Seven public media projects got a boost July 21 with the announcement of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which included almost $2 million for pubcasters. The largest grants, each for $600,000, will support documentaries from WGBH in Boston and Firelight Media in New York. WGBH will use the grant for a two-hour American Experience episode, “Into the Amazon: The Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition.” The documentary, produced by American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels, covers a 1913 expedition to an unmapped territory of the Amazon led by Theodore Roosevelt and Brazilian colonel Candido Rondon. Firelight Media, whose documentaries frequently air on PBS, will use the grant to fund Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Firelight founder and filmmaker Stanley Nelson is leading the project to produce the two-hour documentary.
A public radio station in Nantucket, Mass., that previously aired a simulcast of Boston’s WGBH has recast itself as a full-fledged service hyperfocused on the resort island. Nantucket Public Radio’s 89.5 FM WNCK signal had aired WGBH’s classical music programming for the better part of a decade. When talks broke off over increasing WGBH’s payments to the station’s operator, the parties decided to walk away amicably. “We thought, so what do we do with the station now?” said Jeff Shapiro, owner of Nantucket Public Radio.
In a move to bolster its local news footprint and audience, Boston’s WGBH is adding a third hour to Boston Public Radio, which in April was the top-rated public radio midday show for its noon to 2 p.m. timeslot. Starting in September, Boston Public Radio will begin airing at 11 a.m. weekdays. Hosted by Jim Braude and Margery Eagan, the show made dramatic audience gains compared to last year. The 2.1 share it earned WGBH in April 2013 among listeners aged six and older grew to 3.7 by April 2014, surpassing public radio news competitor WBUR, according to research provided by WGBH. To make room for an expanded BPR, The Takeaway will move to an earlier timeslot, airing 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. The Diane Rehm Show, which is now airing at that time, will be dropped from the schedule.