WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C., will enter the Fredericksburg, Va., market with the pending purchase of 8,000-watt WWED 89.5-FM. WAMU has proposed to buy WWED from the Educational Media Corp., a nonprofit Christian ministry based in Spotsylvania, Va. According to an asset purchase agreement filed with the FCC, WAMU licensee American University will pay $375,000 for WWED and a booster signal in Fredericksburg. WWED and sister station WWEM-FM in Lynchburg, Va., went dark as of Aug. 1, 2013, according to fredericksburg.com.
JJ Yore, co-creator of public radio’s Marketplace and a former v.p. and executive producer with American Public Media, will step into a station leadership role Aug. 1 as g.m. of WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C.
“It feels great to be coming back to Washington,” said Yore, who lived and worked in the area before heading west to start Marketplace. “WAMU is a station I have been close to and listened to since the mid-80s. I was listening to Diane Rehm before she had a national show. I feel like this is a culture I understand deeply.”
Yore served as v.p. and g.m. of American Public Media’s portfolio of Marketplace programming for two years until his job was eliminated in June 2013.
• Less than a week after the maker of the wildly popular mobile game Flappy Bird announced he would pull the plug on his creation, Sesame Workshop has introduced the browser game Flappy Bert. The gameplay, where players control a bird as it navigates Sesame Street's Bert among obstacles, draws heavily on the original. It's one of several Flappy Bird clones on the market but the only one starring Bert in an 8-bit sheen. • Today marks the premiere of a series of web video specials co-produced by PBS NewsHour and Al-Monitor, a news site featuring reporting and analysis by journalists and experts from the Middle East. The first, posting at 7 p.m. Eastern time, focuses on Syria.
WLRN in Miami won large-market radio Murrows for feature reporting and use of sound. Chicago’s WBEZ also won for news documentary and hard-news reporting. The award for investigative reporting went to KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting, both based in San Francisco, for “Broken Shield: Exposing Abuses at California Developmental Centers.”
An analysis prepared by Public Radio Capital recommends that the Salisbury University Foundation negotiate a deal with another pubcaster to operate its two Delmarva Public Radio outlets as music stations.
The State We're In, an English-language public radio series produced by Radio Netherlands Worldwide in partnership with WAMU in Washington, D.C., will shut down production next month, according to its producers. The show, which relates first-person accounts of life-changing experiences, has an audience reach of 12 million people, but it fell victim to domestic austerity measures imposed by the Dutch government in 2011. When Radio Netherlands' government funding was cut by 70 percent, The State We're In was reported to be one of the few programs to survive the transition. "We were assured at that time by Radio Netherlands' outgoing management that the show was still going to be an integral part of Radio Netherlands, but those assurances didn't hold," Greg Kelly, the program's editor, wrote in an announcement posted Sept. 28 on the show's website.
With national producers offering new programs and the Magliozzi Brothers retiring from Car Talk, program directors at public radio stations may have an opportune moment to update strategies for weekend programming. Yet with no surefire hits available beyond the familiar warhorses, there’s no easy formula for success when Saturday rolls around.
CPB ombudsman Joel Kaplan has urged WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C., to release more information about a gathering of major donors and station journalists that prompted the Feb. 22 resignation of WAMU News Director Jim Asendio. The “Meet the Producers Breakfast” featured a panel discussion among WAMU reporters and producers for an audience of about 30 donors who had recently increased their annual contributions to at least $1,000. Asendio said he resigned because he believed the event had breached an ethical firewall insulating station journalists from funders. In Kaplan’s comments, posted March 2 on CPB.org, the ombudsman did not explicitly condemn the event but wrote that the issue “goes to the heart of the station’s ethics.”
“The public deserves more from WAMU,” Kaplan wrote.
Radio news veteran Jim Asendio resigned as news director of Washington’s WAMU-FM last week after an internal dispute over a private fundraising event turned into a public clash over the editorial firewall protecting the station’s newsroom. Asendio objected when top managers required him and two reporters from his staff to participate in a “Meet the Producers” breakfast and panel discussion that the station hosted for major donors Feb. 22. The choice was stark, the news director said: “I could either not show up and be in trouble, or show up and violate my ethics, so I tendered my resignation.”
The showdown, first reported by Washington Post media critic Erik Wemple, put a spotlight on one of the touchiest subjects in cash-strapped newsrooms — firewalls designed to protect working journalists from undue influence by funders and to prevent appearances that such conflicts exist. Similar conflicts are playing out behind the scenes at public radio stations across the country, according to Iowa Public Radio’s Jonathan Ahl, who is president of Public Radio News Directors Inc.
“Some of our members have given us the indication that people aren’t necessarily crossing the firewall, but they’re walking up to it and peeking over it” too often, Ahl said.