Afternoon roundup: WCAI expands signal, CCTV hosts meet Muppets

WCAI Cape and Islands NPR, the only public radio station for coastal communities in southern Massachusetts, has boosted its signal from 1,200 to 12,500 watts. WCAI Managing Director Mindy Todd noted in Tuesday's announcement, "Now, more than 200,000 additional listeners — plus millions of fish in Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound and the Atlantic Ocean — will have a clear signal and clear access to the region’s only locally-produced and locally-broadcast public radio station.”

Starting Friday, CCTV Children’s Channel in Shanghai, China, is airing a special "Happy New Year" series marking the first time its hosts are interacting with Sesame Street's Muppets. During a segment on Chinese New Year, Elmo, Cookie Monster and Lily chat with their Chinese friends about their special customs. The 10 segments about different New Year traditions will run on the channel through Feb. 6. The filmmakers behind American Promise, who filmed their African-American Brooklyn family over 13 years as their son and his best pal progressed through school, will interact with participants in a live OVEE online screening of the doc from 7 to 9 p.m. Eastern time Feb.

Jim Henson’s daughter donates Elmo, Bert, Ernie and other Muppets to Smithsonian

Cheryl Henson, daughter of Jim Henson, donated 21 Muppet puppets and props to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History on Sept. 24, reports USA Today. The latest band of furry Muppets to move to the Smithsonian includes early iterations of longtime Sesame Street fixtures Elmo, Bert, Ernie, Grover, Cookie Monster and Count Von Count. They'll join up with their buddies Kermit the Frog and Oscar the Grouch, who are already members of the Smithsonian's Jim Henson Collection. Miss Piggy is also joining the collection.

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PBS and APT programs win 14 Daytime Emmys

Among 14 Daytime Emmys awarded to public TV programs, APT's Travelscope won in Creative Arts categories for direction and sound mixing.

PBS programs capture three WGAW Awards

The Writers Guild of America, West's prize in the children’s–episodic and specials category went to Christine Ferraro for writing Sesame Street’s “The Good Sport.” Martin Smith and Marcela Gaviria won the award in the documentary–current events arena for writing the first episode of the Frontline four-part series “Money, Power and Wall Street.” And in the documentary–other than current events category, Randall MacLowry won the award for writing “The Fabric of the Cosmos: The Illusion of Time” for Nova. Founded in 1933, WGAW is a labor union representing writers of movies, television, radio and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. The awards were presented Feb. 17 in Los Angeles.

Cocktails to honor Big Bird and friends? That’s the spirit

When public radio managers gathered for November’s Super-Regional Meeting in New Orleans, home to Bourbon Street and the drive-through daiquiri bar, NPR Chair and ideastream COO Kit Jensen mentioned in passing during a panel discussion that her station has its own official cocktail. The “ideaScreamer” is a mix of Grey Goose orange vodka, cranberry juice and a twist of lime, garnished with a lightstick stirrer, according to Peg Neeson, ideastream community relations director. “It’s really quite pretty in a martini glass,” she said. No one at ideastream can recall when the ideaScreamer was created, possibly due to overindulgence in the drink. But bartenders at The Passenger in Washington, D.C., still remember exactly when and how they decided to make a Big Bird, even though the drink was created as a special offering several months ago.

Sesame Workshop examines possible unlicensed North Korean knock-off toys

Sesame Workshop voiced concern Wednesday after a North Korean government-owned trade publication highlighting a toy company’s apparent offerings came to light that appear to include unlicensed Sesame Street characters. The photos appeared in the latest issue of Foreign Trade of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a quarterly publication highlighting manufacturers of products ranging from plush toys and “Gold Liquor” to “cornhusk shoes.” On page 13 of the publication is a profile of Kyonghung Trading Corp., a 7-year-old manufacturer of plush toys, some bearing the likenesses of Cookie Monster, Big Bird and Elmo. In an email to Voice of America, which ran the story, Sesame Workshop said “we believe the toys pictured are unauthorized." But, on his Twitter feed Thursday, Felix Abt, author of A Capitalist in North Korea: My Seven Years in the Hermit Kingdom cautioned that the picture did not equal proof the North Korean company was producing illegal knock-offs of Sesame Street characters. “Where is the evidence?

Elmo puppeteer remains on leave; allegations of improper relationship recanted

Following this week’s  media scandal over allegations that were aggressively rebutted and later recanted, award-winning Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash remains on a leave from his role as Elmo, one of the show’s most beloved characters. An accusation that Clash had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy, published online early Nov. 12 by gossip news site TMZ, prompted Clash to request leave so that he could defend his reputation. Sesame Workshop, which looked into the allegations after learning of them in June, granted the leave and issued a statement:

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Elmo puppeteer on leave after allegation of improper relationship; accuser recants

Puppeteer Kevin Clash, the performer behind Elmo, one of Sesame Street's most beloved characters,  has taken a leave of absence following news reports of an allegation that he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy, according to a statement released today by Sesame Workshop. The accuser recanted Tuesday afternoon (see update, below). The Workshop heard of the allegation in June, when a 23-year-old who claimed to have had a relationship with Clash at the age of 16 first communicated with the company. "We took the allegation very seriously and took immediate action," the Workshop said in its statement. "We met with the accuser twice and had repeated communications with him.