Public Radio International will distribute Here and Now, a midday news program produced by WBUR-FM in Boston. The show airs on 40 stations.

The Boston Globe profiles Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s On Point: “Fans praise Ashbrook’s interruptions, his injection of urgency, his tendency to summarize guests’ points in his own tart words. Critics grumble about those same traits, saying he steps on answers and dampens thoughts.” (Via Romenesko.)

NTIA announced $21.4 million in Public Telecommunications Facilities Program grants yesterday, more than half for public TV digital conversion. Projects will bring first public radio service to 700,000 people, NTIA estimated.

What makes public broadcasting ‘public’ is engagement

The authors head the Public Media ThinkTank at American University in Washington, D.C.  With backing from the Ford Foundation they’re working to distill the means and motives of a broader realm of public media, including public broadcasting. This is one of their first efforts. Public engagement is the semisecret success story of public broadcasting, and it shouldn’t be. The many community partnerships that flourished with public TV’s June broadcast of the special on caregiving for seniors, And Thou Shalt Honor, and the amazing insights that Story Corps brings to public radio shouldn’t be heartwarming, exceptional stories. They should be the norm.

Bruce Drake will step down Sept. 30 as NPR’s v.p. of news. He will move on to help launch the network’s Local News Initiative, a project to expand and strengthen reporting at NPR member stations.

A coalition of media reform groups called on CPB to completely open its board meetings, the best parts of which are generally off-limits to the press and public, and otherwise encourage openness and transparency.

Blogger Rex Sorgatz has temporarily stopped selling T-shirts that say “A Prairie Ho Companion” after receiving a cease-and-desist letter from Garrison Keillor’s lawyers. “[I]t annoys the living hell out of me that Garrison Keillor thinks he can bully me,” says Sorgatz. (St. Paul Pioneer Press article.)

“Tune in for a crash course in the sounds your favorite record store clerk was grooving to, like, two years ago,” says Pitchfork of the NPR concert series.

Some BBC coverage of Hurricane Katrina “sounds mean-spirited and not particularly helpful; it probably evokes knowing glances and smirks among editors and producers back in London,” says NPR ombud Jeffrey Dvorkin.

The Public Radio Program Directors conference has a blog this year.

WUOM in Ann Arbor is is the most popular station in its market, boasting an 11.1 share, according to the Ann Arbor News.

Observers in the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot yesterday criticize WHRO-TV/FM for ending local pubTV production, but with revenues down 27 percent in two years, station management cut staffing, which is down to 79 — a 23 percent drop in the past four years.

The FCC is letting noncommercial broadcasters in New Orleans rebroadcast commercial fare in the wake of Katrina, according to Radio World.

“Look, any time there’s a contentious exchange in the White House press room, it makes the press look bad,” said NPR’s Mara Liasson on Fox News Sept. 7.

Commercial TV veteran Paul La Camera was named g.m. of WBUR-FM in Boston. La Camera has served as president of a Boston ABC affiliate since 1994. He is WBUR’s first permanent g.m. since Jane Christo resigned last fall. launched NerdTV, a web-exclusive weekly TV series from technology columnist Robert X. Cringely.

Accuracy in Media calls for an investigation into pubcasting’s campaign this summer to restore $100 million in CPB funding.

The parent company of Minnesota Public Radio is backing a Friendster-like social networking website aimed at public radio listeners, reports the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The New York Times checks in with American Routes host Nick Spitzer as he prepares a post-Katrina episode of his show. “I wanted it to be music of reflection and solace and also hope, an attempt to put some balm on this,” he says.