Central Michigan University bids for WFUM TV in Flint

WFUM TV in Flint, Mich., may get a new owner: Central Michigan University, according to Central Michigan Life, the university newspaper. The school’s Board of Trustees on Tuesday approved a $1 million bid for the station. It’s currently owned by University of Michigan and broadcasts from Bay City to metro Detroit. CMU Public Broadcasting will draft a purchase agreement and interim management agreement to take over the station as soon as possible. The station has lost money since 2005 (Current, April 27, 2009).

Combative letter heading to auction, thanks to “Roadshow”

A great-grandmother in Rockford, Ill., received a surprising appraisal from Antiques Roadshow and has decided to auction off her treasure: A antagonistic letter from crooner Frank Sinatra to rabble-rousing Chicago columnist Mike Royko, according to the Chicago Tribune. In the letter, Sinatra said the columnist was a “pimp,” and suggested the two have a hair-pulling duel (Sinatra was upset at a Royko column that accused Ol’ Blue Eyes of wearing a hairpiece). Vie Carlson purchased the letter back in 1976 for $400. At a Roadshow taping on July 11, appraiser Simeon Lipman told Carlson she might be able to get $15,000 or more for the letter, so she’s selling it next spring through Freeman’s Auctioneers in Philadelphia. The episode will air this coming February.

Former Microsoft sales exec to lead National Public Media

Stephen Moss, an online marketing executive with a background in print media, is the new president and c.e.o. of National Public Media, the New York-based corporate sponsorship firm representing public radio and television. He succeeds Bob Williams, who founded NPM’s predecessor company National Public Broadcasting in 1997 and served as c.e.o. after its 2007 acquisition by NPR and Boston’s WGBH. Moss joins NPM from Evri, a web technology company where he served as v.p. of business development. Previously, he was v.p. of sales for Microsoft, Inc., where he launched the MSN video service and led its rollout to major advertisers. “Steve is a collaborative and proven leader with superb talents in a highly desired space–at the intersection of media and technology–a critical ingredient to our long-term success,” said NPR President Vivian Schiller.

Sesame Workshop explores digital learning

The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, along with several partners, is sponsoring a Breakthrough Learning in a Digital Age forum today and Wednesday to develop ideas for using digital media in education. Participants will develop a plan to use new technologies to “revitalize a school system that has fallen behind,” according to the center. If you’d like to listen in on the Web, you may register online.

WGBH’s Access Group signs captioning, narrative deals

The Media Access Group at WGBH will be creating special captioning and narrative material for several movies from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures, according to the Boston Globe. The Media Access Group provides not only closed captioning but also Descriptive Video Services, or DVS, which provides descriptive audio narration of what is happening in a film.

The world’s least hospitable hotelier returns

Fawlty Towers — the 1970s BBC show that still runs on 24 pubTV stations nationwide — is now available in a DVD box set, reports Scripps Howard News Service. The three-disc “Fawlty Towers Remastered” includes all 12 episodes plus commentaries by star and Monty Python alum John Cleese. Of course this is not to be confused with Fawlty Towers Revisited, offered as a pledge special to SIP (Station Independence Program) stations back in December 2005.

Sesame Street aiming for Gaza

Sesame Street wants to introduce Big Bird and his friends to the Gaza Strip, according to Agence France Presse. The area is ruled by Hamas, one of two Palestinian factions. “We know that it’s an extremely volatile area, but we also feel that it’s really important that we take these step forward to promote self esteem for Palestinians,” said Gary Knell, president of the Sesame Workshop. A Palestinian version of the series titled Sharaa Simsim is already shown in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Two Frontline shows prompt comments to PBS ombudsman

The latest column from Michael Getler, PBS ombudsman, focuses on two Frontline programs: “Obama’s War,” which continues to draw mail after its Oct. 13 premiere, and its more recent offering, “The Warning,” about “the smart, courageous but unheeded former chief of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Brooksley Born,” and her attempts in the 1990s to draw attention to the potential for financial collapse.

Moline’s WQPT trades up to a bigger university licensee

Rather than going independent, the Quad Cities’ fiscally distressed pubTV station, WQPT, will move its license to a different higher-ed institution. Now it’s expected to be licensed to four-year Western Illinois University, which recently won state capital funding to start building a larger campus in Moline, on the Mississippi almost 100 miles north of WIU’s home campus in Macomb. More on current.org.

Reality comes to FCC

It’s safe to say this isn’t your typical FCC official: Yul Kwon, winner of the reality show Survivor: Cook Islands in 2006, was appointed Wednesday as deputy chief of the FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, reports The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column. The Yale law grad’s wedding was covered by the TV Guide Channel, and he co-hosted Discovery Channel’s “Shark Week.”

News cooperative for Chicago

A hybrid news organization committed to public service journalism will begin producing coverage of the Chicago region next month. The Chicago News Cooperative, announced today by veteran newspaper editor James O’Shea, sealed a deal to produce coverage for Chicago editions of the New York Times twice a week. WTTW, a public TV station with a longstanding tradition of producing local news coverage, is a founding partner in the cooperative and will provide a home to the nonprofit during start-up. WBEZ, Chicago’s dominant public radio station, may also join the partnership. The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation is providing major funding to CNC during start-up; business plans call for the cooperative to solicit donations from individuals and other foundations, and to earn revenues through its partnership with the Times and other potential outlets [via Romensko].UPDATE: In a memo announcing the CNC partnership to staff, WTTW President Dan Schmidt said the station is acting as a fiscal agent for the cooperative and will not tap any of its own revenues to support it.

“Santa Fe” is not so hard to rhyme, but how about “KSFR?”

An editorial in the Santa Fe New Mexican this week salutes community radio station KSFR-FM “for the stroke of inspiration that brings some added class” to the city’s 400th anniversary celebration. News Director Bill Dupuy and reporter Dan Gerrity wrote new words for a monumental old tune, and 28 members of the New Mexico Men’s Camerata recorded it under the baton of Kenneth Knight. Listen online and you can follow these lyrics, ending with a crescendo and sonorous plug for one particular set of call letters:”The sounds of the city in old Santa Festir echoes of history with each passing day.Through conflict and turmoil, these 400 years,our cultures have blended amid joy and tears.They banded together and here they did stay,to live as one people in old Santa Fe.To relive our history, you need not go far.The town finds voice on K-S-F-R!”The station has aired it a few times.

Arizona pubTV hosts two Supreme Court justices for live broadcast

Arizona Public Media is offering viewers a rare event: A chance to witness two sitting Supreme Court justices talking about the Constitution. The one-hour discussion, “Principles of Constitutional and Statutory Interpretation,” between Justice Antonin Scalia and Justice Stephen Breyer, will air live Monday (2:30 Eastern) on PBS World and also stream on the On Demand page at the Arizona Public Media website. Moderating will be NBC News Correspondent Pete Williams, from the Tucson Convention Center.

ITVS picks six films from 482 in this year’s International Call

Choosing from 482 submissions from 82 countries, the Independent Television Service (ITVS) has selected six doc projects for funding, according to Screen Daily. The winners: 74 Square Meters (Chile) by Tiziana Panizza and Paola Castillo Iselsa; The Last White Man Standing (Kenya) by Justin Webster; The Team (Kenya) by Patrick Reed Kenyans; Teacher (Vietnam) by Leslie Wiener; This Is My Picture When I Was Dead (Jordan) by Mahmoud Al Massad; and The Rodriguez Project (South Africa) by Malik Bendjelloul.

V-me gets new stakeholder

PRISA (Promotora de Informaciones), a 22-country Spanish language multimedia corporation, has purchased a 12 percent stake in V-me, reports Billboard magazine. That percentage should increase to a majority position in the next year. “PRISA is a perfect partner for V-me,” president and CEO Carmen M. DiRienzo said in a statement. The nearly three-year-old V-me (Current, Feb. 12, 2007) is a partnership with pubTV, reaching almost 80 percent of Hispanic households in the United States.

PMI awards more economic project funds

The Public Media Innovation Fund today announced Round Four funding. Total grants of $205,000 for economic and financial literacy projects went to KQED in San Francisco; WPSU in University Park, Penn.; Maryland Public Television; KNBA in Anchorage; Wisconsin Education Communications Board; KUEN in Salt Lake City; and North Country Public Radio in Canton, N.Y. Details on their project here.

Kennedy Center head hits PBS for lack of arts coverage

Where is the arts programming on PBS? So asks Michael Kaiser, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, on Huffington Post. He laments that arts programs are costly, and “come only from stations that can afford to create this programming, meaning those with strong fundraising operations. And far too few of the local stations do have strong fundraising operations.” He favors a fundamental change for PBS: “Why can’t the parent organization determine the best in American arts and fund its broadcast across the nation?

New WiFi radio tailored for pubradio listeners

NPR unveiled the first-ever Internet radio to offer an exclusive menu of NPR stations and programs. The “NPR Radio,” modeled on an earlier WiFi radio by Livio that optimizes Pandora’s music streaming service, allows NPR fans to switch between over-the-air broadcasts of local stations, online streams of more than 1,000 NPR outlets across the country, and on-demand content from NPR.org. More than 16,000 Internet radio stations not affiliated with NPR also are accessible on the device, offered for $199 from the NPR Shop and Livio Radio. Gadget reviews by Wired and CNET poke fun at the radio’s accessibility features for the technology averse. “[I]t should pass the ‘granny test’ in ease of use, and it looks like a friendly radio and not a scary, virus-catching computer,” Wired’s reviewer writes.