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. Continue Reading

Robert Kotlowitz, father of pubTV icon series, dies at 87

Robert Kotlowitz, a pioneering public broadcaster at New York’s WNET who developed several public television series that became signature PBS programs — including a half-hour evening news show featuring Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil in 1973 — died Aug. 25 at his home in New York City after battling prostate cancer. He was 87. The New York Times described Kotlowitz as “a novelist and editor who reluctantly became a public television executive in 1971 and went on to help shape a lineup of homegrown and imported shows — including The MacNeil/Lehrer Report, Live at the Met, Dance in America and Brideshead Revisited — that represent a high-water mark in American television.”

Kotlowitz had just resigned from Harper’s Magazine in 1971 when John Jay Iselin, then the new president of WNET, offered him a job. Kotlowitz had never been inside a television studio. Continue Reading

WXEL staff

Closure, finally, in sale of Palm Beach pubTV station

Eight years after the “For Sale” sign first went up on WXEL-TV/FM, the transaction resolving the future of pubcasting in Florida’s affluent Palm Beach region finally closed last month. WXEL-TV, which split from its radio sibling in a 2011 sale to American Public Media Group’s Classical South Florida, is to be transferred to a nonprofit headed by the execs who have managed the station through years of uncertainty... Continue Reading

Karen Everhart and Steve Behrens

Current transition: Behrens to Everhart

Karen Everhart, senior editor of Current for 20 years, will succeed founding editor Steve Behrens after this edition. Larry Kirkman, dean of the American University School of Communication, appointed Everhart as interim managing editor. She joined Current in 1992 and covered public TV for 16 years before moving to the public radio beat in 2007. The school, with support from the Wyncote Foundation, took responsibility for publishing Current a year ago. Behrens, 63, gave notice last fall that he’d retire from the position in six months. Before leaving the premises, he will coordinate the relaunch of Current.org this spring, at long last, using WordPress as a content management system. Continue Reading

NPR promotes Wilson to chief content officer, Arnold departs PRI, and more…

NPR President Gary Knell has restructured the news organization’s top ranks, elevating digital chief Kinsey Wilson to executive v.p. and chief content officer and appointing Margaret Low Smith senior v.p. of news, a job she took on an interim basis last year. When Wilson joined NPR as senior v.p. and general manager of digital media in 2008, the position was parallel to the senior news exec post then held by Ellen Weiss. Knell’s restructuring elevates Wilson in NPR’s organization chart to supervise all of NPR’s content areas — news, programming and digital media. “In Kinsey and Margaret, we have two journalists, strategists and leaders with a keen understanding of the craft that distinguishes NPR — and how we continue to innovate and evolve,” Knell said in a news release. The new structure allows for greater coordination of NPR’s news, digital and programming strategies, and a “more seamless integration” of its news operations, according to the release. Continue Reading

Pubcasters, Daystar and others are eyeing KCSM bids

Potential bidders for pubcaster KCSM-TV in San Mateo, Calif., put up for auction by its college licensee, include both religious broadcasters and names well known in public media. Daystar Television, a growing religious network that has bought pubTV channels in Dallas and Waco, Texas, and bid for them in Orlando, Fla., and Orange County, Calif., was on the attendance list for the San Mateo Community College District’s pre-bid meeting Jan. 10. Also on the list were former WNET exec Ken Devine of Independent Public Media, a nonprofit that aims to preserve spectrum for public media (Current, Oct. 17);  Ken Ikeda and Marc Hand of Public Media Company, an affiliate of Public Radio Capital; Booker Wade, head of the Minority Television Project and non-PBS pubTV station KMTP in San Francisco; and a rep for Stewart Cheifet Productions, which created Computer Chronicles, a show that ran on public TV for 20 years, ending in 2002. Continue Reading

Bellantoni: from Talking Points to CQ to NewsHour

NewsHour picks up Bellantoni, WBEZ personnel changes, and more…

Bellantoni to oversee all <em>NewsHour</em> political coverage
PBS NewsHour has a new political editor as of Jan. 2. Christina Bellantoni of CQ Roll Call oversees the newsroom’s political coverage on-air and online, including political analysis, elections and personalities. Her predecessor, David Chalain, departed in November to lead the Washington bureau of Yahoo News. Bellantoni has spent more than a decade covering national political and business news in Washington, D.C., and California. Continue Reading