Warren Bell: candidate for “This I Believe” essay?

Warren Bell is undoubtedly a vocal conservative, but does he support federal funding of public broadcasting? Conflicting accounts of the CPB Board nominee’s views on pubcasting influenced the Senate Commerce Committee to drop Bell from today’s nomination hearing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Where did NPR’s burger money go? – The Boston Globe

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam asks what Joan Kroc’s gift has done for public radio. “Two hundred twenty-five million dollars later, public radio certainly hasn’t gotten worse,” he writes. “But I don’t hear that it has gotten any better.”

Andy Warhol looks a scream

Filmmaker Ric Burns explains to the New York Times why “Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film,” debuting tonight on PBS’s American Masters, is a “nerd film.” Reviews in the Hollywood Reporter and San Francisco Chronicle note the artist who famously set the standard of 15 minutes of fame for everyone has himself been given four hours. Newsday’s reviewer is disappointed that Burns “skims past” the less inspiring chapters of Warhol’s life, “such as the endless evenings he spent cozying up to celebrities at Studio 54.”

APTS may join fight against CPB Board nominee

The APTS Board will decide later this week whether to oppose Senate confirmation of CPB Board nominee Warren Bell. “We have not hesitated to express our strong reservations to the members of the Senate Commerce Committee about him,” APTS President John Lawson tells Broadcasting & Cable. “We had hoped that he would come forward and reach out and help allay some of the fears that we have, but we haven’t seen any attempts like that.”

Senate may help CPB Board break deadlock

The CPB Board yesterday voted to reelect Cheryl Halpern as chair, but was unable to break a deadlock over nominees for vice-chair, according to Broadcasting & Cable. Gay Hart Gaines, a Republican fundraiser from Florida who was nominated for a second term as vice chair, will extend her service as vice-chairman until the board elects a successor by majority vote. The Senate Commerce Committee may help speed the board’s decision making. It will hold a hearing on Sept. 21 on all three pending CPB Board nominations.

Chayes on post-Taliban Afghanistan

The Washington Post profiles Sarah Chayes, a former NPR reporter who left the network in 2002 to work for a nongovernmental organization in Afghanistan. Her new book, The Punishment of Virtue: Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban, is “the kind of fleshed-out portrait that even the best on-the-run journalism rarely provides,” writes Bob Thompson.

Reflections on PRPD

Jake Shapiro concludes a wrap-up of last week’s Public Radio Program Directors conference with an observation that the annual meeting feels “a bit stuck.” “Given NPR’s New Realities meetings and the ‘unconference’ experiments underway elsewhere, it would be helpful to break out of panel mode for some open facilitated meetings — tap into the wisdom of the crowd,” he writes. Mary McGrath of public radio’s Open Source also reflects on the conference: “Public broadcasters have been slow to wake up to the opportunities afforded by the Web. Some of the old timers just want to be retired before they have to really deal with it. Some are just confused or clueless or broke.

Nick beta-tests website for parents

Aiming to extend its relationships with parents of Nick Jr. kids, Nickelodeon is beta-testing a social networking website for parents, the New York Times reports. The site, ParentsConnect.com, allows registered members to blog and plans to add user-generated video.

What should Kenneth do?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram weighs in on the latest controversy involving Kenneth Tomlinson, the former CPB chairman who’s in hot water over his leadership of the federal Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Radio cos. scramble as listeners tune out

The New York Times looks at commercial radio’s efforts to counteract the industry’s flagging fortunes as listeners increasingly opt for iPods, satellite and other music options. “Over the last three years, the stocks of the five largest publicly traded radio companies are down between 30 percent and 60 percent as investors wonder when the industry will bottom out,” the paper reports.

Tomlinson dodges attempted ouster

Democratic members of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees U.S. international broadcasting efforts and is headed by Kenneth Tomlinson, tried to force the former CPB chair from the panel in response to a State Department probe suggesting he’s abused his authority while on the job. The measure failed on a party line vote, however. Tomlinson has said the allegations stem from partisan divisions on the board.

FCC allegedly buried media study that supported localism

According to a former FCC lawyer, the commission ordered staffers to destroy copies of a 2004 report that suggested media ownership consolidation would hurt local TV news coverage, the Associated Press reports (via USA Today). That conclusion, the AP notes, is at odds with arguments the commission made “when it voted in 2003 to increase the number of television stations a company could own in a single market.” The report came to light earlier this week during the Senate confirmation hearing for current FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, who said he did not know about the study in question. Martin succeeded former chair Michael Powell in 2005. A copy of the localism report, an anti-consolidation petition and a Godfather-esque shot of former FCC chief Powell are available at activist coalition site, stopbigmedia.com.

NBC enters download biz, Apple aims at living rooms

The New York Times reports on two new developments in the race to get ahead in the “My Time” media biz: NBC created a new company that will distribute video to various Internet sites and reportedly take a 50 percent split of the ad revenues. And Apple CEO Steve Jobs yesterday unveiled a wireless device, dubbed iTV, that will pull video and music from the computer to the television. Apple also announced the pricing structure for downloads of new movies offered by its iTunes online store.

Farai Chideya replaces Ed Gordon at NPR’s News & Notes

NPR said it has named Farai Chideya, a correspondent and sometime host for News & Notes, to replace Ed Gordon as host of the weekdaily public affairs hour. The network will also add online interactivity to the show produced with African-American pubradio stations. Chideya is founder of the Pop + Politics website and former talk host of San Francisco’s KALW-FM who has worked for ABC News, CNN, MTV, Oxygen cable channel and Newsweek. Nicole Childers was promoted to e.p. NPR and Gordon swapped some finger-pointing this summer over responsibility for the program’s limited carriage.

Digital theatrical screenings before PBS debut of Warhol bio

Ric Burns’ four-hour American Masters bio, Andy Warhol: A Documentary Film, is having digital theatrical debuts hosted by pubTV stations that began Sunday in 20 cities around the country, WNET announced. (The late artist’s brother, Paul Warhola, will appear at tomorrow’s screening in the Pittsburgh area, where Warhol grew up.) Emerging Pictures, which seeks to put arthouse films on more screens around the country, is distributing to theaters [15 listed].