‘Self-indulgent’ reports had him ‘screaming at his radio’

Greg Collard, news director at WFAE in Charlotte, released a little collard spleen this month about a couple of NPR veterans getting personal with stories: Margot Adler, with her elegy on storm damage to Central Park trees near her apartment in the West 90s, and Larry Abramson, with a piece about parents (like him) outfitting their kids’ dorm rooms. Collard concludes in the station’s blog: “NPR humor. Sometimes it’s hard to defend, especially when it’s so self-indulgent.”

Six pubcasting towers in the line of wildfire on Mt. Wilson

The situation on Mt. Wilson, where six Los Angeles area pubcasting outlets have transmitters, is increasingly dire, according to the Los Angeles Times. Fire fighters were taken off the mountain this morning because it was too dangerous to have them working so close to the tower facilities. “There is a good chance the fire will hit Mt. Wilson today,” said Ray Dombroski, spokesperson for the U.S. Forest Service.

Pubcasting shows score Daytime Creative Arts Emmys

PBS was honored with 13 Daytime Creative Arts Emmys, the most of any network, in ceremonies on Saturday night. Included are outstanding children’s animated show (WordWorld), preschool children’s series (Between the Lions) and lifestyle show (This Old House). Three shows not distributed by PBS but running on the network, BizKids, Equitrekking and Diary of a Foodie, also won honors. ABC won 10; Nickelodeon, eight; CBS, five; Food Network, three; and Cartoon Network and NBC, both two. The awards were presented at the the Westin Bonaventure Hotel and hosted by Alex Trebek.

Stroud disengages in Madison

Maria Alvarez Stroud, public TV’s outreach advocate for most of this millennium, is moving to a new position at the University of Wisconsin-Extension. She’s been executive director of the CPB-backed National Center for Media Engagement in Madison since its founding as the National Center for Outreach in 2000. Stroud’s new job is special assistant to the school’s provost and vice chancellor, working on broadband delivery of public media projects. Charles Meyer is serving as interim e.d.

Now on PBS heading to MIPCOM

Now on PBS, a WNET production, will be presented at the prestigious MIPCOM International Film and Program Market for Television, Video, Cable and Satellite in October in Cannes, France. It’s one of the world’s biggest entertainment trade events. “This series has been on the air for seven years in the U.S., but this will be the first time that it has ever been introduced to the international market,” said Marielle Zuccarelli, senior veep of international sales for distributor GRB Entertainment. It’s good news for the show, which earlier this year told its staff to take eight weeks of unpaid leave to offset a $1 million budget shortfall (Current, March 30).

Farewell, Reading Rainbow

Nice tributes out there to Reading Rainbow as sun sets today on the 26-year pubcasting fave (as Current reported earlier this month). Here’s one from NPR’s Morning Edition, in case you missed it. Veronica Harley, a blogger for AOL, takes a sentimental look back; more than a dozen folks left comments on what the show meant to them–including this one: “I am highly upset! I’m 17 yrs old & I still watch Reading Rainbow as soon as I come home faithfully!” But the program won’t die completely, reports Business First in Buffalo.

News site posts controversial WYCC videos

A few of the videos that sparked a federal lawsuit by a former g.m. of WYCC in Chicago are now posted on a local news website. Chi-Town Daily News, which broke the story last month, reports that the PBS station, owned by City Colleges, produced videos that appeared to benefit politicians and friends of former chancellor Wayne Watson. The programs never aired. Maria Moore, former head of the station, said in her suit that she was fired after she complained to Watson about the productions. Her lawsuit also asserts that the chancellor’s orders to make the videos violated terms of the station’s government grant funding and broke federal tax rules for charities, as CPB funds cannot be used for political purposes.

University agrees to postpone WLIU sale

WLIU-FM 88.3 at Long Island University has secured a reprieve, if only for a two more months, reports The Southampton News. University officials recently announced that it would stop funding the station on its Stony Brook Southampton campus on Oct. 3, the day its lease expired, and put it up for sale. Wally Smith, station manager, said that a negotiated agreement will allow WLIU to continue broadcasting at least until Dec. 3.

Clash at Crossroads

Could CPB have avoided the public collision of wills over one of the America at a Crossroads documentaries that tainted its $20 million project in 2007 about the post-9/11 world? Determining that, in effect, was the assignment that Cheryl Halpern, then chair of the CPB Board, gave more than two years ago to the corporation’s semi-autonomous inspector general, Kenneth Konz. Back then 10 members of Congress also had asked CPB and its IG to determine what kept the program, Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center, from airing among the first batch of Crossroads shows on PBS. The lead producer of the film, Frank Gaffney, a defense think-tank president and former Pentagon official, had gone public with his dispute.

Timeline: Crossroads and context

The America at a Crossroads series and the 2007 standoff and furor over one of its documentaries, Islam vs. Islamists;, had its roots in the period of Republican dominance of the CPB Board. See related story. 2003
February 2003
CPB President Bob Coonrod names Michael Pack as senior v.p. for TV programming without search or usual hiring process. September 2003
Staff briefs CPB Board on America at a Crossroads idea.

How much is Martha’s stinky chair worth? Stay tuned …

Now here’s a unique partnership: Antiques Roadshow and Martha Speaks. In the season premiere of the pup-ular PBS Kids show on Sept. 14, Martha’s favorite “stinky” napping chair ends up on the Roadshow (photo courtesy WGBH/Susan Meddaugh). Appraiser Noel Barrett lends his voice (and face) to the episode, which teaches young viewers words such as antique, donate and valuable. One amusing moment in a preview clip on YouTube: The elderly Mrs. Demson, upon hearing that well-known PBS tagline “.

BBC production going green, slowly

The production team on the BBC drama Being Human is taking baby steps toward going green, earning praise from the Center for Social Media at American University. There are now recycling bins on the set and in offices, and staffers are working on using less paper for scripts and call sheets, reports blogger Andrew Buchanan. He adds, “OK, it won’t make the series carbon neutral, but it’s a great first step. . .

Oh that Julia!

Pubcasters’ memories of Julia Child keep proliferating like profiteroles in Paree. Here’s one from Jim Lewis of Oregon-based fundraising consultants Lewis Kennedy Associates: Back in 1985, Child was receiving an honorary doctorate in humane letters from her alma mater, Smith College in Massachusetts. She agreed to attend a donor event at WGBY, thanks to a former classmate and friend of the station, Charlotte Turgeon. “As general manager,” Lewis told Current, “I was given the honor of driving Julia from Northampton down to our studio in Springfield.” Child’s husband Paul was in front next to Lewis; Turgeon and Child were in back.

Julia’s book sales: proof of the power of movie publicity

If anyone doubts the power of Hollywood and its well-trained media machine, note what the New York Times reports this morning: Within days after Columbia Pictures launched an affectionate bio of Julia Child by an expert screenwriter and featuring two highly likeable stars who draw free publicity from a zillion magazine, blog and TV reports, the 48-year-old book at the heart of the plot is selling far better than ever before. Mastering the Art of French Cooking, by Child and co-authors, was selling 22,000 copies a week, more than in any entire year in its history, the Times reported. A Barnes & Noble exec said the $40, fatty and fat (750-page) book sold seven times as many copies in a month as in a typical year. Even discount stores that previously never stocked the book are ordering it. Next week, for the first time, the book will top a Times bestseller list, in the how-to category.

You might attend SXSW next March?

Vote by Sept. 4 on panels you’d like to attend at any of the three South by Southwest conference-festivals to be held in Austin, Texas: interactive, March 12-16; film, March 12-20; music, March 17-21. Example: Jacob Harris of the New York Times wants to hold a panel “Shut Up and Code! (Hacking the Future of News)”: “Talk is cheap. Talk about the future of news is cheaper still, especially since so little leads to action.”

Judicial Watch sues FCC over DTV delay documents

A self-described conservative watchdog group is suing the FCC to release documents related to the delayed DTV transition. Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in U.S. District Court for District of Columbia says an adviser to President Barack Obama stood to benefit from the delay, which slowed up Verizon’s new broadband network to compete with Clearwire. The lawsuit also alleges that documents the FCC did provide to the group were highly redacted, and other documents were withheld.

Angst in studios over webcasting pact

Now that public broadcasting has a webcasting royalty deal with the recording industry, local pubcasters are learning what it requires of them. Many are asking: Is this something we can live with?

A return to culture wars ahead?

Documentary filmmaker Deborah Kaufman writes in The San Francisco Chronicle of her fears that what she sees as the increasing attacks on controversial films may signal a return to the “culture wars” of the 1990s (Current, Dec. 12, 1994). She recalls working across the hall from Marlon Riggs, director of Tongues Untied, which sparked a furor for PBS at that time (Current, June 24, 1991). “Often forgotten in these battles,” she points out, “are the many thousands in the audience hungry for knowledge, political debate and unfettered creativity who continue to line up at theaters from Melbourne to Edinburgh, Tokyo to San Francisco.”