Europeana, the continent’s online cultural library, attracted so much attention on its debut Nov. 20 — 10 million hits an hour, 3 million simultaneously — that the website crashed and won’t be back until mid-December, according to a notice on the nonfunctioning site. Technical second-guessers told PCWorld.com that traffic was three times the expected level and planners failed to buy adequate hardware load balancers. The European Commission said 52 percent of the digitized cultural objects were contributed by France, 10 percent each from the United Kingdom and the Netherlands and tiny shares from the other member states. For a preview, click the video starring Descartes, Darwin, Beethoven and Callas and featuring Little Kim.
There have been facetious presentations of dancing on public radio, but none has been as visually compelling — or as facetious — as this performance of the NPR Dancers to the works of B.J. Leiderman and his various Salieris. Thanks to Alaskans Duncan Moon and John Proffitt, who noticed the video, which came out of the creative ferment of the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre improv company.
NPR’s next president made one giant leap in the news business two years ago when she moved from long-form documentary production into digital media for the New York Times Co., but it wasn’t the first or the last of Vivian Schiller’s career.In the early 1980s, Schiller was living in the Soviet Union, working as a translator and guide for professional groups touring the country, when she was hired as a “fixer” for the Turner Broadcasting System. The job required her to do everything from translating during negotiations for TV productions to making dinner reservations, and it gave her an entrée into television. “I fell in love with media,” she said. Schiller rose from entry level to executive v.p. of CNN Productions, an award-winning documentary unit. Her predecessor in the job was Pat Mitchell, who left CNN in 2000 to become PBS president.
Patty Wente, the former g.m. of KWMU-FM in St. Louis, reached a settlement Nov. 13 with the station’s licensee, the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Wente will receive $50,000, and her departure from the station will be officially recorded as a resignation, not a firing.
Records turned over to Congressional investigators have revealed that the host of public radio’s The Infinite Mind has accepted payments from drug makers while opining about their products on the show, reports The New York Times. Dr. Fred Goodwin, a psychiatrist, earned $1.3 million between 2000 and 2007 for marketing lectures, the records show. Goodwin told the Times that he had informed Bill Lichtenstein, the show’s producer, of his consulting work, a claim the producer denies. NPR announced it will drop the show from its Sirius Satellite Radio channel. Slate spanked Goodwin and the show earlier this year for similar conflict-of-interest issues related to an episode about Prozac.
Worldfocus and SundayArts, both new to the production slate at WNET.org, as the station’s licensee now calls itself, will be produced starting next spring in a new glass-walled, street-level production and broadcast studio at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center, the New York Times reported today. The studio is being built in cooperation with Lincoln Center at 66th and Broadway. Check out 360-degree photo of the intersection on Google Maps. The 15-year lease marks a return to the Lincoln Center area, where WNET was based for years, and an expansion of studio space, which it had reduced considerably when it moved its offices down to West 33rd Street. SundayArts also is rising in profile: Its co-hosts are cellist and former CNN anchor Paula Zahn and Philippe de Montebello, soon to retire as director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
More than a quarter of pubTV stations are having problems with liquidity and almost as many with debt burden, with “some stations in dire straits,” CPB station grants chief Kevin Martin told the CPB Board today. Martin said the financial distress “cuts across large, medium and small, urban and rural stations.” Community licensees are over-represented among those in trouble, but little stations are not. “When you looked at financial strength versus size, there’s no indication that size matters,” says Walter Parsons of BMR Associates in Seattle, Wash., the lead consultant. “Strong stations are large and small, less strong stations are large and small.”
It no longer makes sense for the federal government to fund a corporation for public broadcasting, writes David Sasaki, outreach director of the global citizen media project Rising Voices and contributor to the MediaShift Idea Lab blog on PBS.org. He proposes that President-elect Barack Obama create a National Journalism Foundation, modeled on the National Science Foundation and funded with some sort of tax on internet service providers or the giant telecom companies, to replace CPB. The foundation would fund PBS and NPR in addition to web-only journalism projects such as EveryBlock and FiveThirtyEight.com. “We need a federal body in charge of supporting the nation’s journalism, communication, and information needs,” Sasaki writes. “That is, in charge of supporting quality online content and mash-ups.”
Laura Linney will be the new host of Masterpiece Classic, series e.p. Rebecca Eaton announced today in an online video release. Linney succeeds Gillian Anderson. Masterpiece Classic’s second season as a distinct Masterpiece brand, separate from Masterpiece Mystery! and Masterpiece Contemporary, begins in January with a new adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s Tess of the d’Ubervilles. The season includes a special collection of Charles Dickens stories.
Kentucky’s Louisville Public Media has launched The Mediavore, a blog that points listeners to don’t-miss content offered throughout public media. In a post on his blog, Todd Mundt, LPM’s director of new media strategies, explains the purpose of Mediavore. “It’s launching with a heavy tilt toward news/talk, but we expect to balance it over the next few months with more music and cultural content,” he writes. “We’re also looking to beef up our exploration of content produced by local stations, and we will add much more video content.”
An Utne Reader article looks at the international reach of Sesame Street, using The World According to Sesame Street, a documentary, as a starting point. “Sesame Street has to reprove itself in every country where it goes,” says one of the doc’s directors. “Here is an American organization coming in and wanting to teach their children. That’s alarm-bell city.”
The Association of Fundraising Professionals named Gretchen Gordon, director of development and outreach at KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska, its Outstanding Professional in Philanthropy this week, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Gordon doubled the station’s donations from listeners over four years to $1 million despite cutting back on on-air fund drives. “Saying it is a huge honor would be an understatement,” she said of the award.
Pubradio station KWMU will move to midtown St. Louis, next door to pubTV station KETC, the radio licensee announced Wednesday, the Post-Dispatch reported. Grand Center, the city’s redeveloping entertainment area, persuaded the licensee, University of Missouri-St. Louis, to drop plans for a new KWMU building on campus and locate at the Center on Olive Street. Students persuaded the university to allocate a third of the 27,000-square-foot building to non-station university space.
More listeners are tuning into KRCL, the Utah community radio station that overhauled its contemporary music format in March and replaced volunteers with paid djs, but the station fell short of its fall fundraising goal, according to the Salt Lake City Weekly. Two additional music stations that received CPB aid to revamp their formats–KDHX in St. Louis and WUMB in Boston–are soliciting online donations after missing their pledge targets.
Raising the profile of its production side, KCET chief Al Jerome upped Mary Mazur to e.v.p. and chief content officer, overseeing content development and production in all media, Variety reported. Mazur in turn promoted Bret Marcus to senior v.p., programming and production; he’s also overseeing its new weekly newsmag, SoCal Connected. In addition, KCET promoted Bohdan Zachary to v.p., broadasting and syndication, and Karen Hunte to v.p., program planning and development.
Cindy Browne, founding head of Iowa Public Radio and longtime exec at Twin Cities Public Television (TPT), died Sunday night, Nov. 9, after a long fight against cancer, according to former colleague Todd Mundt. He wrote in his blog: “Cindy was the most courageous person I ever knew; throughout her life, she confronted change, in her career, in her health, some of it unwelcome, and yet she was a fount of optimism, and maintained a laser-like focus on what she needed to do.” A memorial service will be held Friday, 4-8 p.m., at Holcomb Henry Boom Funeral Home in Shoreview, Minn. Her survivors said memorial contributions can be given to TPT or to Iowa Public Radio.
Vivian Schiller, senior v.p. of NYTimes.com, has been appointed as NPR’s next president and c.e.o. Schiller, who will be the first woman to helm NPR, previously was a senior executive with the Discovery Times Channel, a joint venture of The New York Times and Discovery Communications, and led CNN Productions, specializing in long-form documentary work. “Her roots in the news business, as well as her inclusive management style and operational expertise, make her an ideal fit for NPR.,” said Howard Stevenson, NPR Chairman in this news release. His memo to NPR staff is posted here. Schiller’s first day on the job is Jan. 5, 2009.
To attract younger listeners, public radio needs to “get off the news mountaintop,” former NPR host and correspondent Luke Burbank told station execs at last week’s Western States Public Radio conference. “Don’t talk down–be at eye level,” he said. Burbank, who departed NPR’s Gen X-targeted Bryant Park Project shortly after its launch last year, offered six suggestions for bringing younger adults into the public radio fold, reported by KUOW’s Jeff Hansen on the PRPD blog. From Burbank’s perspective as one of two full-time staff on a daily commercial talk show in Seattle, BPP was “overstaffed, overly-expensive, and over-supervised,” Hansen writes.
Lindsey is embarking on a vast project to collect elders’ knowledge from around the world — their methods of predicting future events, reconciling people in conflict, and understanding causes and effects of climate change.