The Pub #10: Pronunciation matters, techies leaving public media, SXSW and reporting on your employer
Why are public media’s tech-savvy workers leaving?
Why are public media’s tech-savvy workers leaving?
KUAC-FM in Fairbanks, Alaska, laid off programming director Jerry Evans Friday as part of ongoing measures to cut spending. According to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Evans was let go as part of a plan to offset $170,000 in funding cuts imposed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks, which operates the station. Evans’s duties will be absorbed by other employees. He had been with the pubcaster for six years. The university announced in July that it would cut funding to the station in light of a $12 million shortfall of its own.
Arizona Public Media will lose $2 million in support from its university licensee over the next five years starting July 1. Over that time, the University of Arizona’s annual cash contribution to AZPM will fall 4 percent a year, from $2.6 million to $600,000. University leadership “is working with us to identify sources of new revenue,” General Manager Jack Gibson told Current. The university has weathered nearly $200 million in cuts since 2007 due to reduced state appropriations. Administrators “have turned up the heat wherever they could to recover working capital,” Gibson said.
A new agreement between Southern Oregon University and Jefferson Public Radio settles the months-long dispute between the two parties over control of the 22-station radio network and related real-estate projects that had caused concern among university auditors. The mediated settlement, announced Aug. 27, splits JPR’s radio activities from the theater restoration projects that a related nonprofit, the Jefferson Public Radio Foundation, had undertaken in recent years. Southern Oregon University will assume control of all 22 stations in the JPR network, seven of which are now owned by the foundation. Meanwhile, the foundation’s theater properties will be controlled by Jefferson Live!, a new limited-liability corporation to be established as a subsidiary of the JPR Foundation.
Two New England public television stations are moving to sever their ties to state and university licensees, cutting loose to become community-based nonprofits as they adapt to new business models and learn to live without state subsidies.
WMFE-TV in Orlando, Fla., the former PBS flagship that had been set for sale to religious broadcasters, has a new buyer. The University of Central Florida announced June 21 that it plans to purchase WMFE for $3.3 million. The boards of UCF and WMFE, a community licensee that also operates a radio station, must approve the sale contract before it goes to the FCC. UCF, also in Orlando, played a role in preserving PBS service to the market last year when WMFE moved to sell its TV operation and focus on its public radio station. UCF partnered with Brevard Community College in Cocoa to convert WBCC, a pubTV station licensed to the community college, into a full-service PBS station broadcasting as WUCF.
The two remaining finalists bidding for KCSM-TV in San Mateo, Calif., are local groups aligned with Independent Public Media and Public Media Company. The bid amounts have not been disclosed. Independent Public Media is headed by former pubcasters John Schwartz and Ken Devine, who are working to preserve noncom TV licenses for the public system. (Current, Oct. 17, 2011).
Potential bidders for pubcaster KCSM-TV in San Mateo, Calif., put up for auction by its college licensee, include both religious broadcasters and names well known in public media. Daystar Television, a growing religious network that has bought pubTV channels in Dallas and Waco, Texas, and bid for them in Orlando, Fla., and Orange County, Calif., was on the attendance list for the San Mateo Community College District’s pre-bid meeting Jan. 10. Also on the list were former WNET exec Ken Devine of Independent Public Media, a nonprofit that aims to preserve spectrum for public media (Current, Oct. 17); Ken Ikeda and Marc Hand of Public Media Company, an affiliate of Public Radio Capital; Booker Wade, head of the Minority Television Project and non-PBS pubTV station KMTP in San Francisco; and a rep for Stewart Cheifet Productions, which created Computer Chronicles, a show that ran on public TV for 20 years, ending in 2002.
When Duquesne University declined to accept bids for WDUQ-FM by its staff and supporters, an alliance of Pittsburgh foundations stepped in to put the sale on hold May 4. Adding an unusual time-out to the high-stakes playbook of colleges divesting broadcast properties, the foundations acquired a 60-day option to develop plans recasting the station with a stronger focus on news and information. “The foundations’ goal is to give the community time to put forward the best possible bid” and not to purchase the station, said Grant Oliphant, president of the Pittsburgh Foundation. Local foundation leaders want to explore possibilities for a “much more aggressive news and information focus” for WDUQ, he said. “We are trying to gather intelligence on where public media seems to be going and how Pittsburgh could become an example of the very best of the breed.”
The foundations hired Charlie Humphrey, executive director of Pittsburgh Filmmakers and the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, to plan a news-focused service and lay the groundwork for a new bid.