NPR extends ContentDepot transition

With problems saddling the rollout of NPR’s new ContentDepot program distribution system, the network will keep a backup for the system in place until at least April, longer than initially planned. Some station staffers tell Radio World that the transition is “a case study in how a big technological change is fraught with problems.” (More from NPR Distribution at

New laughing, pizza-slinging Muppets on horizon

Mattel, maker of the ever-popular Tickle Me Elmo dolls, will follow up last year’s anniversary T.M.X. Elmo with “extreme” Ernie and Cookie Monster dolls to be released this fall, reports. Also coming soon: Pizza Elmo, a doll with a pizza that sings along with him. Pubcasting critic Jeffrey Chester takes aim at a Sesame Workshop moneymaker that he says pushes junk food and further commercializes childhood.

APTS survey: Most consumers still in the dark about the DTV transition

A survey sponsored by the Association of Public Television Stations found that 61 percent of respondents did not know a DTV transition was happening; 10 percent had limited awareness; and 25 percent were somewhat or very aware. APTS is leading a coalition of trade and interest groups that is competing for the $5 million Congress set aside for consumer education in last year’s DTV bill. “There are more than 21 million U.S. households that get their TV exclusively free and over the air, and we know these homes are heavy viewers of public television,” APTS President John Lawson said. “That puts us, working with our partners, in a strong position to provide information about the digital transition to the people who need it most.”

WUNC to open Greensboro studio

WUNC-FM in Chapel Hill, N.C., plans to open a satellite studio in Greensboro, N.C., reports the Greensboro News-Record. The studio will be staffed with a reporter and a fundraiser. WUNC and WFDD in Winston-Salem, N.C., compete for listeners in Greensboro, which lies between the two stations. (More coverage in the Lincoln Tribune.)

Trusted Space – Media: Todd Mundt – The Iowa Story – A Story for all Public Radio?

Todd Mundt, director of content and media for Iowa Public Radio, talks with Rob Paterson about his approach to creating the new network and representing the changes to the public. “I don’t think that any people can connect with an institution,” Mundt says. “My bet is that, if I speak for myself and if I hold myself accountable and if I allow people to reach me and that I engage directly with them — then Iowans will accept me for doing my best.” (Current article about Iowa Public Radio.)

KQED debuts big eco-project

KQED’s multimedia science/environmental literacy project, Quest, was previewed in yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle. Quest’s website, with maps and GPS data to help users go see the environment in person, and to download programs, launches Thursday at; the Friday morning radio reports begin this week and the Tuesday night TV half-hours launch Feb. 6. The Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation put up $3 million of the $7.7 million cost, including R&D funds. PBS hired the KQED exec who oversaw Quest, John Boland, as its new chief content officer.

The Sound of Young America: My letter to Weekend Edition

Independent producer Jesse Thorn criticizes the tone of two recent NPR stories that touched on hip-hop: “It is unacceptable to me that after fifteen years at the top of the charts and thirty years on the cultural scene, hip-hop should continue to be marginalized not only by the so-called mainstream media, but also by public media.” Jon Kalish, who filed one of the stories Thorn discusses, responds in a comment: “Maybe you had to be there but I think the scene certainly warranted a ‘gee whiz’ approach to this story.”

ZNet: TOTN lacks antiwar voices

A writer for ZNet takes issue with the range of discussion regarding Iraq on NPR’s Talk of the Nation: “The program framework implicitly deigns left antiwar voices as not worthy of being part of the serious discussion going on among the invited guests. Instead, they are relegated to the role of peripheral ‘callers.’ The hierarchy is as plain as can be.”

Fewer consumers understand, want HD Radio

A recent Bridge Ratings survey found that more U.S. consumers know what HD Radio is since a previous June 2006 study, but fewer understand it or want to buy a digital radio. Bridge reduced its estimates of 2007 HD radio sales from 2.1 million to 1.5 million.

Goldfarb on foreign coverage

“American society is ignorant of what is happening in the world because the managers of its news industry are relying on only a handful of outlets to provide original coverage,” writes Michael Goldfarb, who has a long track record in international reporting for public radio, in a letter to Romenesko.

Public By Choice launches

“Public By Choice is a multimedia, interactive project designed to educate the audience about the public radio system and offer the system a flexible way to engage its audience.” (Via Robert Paterson.)

TV violence may be next target for Congress, FCC

Reducing television violence may be the next thrust for Washington policymakers looking to expand the FCC’s regulatory powers. Anticipating the release of a major FCC study on violence and gore on broadcast television, the Los Angeles Times reports on various approaches that have been floated in Congress.

WETA switches back to classical music format

WETA-FM in Washington, D.C., resumed broadcasts of classical music last night in a format change that was closely coordinated with WGMS, a local station that replaced Mozart with oldies pop tunes. The Washington Post reports that several WETA staff members, including talk show host Rebecca Roberts and Program Director Maxie Jackson, will lose their jobs. WAMU-FM, now the city’s sole all-news NPR station, has picked up A Prairie Home Companion, which WETA dropped, and may make other changes. The Post’s Marc Fisher reviews the new sound: “Best sign so far: Full-length works, albeit relatively short ones, even in morning drive time.” Jake Shapiro questions the change: “Internet radio, on-demand audio, and the deepest offerings of new online music services are a better match for the classical fan than the rare asset of a big signal in our nation’s capital — even if the adoption rate for new platforms and devices hasn’t caught up to terrestrial’s reach yet.”

Woodruff to return to the “NewsHour”

After a stint as a NewsHour special correspondent, Judy Woodruff signs on full-time Feb. 5 as a senior correspondent and back-up anchor to Jim Lehrer. Gail Shister of the Philadelphia Inquirer interviewed Woodruff about her decision to return to daily journalism.

Glass to critics: “Public television is terrible”

During an appearance at the Television Critics Association press tour yesterday, This American Life creator and host Ira Glass explained why his new TV show will be on Showtime, not PBS. “Public television is terrible,” Glass says. “This isn’t the greatest thing for me to say, but it’s the truth. In terms of innovation and what they do, you know, it’s just not that interesting most of the time.” Roger Catlin reported on Glass’s comments in today’s Hartford Courant.