Roger Fisher, creator of The Advocates on pubTV, dies at 90

Roger Fisher, a Harvard law professor who developed the Emmy-and Peabody Award–winning public TV program The Advocates, died Aug. 25 in Hanover, N.H. He was 90. His son Elliott told the New York Times that the cause of death was complications from dementia. Fisher proposed The Advocates in 1969, as a co-production of WGBH in Boston and KCET in Los Angeles. The show was one of the first projects at WGBH for Peter McGhee, who went on to become an influential head of national productions at the station. Continue Reading

New Hampshire PTV, WGBH announce collaboration

New Hampshire Public Television and WGBH in Boston announced today a collaboration in both programming and back-office tasks. The two said in a statement that each will remain independently owned and operated stations. They have posted a website to explain the upcoming changes to viewers in both states. NHPTV will contract for services in broadcast technologies, membership services and financial administration, which will allow for financial savings that may be redirected to programming, the announcement said. "The collaboration will provide operational economies, which are key to NHPTV’s continued success following the loss of its state funding and its transition from an entity of the University System of New Hampshire to an independent, community-licensed public media organization," it said. Continue Reading

WGBH, the top producer of PBS programs, now owns Public Radio International

In a move signalling its ambitions to extend its clout and influence in public radio, Boston's WGBH has acquired Public Radio International, the Minnesota-based program distributor of radio programs such as This American Life, The World and The Takeaway. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the sale will help to stabilize the nonprofit program distributor PRI, which ran an operating deficit of $2 million in 2011, according to PRI spokesperson Julia Yager. "This is a deal borne out of shared visions," Yager said in an interview with Current. PRI began examining its options last year as its leadership considered the implications of various funding scenarios for public media. PRI looked for partners to help it continue distributing radio programming and found that WGBH was best aligned with its own mission and values. Continue Reading

Output: Bitton’s homage to Piaf, STEM rock tunes from PBS, where 5-year-olds hide evidence (on PRX), and more

Decades ago, a teenaged Raquel Bitton locked herself in her San Francisco bedroom, suffering miserably from her first broken heart. Her only comfort was an album by Edith Piaf, the diminutive French chanteuse known as “the Little Sparrow.”

“It is the love that you love,” Piaf sang in “C’est L’amour.” “It is love that makes you dream. It is love that wants love. It is love that makes us cry.”

“I listened to it all and came out of my room with a decision to get onstage and sing — and to love again,” Bitton said. “I put together a little revue singing Piaf’s songs, telling pieces of her stories. Continue Reading

Reber leaves NPR; Arganbright, Appleby launch firm; and more…

CIR has hired ex-NPR investigative news head Susanne Reber. As senior coordinating editor for multiplatform projects and investigations for the nonprofit newsroom, Reber will lead national and international investigative and enterprise reporting projects, and guide the center’s team of health and environment reporters. Reber joined NPR in January 2010 to build and lead the network’s first investigative unit as deputy managing editor of investigations. She left NPR this month, according to a May 8 memo by NPR News chief Margaret Low Smith that was published on the Poynter Institute website. Smith put Senior National Editor Steve Drummond in charge of investigations while NPR determines “next steps for the unit’s leadership,” she wrote in the memo. Continue Reading

Shows sate ‘appetite for a real-world experience’

Know something about antiques? Prove it,” screamed the ad seeking “pickers” for Market Warriors, the long-awaited companion series to PBS’s most popular primetime program, Antiques Roadshow. Though PBS pioneered the concept of reality television with American Family and other cinema verité documentary series, it refrained from adding more reality TV as the genre became a staple of commercial television. But with the coming summer season and beyond, PBS is dipping into the reality game. A trio of unscripted programs — each coproduced by Boston’s WGBH— will premiere within the next year. Continue Reading