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.