“We must bring the public back into public broadcasting.” In a report outlining financial and political threats to PBS, a consortium of media reform and consumer advocacy groups proposes town-hall style meetings on public TV’s future.

A WashingtonPost.com blogger reacts to the news that “California carpetbagger” KCRW.com is promoting concerts in the D.C. area.

In a report examining CPB’s push to exert more influence on programming, NPR’s David Folkenflik links CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson to controversial decisions to hire ombudsmen and to green-light Journal Editorial Report.

Pitching Cooking Under Fire as “reality TV that feeds your brain” is a “a hunk of fat-blobbed baloney that only feeds your cynicism,” writes a Boston Globe TV critic. The series, debuting tonight on most PBS stations, is “a formulaic show that merely mimics countless niche reality contests all over TV grids.”

This New York Times Q-and-A with Ken Ferree suggests that the current head of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting doesn’t watch or listen to much public broad- casting. Ferree later told Current that he was a “little misportrayed” in the interview.

You’re either with us or agin’ us, says a leader of a union boycott of the San Francisco Hilton, putting the squeeze on ITVS, which says it would lose $1 million, under its hotel contract, if it moves the Input 2005 conference out of the hotel. Rory O’Connor posted the story today on AlterNet.

Christopher Lydon is keeping a blog that looks ahead to the launch of his new show, Open Source.

NPR and Court TV will collaborate on producing hourlong quarterly specials about legal issues, reports MediaWeek.

This Washington Post piece polls pubcasting observers about whether CPB’s recent moves to add ombudsmen, bring on former Michael Powell adviser Ken Ferree and replace President Kathleen Cox is part of an effort to exert political pressure on the system. According to an unnamed FCC official, CPB “is engaged in a systematic effort not just to sanitize the truth, but to impose a right-wing agenda on PBS. It’s almost like a right-wing coup.” But CPB Board Chairman Ken Tomlinson refutes all conspiracy theories and advises the agency’s critics to”grow up.”

Detroit PTV fired Darrell Dawsey, host of its weekly show America’s Black Journal, after the angry collapse of an interview with Keith Butler, a conservative African-American preacher and U.S. Senate candidate, the Michigan Citizen reported. Pressed by the station to interview Butler, Dawsey grilled him for not supporting federal social programs. Media monitor Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute picked up the story. “This is what racism looks like,” the fired host said. Prince provides his context: “Dawsey’s firing comes as public television is making moves to accommodate right-wing critics nationally.” Via SPJ PressNotes.

Listeners to Morning Edition still miss Bob Edwards, who was removed as host almost a year ago, but also say they like its new sound, writes NPR Ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin.

Two network news vets — Don Hewitt of CBS News and Tom Bettag of ABC’s Nightline — are thinking of news programs to produce for PBS, according to the New York Observer. (Via Romenesko.)

The Campaign for Commercial-free Childhood organized a campaign to urge local public TV stations not to affiliate with PBS Kids Sprout, the ad-supported digital cable channel launching this fall. “Just because PBS has abandoned its commitment to commercial-free programming for children doesn’t mean your local station has to do so,” CCFC says in a call-to-action on its website. A San Jose Mercury News article about the inescapability of ads targeted to kids points parents to CCFC’s website.

The FCC has announced Auction 62, scheduled for Nov. 1 and set to include 173 FM construction permits. Only one noncommercial station, Boston’s WGBH, walked away from the last auction with a new channel.

Tonight’s rebroadcast of “Death of a Princess,” which Frontline first presented on PBS in 1980 despite objections from the State Department and Mobil Oil, asks whether the condition of women in Saudi Arabia has improved since the film first aired. A New York Times critic observes that one change seems indisputable: “pressure from Christian fundamentalists and conservatives has all but emasculated PBS.”

The Miami-Dade School Board, licensee of WLRN-FM/TV, voted 5-4 to expand the school superintendent’s authority over the stations, letting him enlarge a Haitian creole radio program from 10 minutes to its original half hour, start a monthly public affairs show and push for the stations to identify themselves more closely with the schools, the Herald reported.

Lehrer expects to feel some heat: ‘What we’re doing is kitchen work’

Jim Lehrer, co-founder and host of PBS’s NewsHour, spoke April 12, 2005, at the PBS Showcase meeting in Las Vegas, where he accepted the PBS Be More Award. At one point, he refers to CPB’s appointment of a pair of ombudsmen, announced a week earlier. Thank you. It is always a pleasure to be among the professionals who make up my public television family, and have done so for more than 30 years. There are indeed many familiar friendly faces in this room, but few that would have been in a comparable place when I began my life in public television.

CPB to replace Cox as president

CPB announced Friday it will replace President Kathleen Cox, its president for 10 months. She had been predecessor Robert Coonrod’s No. 2 executive and his chosen
successor when the CPB Board promoted her, effective July 1, but last week’s
terse news release cast her as a temporary hire who was finishing up a series
of research projects inspired by a McKinsey & Co. study of public TV she managed for Coonrod. “Last spring, in no small part because of her significant contributions to [implementing the findings of the study], Kathleen Cox and CPB agreed to a one year contract to serve as president and CEO,” the statement read.

“I care about poetry as a place where people are still able to express powerful feelings, and this is rare,” says Garrison Keillor in the Hartford Courant as he discusses his tastes in reading and media.

WFAE-FM in Charlotte has tested two supplemental digital broadcast channels, the first station to do so, reports Radio World.