WGBH and AARP to partner

Boston’s WGBH and AARP Publications will partner to produce TV shows designed for viewers 50 and older, reports Broadcasting & Cable. The multiyear partnership will begin with “Caring for Your Parents,” a special that will be offered to public TV stations next spring.

MPT’s V-me launch won’t reach many Latino residents

Maryland Public Television’s cable launch yesterday of V-me, the digital Spanish-language channel, didn’t include areas with the state’s largest Hispanic populations, reports the Washington Post. Apparently Comcast hasn’t yet committed to a start date for carriage in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, and MPT officials say it could be as late as February 2009–the same time TV broadcasting goes all-digital. Maryland’s Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D) called on the public to pressure Comcast. The company says it has “no imminent plans” to carry V-me in the two counties.

Dead air the natural way

The culprit that put Jefferson Public Radio off the air in Shasta County and much of Siskiyou County, Calif., was not a logging accident, as engineers suspected, but a bear that had broken the transmitter’s power line.

Talent Quest blows off Windy City contestants

Two Chicagoans, Chuck Mertz and Anne Glickman, were eliminated from Public Radio Talent Quest, the online contest for future pubradio hosts. Still in the game: April Baer, Chris de Ville, Al Letson, Glynn Washington and People’s Choice favorite Rebecca Watson.

Fiske celebrates 60 years in broadcasting

“I came up in a time when you couldn’t say ‘hell’ on the radio,” says retired Washington broadcaster Fred Fiske, recalling his mid-career decision to move from commercial to public radio. “I couldn’t bring myself to do the insults.” Fiske, who retired from American University’s NPR station WAMU 20 years ago but continues to deliver weekly commentaries for the station, recalls highlights of his 60-year broadcasting career in a Washington Post profile.

Australia’s native peoples now have TV channel

National Indigenous Television, a new satellite TV channel for Austalia’s native peoples that launched in July, is seeking programming in many genres made “wholly or substantially” in Australia, with the priority on programs by aboriginal Austalians and Torres Strait Islanders. See its statement of purpose and commissioning guidelines. NITV has offices in Alice Springs and Sydney. Canada and New Zealand have similar channels.

This American Life: Paragon of quirk

Atlantic Monthly’s Michael Hirschorn calls This American Life a quintessential example of a quirky indie sensibility that has gone too far. Also lumped in/dismissed: Wes Anderson’s later films and canceled sitcom Arrested Development.

World goes national

PBS World, the digital doc and pubaffairs channel, goes national today on 55 stations representing 24 licensees reaching more than 27 percent of U.S. households, according to its producers. The channel, produced by PBS, Boston’s WGBH and New York’s WNET in partnership with American Public Television and NETA, features time-shifted signature pubTV offerings including Frontline, The NewsHour and Nova (schedule PDF) . John Boland, PBS content chief, discussed the channel at some length in a May Q&A. Also earlier this year: David Liroff, CPB senior v.p. for media strategy, discussed in a Current commentary how stations balance bandwidth limitations with the increasing abundance of high-def and multicast program options, which include other national streams such as Create and Spanish-language V-Me. (Liroff was WGBH’s v.p. and chief tech officer when he wrote his commentary.)

Maker of tainted toys kills himself

The owner of a Chinese factory hung himself after the company was blamed for using toxic paint on Sesame Street and Nickelodeon toys sent to the United States, London’s Guardian reported. The Chinese government had suspended the factory’s export license. Zhang Shuhong died in the warehouse of his company, Lida Industries in Guangdong province, a world center of toymaking.

Trivedi keeps laying down Bricklane Beats

The Boston Globe profiles Komal Trivedi, a Public Radio Talent Quest contestant who was eliminated during Round 2 of the competition. Trivedi, host of the South Asian music show Bricklane Beats on Boston College station WZBC, is one of a handful of U.S.-based advocates for Bhangra, a traditional musical form from India and Pakistan that’s infused with elements of Punjabi and Western dance music, according to the Globe.

Gunman’s bullet narrowly misses KPFT dj

Early this morning, a gunman shot through an outer window of Pacifica station KPFT in Houston. The bullet came within 18 inches of hitting the head of Mary Thomas, the dj who was hosting a Zydeco music show, according to the Houston Chronicle. [Via Rolas de Aztlan.]

Variety on THE WAR scheduling

PBS should have thought more about courting viewers age 18-49 (“the demo”) when it scheduled The War, argues an August 9 article in Variety. Writes Brian Lowry, “it’s precisely ‘the demo’ that this massive undertaking cries out to be watched by, beginning with the children and grandchildren — from baby boomers to Gen-X-Y-Whatever — who grew up blanketed in liberty and wanton consumerism thanks to the war generation’s collective sacrifice. Here, unfortunately, is where PBS’ pigheadedness enters the picture, sending this seven-night event into battle starting Sept. 23 — directly opposite the major networks’ new fall season. So the heroes of ‘The War’ will go up against ‘Heroes,’ its medics against ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ its men of the much-decorated 442nd regiment against ‘Two and a Half Men.'”

In his PBS ombudsman column today, Michael Getler posts mailbag letters from Wayne Dyer believers and unbelievers. One skeptic wrote, “I’m seeing a disturbing trend in some of the programs that PBS is airing for the past several years. I’ve noticed a sudden increase in the number of “self-help” programs/characters such as Dr. Wayne Dyer, Robert Kiyosaki, Suze Orman and several others that seem to frequent the PBS channel.”Gelter also posted letters from NewsHour viewers who were unhappy with Judy Woodruff’s segment on the new Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill. Several letters noted that Woodruff seemed uninformed, and her two guests did nothing to illuminate what the new bill actually meant. NewsHour executive producer Linda Winslow respnds to the criticisms: “I think Judy handled the ‘discussion’ well, in keeping with the NewsHour’s style.

FCC proposes cap for NCE applicants

The FCC is inviting comments on a proposal to cap the number of applications that a single party can file for noncommercial educational radio outlets during its Oct. 12-19 filing window for new FM stations. Limiting any single party to 10 applications “would deter speculation and permit the expeditious processing of the window-filed applications,” the commission said in a public notice issued yesterday. Another public notice clarifies its NCE filing procedures and the point system the commission will use to award licenses.

OC Register: Pick not a protest

Ken Rusic, editor of the Orange County Register, says the editor who picked his nose on camera during a taping of KOCE-TV’s Real Orange, wasn’t doing so to protest recent lay-offs at the paper, as was suggested by previous reports. The veteran editor, named CP Smith, “did absent-mindedly stick his finger in his nose, just like all of us have done at one time,” Rusic wrote. “Most of us don’t get caught doing it on TV.”

Sesame Street USA Today

In a story about Sesame Street’s 38th season, USA Today reports that literacy will be “emphasized even more this year because of a rising gap in literacy and language skills between lower- and middle-income children.” Also noted: Sesame Street “viewership, though down 7.5% since 2001, has averaged 8.3 million for the past decade — which is remarkable when competing with cable outlets such as Disney and Nickelodeon.” The paper talked with celeb guests on the show this season, including CNN’s Anderson Cooper (who does a newscast with Walter Cranky and Dan Rather-Not) and NBC’s Brian Williams.

Citybeat pissed at KPBS

A writer at San Diego’s alt-weekly CityBeat rails on KPBS for canceling two locally-produced programs–the public affairs television program Full Focus and the radio program A Way With Words. KPBS announced the cancellations August 1, citing budget concerns. Writes CityBeat’s Kelly Davis, “While quite a few people were put off by the two shows’ cancellation, there apparently would be hell to pay should KPBS do something like replace two hours of nighttime classical music with something like Sounds Eclectic (the syndicated version of KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, widely regarded as one of the most innovative music shows in the country). For many younger listeners, the first notes of classical music are signals that KPBS’ broadcast day has come to an end. …

Manners made for print

KOCE-TV’s news partnership with the local newspaper, the Orange County Register, has hit a snag in the form of a crude saboteur. An outgoing employee of the daily, where layoffs are “hacking at morale,” claims L.A. Observed, has been regularly disrupting the public TV station’s broadcasts from the Register newsroom with a variety of obnoxious antics, including picking his nose on camera, according to a memo by Michael Taylor, KOCE-TV news director.