Field guide to CPB’s conflicting mandates

When Congress adopted the Public Broadcasting Act 40 years go, it put its contribution to public TV and radio into the hands of the nonprofit Corporation for Public Broadcasting with a structural characteristic and two mandates that have caused conflict and inertia ever since. The law has the President nominate the CPB Board and the Senate confirm the CPB Board. Rather than keeping political appointees off the board, it splits them almost equally. The majority are chosen by the White House from its own party and the minority of board members named, in practice, by Senate leaders of the other party. The appointment has become a mid-level plum for political appointees.

Sid the Science Kid: boring for parents?

“Sid the Science Kid is a great show for teaching science to little kids, but not so great for the adults watching with them,” writes Wired blogger (a.k.a. “geekdad”) Matt Blum about the new PBS Kids show from the Jim Henson Company. Sid, which is geared toward kids 3 to 6, doesn’t have those jokes only parents would get, he says–such as Cookie Monster introducing himself as Alistair Cookie.

Uncomfortable, as promised

Cindy Browne never promised them a rose garden. In fact, the founding executive director of Iowa Public Radio repeatedly promised the network’s 50-some staffers a long passage through anger, grief and confusion, before things would get the least bit rosy. Over the past three years, events delivered some of the expected benefits of combining the public radio operations at Iowa’s three big state universities, as well as the promised discomforts for both listeners and staffers. The next steps are up to a new set of executives. In coming months, IPR will hire, besides an executive director, a content director, a music director, a development director and a Cedar Rapids reporter.

NPR reportedly okays CBS-TV pilot based on Wait Wait

NPR has agreed to let CBS Entertainment make a pilot for a TV show based on Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, according Media Bistro’s Fishbowl DC blog. CBS will finance the pilot and decide whether to commission a TV series, says a Sept. 4 NPR memo published by the blog.

Goodman tells story of her arrest

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman writes of her arrest this week at the Republican National Convention: “Behind all the patriotic hyperbole that accompanies the conventions, and the thousands of journalists and media workers who arrive to cover the staged events, there are serious violations of the basic right of freedom of the press.”

KCLU buys AM station to improve Santa Barbara reach

KCLU-FM, based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., has bought an AM station in Santa Barbara to improve its reach up the Pacific Coast, the Ventura County Star reported last week. The news station now simulcasts in Santa Barbara on a weaker FM signal. KIST-AM changed hands for $1.4 million. Its owner, Rincon Broadcasting LLC, bought seven stations from Clear Channel Communications last year and was required by the FCC to sell one of the stations. KCLU covered the purchase with funds raised in its $7.5 million capital campaign.

Social network for those seeking, sharing hurricane info

NPR’s Andy Carvin describes the social networking applications powering the Hurricane Information Center, which launched last weekend in anticipation of Gustav’s landfall and broadened in scope as a community-powered forum for information and user-generated content about Hanna and other storms of the 2008 hurricane season. The site is built by some 500 volunteers who have the technology skills to pull together an “amazing array of tools and resources that can be useful to the public in times of crisis,” Carvin tells Poynter Online columnist Al Tompkins. “With this volunteer effort, people are coming out of the woodwork to drop everything and work on hurricane-related mashups, collect information for our wiki, develop text-messaging interfaces, etc.” Carvin put out a call for volunteers with this blog post and is posting project updates on this twitter feed.

Amy Goodman and two producers arrested at Republican convention

“Democracy Now! radio host Amy Goodman and two producers were arrested yesterday while covering demonstrations at the Republican convention in St. Paul, Minn.,” reports the Washington Post. “Goodman was released after being held for over three hours, but is still waiting to hear when Sharif Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar would be released.” A release from Democracy Now!

More power for HD Radio, more buzz on analog

An extensive study by NPR Labs points to significant trade-offs between the audience reach of digital HD Radio and the amount of interference to analog FM. Even though its transmission power is just 1 percent of analog FM’s, its range for listeners in cars comes close to equaling analog,  the CPB-funded study found. But HD reaches areas including little more than one-third as many indoor listeners. To extend its range, the National Association of Broadcasters in January joined other industry groups advocating an optional power boost for HD Radio, permitting stations to emit digital signals at 10 percent of analog transmitters’ power. The FCC has not yet begun a proceeding to consider the change.