CPB turns down WSEC; station outlook bleak

WSEC in Springfield, Ill., could not secure a $460,000 grant from CPB. Its CEO, Jerold Gruebel, said the station has lost $1 million due to the recession. He said the station needs $400,000 to make it through June and July. He added that WSEC could end up carrying only the national PBS program feed.

WQED sells 40-year-old offspring Pittsburgh magazine

WQED Multimedia said today it has sold one of its creations that made it multi — the area’s biggest regional magazine, Pittsburgh magazine and its offspring City Guide, Home and Garden Magazine and Pittsburgh Weddings. The station will retain an eight-page “On Air” segment in the magazine, and it will still go to station members who donate $40 or more. WiesnerMedia, of Greenwood Village, Colo., is the buyer; it also publishes ColoradoBiz, Trucking Times and other titles, and plans to develop a regional media specialty. Terms of the deal were confidential. Publisher Betsy Benson will stay with the magazine.

Parks outreach as big as all outdoors

Doing more than her share for public TV’s $6 million outreach project surrounding Ken Burns’ National Parks series, Shanda Roberts lost her shoe in the muck of the Everglades. Reaching to retrieve it, she bent down and hit her head on a tree. A public TV crew captured the disconcerting moment — which was lighthearted compared to the time they got her into a canoe. The Roberts family’s camping trip was a South Floridian element in the varied nationwide extravaganza surrounding the six-part Burns series, which debuts on PBS Sept. 27.

One story with 1,700 authors

Cars burn in downtown Nashville. Police patrol Boise after massive power outages, widespread looting and near-riots. Our intrepid video correspondent, Kal, rides through San Francisco, taping a team of out-of-work deliverymen who steal as many bicycles as they can fit in their van. “Some might say these guys are taking the easy way out,” Kal gravely tells viewers. “But I’ve got a feeling that if this crisis continues, we’re going to see a lot more of this kind of crime.”

Scenes from the latest apocalyptic sci-fi flick?

Two showcases to be webcast live from nonCOMM today

WXPN in Philadelphia will broadcast live from two music showcases during day two of nonCOMMvention, the annual conference for pubradio’s Triple A music stations. XPN Free at Noon, a weekly live concert series that is open to the general public, is a double-header of Guy Sebastian featuring Steve Cropper, followed by the Derek Trucks Band. Four acts are on the bill of tonight’s showcase: Rhett Miller, The Avett Brothers, Pete Yorn and Delta Spirit. Tune your browser to the live webcasts here.

Sesame honors mayor, Elmo co-hosts the fun

Sesame Workshop presented New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg with the Global Leadership Award at a gala yesterday for the show’s 40th anniversary. There were performances by artists including Sheryl Crow, and even a video message from President Barack Obama. Co-hosts were NBC News anchor Brian Williams, and Elmo — in matching suits.

New iPhone apps in the works for NPR

NPR will launch a news-focused iPhone application in July and plans another release for its online music service by September, according to Robert Spier, director of content development for NPR Digital.During a presentation today at nonCOMMvention, the annual conference for pubradio’s contemporary music-mix stations convened by Philadelphia’s WXPN, Spier presented slides of the iPhone app interfaces. The “landing page” for the iPhone news app will feature text-based content, with icons designating audio-based stories. The app also allows users to access archived NPR shows or live streams of public radio stations. iPhone users who want to interact with NPR content will eventually be able to transfer playlists created on computers to their iPhones, although Spier anticipates this function will be added to the app later this year.The iPhone app for NPR Music will feature web-only content such as live concerts, blogs, and sharing functions. “There’s lots of discovery content [on NPR Music] that we would like to bring front and center to the iPhone,” Spier said.

Columnist suggests ending WHYY’s Delaware presence

Delaware could save “half a million bucks” if it pulled the plug on local studios of WHYY in Wilmington, Del. That’s what a News Journal columnist thinks should be done. Why? He feels that “the station’s idea of programming was offering day-old sports scores and not to broadcast news, weather or sports on weekends or holidays. That’s not a television station.”

Pubcaster’s snacks seemingly newsworthy

WETA head Sharon Percy Rockefeller turned out for the annual Party in the Garden at the Museum of Modern Art in New York a few nights back. Published reports say she may or may not have noshed on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, salad, or lobster.

WHYY breaks ground for Learning Lab

Work on WHYY’s $12 million Learning Lab has begun at the station’s main facility in Philadelphia. The pubcaster said the focus of the lab will be digital media, audio and new media. Part of the project is the 4,100-square-foot Lincoln Financial Digital Media Education Studio. The lab is set to open in 2010.

School kids rally for Erie pubstation

About 150 students, waving photos of Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Clifford the Big Red Dog, gathered today on the steps of Lincoln Elementary School in Erie, Pa., to support local pubstation WQLN. It stands to lose some $800,000 in state funding if Gov. Ed Rendell’s proposed budget is approved. The budget would eliminate state funding for all eight of Pennsylvania’s public television stations. “If the budget passes, we would also lose another $70,000 in federal matching funds,” Tom New, WQLN’s director of creative services, told the Erie Times-News. “That’s 25 percent of our total revenue.”

HD Radio tuner added to new Zune player

A Zune media player unveiled this morning by Microsoft includes HD Radio tune-in capability among other new features. Zune HD combines a multi-touch screen and Web browser with a built-in HD Radio receiver. In addition, consumers who buy a separately sold audiovisual dock will be able to play high-def videos on HD TV sets. “Microsoft is blazing a trail for a whole new generation of small, hand-held HD Radio enabled products,” said Bob Struble, president of iBiquity Digital Corporation. But gadget reviewers are yawning.

Radio writing “makes more sense in bubbles”

In her forthcoming book from W.W. Norton, On the Media’s Brooke Gladstone will appear as a cartoon version of herself to tell the story of the press’s role in American history, the New York Observer reports. Gladstone first tried writing the book as a graphic science fiction novel set in the year 2032, but dropped that approach for a comic book collaboration with Brooklyn artist Josh Neufeld. “[A]s counterintuitive as it sounds, this is the closest I can get to radio,” Gladstone said. “I feel that it’ll be a simulacrum of a radio presence, and that’s how I communicate best….Radio writing looks different from regular text—it makes more sense in bubbles.” The book’s working title The Influencing Machine is a reference to the psychological syndrome in which patients believe their emotions and thoughts are controlled by some external device.“I think part of the case I’m making is that people are not the passive consumers of media that they often present themselves to be–they are the shapers of the media,” Gladstone said. During a recent interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer, Gladstone reveals her bent for science fiction, describing herself as a “huge Trekkie” in a discussion of the new movie and the inspiration of the original TV series.

“Chef’s Story” divorce goes from frying pan to fire

The divorce of Dorothy Cann Hamilton, host of the 26-part pubTV series Chef’s Story, has turned into a lawsuit involving millions of dollars. Her estranged husband, venture capitalist Douglas A.P. Hamilton, says he bankrolled the series and several other of his wife’s projects. The suit is complex and involves ownership of the the French Culinary Institute (which she founded), and two trusts in Milwaukee. “Unfortunately, it’s a very messy divorce,” she said. The two have been married 15 years.

Young promoter cancels his debut as Fred Rogers’ successor

Michael Kinsell, who planned to present himself as the next Mister Rogers at a controversial gala on Sunday in San Diego, told Current in an e-mail Thursday night that he is canceling the show. Kinsell, who said he is 18, had publicized the May 31 fundraising event as a star-studded posthumous tribute to the famous host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

PBS objects to fundraiser by ‘successor’ to Mister Rogers

PBS is accusing a San Diego teenager of “falsely claiming association” with the network and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. He is selling tickets for a May 31 gala event where, according to a news release by his publicist, he will present himself as successor to the late Fred Rogers. Michael Kinsell, who told Current he is 18, said he has produced six episodes of a new show, Michael’s Enchanted Neighborhood. Kinsell described the benefit event, to be held at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, as a tribute to Rogers that will raise funds for “children’s public television” and, he hopes, for his own new show. He said he invited members of Rogers’ family to receive a Children’s Hero Award in Rogers’ honor and said he will give $10,000 in mid-June to Family Communications Inc., Rogers’ production company in Pittsburgh.

Expect changes, GPB head says

Teya Ryan, brought on as president and executive director of Georgia Public Broadcasting in March, tells Atlanta Journal Constitution political columnist Jim Galloway that changes are afoot. She said she wants to use a “commercial discipline” to transform the network. Some public affairs programming has been canceled for now. “Over the next year you’ll see some very creative initiatives,” she said.