Who’s watching Lawrence Welk?

In this week’s “Ask the Elders” column in The Concord (N.H.) Insider, “Amanda” writes in: “Dear Elders, Do you REALLY donate to public TV when they play Lawrence Welk during the fund drive?” The five responses include: “You bet I do. I love the champagne sounds of the old master and his flock of singers and players…The innocence of the mid-’50s TV was pure joy”; “Not only do these stations think we actually enjoy the programs they present during these fund drives, they make us suffer and listen to beg-a-thons every two weeks it seems”; and, directed at Amanda, “All of your music seems to be just loud and emotional, noisy, deafening.”

Mark Ramsey’s keynote address to pubradio programmers, plus reactions

Listen to audio of radio consultant Mark Ramsey’s Sept. 20 keynote address at the Public Radio Programming conference here and read reactions from Louisville Public Media’s Todd Mundt and The Sound of Young America’s Jesse Thorn. On his own blog yesterday, Ramsey offered this MediaPost piece on the future of radio as recommended reading.

Bumps in the road from radio to multimedia

NPR’s push into reinvent itself as a multimedia news organization, and the challenges of retraining its journalists and renegotiating its relationships with member stations, are examined in this in-depth feature to be published in the next edition of American Journalism Review and this Associated Press story. The AJR piece looks closely at the Knight Foundation digital media training program that’s being offered to NPR’s entire editorial staff, and it reveals some misgivings about the new demands being placed on NPR journalists. “The Knight training stuff, it just feels like running away from my job,” says All Things Considered producer Art Silverman. “Most people feel as if the radio show must come first, and I’m only being half a producer if I spend half the time dragging a camera around. The upper management is pushing for multimedia, but the middle management people have a radio show to do.”

Dylan unveils “Tell Tale Signs” on NPR Music

NPR Music is offering an exclusive stream of Bob Dylan’s forthcoming release Tell Tale Signs. The 2-CD set, previewed in advance of its official release on Oct. 7, is the 8th installment of Dylan’s Bootleg Series. It features alternate versions of songs recorded during sessions for Oh Mercy and Time Out of Mind, as well as Dylan’s take on “32-30 Blues” by Robert Johnson. Dylan fans who joined NPR Community, the brand-new social network, began posting comments late last night, 30 minutes before the stream went live.

NPR online community: late to the game, but borne in all earnestness

NPR.org is “late to this game” of launching its own online community, writes Dick Meyer, editorial director, in a blog posting about the social media network that went live today. He attributes NPR’s caution to the desire to “do it right” and create a useful and friendly discourse between users and NPR staff. “We are not launching the project to get more ‘hits’ that will make more money. We are doing it because it is the respectful thing to do for the NPR community.”

One sale closes, another gets conditional approval

Two non-profits established to preserve local public radio service made some progress last week. Wasatch Public Media completed the purchase of Salt Lake City’s KCPW-FM, long time sister station to KPCW in Park City, and Rhode Island’s attorney general set some conditions in approving the pending sale of WRNI-AM. Buyer Rhode Island Public Radio took over operations of the state’s two AM pubradio outlets last month under agreement with the seller, Boston University’s WBUR.

CPB Board nominations clear Senate panel

Broadcasting & Cable reports that the Senate Commerce Committee approved President Bush’s slate of CPB Board nominees late last week, but two Democrats on the panel voted against the renomination of former chair Cheryl Halpern.

USA Today exec to lead NPR Digital team

NPR has hired a new digital media chief: Kinsey Wilson, executive editor of USA Today and usatoday.com since 2005. He joins NPR on Oct. 20 as senior v.p. and g.m. of digital media. Wilson helped lead the merger of USA Today’s newspaper and online newsrooms in 2005, the same year that he discussed the impact of technology on the news business in this Online NewsHour interview.

New Brideshead star completes Masterpiece hosting trio

Young British actor Matthew Goode, who starred as Charles Ryder in Julian Jarrold’s recent Brideshead Revisited movie in theaters, starts Oct. 5 as host of Masterpiece Contemporary, the upcoming third sub-series in the imported drama series on PBS, WGBH announced. Goode has already acted in Masterpiece presentations My Family and Other Animals and Inspector Lynley and Miss Marple mysteries. In theaters, he has acted in Woody Allen’s Match Point and Scott Frank’s The Lookout, and will play the villain in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen next March.

Sawaya leaves Pacifica, publishes regretful critique

Explaining that she “was continually thwarted to do the job I was hired to do,” Nicole Sawaya announced yesterday that she had resigned as executive director of Pacifica Radio. Sawaya, who had given the job a second chance after quitting for several months last winter, said she gave the Pacifica National Board notice Aug. 3 that she would be out of the budget by Sept. 30. In the form of a letter to the late Pacifica founder Lewis Hill, Sawaya regretted the present state of the lefty pubradio net, which she said has “dysfunctional” governance, “shoddy and opaque” business practices and a work force that includes both “dedicated and smart” broadcasters as well as those who merely protect their self interest and resist change.

PTFP lays out millions more for DTV conversion

Five months before all TV broadcasting goes digital, Public Telecommunications Facilities Program is still spending $9 million of its $19 million grant pool on digital conversion of 31 pubTV grantees, according to the Commerce Department announcement on Thursday. Among the 110 grants, 20 will extend pubcast service to new areas, including the first pubTV service to Great Falls, Mont., and Canton, N.C. To keep stations on air in emergencies, PTFP made 12 grants to assist the installation of electrical generators or uninterruptible power supply systems at six pubradio stations and 15 pubTV stations. Here’s the complete list of grants.

CPB, AIR seek indie nominees for multimedia projects

CPB and the Association of Independents in Radio announced today a $400,000 grant program to encourage independent producers to try bold projects that have one foot in broadcasting and the other in new media (though with broadcast dominant). AIR will administer the grant program, Public Radio Makers Quest 2.0, which will spend $20,000 to $40.000 on each of about a dozen projects. Ingrid Lakey, former e.p. of Justice Talking and once p.d. of WETA-FM, will head the project as talent manager. AIR posted this Q&A.

NYT: Too much of Hinojosa on “Now”

The New York Times’s Neil Genzlinger takes umbrage at Maria Hinojosa’s performance on an installment of PBS’s Now that focuses on the role of women in politics. “Sure, the news media is male-dominated, and maybe this I’m-the-story goo is what women want in their public-affairs programming,” he writes. “If so, PBS should start a separate network. HerPBS, say.”

PRPD announces ACE award winners

Todd Mundt shares the list of winners of the Public Radio Program Directors’ Awards for Creative Excellence, announced today at the PRPD conference in Hollywood. Todd also blogged the keynote address by Bruce Theriault, senior v.p. of radio at CPB.

KPFT still off the air

Houston’s KPFT, a Pacifica station, has been off the air since sustaining damage from Hurricane Ike. In an update Chief Engineer Steve Brightwell describes the situation: “While it is possible for KPFT to get 50 watts on the air and operate a minimal daytime schedule with a portable generator (which we don’t yet have), it will require a massive expense of manpower and gasoline, only to serve a small neighborhood in Northwest Houston, with the overwhelming majority of regular listeners being left out.”

Classical deejay works a ballpark

Like a modern-day presidential candidate, WETA-FM classical deejay Nicole Lacroix spoke in a vast stadium Sept. 13, though the crowd had not really come for her. The spectators had come for Washington National Opera’s opening night free telecast of La Traviata to the Jumbotron at the city’s new baseball park. Lacroix was “charming and knowledgeable” as emcee, according to critic Micaele Sparacino on Concertonet.com, an international website that covers classical music. He noted that the audience was full of 20-somethings, some with their kids.

WOSU’s roomie is an aggie

ABN Radio, the largest farm radio network in Ohio, will relocate its headquarters to Ohio State University, where it will share a building with WOSU Public Media next year. It will renovate space recently vacated by WOSU, which opened its new digital radio facility in the building. Tom Rieland, WOSU’s g.m., says the partnership “could lead to many interesting programming collaborations.” ABN, heard on 65 stations, is run by a small, owner-operated company that runs BARN (Buckeye Ag Radio Network), according to WOSU. (Correction: It is not operated by the trade publishing company DTN, whose name appears at the bottom of ABN’s website.)

CPB Board nominees survive hearing unscarred

Three new nominees for CPB Board seats plus two nominated for reappointment came down decisively in favor of public broadcasting during a Senate hearing yesterday. The genial give-and-take is captured in a video webcast of the hearing on the Senate website (drag the cursor past 31 minutes, to avoid dead air). New nominees, as reported in Current, are Hollywood attorney Bruce M. Ramer, educator and APTS Board member Liz Sembler and Nevada broadcast journalist Loretta Sutliff (known in Elko as Lori Gilbert), who spoke up for local reporting. Coming back for second terms are Republican activist and former CPB Chair Cheryl Halpern and former Democratic senator and governor David Pryor. Written testimony of nominees, except for Pryor, also is posted.

St. Paul drops changes against arrested journalists

Charges against Amy Goodman, two producers of her program Democracy Now! and other journalists arrested by St. Paul police during the Republican National Convention will be dropped, Mayor Chris Coleman said today, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The city had already dropped felony charges, including those against the program’s two producers,leaving only misdemeanors on Wednesday, the program announced.