“National Parks” series gets six of its own iPhone apps

One iPhone app will be released for each episode of National Parks: America’s Best Idea, according to developers We-Envision. The 99-cent apps, six in all, generate mini-films using thousands of Web-based photos from some 400 national parks, and provide information about the parks, maps and live webcams. The first ships today.

Sesame Street marks 40 seasons with visit from First Lady

The kick-off episode for Sesame Street’s 40th season on Nov. 10 will feature a very special guest: First Lady Michelle Obama. She’ll (attempt to) convince kids of all the good things that vegetables bring to the plate. This will be her second appearance on the show.

Underwriting losses prompt NHPR to cut jobs

With corporate support revenues running 11 percent below last year, New Hampshire Public Radio laid off four employees. Business reporter David Darman, one of five full-time NHPR journalists, was among those riffed, according to the Concord Monitor. “Everybody knows the economy’s bad, and the station’s not immune to that,” Darman told the Monitor. “But it was a shock to me.” NHPR’s member support revenues have been growing, but not enough to cover lost underwriting income, according to Alexandra Urbanowski, v.p. of development and marketing.

Doug Mitchell: “sticking with what I believe in” and busier than ever

In a Poynter.org column for journalists seeking employment, pubradio producer and journalism trainer Doug Mitchell says he was lucky to have been “booted” from NPR during lay-offs this year. He’s now working on three different projects, including a forthcoming Living on Earth podcast, and continues to work with new talent. After 21+ years at NPR, the hardest part of being laid off was “feeling like my work didn’t matter to the new leadership of NPR because it didn’t generate revenue or didn’t meet the plus side of whatever cost-benefit analysis was used,” Mitchell said. “Sticking with what I believe in has proven to be a great salvation.”

Dyson show has CPB support but consortium backs away

There’s been a split within the African American Public Radio Consortium over the Michael Eric Dyson Show, a midday talker launched in April by the consortium and Baltimore’s WEAA. CPB awarded a $505,000 grant to WEAA on Sept. 15 to produce a show with Dyson, but it’s unclear whether consortium member stations intend to carry it. Richard Prince of the Maynard Institute reports that the consortium cut ties to Dyson months ago and is backing a new weekday show hosted by Tony Cox. “The Michael Eric Dyson Show is no longer,” Loretta Rucker, consortium executive director, told Prince.

Knight Commission to issue public media recommendations

The Knight Commission on the Information Needs of Communities in a Democracy will present its findings Friday before a plethora of federal officials, such as Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski and U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and media dignitaries including NPR President Vivian Schiller. It’s the “first major national commission of its kind in the digital age,” according to a press release. PBS helped gather public comments for the report, and local pubcasters testified in meetings across the country. The commission will present 15 recommendations for “sustaining democracy and meeting America’s information needs,” including comments on public broadcasting’s role. A draft report was issued in April (PDF).

Ken Burns, in perpetual motion

Where in the world was Ken Burns when his 10-year project, National Parks: America’s Best Idea, had its PBS premiere last night? Watching it alone, in his Washington, D.C., hotel room. “I like to watch it when everyone else does,” Burns told Current after a National Press Club event today. The energetic documentarian has been making appearances for the project since July 2008, and hasn’t been back home to Walpole, N.H., since Aug. 21.

Top pubcasters’ salaries listed in newspaper survey

Twenty pubcasters are included in The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s executive compensation survey for the nation’s top foundations and charities. Figures reflected end of fiscal 2008. The Chronicle’s survey examined 325 organizations that are among those raising the most money from private sources in 2008, as well as grant makers holding the largest assets. Former NPR C.E.O. Kenneth Stern, who departed in 2008, is atop the pubcasting list, receiving $1,319,541 as part of his four-year contract. Another former exec, PBS C.O.O. Wayne Godwin, who served from 2000 to 2008, was paid $398,063.

‘Sloppiness,’ not wrongdoing, led to probe, says WNET chair

The leadership of WNET said a federal investigation into the station’s use of federal grants totaling almost $13 million is wrapping up, and the organization is financially sound. “There was sloppiness as opposed to real wrongdoing in terms of our accounting systems, which has been addressed,” said James Tisch, chairman of the WNET Board, in an interview. The station has hired a new chief financial officer and created the position of executive director, financial control, to ensure compliance with federal grant rules, said Neal Shapiro, president. “We have a new CFO. We have a new compliance person to make it very clear we take all these rules very seriously,” Shapiro said.