John McKinley dies at 66; former PBS staffer recalled by friends as iconoclast

John McKinley, an early employee of PBS who went on to produce a TV version of Mountain Stage, died of congestive heart failure Nov. 3 in Washington, D.C. He was 66. PBS hired McKinley in 1973, just three years after its launch. Public TV development consultant Michael Soper, who worked with him there, recalls an iconoclast with a biting sense of humor. “When I first met John upon arriving at PBS in 1978, I thought he was nuts,” Soper said.

PBS to test whether core series can bring in pledge dollars

PBS has set the lineup for an upcoming fundraising test that will use a full week’s schedule of first-run National Program Service shows. Seventeen stations will take part in the experiment, running Nov. 28 through Dec. 5. PBS is trying to determine whether using core series, rather than pledge specials that veer from the regular lineup, will lead to a more stable member and donor base and perhaps even prompt more major gifts.

PBS weighs balance between free, premium access for launch of Plus

PBS is preparing for a pilot run of Membership Video on Demand, a premium service for station contributors, under the new name PBS Plus. The service will be structured to preserve a window of free access to program streams on and to protect stations’ member data, according to Tom Davidson, PBS senior director of digital strategies, during a session at the NETA Professional Development Conference, Oct. 20–22 in Dallas. PBS Plus will go into soft launch in the spring for existing members at seven test stations. Under the full kickoff scheduled for late summer 2015, stations nationwide can begin marketing it to new members.