Members of Azerbaijan’s parliament and its national TV and radio council left last week to study public TV in the United States, Baku Today reported. The tour, sponsored by the U.S. State Department, will stop in D.C., Ohio, Texas and New York.
Clear Channel is distributing programming from liberal network Air America in five cities, reports the New York Times. Though public radio could lose listeners to the format, San Diego public station KPBS-FM has sold underwriting to Clear Channel as it advertises the change. Also in the Times, more coverage of KGNU-FM’s purchase of a station in Denver.
Retired PBS newsman Robert MacNeil discusses the sanguinary political landscape in today’s San Franciso Chronicle, claiming, “Democrats want to see more blood flow from the arrows of journalists and Republicans want more red meat out there going after Democrats.” MacNeil also derides the Fox News Channel and wonders if journalism is returning to its partisan roots. (via mediabistro.com)
Beat reporters can be “secret weapons” for online news sites when they prepare FAQs, primers and other nondeadline pieces that web users would love, writes Dan Froomkin in the USC Annenberg Online Journalism Review. He’s talking about newspaper reporters, but the same could be said about people on the beat for pubradio.
David Lieberman reports in USA Today the view of Wall Street analyst Tom Wolzien: cable networks won’t take much more audience from broadcasters unless cable spends heavily for more attractive programs. Cable nets already increased spending 30 percent in three years, but Wolzien says growing cable carriage and not programs explain cable’s growth.
In the days before her 92nd birthday, Julia Child had been suffering kidney failure, according to her niece, Philadelphia Cousins. On Thursday, Aug. 12, “in her characteristically decisive way, she removed her oxygen mask, declined to go to the hospital and closed her eyes.” The public TV host who introduced America to fine cooking died in her sleep the next morning in her home in Montecito, Calif. “Julia Child let the hot air out of not only high cuisine but also public broadcasting,” said Scott Simon the next day on NPR.
Responding to a listener’s gripe, NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin supports reporting results from Olympic competitions as they come in. NPR reporter Howard Berkes concurs in a Poynter Online interview: “Holding the news to meet the scheduling preferences of rights-holding broadcasters does a disservice to listeners.”
KCET in Los Angeles unveiled a multimillion-dollar initiative to help prepare kids for kindergarten by training the adults who care for them. Two new daytime talk series — one produced in English and the other in Spanish — are centerpieces of the project. Through daily broadcasts of A Place of Our Own and Los Ninos in Su Casa, KCET aims to provide skills, information and inspiration to unlicensed caregivers and enlist them in the important work of nurturing early learning skills. These friends, neighbors and relatives of parents often work in isolation and have little access to training. Shaped by input from leading educators and formative research on its target audiences, the station’s education initiative has raised $20 million so far, including the largest grant in KCET’s history—$10 million from the energy company BP.
Jeff Smith, a popular advocate for simple and multicultural cooking on public TV, died in his sleep July 7  in Seattle. He was 65 and suffered from heart disease. The Frugal Gourmet, hosted by the white-bearded Methodist chaplain in a striped apron, aired on PBS from 1983 to 1997, making Smith a top chef on the network after Julia Child had established cooking as a staple for public TV. Smith virtually disappeared from public view in the late 1990s after a number of men accused him of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers.