Thirteen stations around the country are using KQED’s “You Decide” feature on their websites, says the University of Maryland’s J-Lab Director Jan Schaffer. The interactive doodad asks you to take a position on questions like “Should Saddam be executed?” and then systematically argues the other side against you. The feature doesn’t take sides–it’s ready to debate you either way.

The FCC asked for comments today on the rule changes required as radio moves to digital broadcasting. (PDF.) The commission specifically asked for comments on whether it should allow supplemental channels, and how digital broadcasting will affect noncommercial stations and LPFMs. The FCC’s site links to commissioners’ statements. Also today, CPB announced more than $5 million in grants helping 76 public radio stations convert to digital broadcasting.

NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin sizes up Air America, the liberal talk radio network, in his latest column: “NPR would do well to pay close attention to Air America’s fortunes to see if monolithic and conservative commercial radio has begun to run its course.”

Democracy Now host Amy Goodman talks with “Book Babe” Margo Hammond: “The media has simply served as a conveyer belt for the lies of the administration.”

Sponsorship Group for Public Television, WGBH’s new national underwriting sales group, launched a new website at The group reps Sesame Street and Barney & Friends as well as WGBH’s own shows.

Two segments from a new pilot episode of Public Radio Weekend have been added to the show’s website.

PBS and APTS announced today that Cox Communications, the fourth largest cable operator, has agreed to carry pubTV stations’ HD and multicast digital signals.

The Village Voice reports that a subcontractor to McWane Corporation, the subject of a major investigative reporting series last year by the New York Times, Frontline and Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, filed a libel suit against the three news organizations. Last week the Times won a Pulitzer Prize for public service journalism with its reporting on worker injuries and deaths at plants owned by McWane.

Helen Mirren talks with the New York Times about getting naked on screen.

NPR acknowledges in the Washington Post that it’s polling listeners about whether Bob Edwards’ departure from Morning Edition will affect their tuning in.

A telemarketing call goes awry for WVIZ.

Obituary: Larry Hall, 74, advocate for independent producers

A leading advocate for independent producers and openness in the governance of public broadcasting, Laurence S. Hall died Feb. 21 [2004] after a recurrence of cancer, according to one of his sons, Ole Hall. He was 74. Hall was one of “the three Larrys” — the others being Lawrence Daressa and Lawrence Sapadin — who were among the leaders of the 1980s movement to secure a role for independent producers in public TV. If there was one person responsible for that “modest miracle of legislation,” Daressa said recently, it was Hall.

Ira Glass toiled at humdrum radio stories for eight years before he showed any sign of developing a unique voice, he tells the Los Angeles Daily News.

An aggressive ad campaign touts WEIU, a tiny public TV station in eastern Illinois, as “your new choice for PBS.” The slogan annoys its northern public TV neighbor WILL to no end, according to the Campaign News-Gazette.

The PBS broadcast of Shroud of Christ?, presented April 7 on Secrets of the Dead, has drawn complaints from the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. The presentation was “a study in pseudoscience, faulty logic, and the suppression of historical facts,” writes a CSICOP senior researcher. “The intellectual incompetence or outright dishonesty of the show’s producers is matched only by that of the PBS executives who foisted it on a credulous Easter-season audience.”

The Washington Post tries adding some perspective to the reassignment of Bob Edwards, but makes little progress in untangling the PR web behind it. (Reg. req.) “We have all heard of people rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic,” writes a Louisville Courier-Journal columnist. “[NPR’s Jay] Kernis is throwing deck chairs overboard from the company flagship.” (More in the San Francisco Chronicle.)

NPR’s reassignment of Bob Edwards shocks, explanations befuddle

The cry from a distraught public rang out: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” After announcing the reassignment of Morning Edition host Bob Edwards
March 23, the network struggled to explain itself amid a coast-to-coast
NPR-bashing in the media and a record influx of listener complaints. Some public radio managers joined the attack on NPR brass. Even those who
supported the network’s aim — to strengthen Morning Edition with
a two-host setup — criticized it for poor timing and lack of public-relations
finesse. Many stations were scheduled to begin on-air fund drives shortly
after the announcement and feared repercussions.

Was Emma Goldman a fraud, a killer or a real revolutionary? PBS viewers won’t find the answer in tonight’s American Experience, writes a New York Times reviewer. By ignoring the question, the film “forgoes an opportunity to illuminate the link between idealism and terrorism and to gauge the relevance of Goldman to our accursed world.”

Alistair Cooke, 95

Just five weeks after filing his last Letter from America for the BBC, Alistair Cooke died March 30 [2004] at his home in Manhattan. He was 95 and had heart disease. Cooke had delivered the Letter for 58 years, far exceeding his 26 years as a U.S. correspondent for Britain’s Guardian newspaper or the mere 22 years he hosted Masterpiece Theatre.