Wes Moore, the host of Beyond Belief on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network and author of the bestseller The Other Wes Moore, won CPB’s Thought Leader Award, which honors those who assist public media in the areas of education, journalism and the arts. A U.S. Army combat veteran who serves on the board of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and as founder of STAND!, an organization that supports youth caught up in the criminal justice system, Moore also hosts the forthcoming PBS primetime series Coming Back, which chronicles the returns of nine veterans from conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Wes Moore is an inspiring advocate for America’s youth and a champion for public media’s American Graduate initiative,” said Patricia Harrison, CPB president. The award was presented during the PBS Annual Meeting in Miami Beach, Fla.
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Public TV stations looking to reduce their reliance on transactional fundraising will get more assistance from PBS this summer, when for the first time pitch breaks for its pledge specials will include messages inviting viewers to join as sustaining members — providing donations that arrive every month with no end date, although in smaller amounts than a Doo Wop show might inspire. While a steady flow of contributions from a donor’s credit card sounds like a great idea in principle, it’s challenging for many local stations to adjust to this new method of charitable giving. Instead of receiving cash infusions at pledge time and dealing with fulfillment of high-dollar premiums, they have to change the language they use in asking viewers to support their service throughout the year and develop new systems for tracking credit-card expiration dates. But the biggest hurdle, according to fundraising specialists, is adjusting for the change in their cash flow when membership contributions come through monthly donations of $10 to $15, rather than much higher gifts tied to premium offers. Veteran fundraisers say the effort pays off over the long haul: “Sustainers,” as this increasingly commonplace breed of member is called, renew at higher rates than those responding to traditional pledge pitches, and their monthly gifts help to even out the roller-coaster financial cycles of on-air fundraising.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — PBS President Paula Kerger called for local public TV stations and PBS to move beyond their reputations as a “dysfunctional family” to embrace “the power of a collective system” to strengthen their public service. In a keynote speech opening this year’s PBS Annual Meeting, Kerger said public television has reached an important moment in its history — one that she considers to be “the most important moment of my tenure” as PBS president. Kerger pointed to the outpouring of support for public TV when its federal funding came under attack during the fall presidential elections and the international attention and praise that accrued to PBS and stations following the blockbuster Masterpiece Classic hit Downton Abbey. “We have the potential to accomplish great things,” Kerger said.
As of May 8, owners of Roku Internet streaming TV set-top boxes gained access to the first-ever curated collection of PBS shows to be distributed for free on-demand viewings directly to television sets.
Merrill Brockway, a producer and director of several PBS arts programs who was best known for his work on the Great Performances spinoff Dance in America, died May 3 in Santa Fe, N.M. He was 90. Brockway was born in Indiana and began a career as a piano teacher and accompanist before entering TV at the age of 30. He wrote and directed for CBS affiliates in Philadelphia and New York before leaving commercial TV for PBS in 1975, when Dance in America launched. He worked on the program, produced by New York’s Thirteen/WNET, from 1975–88, capturing some of America’s most renowned dancers and choreographers on film. Dance in America spotlighted the work of Martha Graham, Thyla Tharp, and the New York City Ballet as choreographed by George Ballanchine, among many others.
The first television broadcast in China was transmitted in 1958. The first time that Ling Ling Sun watched a television program was 20 years later, when she was 18. Now she is engineering manager for television broadcast services at WOSU in Columbus, Ohio, and was recently appointed vice chair of the PBS Engineering Technology Advisory Committee.