New Orleans public TV station WYES’s “ordeal with FEMA is a Frontline episode in itself,” writes Dave Walker, Times-Picayune TV columnist. The station’s building was mostly destroyed by Katrina, and although the broadcast signal was restored in December 2005, most of the staff is working out of leased space in Metairie. WYES is able to use its old studio for pledge and several local programs, with temporary utilities and temporary approval from the city to operate there. FEMA declined to provide the station with recovery money, says g.m. Randy Feldman, because, in FEMA’s eyes, it is not an educational institution or arts organization and doesn’t provide emergency communications services–even though WYES provides a slew of educational and arts programming and is part of the Emergency Broadcast System. The station has exhausted its two appeals with the government and intervention by Louisiana’s congressional delegation has failed.
The FCC has reopened the question of whether the merged Sirius-XM satellite radio company should be required to include HD Radio receiver chips in its new tuners. On Monday the commission released a Notice of Inquiry that also asks if satellite radio chips should be added to HD Radio receivers. In a blog posting about the notice, FCC watcher Matthew Lasar also reports on a controversy about channels that Sirius-XM agreed to set-aside for minority broadcasters.
NPR.org launched two new blogs today. With daily posts by entertainment writer Linda Holmes, Monkey See explores the intersection of anthropology and comedy that is pop culture. Podcaster Rob Sachs, director of Tell Me More, expands into the blogosphere with What Would Rob Do? (WWRD), a blog serving three weekly doses of humor-laced practical advice. Sach’s first topic is flatulence, but he’s promising tips on making a great mixtape.
A new DVD set about James Brown features a documentary about the legendary soul singer’s performance in Boston the night after the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated — a performance that aired on Boston’s WGBH-TV. Commentators in The Night James Brown Saved Boston credit the station’s broadcast of the show (which pre-empted a Chekhov production) with preventing riots from erupting. The Wall Street Journal reviews the doc.
While Digg and other online news aggregators use popularity to recommend articles, the new site NewsCred asks users to rate the credibility of the article, the journalist, the news org and even the news sources by choosing “credit” or “discredit.” The users’ reactions combine to yield a rating between 1 and 100. Public input has been limited because the site just graduated from alpha to public beta stage on Tuesday, and all of the rated media are scoring north of 99 points (NPR is at 99.12, a point above right-wing blogger Michelle Malkin). But that can’t last. NewsCred kicks off its press release with statistics indicating that most Americans distrust journalism.
The Agriculture Department yesterday announced $5 million in digital TV equipment grants to pubTV stations in 19 states. In less-populated areas, the department’s Rural Development grants have been supplementing the Commerce Department’s annual Public Telecommunications Facilities Program aid. Central Michigan University’s six-station network (WCMU and kin) covering the upper half of lower Michigan received the biggest sum, $750K for new digital production equipment, including a satellite uplink truck. Among the bigger checks are those payable to Northern Michigan University, the Oklahoma, Arkansas, South Dakota and Nebraska networks and KEET in Eureka, Calif. For info on the grant program, see here.
NBC News correspondent Martin Savidge has been named anchor of public TV’s new nightly news program Worldfocus, produced in New York by WLIW and conceived by WNET President and longtime network newsman Neal Shapiro, who heads up the parent organization of both pubTV stations. Former CBS Evening News producer Marc Rosenwasser is executive producer of the program, which begins airing Oct. 6 and is a direct competitor to public TV’s long-running BBC World News, previously distributed by WLIW but now represented by KCET in Los Angeles (Current, May 12). Worldfocus aims to contextualize international events for an American audience. Look for a story on the program in the Sept.
Keith David has won an Emmy for his voice-over narration of Ken Burns’ The War. The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences presents several awards of excellence in “juried categories” before the Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 21. David won the award in 2005 for his narration of the PBS doc Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson.
Marketing and research consultant John Sutton questions whether a CPB-backed project to recommend audience-growth strategies for public radio is on the right track. Directed by the Station Resource Group, the Grow the Audience project published an analysis of audience trends and began consulting with system leaders this summer. Sutton faults the initial work for “starting in the same place of past audience growth failures–age and ethnicity–and not with values and content.”