Fairbanks PBS switches from UHF to VHF

Reception problems with PBS affiliate KUAC in Fairbanks, Alaska, prompted it to move from UHF Ch. 24 to VHF Ch. 9, at a cost of $1.1 million and six days off the air, according to Broadcasting & Cable. It switched in late September by undergoing rechannelization. The new Harris VHF transmitter and ERI transmission line and antenna had to be installed in a “tightly coordinated process,” B&C reported, due to Alaska’s brief period of mild weather.

Mister Rogers and the birth of zombies

In case you missed it, zombie originator George Romero (the creatures were his creation in Night of the Living Dead) was a guest on the Halloween edition of NPR fave Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! He shared this interesting factoid: Romero got his start working with Fred Rogers on the Mister Rogers episode, “Let’s Talk About Going to the Hospital,” in which a little girl gets a tonsillectomy.

How Clifford was born

The books that inspired Clifford the Big Red Dog on PBS, now in its ninth season, were born of desperation in 1963, according to an interview with 81-year-old author Norman Bridwell in the Seattle Times. A woman whose job it was to read unsolicited manuscripts–known as the “slush pile”–at Harper & Row, knew that publisher would not be interested in it. But she “put it in her purse without telling anyone” and took it to Scholastic, Bridwell recalled. “I was just trying to find work,” he said. “I’d been out of work and had a brand new baby daughter who wasn’t sleeping through the night and my mother was visiting from Indiana.

Nothing scarier than nonmembers

KCET head programmer Bohdan Zachary shares his colleagues’ Halloween decoration of this very, very lapsed station member in his latest blog entry. Spooky indeed. Zachary also reminisces about the creepiest soap opera ever, Dark Shadows, and his attempt to contact a dead grade-school classmate using a seance inspired by the gothic show. Spoiler alert: It didn’t work.

Explorer concept inspires UNC-TV channel

UNC-TV used PBS’s Explorer branding identity (Current, June 23, 2009) to create its own new Explorer Channel, offering travel, culture, science, nature, history and outdoor programming. In announcing the channel, the station said it’s in response “to a demonstrated need for diverse public television programming for adults, including daytime programming.” PBS execs continue to draw attention to the Explorer concept. At this month’s Round Robin in Baltimore, PBS programming head John Wilson spoke of ongoing focus the branding, as well as using it to draw in desired audiences such as the 40- to 64-year-old “femographic.”

KCTS renovations will be green

KCTS 9 in Seattle just received a $100,000 award from the Kresge Foundation’s Green Building Initiative to renovate its 23-year-old facility to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) specifications. The station was one of seven organizations chosen from among 114 nationwide. The Kresge Foundation’s headquarters in Troy, Mich., is a Platinum LEED building, the highest rating of the standard (plus, it looks pretty cool).

You don’t need a credit card for StoryCorps’ Day of Listening

StoryCorps is gearing up for its second annual National Day of Listening, to be celebrated Nov. 27, the day after Thanksgiving. The event, an extension of the StoryCorps oral history project that has now collected personal interviews of more than 50,000 individuals, invites public radio listeners to record a meaningful conversation with a loved one and preserve it as a piece of family history. “The National Day of Listening, which coincides with Black Friday–traditionally the largest shopping day of the year–proves that simply listening to one another is the least expensive and most meaningful gift we can give,” said Dave Isay, StoryCorps founder and president. To help promote this year’s event, NPR personalities Dan Schorr, Juan Williams and Will Shortz will record interviews and discuss the experience on-air, and Talk of the Nation will devote its Thanksgiving Day broadcast to the Day of Listening.

Where the Crossroads films and funding went

CPB’s big America at a Crossroads initiative funded 20 independently produced documentaries on aspects of the post-9/11 world, at a cost not wildly above the predicted $20 million. [This list tracks the 21 grants to producers and the resulting 20 broadcasts. See also Current’s related 2009 article and timeline.]
The funding
Costs of the project’s major phases:
$2,520,724 — for R&D on proposals from 36 producing teams, the first cut in the grantmaking process,
+ 12, 629,507 — for production of the final 20 selected projects, and
+ 5,644,158 — for WETA’s work as “Crossroads entry station” including packaging and promotion of the series and outreach efforts. = $20,794,389 — total cost
Here’s a boxscore counting the productions. Number of documentaries for which CPB announced funding in 2006 for its America at a Crossroads project


Additional commissioned in 2006
(The Muslim Americans)


Total productions announced for funding


MINUS Not completed (Invasion)


Total completed and broadcast


Total distributed to public TV by PBS


Distributed by Oregon Public Broadcasting/NETA, Fox News Channel and other outlets


Total distributed


The films
The first 11 Crossroads films premiered on PBS in April 2007 as a packaged series: 

April 15, 2007
Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind Al Qaeda, originally Holy War

April 16
Warriors and Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience

April 17
Gangs of Iraq and The Case for War: In Defense of Freedom

April 18
Europe’s 9/11, originally Spain’s 9/11, and The Muslim Americans

April 19
Faith Without Fear, originally The Trouble with Islam, and
Struggle for the Soul of Islam: Inside Indonesia  

April 20
Security versus Liberty: The Other War and The Brotherhood, originally The Terror Dilemma

Nine more docs aired later on PBS, listed by broadcast date:

June 11, 2007
Kansas to Kandahar: Citizen Soldiers at War, originally Citizen Soldiers