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.


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.

American Masters to shine light on reclusive author J.D. Salinger for 200th episode

The author of The Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey died in January 2010 after living for more than 50 years as a recluse in Cornish, N.H. Shortly after news of his death emerged, Hollywood screenwriter Shane Salerno announced he had been covertly working on Salinger, an independent documentary probing the author’s sheltered existence. Susan Lacy, American Masters executive producer, learned of Salerno’s film while attempting to procure the rights to an unrelated Salinger biography for the program. Salerno — whose screenplay credits include Alien vs. Predator: Requiem and Oliver Stone’s Savages — agreed to produce his film for American Masters after Lacy contacted him. Salerno is a fan of American Masters and says he taught himself the craft of documentary filmmaking by watching the biography series.

Nine Network of St. Louis recognized as ‘Best of the Best’ in 2012 NETA Awards

The St. Louis public TV station's Nine Academy, a program that trains individuals and community organizations to produce short videos on stories of “community impact,” received special recognition among the awards presented during NETA’s recent conference in St. Louis. In honoring the academy as the top winner in its annual awards program, NETA cited the station for groundbreaking community work. NETA recognized 20 public TV stations in 30 categories spread across four divisions — community engagement, content production, instructional media and promotion.

WBGO chief engineer David Tallacksen, left, and news director Doug Doyle kept the jazz station broadcasting during Superstorm Sandy from a makeshift studio in Tallacksen's apartment. (Photo: Andrew Meyer)

Pubcasters battered by Superstorm Sandy

When Superstorm Sandy slammed into the most populated region of the United States Oct. 29, claiming at least 90 lives and wreaking havoc on everything in its path, public broadcasting stations along the Eastern Seaboard couldn’t escape the storm’s wrath.