Liberal groups deliver petitions to WNET, demand PBS air Citizen Koch nationwide

Representatives of several liberal groups delivered signed petitions to New York City’s WNET Aug. 13, urging the station to ask PBS to air the documentary Citizen Koch, a critical look at the increasing political influence of the conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Nashville-based radio music show heads to public television

Music City Roots: Live from The Loveless Cafe, a weekly radio show and HD webcast featuring roots, alt-country and Americana music from Nashville, is heading to public television as a 13-episode series showcasing performances from its 2012 season. The show will be released for pubTV broadcast Sept. 5, presented by Nashville Public Television and distributed by American Public Television. Carriage commitments from 75 stations so far includes major markets such as WNET in New York and WGBH in Boston. In each episode, emcee Keith Bilbrey — a former Grand Ole Opry announcer — welcomes musicians to a 600-seat barn at the Loveless Cafe, built in 1951 and locally famous for its homemade fried chicken and biscuits.

Pubradio contenders dominate radio division of Sigma Delta Chi Awards

Public radio reporters took all nine awards for radio reporting in this year's Sigma Delta Chi Awards, which recognize outstanding reporting on radio, TV and the Web by national and local news organizations. NPR’s Ina Jaffe, Quinn O’Toole and Steven Drummond won for breaking news reporting (network syndication) for “Los Angeles VA Has Made Millions on Rental Deals.” For investigative reporting, John Ryan and Jim Gates of KUOW in Seattle were cited among stations in markets 1–100 for “Shell's Arctic Oil-Spill Gear ‘Crushed Like a Beer Can,’” while Sandy Hausman of WVTF and Radio IQ in Roanoke, Va., won in the 101+ market category for “Naming the Fralin,” about naming the University of Virginia Art Museum. In the feature categories, Linda Lutton, Cate Cahan and Sally Eisele of Chicago’s WBEZ won for “The weight of the city's violence, on one school principal,” and Lance Orozco of KCLU in Thousand Oaks, Calif., for “My Cancer.”

NPR's State of the Re:Union, co-distributed by Public Radio Exchange, won the syndicated documentary award for “As Black as We Wish to Be,” which explored an Appalachian foothills town in Ohio where residents who look white identify as African-American; it was reported and produced by Lu Olkowski, Laura Spero, Taki Telonidis and Al Letson. Alabama Public Radio’s “Winds of Change,” coverage by Pat Duggins, Ryan Vasquez, Maggie Martin and Stan Ingold of a Tuscaloosa tornado, won for smaller-market documentary. The public service in radio journalism winners were “If it's legal: Five ways legal pot could affect your life,” by the staff of Seattle’s KPLU (markets 1–100); Charles Lane and Naomi Starobin of WSHU in Fairfield, Conn., for “State struggled at fire prevention ahead of Manorville blaze.”

In the television categories, San Francisco’s KQED and the Center for Investigative Reporting won for large-market (1–50) documentary for “Heat and Harvest,” a report on the effect of climate change on California agriculture by Mark Schapiro, Serene Fang, Gabriela Quiros and Craig Miller.

All-Star Orchestra to bring classical masterworks to WNET, APT

The All-Star Orchestra, made up of top professional musicians from across the country, will produce eight pubTV programs of classical masterworks. The one-hour shows, titled All-Star Orchestra and set for broadcast on New York’s WNET over eight Sundays this fall, will feature performances of classics by American composers as well as guest interviews and commentary by the group’s Music Director Gerard Schwarz. American Public Television will distribute the programs nationally. In last month’s announcement, WNET programming exec Stephen Segaller said the project is “in the tradition of Leonard Bernstein’s celebrated programs that popularized classical music on television,” such as the critically acclaimed Omnibus, 1952–61, and Young People’s Concerts, which Bernstein led from 1958–72, the first series televised from Lincoln Center. The All-Star Orchestra’s performances were filmed in HD with 19 cameras last August at New York’s historic Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center.

NEA announces 2013 media arts grants; OVEE and AIR projects among recipients

The National Endowment of the Arts announced $4.68 million in funding to 76 media-arts projects April 23, including new grantees such as the Online Video Engagement Experience (OVEE) developed with CPB funding, a new initiative from the Association of Independents in Radio called Spectrum America and Sonic Trace, a multimedia production at KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., that was created through AIR’s recently concluded Localore project. For a second year, the NEA will continue to support projects that use digital technologies to go beyond traditional broadcasting platforms. In its announcement, the endowment highlighted a $100,000 grant to OVEE, a digital platform that allows web users to interact while watching PBS and local station content. The Independent Television Service developed the technology with support from CPB. AIR also received $100,000 for Spectrum America, a project that will pair media artists with public stations as they experiment with “new approaches to storytelling.”

Sonic Trace, a co-production at KCRW initiated through AIR’s 2012–2013 Localore initiative, received a direct NEA grant of $75,000 to continue exploring the experience of Latino immigrants. NEA also backed digital media projects at NPR, providing $100,000 for music programming and multimedia content.

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Scarce funding limits public media’s response to gun debate

The mass shootings last year in Colorado, Wisconsin and Connecticut reawakened Americans to recurring tragedies of gun violence and rekindled a national debate about gun control — one that public radio and television have chronicled and analyzed through ongoing programs and the package of special broadcasts that aired on PBS last month.

Public TV’s first TED Talks Education special tapes live this week

TED, the nonprofit behind the high-profile conferences about ideas in technology, entertainment and design (as well as NPR’s new weekend series), and WNET will co-produce TED’s first original television show this spring. TED Talks Education will tape before a live audience Thursday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. The New York City station is partnering with PBS and CPB for the hourlong program of short talks by education advocates on the theme of teaching and learning. TED Talks Education will air nationally May 7 on PBS as part of CPB’s American Graduate high-school dropout initiative. Musician John Legend will host.