The Met cancels VOD plans

The Metropolitan Opera is scrapping plans to make its productions available on cable video-on-demand services shortly after its live transmissions to movie theaters. Theater owners complained that the cable offering would cut into live audiences. PBS will still carry the performances. Since he took the reins in 2006, Peter Gelb, the Met’s g.m., has worked to get the opera house’s performances on as many platforms as possible.

NPR’s Kernis to return to TV

Jay Kernis, NPR’s top program exec for seven years, will soon announce his return to TV, according to an NPR memo circulated today. He presided over an expansion of NPR News productions, adding Day to Day, Tell Me More, News & Notes and The Bryant Park Project, while contracting its music programming and overseeing Morning Edition’s rocky transition to new hosts. Before NPR welcomed him back for his present stint at the radio network, Kernis was a CBS News producer for 60 Minutes and other programs. Before that he was a key figure in developing Morning Edition and Weekend Edition at NPR.

Make that two Illinois stations in dire straits

With no buyers interested in purchasing public TV station WQPT in Moline, Ill., trustees of station licensee Black Hawk College met to consider a plan to cut expenses by drastically reducing the amount of PBS programming broadcast to the community, according to the Quad City Times. The station is one of two Illinois outlets in dire financial circumstances: the other is WTVP in Peoria, which could be placed in federal receivership this week.

Going for your emotions, rather than your brain

“Documentaries are, in fact, defined by what’s left out,” writes filmmaker David Grubin, describing the editorial choices he made in producing The Jewish Americans. “They are not meant to be encyclopedic.” He tells a viewer disappointed by the show’s limited treatment of Jewish Americans in the western United States that the strength of documentaries is in combining the “emotional power of music and imagery,” which “can make you feel as if you are experiencing history rather than learning it.” Grubin responded to questions from viewers of his PBS series in a two-part New York Times online Q&A.

PBS ombud: race segment “too long”, short on illumination

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler reviews a Jan. 14 NewsHour segment on the racially-themed sparring between the Obama and Clinton campaigns. He concludes that the selection of partisan interviewees “led to a lengthy argument, rather than an examination of what, if anything, is really going on. Two more independent observers probably would have been more illuminating.” The column also includes a response from the NewsHour’s e.p.

Wash. signal goes to KUOW

KUOW-FM in Seattle is likely to start broadcasting on a new full-power signal in Bellingham, Wash., after resolving its competition for the frequency with KPLU-FM in Seattle/Tacoma, reports the Puget Sound Business Journal. Both stations had applied to the FCC for the open channel, and KPLU withdrew.

Critic finds Austen blowout mostly pleasurable

Writing for the New Yorker, Nancy Franklin reviews the “four-month Austenpalooza” now underway on PBS’s rebranded Masterpiece. “[T]he Austen logjam has many pleasing aspects—as well as aspects that will vex Austen maniacs, but, as far as I can tell from the various Web sites devoted to the author, being vexed is part of the joy of being an Austen maniac,” she writes. Screenwriter Andrew Davies, who penned several of the Masterpiece installments, appeared recently on NPR.

Zoel Parenteau, 75

Zoel J. Parenteau Jr., a key figure in two midwestern public TV stations, died Jan. 10, 2008, at age 75. Parenteau launched Kansas City’s pubTV station, then known as KCSD and operated by the public schools, in 1961. His title changed to g.m. and the call letters to KCPT when a separate nonprofit took charge later. In 1972, he moved to KPTS in Wichita, Kan., and managed it for 25 years.

Maassen heads to New Orleans

Paul Maassen, g.m. of WYSO-FM in Yellow Springs, Ohio, is leaving the station to lead WWNO-FM in New Orleans, reports the Dayton Business Journal. Maassen worked at the Ohio station for more than two years. (Via PRPD News for Programmers.)

KUNI tower recovers from ice storm

Iowa Public Radio’s KUNI-FM in Cedar Falls is again broadcasting at full power after several weeks of suffering from ice-storm damage. The network’s classical KHKE-FM, also in Cedar Falls, remains at low power after sustaining damage in another storm.

CPB backs six Web 2.0 projects

Pubcasters with new backing from CPB will start a music-focused online social network (WFUV, New York), combat the spread of invasive plants (Oregon Public Broadcasting) and build a concert hall in Second Life (WGBH). CPB announced six grants of up to $20,000 each Jan. 17 in the second round of its Public Media Innovation Fund grants.

Rose to become “60 Minutes” regular

PBS’s Charlie Rose will contribute reports to CBS’s 60 Minutes starting this season, reports the New York Times. Rose had previously appeared on 60 Minutes II until its cancellation in 2005.

Free over-the-air TV poised for a comeback?

An APTS survey (press release) found that more than 40 percent of current over-the-air households would rather continue to get their TV over-the-air after the DTV transition, via converter box or new digital TV, than subscribe to a cable or satellite provider (12 percent said they’d sign on to a pay service). A total of 44 percent of respondents said they would wither didn’t know how they’d adapt to the Feb. 17, 2009 analog shut-off or would “do nothing.” That said, early demand for the government’s $40 converter box subsidies has been strong. The program officially started Jan.

In Vermont, personalized HD Radio demos make the difference in converting listeners

Vermont Public Radio’s Rich Parker describes how a personal approach to educating listeners and retailers about HD Radio has made all the difference in bringing audiences to the network’s new multicast service. “In the abstract, it’s hard to get across how revolutionary digital multicasting really is,” he writes in Radio World online. “But once people start to actually see and hear the units, they are excited about getting a radio as soon as they can.”

PBS adding to its YouTube stash

PBS is adding more video content to its YouTube channel, including original online content, previews of broadcast programs, and longer program segments. PBS currently has nearly 700 videos on YouTube, most of which are less than 6 minutes long.

Unneighborly neighbors in the Prairie Home next door

All is not well in Lake Wobegone. Prairie Home Companion host and creator Garrison Keillor is suing his neighbor over a planned expansion of her home next door to his in St. Paul’s Ramsey Hill historic district. “Neighbors do not deal with neighbors in the way you have dealt with us,” Mr. Keillor reportedly wrote in an e-mail to Lori Anderson, who ended a New Zealand vacation with her fiance to attempt to resolve the dispute. Yesterday a county judge sent the two sides to a mediator to attempt to work out an agreement, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune, which published a photograph of the stalled construction project (subscription required).

CPB grants $1.3 million for election collaboration

CPB has awarded more than $1.3 million to a consortium of public radio and television organizations to support multi-platform coverage of Election 2008. The partners include American Public Media, Capitol News Connection, KQED, NPR, PBS, Public Radio Exchange, Public Radio International/Public Interactive and The NewsHour. The mashup of local and national content will include election video and teaching materials from PBS, a collaborative content initiative called Global Perspectives on Election 2008 from PRI, a collection of election audio and social media content from PRX, and user-generated political commentaries curated by NPR. An interactive election map from The Newshour and NPR and an “Ask Your Lawmaker” web widget from CNC–through which users can question their lawmakers and listen to answers obtained by journalists–are already up and running. Andy Carvin, NPR’s senior strategist for online communities, writes more about the project here.