ITVS, the CPB-funded organization operating in the tricky middle-ground between independent filmmakers and public TV stations, has appointed a leader in the San Francisco indie community as its next chief executive. [She succeeded James Yee, who died in March 2001.]
Sally Jo Fifer, executive director of the Bay Area Video Coalition since 1992, will join the Independent Television Service as its top executive in August. BAVC grew explosively under her leadership — through partnerships with Silicon Valley companies during the soaring tech boom and through job-training contracts with federal, state and local government agencies. The ITVS Board sought an executive with entrepreneurial skills and a proven ability to “raise money and think creatively,” says Mark Lloyd, chairman of ITVS and president of the Civil Rights Forum on Communications Policy. “Sally’s experience with the Bay Area Video Coalition certainly suggests that she has those qualities.”
CPB broke format in May 2001, giving its top radio honor, the Edward R. Murrow Award, to one of its own employees, Rick Madden, its v.p., radio. Madden delivered this acceptance speech during the opening session of the Public Radio Conference in Seattle on May 17, 2001. I first walked into noncommercial radio at the University of Notre Dame as a freshman and never walked out. That was in 1963, four years before the Carnegie Commission labeled us public radio. My radio passions ran contrary to my father’s notions of what my interests should be.
With this year’s Edward R. Murrow Award, CPB not only honored Richard
H. Madden as key leader in public radio, but also affirmed a set of
ideas closely identified with him, which he helped move from the edge
to the center of thinking in the field. During Madden’s three decades in the field, and especially his 18 years
at CPB, public radio had overcome its earlier aversion to ratings data,
allowed numbers to enter its objectives and learned how to build a focused
format and a larger, appreciative audience. “We’re not a ‘smaller is better’ enterprise anymore, and none of us
can think with that mindset,” Madden said in his acceptance speech May
17 during the Public Radio Conference in Seattle. NPR President Kevin Klose reported supporting evidence during the conference — that
public radio’s weekly full-day cumulative audience had doubled in a decade, from 13.9 million in 1990 to 29.5 million in 2000. CPB did not readily select one its own v.p. of radio for the 25th annual
About a year and a half ago, we were getting ready to launch a new public radio service here on Cape Cod and the islands of Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. I asked for advice from colleagues: How would you make them special? What would you put on the clean canvas of a brand new public radio station, the first one of the new millennium? Dozens of people took the time to respond, and we excerpted their advice in Current (Sept. 20, 1999), much of which was about how to be local, how to sound different.
If Frederick Wiseman’s High School works like a time machine, transporting viewers back to their own coming of age experiences in this quintessential American institution, the journey will be bittersweet for alumni of Philadelphia’s Northeast High School, where the landmark documentary was shot. Most alums have never seen the documentary, but they remember the local controversy over how it depicted their alma mater. Threatened with what he describes now as “vague talk” of a lawsuit, Wiseman in 1968 agreed not to screen High School within miles of the city. More than three decades later, the documentary has achieved classic status among independent films. PBS will present it as such Aug. 28  as a P.O.V. Classic, a new strand developed by Executive Producer Cara Mertes.