A former finance-office employee at WTTW in Chicago was sentenced to 4-1/2 years in prison for stealing more than $500,000 from the station, AP reported. Fe Corizon Cruz-Fabunan agreed to pay back $370,000. [Earlier Current story.]

American University defended the firing of Susan Clampitt in a response to the lawsuit filed by the former g.m. of WAMU-FM in Washington, D.C. The university also denied Clampitt’s charges against it and its president, Benjamin Ladner.

The Washington Post’s Marc Fisher takes a quick look at the operating costs of D.C.-area public radio stations.

Wal-Mart is salving its public-relations wounds by buying underwriting credits on KCET (The Tavis Smiley Show) in addition to NPR, which has been running blurbs for the big retailer since February, reports the New York Times (as reprinted in the Wilmington, N.C., Star-News).

A Minneapolis Star-Tribune writer questions whether Minnesota Public Radio needed to buy WCAL: “[I]t’s hard to understand how a virtual MPR monopoly in the state is a positive.”

Staff and volunteers at KPFA-FM in Berkeley, Calif., are accusing the station’s recently elected Local Station Board of micromanagment and unmerited attacks on staff. (Related Berkeley Daily Planet article.) In a letter to listeners, Interim General Manager Jim Bennett warns that “[t]he progressive politics that are sometimes put forward on the air will not flourish in a repressive mode of trying to get certain agendas rammed through.” Pacifica’s bylaws, enacted last year, provided for the creation and election of LSBs. Meanwhile, Pacifica pointed out that three of its stations have weekly cumulative audiences that put them among the top 30 in the country.

In The Nation, Eric Alterman, author of What Liberal Media?, concludes the funding of PBS’s Tucker Carlson and Wall Street Journal shows resulted from “naked political pressure” by “crybaby conservatives.”

A University of Wisconsin study finds that media ownership by national conglomerates doesn’t reduce local news coverage — in quantity, at least.

This article in the San Francisco Bay Guardian explores KALW’s FCC troubles and wonders why the city’s commercial stations aren’t being held to the same standard. The story, titled “Squashing David, ignoring Goliath,” quotes FCC commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, who said they are “troubled by the message we send when we send small, independent stations to hearings but give a pass to stations owned by larger media companies for troubling allegations.”

The school board in Austin, Minn., approved transfer of public TV station KSMQ to a new community nonprofit, the Austin Daily Herald reported. Consultant Don Thigpen, former head of WCEU in Daytona Beach, Fla., is acting manager.

St. Olaf’s College will sell WCAL to Minnesota Public Radio for $10.5 milliion, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The college founded an AM precursor to the FM classical music station more than 80 years ago. Last year the station had member revenues of $860,000 and aid of $130,000 from the college, but the college discontinued its assistance this year, according to the Twin Cities Business Journal.

The Cartoon Network will launch a new block of preschool programs that aims to be “fun, funny, and fearless.” Humor is a “skill kids need to know,” said Alice Cahn, v.p. of development and programming, a former director of children’s programs at PBS.

Edwards’ jump to XM renews satellite debate

With Bob Edwards’ decision to leave NPR for a satellite radio company,
public radio is debating again a highly ponderable question: Should it embrace
satellite as a distributor for its programs or fear it as a competitor for
listeners and revenue? Edwards’ new weekday morning gig, The Bob Edwards Show, will
start the morning for a new channel, XM Public Radio. The one-hour show will
originate weekdays at 8 a.m. Eastern time and will repeat at 9 a.m. The channel
launches Sept. 1; Edwards’ show debuts Oct. 4.

The Wall Street Journal will produce a new Friday-night roundtable, Journal Editorial Report, for PBS starting Sept. 17, WNET announced. The show has major funding from CPB and will feature members of the paper’s famously conservative editorial board. They won’t be “lapdogs” for the Bush administration, WNET’s Stephen Segaller told the Hollywood Reporter.

Martha Stewart Living will offer public TV stations a new half-hour program sharing the name of its Everyday Food magazine, WETA announced this week. Stewart’s company, struggling to reestablish itself with its founder going to jail, lost $19 million in the second quarter, according to TheStreet.com.

In Bethlehem, Pa., the Lehigh Valley’s public TV and radio stations, WLVT and WDIY, are talking merger, the Morning Call reports.

Bob Wright, NBC Universal c.e.o. and now talent spotter, answered an indie dream by picking a documentary on capital punishment out of the Sundance Festival lineup and buying it for network broadcast, the New York Times reported. “Deadline” aired July 30 on NBC’s Dateline. Kirsten Johnson, co-director and cinematographer for the doc, has run camera for several PBS programs.