No matter whether you’re a DTV optimist or someone with real concerns about next year’s analog shut-off, there was a survey released yesterday that validates your feelings. Bright-siders could take comfort in the NAB’s finding that 79 percent of consumers are aware of the transition, a figure that has doubled in the past year. The NAB found that 83 percent of over-the-air households are hip to the coming shut-off. However, Consumer Reports released its own survey suggesting that a smaller figure, 64 percent, were aware of the transition and that 74 percent of those folks had “major misconceptions” about the shut-off. “The good news is that surveys from Consumers Union and the broadcast industry show that more Americans are becoming aware of the DTV transition,” said FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein.
Salt Lake City Weekly laments the coming transformation of KRCL from a quirky, eclectic community radio station into one designed to net to a larger music audience, with paid DJs on-air from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. The station is moving to a more broadly appealing music mix format, says James Roberts, chairman of the KRCL board. The change is being fueled by a $195,000 CPB station renewal grant. The station was in danger of losing CPB funding and being shut out from its music-licensing agreements because it failed to maintain the minimal levels of listening or community financial support to be eligible for Community Service Grants.
Pubcasters in the Netherlands are sticking to their plans to air the pornographic film Deep Throat next month after the nation’s media minister rejected calls from conservatives to prohibit the broadcast. “There can be no question of a ban, and no investigation of this will be mounted either,” said Ronald Plasterk. “The government also has no views on any programme, [sic] moral or otherwise.”
On Jan. 5, Paul Feinstein, a 24-year-old former KOOP volunteer angry about past playlist decisions, poured gasoline over the community radio station’s control panels and lit them on fire, Austin fire officials say. The resulting blaze caused more then $300,000 in damage and knocked the station off the air until last week, when it resumed operations in a donated studio. Feinstein has been charged with second degree felony arson and could face two to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Feinstein, who has no criminal record, had clashed with another volunteer because his selections for an overnight Internet-only program had been changed, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Detroit Public Television’s new president, as of Friday, will be Ritschard (Rich) Homberg, who has been v.p. and g.m. of CBS’s all-news WWJ-AM for more than a decade, the Detroit Free Press reported. Homberg succeeds Steve Antoniotti, who resigned in April after an apparent conflict with his board. “My strongest interests are in local programming and really working to complete the capital campaign,” Homberg told the newspaper.
WNET’s new president Neal Shapiro, who came from NBC News, “hasn’t been shy about putting his at times unorthodox stamp on WNET and his own team in place,” write Elizabeth Jensen in a New York Times article about his first year at the station. “Four of the station’s top executives have left,” and Shapiro says a coming restructuring of staff may lead to “change behind the scenes.” The story highlights his focus on local documentary, online video, and a new arts program with him as host. “Mr. Shapiro said he was reveling in no longer chasing Britney Spears interviews and in having an educational department to work with,” writes Jensen, “but he acknowledged that he found the pace at his new employer slow. ‘One of the things that I think I can bring here is to try to make us a little more nimble,’ he said.”
WTVP in Peoria, Ill., has struck a new deal with Bank of America to settle the station’s debt, writes station President Chet Tomczyk on the WTVP website. The bank accepted WTVP’s offer to settle the station’s debt at $5.2 million, due by February 28. See Current’s story on the station’s debt problems here.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard professor and host of the PBS series African American Lives, is heading up The Root, a new online magazine launched this week by The Washington Post Company. The magazine, aimed at a black audience, covers politics and culture and features interactive tools for readers to track their ancestry.