Public Radio Tech Survey kicks off July 27

The second Public Radio Tech Survey, a web-based analysis of listeners, runs for three weeks starting July 27. It will explore new media and technology use among pubradio listeners nationwide, as well as by market. Last year more than 70 stations took part, generating some 30,000 interviews. The project is coordinated by Jacobs Media, which calls itself “the largest radio consulting firm in the United States specializing in rock formats.” Partnering in the survey are NPR, the Integrated Media Association and Public Radio Program Directors.

Lightbulbs going off all over Aspen as pubcasters mingle at Ideas Festival

Public broadcasters are in the impressive mix of forward-thinkers this week at the Aspen Institute’s fifth annual Ideas Festival. Here it is, only Day 1, and Frontline e.p. David Fanning had this great quote: “Public broadcasting has always been at war with itself. I don’t need to tell you about Yanni at the Acropolis.” Fanning also detailed ideas for turning the public broadcasting system into a journalistic powerhouse. James Fallow of The Atlantic is keeping tabs on the activities, providing “slightly-longer-than-Twitter-scale real time summaries of what is going on.”

AlaskaOne terminates staff, shifts to live children’s feed

KUAC/AlaskaOne is shrinking its staff by a third due to a $450,000 budget deficit, according to The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Two employees are gone effective tomorrow, the start of KUAC’s fiscal year. Five long-vacant spots “are no longer on the books,” Gretchen Gordon, the station’s director of development and outreach, told Current. Also, two full-time positions are now part time. One of the new half-time jobs is the station’s marketing slot.

Burns requests Dust Bowl memories of Oklahomans for film

PBS filmmaker Ken Burns is asking residents of Oklahoma to share their personal stories of the Dust Bowl for an upcoming documentary The Dust Bowl (w.t.). The Oklahoma Network is helping him gather the recollections. In a personal message to the people of the state, Burns said he thinks the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s, when severe drought affected crop production and created huge dust storms, “is an important event in all of American history.” He adds that his production company, Florentine Films, is in the early stages of research but that the state “will be a major part of the Dust Bowl story we want to tell.” He’s making the request through the press as well appearances in TV ads.

EDCAR’s new name: PBS Digital Learning Library

PBS announced yesterday that public TV’s new classroom service will be called the PBS Digital Learning Library. The project, discussed in earlier Current articles, was previously called EDCAR (Education Digital Content Asset Repository). The searchable trove of “learning assets,” including short videos and games, will be customizable by stations and searchable and tagged for compliance with state teaching standards. PBS made the announcement at the National Educational Computing Conference in Washington.

Familiar metaphorical smell snagged hosting job for Tyson

In a Q&A with The Boston Globe, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson (right, NOVA photo) reveals how he came to host NOVA ScienceNOW. “After their inaugural season, in which I had been interviewed multiple times, they needed a new host,” he recalled. “They knew what I looked like, what I smelled like–metaphorically–and so my name sort of rose to the top.” And who’s the toughest interviewer of all his ongoing media appearances? Stephen Colbert of The Colbert Report, followed by Jon Stewart of The Daily Show, both on Comedy Central.

G4 comments to FCC on possible ethnicity, gender ID filing requirements

Providing the FCC with a list of ethnicities and genders of individual pubcasters wouldn’t show a true picture of the role minorities and women play in station programming and services, according to a joint filing to the agency by APTS, CPT, NPR and PBS. The statement is in reaction to a proposed rulemaking that would change the FCC Form 323-E Ownership Report to report those details as well ethnicity ownership data. The four noted that while it wouldn’t necessarily be a problem to submit the information, no one individual holds equity interest in a station. And because ownership varies widely for pubstations, “it would be unhelpful, and potentially misleading,” to lump together data for noncoms and commercial stations if the FCC wants a “comprehensive picture of broadcast ownership.” Any new reporting requirements would strain financial resources of public broadcasting stations, the groups added. Speaking for LPFM stations, the National Federation of Community Broadcasters and Prometheus Radio Project favors detailing information about gender and ethnicity.

CPB launches emergency readiness cooperative project

A collaboration between several pubcasting and communications groups is at the core of CPB’s new Station Action for Emergency Readiness (SAFER) initiative. Helping in development are the National Federation of Community Broadcasters; NPR; PBS stations KQED, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Atlanta Public Broadcasting; and the Integrated Media Association. There’ll be online tools such as a customizable station readiness manual, as well as webinars and workshops in which experts help stations implement a response program for their community. Ginny Z. Berson, an NFCB veep, told Current the website should launch late this year, with webinars starting up in 2010. Budget for the project, three years in the planning, is $270,000.

Pennsylvania stations join forces for pubcasting Advocacy Day

Pennsylvania pubcasters are coming together for a state Public TV Advocacy Day tomorrow in an attempt to save state funding. They’re asking viewers and listeners to write letters to state representatives, senators and Gov. Ed Rendell to restore the governor’s proposed pubcasting budget cuts. His budget would zero out all funding — $7.9 million — for station operations, cut technical support from $4.34 million to $2 million, and abolish the Pennsylvania Public Television Network as an independent commission of state government. Negotiations over the budget could continue for six to eight more weeks, according to published reports. The Advocacy Day Web site also features photos of a May rally by schoolchildren supporting WQLN in Erie, Pa.