations experienced unprecedented growth in audience, membership and underwriting revenue.”
He was a co-founder of Morning Edition Grad School (MEGS), a national best-practice effort “aimed at assuring peak performance for Morning Edition on local stations,” funded by NPR’s Local News Initiative.
In 2009, Emmons received the Don Otto Award from the Public Radio Program Directors Association and Audience Research Analysis, honoring “public radio originals.” In a university press release about the honor, Emmons said: “Really, the best thing for me is when I see the light go on in somebody else. It’s a big thing for me when I can pass on something that I’ve learned.”
Emmons was a vocal advocate for the pubradio system, and wrote several Thinking pieces for Current over the years. In 1999, he noted the need for a program director at NPR (published Jan. 25, 1999); 10 years later, he was still tenaciously pushing the point (Feb. 2, 2009). He also wrote about what Morning Edition needed after host Bob Edwards’ departure (April 12, 2004).
In May 2005, he presented a resolution at NPR’s annual Members Meeting regarding CPB’s journalistic firewall, in the wake of the news coverage about CPB activities promoting conservative programming on public TV.
Over the past year Emmons formulated a succession plan for the stations. Staci Hoste, development director, will serve as interim general manager. “He and I prepared for this transition and feel strongly that we will preserve Tim’s legacy at Northern Public Radio, its mission, and its service to the community,” Hoste said in a statement.
Peter Dominowski and Scott Williams, longtime friends of Emmons and business associates with him in Strategic Programming Partners, which developed MEGS, are planning the Tim Emmons Memorial Mentoring Scholarship for “a fairly new program director, or someone aspiring to that position,” Dominowski told Current. The two envision selecting one candidate to mentor each year, and will provide their personal expertise to serve as a resource for the up-and-coming p.d. They expect to have an announcement with details on the national scholarship program by mid-March.
Emmons was born June 18, 1958, in Champaign, to Robert and Peggy Emmons. He graduated in 1976 from University High School in Normal, Ill., where he was a state finalist in forensics his senior year in radio speaking. He attended Moody Bible Institute for two years, and graduated from Illinois State University in Normal.
He was a past-president of the Illinois Public Broadcasting Council, and served on several advisory committees for NPR.
Emmons is survived by his wife of 33 years, Charlene, son Daniel and daughter Jordan, as well as his mother, sister Amy Bradford, in-laws Joyce Theobald and George and Mona Lohnes, three nephews and and two great-nephews.
A memorial service took place Feb. 25 at Christ Community Church in DeKalb. Emmons asked that in lieu of flowers, donations benefit his children’s education. Checks may be made to Timothy Emmons Memorial and mailed to P.O. Box 66, Elburn, Ill., 60119.
Feb 19, 2012
“I thought, ‘This is great,'" Scoggin recalls. "Here I am, standing in the lobby of the Golden Nugget with the great Marilyn Horne, and she’s singing Kenny Rogers to me.’”
The station is hosting a retirement event March 29 at its studio at University of Illinois Springfield.
Feb 18, 2012
UPDATE: Dan Sinker, who leads the Knight-Mozilla News Technology Partnership for Mozilla and wrote a piece for the Huffington Post when CNC launched, writes on his blog that "CNC’s web presence was too little too late," and its social media activities were "too little too little."
UPDATE: O'Shea posted a letter to CNC readers Feb. 20 confirming the closure. "Unlike similar start-up efforts like the Texas Tribune in Austin, the Bay Citizen in San Francisco and ProPublica in New York, we never recruited the kind of seven figure donations from people of means concerned about the declining quality of news coverage around the country," he wrote. "As a result, CNC never raised the resources to make investments in the business side of our operation that would have generated the revenue we needed to achieve our original goal — a self-sustaining news operation within five years. CNC always has been an experiment in trying to figure out a way to finance accountability journalism, the kind of reporting that many news organizations are abandoning as they struggle with a deteriorating business model and financial problems."
"In the coming days and weeks," O'Shea added, "we will be examining our potential to see if we can identify an alternative path and preserve some of the journalistic assets we have developed."
“Overall, we’re feeling pretty good about how it came out,” Lonna Thompson, c.o.o. of the Association of Public Television Stations, told Current. “We got nearly all of the precautions we wanted in the legislation to protect stations.” Original Senate legislation contained an estimate of $1 billion to repack the entire spectrum following an auction; APTS and other organizations were able to push that to $1.75 billion in the final bill. Also, the auction is officially voluntary, and no stations will be forced to move from UHF to VHF. Cable carriage rights for pubTV stations are safe.
However, Thompson said, “some of the questions that stations still want answers to, such as what their spectrum is worth and the specific rules of the auctions, aren’t specified” in the bill, which will use auction proceeds to help pay for a payroll tax break and unemployment benefits, as well as support a public safety network for emergency responders.
And from a technical standpoint, the repacking “is going to be very disruptive,” Thompson said. “With the digital transition [in June 2009], stations had at least two channels, analog and digital. They could get ready and when the switch came, they just closed the analog channel.” This isn’t case with repacking: Stations will need to close down one channel first, and then move to another, not an easy task. “We’ve heard from engineers that it’s very problematic, and stations could be off the air for a significant period of time during the switch,” she said.
Developing auction rules and conducting the auctions will take two to three years minimum, Thompson estimated, with repacking occurring after that.
Here is a PDF of the legislation; the section on the spectrum auction begins on page 118.
More about the spectrum auctions and related issues in the next Current, Feb. 27.
On the potential for reality shows on PBS: "Colonial House and [2002's] Frontier House are different types of reality. They're experiential history programs. Moving forward, we'll look at those types of things. To get younger people engaged in history, you have to really look closely at the formats. And since reality has taken over, I think there are some aspects of it that we can do."
On GOP hopeful Mitt Romney's remarks on commercializing PBS: "When Mitt Romney says, we're not going to kill Big Bird, we're just going to make him take commercials, it's frustrating because it shows a lack of truly understanding the impact we have."
On her management style: "It's very different from running a network because I have 350 stations that all have different ideas of what public media should be, and I can't do anything by fiat. That's a huge piece of my job, making sure everyone stays on the same page and everyone is really committed."
Feb 17, 2012
Nashville Public Television was a finalist for a local Bowtie Award for Best Workplace Environment, the Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville announced this week. The honor recognizes "a business that integrates arts and creativity into the business culture to build morale and foster employee creativity and innovation." The council said that NPT has "transformed its building into the NPT Arts Center — a modern day, nonprofit arts commune that houses NPT, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, TN Rep and Nashville Film Festival. The creative collaboration greatly enhances each organization, which benefits our entire community." Also in the building is Book’em, a nonprofit children's literacy organization, and NATAS (the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences) Midsouth Chapter.
Although NPT didn't win, it sure had fun creating a photo (above) as part of the nomination process. Joe Pagetta, NPT director of media relations, brainstormed with Denice Hicks and Nicole Sibilski of the Nashville Shakespeare Festival on a picture to capture their shared workplace. They began with NPT's recognizable pledge set and built from there. "There is someone from each of the organizations represented, holding something associated with what they do," Pagetta told Current. And, yes, that's NPT President Beth Curley as the queen, reigning over the creative chaos. "I positioned everyone, Jim DeMarco from NPT lit it, and I basically just told everyone to act crazy several times," Pagetta said. "And that’s how we got it. It was hilarious!"
Person Place Thing — those are the other topics that Cohen will let guests discuss — debuts with a famed interviewer as guest, TV talker Dick Cavett, devoting his attention to a phenomenal thing called Bob Hope. The second guest in the hourlong show is novelist Jane Smiley. Ian Pickus of Northeast Public Radio (WAMC) in Albany produces the show, and the New York Council for the Humanities pays for production of the first season.
The program is syndicated without charge through Public Radio Exchange and public radio’s Content Depot as well as FTP downloads.
Cohen has done enough installments that he can happily assure people that the format works with guests including Roger Bannister, the original four-minute-mile runner of 1954. “Plus,” Cohen says in the news release, “I had the pleasure of uttering more than one sentence I never thought I'd have occasion to use in my lifetime, like, ‘So, Sir Roger, what is your thing?’”
After Cavett and Smiley, the pairs of guests are queued up this way: comedian Susie Essman and basketball coach Dave Cowens, journalists Michael Pollan and John Hockenberry, singer Rickie Lee Jones and all-time-classic political personality Ed Koch, Daily Show performer Samantha Bee and Goosebumps writer R.L. Stine, and sex columnist Dan Savage with Sir Roger. This week Cohen interviewed This American Life essayist David Rakoff in a live event at the 92nd Street Y in Tribeca.
Cohen has written for David Letterman, Rosie O’Donnell and Michael Moore, winning four Emmys, plus a fifth Emmy that he got “as a result of a clerical error,” the news release discloses ethically, "and he kept it.”
Feb 16, 2012
Feb 15, 2012
To introduce more iPad users to the NPR Music experience, NPR will produce an exclusive in-app concert on March 7 with The Shins, a Portland-based indie-rock band that's about to release its first album in five years, Port of Morrow.
When Apple first launched the iPad in 2010, NPR was among the top news organizations to create a killer app for the new device.
A phone survey of radio listeners in the U.S. this month found that public radio listeners are more satisfied with their stations than the average listener. Research firm Mark Kassof & Co. called 649 radio listeners to ask how satisfied they were with the stations they listened to most (P1 stations, in radio parlance). Forty-eight percent overall said they were 100 percent satisfied with their P1 stations, but 61 percent of public radio listeners reported total satisfaction. That was topped only by Christian radio listeners, 77 percent of whom were completely satisfied.
Now, a firm backed by media giant Barry Diller, Aereo, is doing much the same thing — except it's using "proprietary remote antenna and DVR" technology "that consumers can use to access network television on web-enabled devices." Aereo has installed miniature antennae throughout the New York City market that pull in over-the-air signals from all local broadcasters, including PBS member station WNET. Starting in March, subscribers, at $12 a month, each get a single antenna with a remote personal video recorder attached, accessible through their broadband connection.
“Aereo is the first potentially transformative technology that has the chance to give people access to broadcast television delivered over the Internet to any device, large or small, they desire," Diller, who just joined Aereo's Board of Directors, said in a release Tuesday (Feb. 14). "No wires, no new boxes or remotes, portable everywhere there’s an Internet connection in the world — truly a revolutionary product." Diller, who founded Fox Broadcasting, is current chairman of InterActiveCorp (IAC), an Internet company that began as a subsidiary of the Home Shopping Network and now owns 50 websites including Newsweek/Daily Beast, Ask.com, Match.com and Vimeo. IAC has invested $20.5 million in Aereo.
According to ZDNet, assigning a separate antenna to each subscriber is how Aereo hopes to get around legal issues. "Legally, that’s not supposed to be any different from having the antenna in your own house," ZDNet notes. "It’s just one long cord."
Aereo is formerly Bamboom Labs, a self-proclaimed "a big, bold new technology" focused on the notion that "free over-the-air broadcast TV should be available to anyone within the service area of a channel," it says.
Feb 14, 2012
The station also announced on Tuesday (Feb. 14) that its local documentary series Departures is adding eight new bloggers to its Land of Sunshine blog, "dedicated to uncovering the rich diversity of Angelinos throughout time," and based on the late 19th century journal with the same title, distributed nationwide "to promote Southern California life to tourists and potential residents." Bloggers will focus on topics including disparities in civil and human rights issues, L.A.'s literary landscape, the bicycle culture and "the public art policy and politics of the mural aesthetic in the Los Angeles region."
The purchase, announced today, is part of a three-way transaction with seller WAY Media, a religious broadcast network that's moving its Christian pop music service to 100,000-watt WSRX 89.5 FM in Naples. When the sale closes, Way Media will retain the WAYJ call letters and format for its new station.
Though WSRX broadcasts at a higher Effective Radiated Power (ERP) than WAYJ, Classical South Florida is buying the better of the two channels. WSRX's signal is on a shorter tower than WAYJ and reaches a much smaller potential audience, according to Tom Kigin, executive v.p. for Minnesota-based American Public Media and its Sunshine state affiliate, Classical South Florida. "It has only 340,913 people under coverage, whereas WAYJ has 991,520 under coverage, almost three times as many," he wrote in an email.
The deal marks the second signal expansion in a year for Classical South Florida, a locally-controlled APM affiliate. It purchased WXEL 90.7 FM in West Palm Beach last spring and converted it to an all-classical station broadcasting under the call letters WPBI. An all-news station airs on WPBI's second HD Radio channel and on an analog FM translator on 101.9 FM.
The purchase will please classical music lovers in Fort Myers by bringing a full-time music service to the market's analog airwaves, according to Jason Hughes, Classical South Florida spokesperson.
Local pubcaster WGCU-FM, a university-owned outlet that also operates a public TV station, dropped music for an an all-news format several years ago. It continues to program an all-classical HD Radio stream.
Editor's note: This post has been revised from its original version, which overstated the power of WSRX's signal.
“We are grateful to the president for providing level funding for CPB and for continuing the advance funding mechanism so important to our stations and producers,” said Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, in a statement. “Public television did not expect immunity from the budget cuts that been required across the government, and the overall federal investment in public television has been reduced by more than 10 percent in the past two years. Within these necessary constraints, we will continue working toward our goal of a well-educated, well-informed, cultured and civil society, and again we are most grateful for the Administration’s endorsement of our work."
Patricia Harrison, president of CPB, said in a statement, "The president’s request reflects the value of public media’s in-depth news reporting, our commitment to children, and initiatives such as American Graduate, which focuses on public media’s core value of education. The request also reflects the unique and powerful service that public media provides for free to listeners and viewers.We appreciate the president’s support. His request reaffirms that federal funding for public media is a vital investment — one that continues to deliver proven value and service to our country.”
The entire budget may be accessed online at the Office of Management and Budget website.
Feb 13, 2012
Feb 12, 2012
Bill Sanford, g.m. of Lakeland Public Television in Bemidji, Minn., told station execs in a recent e-mail that a major donor had complained. Sanford agreed, and said he wanted the station “to offer premiums that reflect our values."
Stephen Colvin, chief executive of the Newsweek Daily Beast Co., told the Times in an e-mail: “We are very proud of our partnership with public broadcasting stations.” Justine Rosenthal, executive editor of Newsweek, said, “We do not use profanity unless within a quote or in the context of a story and care is taken to ensure it is never used gratuitously.”
The Pledge Partner program has made some $375 million for pubstations since its inception in 1991, according to Buker; since 1996 when it was first offered, Newsweek brings in about 90 percent of the money.
Feb 11, 2012
Feb 10, 2012
Feb 9, 2012
UPDATE: Fishbowl LA reports that Clooney was at NPR West — surrounded by female staffers — to record a segment on All Things Considered.
Feb 8, 2012
Kenneth Konz, the inspector general, conducted an audit of WQED Multimedia, released in December 2011, that determined that because WQED did not comply with certain CPB guidelines for reporting nonfederal financial support, CPB made improper Community Service Grants to the station in excess of $798,000.
"If you read the audit report," Kaplan writes, "you will find that it is filled with redactions about specific monetary expenditures at the heart of the audit report." Kaplan said a reporter contacted him asking why the redactions were allowed, especially because CPB noted in its latest business plan that it has "engaged in a continuous process of improving its own transparency."
The redacted figures concerned WQED's sale several years ago of Pittsburgh Magazine, a for-profit publication. George Hazimanolis, WQED spokesman, told Kaplan that the CPB inspector general's office "offered WQED the opportunity to redact anything that was proprietary and harmful to WQED's business, which we understood to be normal procedure. WQED responded very broadly to that offer." Konz told Kaplan that the removal of proprietary information from reports is mandated by federal and state laws.
"I continue to believe that it was wrong for most of this information to be redacted and it is inconsistent with CPB's pledge of transparency," Kaplan writes. "It becomes even more problematic when the names of donors are redacted since it does not allow the public to make an independent determination about whether any undue or improper influence is being used in determining what types of materials are run over the public broadcasting airwaves."
"Given that the Community Service Grants are provided to public broadcasting stations by CPB," he concludes, "I am hopeful that the CPB Board of Directors will in the future make such funding contingent on a recipient station's willingness to be transparent in all of its operations."
Classic Cool Theater premieres March 10, the first project in a $50 million production collaboration with Eyetronics Media & Studios (Current, Aug. 16, 2011). Each episode of the weekly two-hour series will include a retro cartoon, feature film, newsreel, and musical short, each from the 1930s to 1960s.
The station, which left PBS membership in January 2011, also will kick off a weeklong series of interview specials bringing back L.A. Tonight with Roy Firestone, including tennis great Andre Agassi, legendary composer Burt Bacharach; Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti and acclaimed jazz vocalist Steve Tyrell.
Also debuting is George Gently, distributed by Executive Program Services, a BBC series set in the 1960s based on the Inspector Gently novels by Alan Hunter.
His son Mark Poulsen told the Washington Post that his father had complications from a heart transplant that he received after suffering a heart attack on the air in 1989.
Poulsen started in 1971 at WAMU, the pubstation licensed to American University. He spent 30 years as host of The Jerry Gray Show on Saturday afternoons, featuring traditional country music such as Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Roy Rogers and Patsy Montana. In 1978, he began co-hosting Bluegrass Country, a weekday drive-time show, and later became its host."Mr. Poulsen carried each day’s selections to the studio with him, drawn from his personal collection of more than 12,000 records," the Post noted.
In 2001, when the station went to news and public affairs format, Poulsen retired to Hardy, Va.
He was born Oct. 9, 1933, in Washington, D.C. He graduated in 1951 from McKinley Technical High School, served in the Army, attended American University and studied at a local private radio training academy.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Louise “Kay” Gregory Poulsen of Hardy; five children: Donna Catron, Jon Poulsen, Lora Whitehurst, Mark Poulsen and Kathryn Dorshimer; his mother, Vesta Poulsen; one sister; nine grandchildren; and one great-grandson.
His obituary in the Paducah (Ky.) Sun said that during his career he produced Today in the Legislature, a statewide program from Florida Public Broadcasting in Tallahassee, as well as At The Top and other music programs at WXXI television in Rochester, N.Y. He was a member of the WPLN-FM community advisory board in Nashville, and a national and regional board member of the Alliance for Community Media, which advocates for Public, Educational and Governmental (PEG) channels. He was also a founding member of the Education Access Corporation, which programs Nashville public-access channels.
Survivors include his wife, Marie Fagen, and their son, William; brother Rick and his wife, Linda, and several nieces, nephews and cousins. There will be no service at Mitchell's request. The family suggests donations to WPLN, Nashville Public Radio, Dept. 22, P.O. Box 305172, Nashville, Tenn., 37230-5172.
Feb 6, 2012
Participants attending the seminar will receive full access to the stream, which will be archived online for a year, Robinson told Current. Fans elsewhere pay $20 to listen in that day, and also get archival access.
"This is an experiment in niche streaming," said Robinson, who got the idea when he heard about YouTube investing $100 million in targeted original content. The YouTube work, he said, "is being done on a macro scale — it signifies that streaming as we know it, what it can do and mean, is being reshaped."
On a local level, Robinson said, "this could be of significance for other public radio or public TV stations, any kind of small organization that feels it has content of value. If you pardon the pun, it could be a second revenue stream."
So far 50 participants have signed up for this weekend's event, which runs from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday Central time. "Our goal is 150 for this one," Robinson said. "We hope for the next one we'll have 500, and the next — 10,000."
His employer, National Geographic, said that deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight crashed after takeoff near Nowra, 97 miles north of Sydney. Australia’s ABC News reported that Wight was piloting the helicopter.
Fred Kaufman, executive director of Nature at WNET in New York City, told Current that he still remembers his first meeting with deGruy. "Twenty years ago, when I became the executive producer of Nature, Mike’s film, Incredible Suckers was my first commission," he said, "and I learned something very valuable from my initial conversation with Mike — bring your ‘A’ game because Mike was smart, persuasive and quick. He had an answer for every question, he did his homework and if you had an opinion you’d better be prepared to defend it."
Kaufman met deGruy at the first Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival in 1991 to discuss Incredible Suckers. "Mike never talked softly," Kaufman said, "and sitting in the lobby of the Snow King Resort he was all energy and optimism, a Mike deGruy trademark we would all come to know and admire. He was good-looking, charismatic, passionate and persuasive. It was no wonder that he went from marine biologist to award-winning filmmaker to successful on-camera presenter."
DeGruy worked on several films over the years for Nature, including Lost World of the Medusa, Hawaii: Island of the Fire Goddess, The Octopus Show and Live from the Abyss. "The one thing these films all had in common was Mike’s love of the deep and his passion to share it," Kaufman said. "In fact, remembering Mike, I cannot think of anyone else who so loved the life they were living. He had a wonderful wife and partner in Mimi. Their two terrific kids, Max and Frances, had the coolest dad ever. He got to travel the world and speak on behalf of the issues facing our oceans — and he piloted submersibles and explored the seas with a boyish enthusiasm that captured our hearts."
DeGruy, who lived with his family in Santa Barbara, Calif.., won multiple Emmy and BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) awards for cinematography. He was an accomplished diver and submersible pilot, and director of undersea photography for James Cameron's 2005 documentary Last Mysteries of the Titanic.
"Mike was the bright light that pierced the inky darkness of the deep," Kaufman said. "He was our leader into the abyss. I will think of him often and remember him always."