Steve Talbot worked in public TV for more than 20 years before trying his hand as chief fundraiser for one of his own projects. His timing was not the greatest. On the day in 2008 when Lehman Brothers imploded, PBS agreed to back the pilot for Talbot’s Sound Tracks, a newsmagazine-style show about contemporary music around the world. The hourlong debut, which aired in January 2010, got positive feedback from viewers, programmers and PBS, but the recession has hampered Talbot’s efforts to make more episodes of Sound Tracks ever since. He’s still raising money to produce additional episodes.
Looking to lift up your midday radio audience? Try some uplifting music. That’s a lesson from 10 classical radio stations that have been jiggering their midday playlists with help from a listening study backed by CPB and conducted by the Public Radio Program Directors Association. Eight of the 10 stations saw their midday audiences grow after changing their mixes of music — some grew quite significantly — and the two that lost audience suffered only very small declines. The study began in 2007 when researchers hired by PRPD played 150 half-minute samples of classical pieces for test audiences in four cities.
As a self-proclaimed evangelist for HD Radio, I am often asked why I have inculcated it so deeply in the workings of WAMU in Washington. We devote several full-time employees to produce more than 50 hours a week of live original programming for our multicast channels — bluegrass and Americana music on Channel 2, and news and information on Channel 3. We further demonstrate our commitment to multicasting on our main channel. For the first year after we started multicasting three HD Radio channels, we spent at least 15 seconds of every hour on our flagship signal cross-promoting Channels 2 and 3, and our hosts still give them at least four spots a day. Reminding listeners of the other offerings in our “radio community” requires a sizable investment in airtime, as well as the traffic department’s writing and logging.
Austin City Limits is a hot commodity based on a cool brand built over 33 years on PBS. In two years it moves its entire production site downtown in the Texas capital city to a cornerstone 2,500-seat theater in a $300 million redevelopment.
The Midday Classical Music Testing Project, presented by Public Radio Program Directors at its conference in September , is fundamentally flawed in two ways, casting serious doubt that programmers could draw any useful conclusions from it.
In the 1980s, Peter Gelb produced 25 Metropolitan Opera broadcasts for PBS. Now, as the Met’s general manager, he runs the red-carpeted center of the opera world. The first media guy to run the hallowed New York institution has begun an ambitious but carefully modulated makeover of the Met. He’s putting its operas on more media platforms than ever before but using electronic media to reproduce the gilded in-theater experience. He’s bringing in a new breed of directors for fresh staging but relying largely on the beloved music of the past.Hired two years ago, Gelb was off to a running start in August when he took charge.