• PBS has promoted two of its programming execs. Michael Kelley, formerly v.p. of strategy and business affairs, ascends to s.v.p., programming and business affairs. In addition, Bill Gardner, formerly director of general audience programming, is now v.p. of programming and development, overseeing science, history, natural history, cultural and current events programming. Both joined PBS in 2012. “Mike’s strong business skills and strategic leadership coupled with Bill’s acute editorial judgment and significant development chops have been instrumental to the success of PBS, our producers and member stations nationwide,” Beth Hoppe, PBS chief programming executive, said in a statement.
• NPR introduced voice recognition–enabled ads this week on its smartphone app in an attempt to connect its nearly one million mobile listeners with sponsors, Adweek reports. The 15-second audio spots ask listeners to say “Download now” or “Hear more” after hearing an ad that sparks their interest. • The Knight Foundation has awarded a joint grant to the nonprofit newsrooms Voice of San Diego and MinnPost to help them develop plans to grow membership. The two-year, $1.2 million grant will be divided evenly between the news operations, who will collaborate on using membership data more effectively. Nieman runs down how the sites will use the grant.
PBS’s fiscal 2015 draft budget contains a recommendation for a 2.5 percent increase in dues paid by member stations. The PBS Board, meeting Friday morning at headquarters in Arlington, Va., voted to send the proposed budget to member stations for comment. Stations did not see an increase in membership assessments this year due to an anticipated FY13 windfall of $22 million generated in part by higher income from PBS Distribution deals for Masterpiece megahit Downton Abbey. By the end of FY13, PBS officially closed its books with an extra $24.5 million. PBS management is proposing the 2.5 percent dues increase for FY15, which would generate about $4.6 million.
It’s a question that parents and teachers struggle to answer at home and in the classroom: how do we make math fun for kids? The creative minds at PBS Kids have spent the last few years devising a solution to that problem. With Ready to Learn funding provided through the Department of Education in 2010, PBS staff set their sights on creating two math-focused children’s shows. Their answer for the 3- to 5-year-old crowd was PEG + CAT, an animated series that debuted last fall. Produced by Fred Rogers Company, PEG + CAT teaches measurement, shapes and patterns, skills that help the characters solve their real-life problems.
Odd Squad, a live-action math series geared toward children ages 5 to 8, is the latest addition to PBS’s slate of math-based kids’ programming.
WNET will return a $3.5 million grant it received for a series of reports on public pensions after facing questions about the funder’s involvement with the issue. In a joint statement, PBS and WNET announced Friday that the grant to support the Pension Peril series would go back to the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, whose co-founder John Arnold has supported efforts to reduce public pensions. “While PBS stands by WNET’s reporting in this series, in order to eliminate any perception on the part of the public, our viewers, and donors that the Foundation’s interests influenced the editorial integrity of the reporting for this program, WNET has decided to forego the Arnold Foundation support and will return the gift,” the statement said. The statement continued:
“We made a mistake, pure and simple,” said Stephen Segaller, Vice President of Programming at WNET. “The PBS NewsHour Weekend is a new production and while we thought we were following the guidelines and the correct vetting processes, we were incorrect.