‘This American Life’ – washingtonpost.com

Ira Glass of This American Life talks about the TV version of his radio show in a chat on the Washington Post’s website: “This week we just finished a six-city tour . . . and in some of the cities, when I’d ask the audience ‘were you worried when you heard we were doing a TV show?’ they’d ROAR back yes.

Current Interview re Digital Distribution at Jake Shapiro blogs sometimes.

Jake Shapiro has blogged the transcript of an e-mail interview with Current in which he discusses efforts to create a digital distribution system for public media. “I think some version of it will happen, and soon,” he says. “The question is whether it will be a truly collaborative venture or something just one or two players begin together.”

Public radio: ideal cab soundtrack

A Philadelphia Weekly writer waxes poetic about public radio: “. . . [L]istening to NPR in a warm cab during winter might be the best transportation experience in existence.”

Has Success Spoiled NPR? – Media & Politics (washingtonian.com)

In a long article, Washingtonian magazine looks at NPR’s evolution from alternative news source to high-profile outfit that might be recovering some of its old spirit. “We’re moving away a little from this gray wash that I’ve been hearing too much of,” says Susan Stamberg. “It’s starting to breathe again in ways that remind me of the very earliest days, when we would take any chance, do any goofy thing.”

It’s public radio, but with nearly everything different, including the name

On June 4, Chicago Public Radio, news and information WBEZ-FM 91.5, will launch a new radio station by splitting off one of its repeaters, WBEW-FM 89.5 in Chesterton, Ind., just southeast of Chicago by Lake Michigan. This new radio station will refashion WBEZ’s public radio mission to a target audience formerly unreachable by WBEZ. This new station will be built on community radio sensibilities but without the characteristic schedule of special-interest shows. In fact, it will have no shows at all. It will air a continuous, seamless talk-based stream completely devoted to Northwest Indiana and Chicago metropolitan area culture, issues and selected music.

Public radio station widens coverage

WFCR-FM in Amherst, Mass., will shift its all-news AM feed to a local station owned by Clear Channel, reports the Republican. Clear Channel will be able to sell underwriting spots on the station as part of the arrangement.

Vermont Public Radio eyes college station

Vermont Public Radio has expressed interest in buying an FM channel from St. Michael’s College near Burlington, reports the Free Press. Trustees will consider the sale at an April 13 meeting.

Talks on infrastructure

Top pubradio executives have begun discussing ideas for a comprehensive “back end” digital storage and distribution system that backers say could support a wide range of services and help stations and networks advance efficiently into new media. The execs, who met for the first time in Chicago Feb. 15, are taking up a proposal for a back-end system with the working name of the Digital Distribution Consortium. The DDC would store and catalog audio content from pubcasters and feed it to nonbroadcast platforms such as websites, iPods and cell phones. Some new-media thinkers in public radio argue for building websites that aggregate online content from various sources, but talks about “front end” strategies lead to touchy subjects such as revenue sharing, business models and public radio’s web identity.

John Inman: He’s free

John Inman, campy star of the Britcom Are You Being Served?, died Thursday at age 71, the London Times reported. His bustling, punning, happily effeminate shopclerk character rose from background to foreground in the hit BBC comedy in the 1970s and added U.S. fans through repeated play on public TV. Inman’s stereotyped behavior appalled gay liberationists at the time, but columnist Matthew Parris salutes “that lifesaving human compromise, the open secret,” which was kept through “a dark age” by Inman, Liberace and generations of sissies and drag queens who announced that homosexuals certainly seemed to be present … and turned “what was once seen as shame into light entertainment.”

Getler steps into the “News War”

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler sifts through responses to Frontline’s “News War”–from viewers and media critics–and provides a forum for producers to respond. He also offers his own critique of the series: as long as Frontline examined how other news organizations failed to challenge the Bush Administration’s case for invading Iraq, Getler writes, producers should have been “a little more upfront” in examining their own record in the Nov. 2001 Frontline documentary, “Gunning for Saddam.” While prescient in some respects, “this program presented the equivalent of the Full Monty in making the hardliners’ case for war.”

Thanks for the Marine recruits, PBS!

Marines and their supporters refuted criticism of the Feb. 21 program that PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler recently described as a “very well done testimonial and recruiting film masquerading as a documentary.” Getler’s critique was lost on one viewer who wrote: “Documentary or recruiting — whatever you want to call it, it was a pretty good show. I want to say ‘thank you’ in advance for the new ones who might sign with the Marine Corps just because they saw this show.”

The Sound of Young America: Public Radio Talent Quest: Let’s Try Some Shit.

Jesse Thorn promotes the Public Radio Talent Quest and comments on public radio’s approach to creating shows and cultivating talent. “New programming in public media is largely driven by pre-existing funding, which turns the development process backwards,” he writes. “Instead of having a great idea, or a great host, or a great producer and feeding it resources, we find a need or niche we decide to fill, then look for money, then actually build the creative elements. It’s anti-entrepreneurial and rewards sameness”

Saluting Robert Schenkkan, public broadcasting pioneer

The public stations in Austin, Texas, honored public broadcasting pioneer Robert Schenkkan over the weekend with a celebration of his 90th birthday, reports the Austin American-Statesman. Schenkkan helped to create Austin’s KUT-FM and KLRU-TV, and also defended public broadcasting against a defunding threat from President Nixon in the 1970s. “Bob Schenkkan is a hero to me and everybody else in public broadcasting,” said Jim Lehrer. “He gave us life and then he saved us.”

Larry Bensky will leave Pacifica

Longtime Pacifica host and reporter Larry Bensky announced last week that he will retire from the network at the end of April. In his farewell letter, he cites frustration with the state of the network: “As I see it, the so-called ‘democratization’ of our local and national governance structure has not enhanced our effectiveness as a media outlet, or as a force for peace and social justice. In fact, despite the best intentions of a few people involved, Pacifica’s current governance and administration is a wasteful, counterproductive, and far from transparent distraction.”