Does she have a date with a Python?

Is this a scam? Not long ago a young woman knocked on a family’s door in western New York state and asked for a donation toward raising $5,000 for a trip to England, where she’d appear with John Cleese on a program that PBS supposedly will air Oct. 17, reports Kansas City Star critic/blogger Aaron Barnhart. But a couple of her statements sounded fishy, including the claim that Cleese worked on Upstairs Downstairs. What’s up with this?

Talk host considers running for Senate

Jeff Golden, a talk host on southern Oregon’s Jefferson Public Radio, said yesterday that he’ll leave the air while considering whether to run for the Senate against incumbent Republican Gordon Smith, AP reported.

Open Source disbands

Yesterday’s Open Source was the last from the webcentric pubradio talk show, which went “on a summer hiatus” and is disbanding its staff, wrote host Chris Lydon and producer Mary McGrath on the show’s blog. They hope to maintain the blog and to relaunch the show in the fall. Why shut down? They explained that “a brand-name media company that had asked to partner with us had changed its mind.” The show was running out of money despite a $250,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation in March and recent listener donations.

For legal peace, KOCE pledged channel to Daystar

KOCE will give religious broadcaster Daystar Television Network one of its DTV multicast channels in exchange for Daystar dropping its persistent litigation to gain control of the channel that the public TV station bought in 2003. KOCE and Daystar yesterday swore not to disclose the terms of their mediated settlement, but the Los Angeles Times cited a description from “a source familiar with the settlement.” [Attribution corrected.]

Terse statement: KOCE survives challenge

KOCE will remain a public TV station but is not disclosing so far the terms of its settlement with religious broadcaster Daystar Television, which contended that it was high bidder for the license sold to the KOCE Foundation in 2003. A station spokeswoman released this terse statement today: “KOCE-TV Foundation and Daystar Television are pleased that they have reached a settlement to the parties’ mutual satisfaction. This brings to conclusion all the outstanding litigation between the parties and results in a complete dismissal of all claims against the KOCE-TV Foundation and the Coast Community College District. KOCE-TV Foundation will continue to own and operate KOCE-TV as a PBS member station. The terms of the settlement are confidential and the parties are prohibited from commenting further on its terms.”

Attorneys for both sides met in court four weeks ago, the Daily Pilot reported.

New pubTV satellite system moves into second phase

PBS has issued an RFP for an Internet Protocol-based system to handle server-based program delivery via public TV’s new satellite system, Broadcasting & Cable reports. Enabling non-real time distribution represents the second phase of the $122 million Next Generation Interconnection System, which got its last bit of funding from Congress this year (Q-and-A with APTS President John Lawson). PBS hopes to deliver around 150 non-real time program hours and 50 real time hours by December 2008, but roughly 50-75 stations still lack the necessary hardware to use file-based delivery. RFP responses are due July 2.

humble Farmer humbled

Maine Public Broadcasting Network is dropping jazz host Robert Skoglund, a 28-year Friday night fixture, after a lengthy feud over the content of Skoglund’s folksy commentaries. Better known as the humble Farmer (the “h” signals his humility), Skoglund was officially fired after he refused to sign off on commentary guidelines that prohibit hosts from taking stances on controversial issues, among other no-nos. The move ended an eight-month spat that started in November when network execs pulled an episode of The humble Farmer, saying it was critical of an upcoming ballot initiative and they didn’t want to seem as if the station was weighing in on the issue. Skoglund responded by submitting his shows completely devoid of commentary and waging a letter and e-mail campaign that cast the pubcaster as an agent of censorship.

The Washington Business Journal reports on NPR’s search for new headquarters

One story, reported three ways, on

“It was really a matter of going out with something else in mind, something beyond the tasks required for a good radio piece,” says NPR’s Howard Berkes in a Poynter Online Q&A devoted to multimedia story-telling. Berkes’ recent feature on Arizona physician and aerial photographer Michael Collier, which was the most e-mailed story on for 48 hours and remained on the top-10 list for a week, is the starting point for this reporting how-to.

CPR governance, HD planning under fire

Frances Koncilja, an attorney who resigned from Colorado Public Radio’s board last week, is challenging the lack of transparency in decision-making by CPR leaders. “They’re talking about reducing the size of the board and selling the AM stations,” Koncilja tells the alternative weekly Westword, “and I find that an irresponsible way to govern an organization, especially when none of this was discussed at the board meetings.” CPR broadcasts its news and information service on AM stations in three markets. Board Chair Barry Curtiss-Lusher tells Westword that Koncilja’s criticisms are based on “a significant misunderstanding” about CPR’s long-term plans for high-definition radio services.

Donor group asks judge to reverse sale of WCAL

SaveWCAL, a group of St. Olaf College alumni who opposed the 2004 sale of the classical music station to Minnesota Public Radio, are challenging the sale in court, according to the Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages. Attorney Michael McNabb argues that WCAL was a charitable trust created by its donors and held by the university, and St. Olaf needed a judge’s permission to liquidate it.

PRX narrows its search for talent with hostiness

From 1,452, now there are 10. And they’re hot to talk. The online casting call created by Public Radio Exchange — part of CPB’s Public Radio Talent Quest — last week announced 10 finalists who advance to Round 2 of its nationwide competition to find new pubradio hosts. Each finalist gets $500, a blog and another chance to demonstrate what PRX calls “hostiness.”

The competition at will intensify at each step in the contest ahead, although it was no breeze to survive the first round with more than 1,400 contestants. Since its start in April, the contest has become something of an obsession for many participants, keeping the site abuzz with interactivity, with some posting comments in haiku and limericks.

Meet the Pubradio Talent Quest semi-finalists

Public Radio Talent Quest announced 10 semi-finalists in its contest for new pubradio on-air talent. Contestants whose entries received the most online votes are compiled here and the judges’ favorites are here.

FCC responds to indecency ruling

Commissioners Kevin Martin (chairman) and Michael Copps aren’t happy about today’s court action. “I find it hard to believe that the New York court would tell American families that ‘shit’ and ‘fuck’ are fine to say on broadcast television during the hours when children are most likely to be in the audience,” Martin said in a statement. Copps warned that any broadcaster “who sees this decision as a green light to send more gratuitous sex and violence into our homes would be making a huge mistake.”

Court throws out indecency action

In potential tide-turning win for broadcasters, a federal appeals court in New York threw out FCC profanity rulings against Fox and ordered the commission to provide better justification for its controversial “fleeting expletives” policy, Broadcasting & Cable reports (PDF of ruling here). The decision was narrow in focus but casts broader doubt on the legal sustainability of the FCC’s holding that “fuck,” “shit” and their derivatives are presumptively indecent, regardless of context. The commissioners first staked out that position in the 2004 Bono decision, which, coupled with Congress’ later ten-fold fine level hike, left broadcasters more skittish than ever about airing edgy content (related story and timeline).