Akron licensee’s new name harks waaaaay back

PBS 45 & 49, a public TV station covering northeast Ohio, including Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown, will reach back into the 17th century for a new name it will adopt this fall — Western Reserve Public Media. The Western Reserve name, shared by a major Cleveland university, comes from a strip of Ohio claimed by Connecticut in the 1700s, when present-day Ohio was the frontier, according to Cleveland’s Western Reserve Historical Society. By 1800, after a series of armed conflicts with Pennsylvania settlers, Connecticut had given up on its claims over a strip of land reaching to the Pacific. The pubTV operation said it will open a production hub in downtown Akron, jointly leasing space with public radio station WKSU and NBC affiliate WKYC. The pubTV licensee is owned by a consortium of the University of Akron, Kent State University (operator of WKSU) and Youngstown State University.

Signs point to financial crisis at Pacifica

Pacifica’s KPFT-FM in Houston has taken several steps to respond to what are being called “potentially crippling financial situations” throughout the network. KPFT’s board recently passed resolutions asking the Pacifica National Board to discontinue its in-person meetings as a cost-saving measure. The station board also asked Pacifica to allow “ethical sponsorships and underwriting” to boost station income. Pacifica does not now accept underwriting, relying on on-air fund drives for support. In a report to KPFT’s Board June 18, Duane Bradley, g.m., said, “It is the sense of the paid staff that the greatest threats to the network are the huge costs related to elections, national board meetings and lawsuits.” Meanwhile, Free Speech Radio News reports that Pacifica has cut its funding to the progressive news show.

KOCE observes 35th anniversary

On the occasion of its 35th anniversary, KOCE-TV in Orange County, Calif., is considering how it can add to its local coverage, reports the Orange County Register. “We’re not part of an institution like the community college district, we’re not being sued, and we can finally take off and be what the county needs us to be,” says Mel Rogers, g.m.

Takeaway producers search for new, interactive approaches

Fast Company focuses on the startup of public radio’s The Takeaway, which hinged on a collaborative effort with the design school at Stanford University. An observation: “Program directors are people who think of themselves as visionaries and like to be ahead of the curve, but they’re actually extraordinarily risk averse,” says WNYC’s Dean Cappello. (Via the PRPD blog.)

Streaming video of streaming lava

Want to see what molten lava looks like underwater, as it advances toward you on the ocean floor? WNET gives top priority to video on its new website, including an enhanced web experience for Nature fans. Preview the lava scene, shot for a future show on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano. Paul Atkins swam into 100-degree water to film it in HD, writes Fred Kaufman, e.p. WNET is keeping the new sites easy to update for program staffers by organizing them in a multi-user version of WordPress, an open-source content management system widely used by bloggers, instead of a more complex CMS, says Thirteen.org chief Dan Goldman.

Ad-free pubTV and radio in France: Sarkozy proposes tax on internet and telephone providers to offset revenue loss

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed a new tax to offset revenue losses when advertising is eliminated from state-funded public radio and television, beginning Jan. 1, 2009. In addition to a 3 percent tax on private TV’s ad revenues, the state will tax internet providers and telephone companies 0.9 percent to make up for the estimated $1.3 billion loss in revenue. Sarkozy announced in January that he wanted to eliminate ads to ensure quality programming, but critics say he’s simply handing ad dollars to private channels. France’s biggest private station, TF1, is owned by a close friend of Sarkozy.

Sometimes the whole is revealed as the pieces come together

Longtime PBS pledge guru Deepak Chopra is not pissed that Mike Myers’ movie The Love Guru caricatures his subcontinent murmur, Chopra said Monday on PRI’s Tavis Smiley Show. He’s not cheesed off that Myers mimics his creation of self-help catch phrases such as “EGO, Edging God Out” (a real Chopraism) or “Ecumenical Intuitive Enlightenment Institute” or EIEIO (really Myers). On the contrary, Chopra says he’s an advocate of laughter in his new book Why Is God Laughing? (foreword by Myers), and he’s a longtime friend of Myers and an admirer of the movie’s script, which he called “hilariously silly.” The movie’s silly, at least, according to critics: “Relentlessly juvenile,” says Variety.

Jim Lehrer returns to NewsHour tomorrow

Jim Lehrer will be back in the anchor seat tomorrow night after a nearly two-month absence following heart valve surgery. Lehrer will be anchoring the NewsHour part-time–two or three days a week–and moving toward a full time schedule. In August and September, he will report from the Democratic and Republican national conventions.

P.O.V.’s Traces of the Trade an honest discussion about race

Katrina Browne’s P.O.V. documentary Traces of the Trade examines “what it might look like for whites to talk honestly with one another about racial history’s implications for contemporary American lives and life chances,” writes John L. Jackson, Jr., professor of communication and anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania, in his Chronicle of Higher Education blog. The film, which follows Browne and her nine relatives as they travel to Ghana and Cuba to learn about their ancestors’ slave-trading past, “helps to demonstrate why many of the dialogues we have about race and racism in America are not robust enough…” (See the film’s website here.)