Common Cause last week criticized the appointment of big Republican donors Cheryl Halpern and Gay Hart Gaines to the CPB Board. Chair of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Halpern, with her family, has given more than $324,000 to GOP candidates and committees since 1989, Common Cause said. Gaines and family have given nearly $492,000 to national GOP candidates and committees since then. Halpern, who stirred fears of political meddling with her remarks at her confirmation hearing, was okayed by the Senate in December after the White House appointed her during a congressional recess last year. President Bush gave Gaines a recess appointment this month, along with Claudia Puig, a Miami broadcaster and Republican donor, according to the Washington Post.

The public TV operation in Richmond, Va., Community Idea Stations, will devote the early afternoon of its second over-the-air channel to state Senate coverage starting in mid-January. WCVW, which would ordinarily air PBS Kids, will return to the air in January after being sidelined by a transmitter failure in February 2003. The station ordered a low-power analog transmitter in the summer.

Starting in January NPR will distribute Creators at Carnegie — a 13-part “genre-busting” series based on a concert series of Nonesuch Records artists performing at Carnegie Hall. Artists range from the Kronos Quartet to Emmylou Harris and Youssou N’Dour.

After accepting the KOCE Foundation’s bid for the Orange County public TV station, Coast Community College District greatly reduced the effective price, forgiving 30 years of interest payments and making other concessions, the Los Angeles Times reported. (Via AP.)

The Village Voice declares Now with Bill Moyers one of television’s top achievements in 2003. (Via randomWalks.)

Noncoms KPLU, WXPN and WBUR are among webcasts with the highest TSL ratings for the week of Dec. 1, as ranked by Arbitron.

Public radio’s Jim Nayder talks annoying holiday music with Newsweek. Most annoying perennial: “The one song that seems to stand the test of time is Tiny Tim’s ‘O Holy Night.'”

The Washington Post’s ombudsman examines his paper’s coverage of the WAMU crisis.

After steering KCTS through a major downsizing, interim chief Bill Mohler agreed to lead the station as its permanent president, reports the Seattle Times. “What happened is you get caught up in it with the people side,” Mohler told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “You have a collection of some of the most creative people that I’ve met in my entire life that are working here … and it was their jobs on the line.”

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin defends his network’s coverage of the capture of Saddam Hussein, which angered some listeners by interrupting their Sunday morning routines.

Intel is developing technology that could improve the quality of large-screen digital televisions and substantially lower their price, reports the New York Times.

NPR newswoman Peggy Girshman writes about the net’s cookie mafia in the Washington Post.

Radio broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera have introduced music lovers and opera stars alike to the genre, reports the New York Times (registration required). ChevronTexaco’s decision to stop backing the broadcasts has put their future in doubt.

It’s been nearly 10 years since the infamous O.J. Simpson low-speed car chase, and L.A. TV stations have made recording such pursuits a staple of their news coverage. TelevisionWeek borrows from This American Life to recall one of the stranger examples.

Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly features prominently in a TelevisionWeek story about how TV news covers religion in the post 9/11 era.

How about a glass of NPR wine? The New York Times reports that the net will partner with Signature Wines, a company that offers custom labeling for businesses and individuals, to promote its NPR wine club.

‘Piano Jazz’ host Marian McPartland, a dame at jazz crossroads

Piano Jazz hits its silver anniversary in April, a landmark that surprises nobody more than venerated host and pianist Marian McPartland. “It’s kind of amazing that we’ve managed to be on the air for 25 years and no end in sight,” she says with a laugh. “I sort of envisioned doing it for a few months, or at the most a year. It never occurred to me that people would like it as much as they do.” Today it ranks among public radio’s most popular music programs, airing on 241 stations and reaching almost 400,000 listeners a week.

Fellows seriously injured in rush-hour accident

James A. Fellows, a longtime leader in public TV, remained in critical but stable condition last week after being hit by a car in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 2. Since the accident he has had five major operations at Bethesda’s Suburban Hospital to mend broken bones and other damage. Though he still faces many risks, doctors said last week he was trending for the better, according to Fellows’ friend Pete Willson. On Dec.

Monkey reminds you that Joan Kroc’s gift to NPR doesn’t excuse you from supporting your local station. “now, what i want to know is, what did mrs. kroc’s estate get as a member incentive? millions of npr coffee mugs? carl kassel recording me [a] message on their answering machine? a tub of mama stamberg’s cranberry relish?”

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin addresses NPR’s online underwriting and possible e-mail e-litism in his latest Media Matters column.