Pledge promotions “shameful,” Fanning says

Influential pubcaster David Fanning, Frontline e.p., had harsh words on what he sees as the growing commercialism in pubcasting during his James L. Loper Lecture in Public Service Broadcasting at the Annenberg School for Communication. One evening after he’d spoken at a station fundraiser, he recalled, “I was scrolling through the channels when I came across a shopping channel with a dubious doctor selling nutritional supplements. I was interested in a perversely fascinated way as he promised all sorts of remedies, including — and I’m not exaggerating here — results for cancer sufferers. And then the shot changed to a woman with him who said that if you bought these supplements you’d be making a donation to . .

American Archive project unearths surprises at WQED

WQED in Pittsburgh, one of 22 pubcasting stations participating in phase two of CPB’s American Archive Pilot Program, is uncovering a treasure trove of old programming, reports the Post-Gazette. There are interviews with baseball exec Branch Rickey, who integrated the game; Eleanor Roosevelt; and jazz legend Louis Armstrong. The station received $100,000 to digitize and preserve valuable footage.

Political writer barred from KERA debate

“Snarky” blog postings by Paul Burka, senior executive editor of the Texas Monthly, disqualify him as a panelist for next month’s televised debate between Republican gubernatorial candidates Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson and Gov. Rick Perry, a spokeswoman for Dallas’s KERA-TV tells the Texas Tribune. KERA, chief sponsor of the debate among several media outlets, invited the magazine to appoint a panelist, just not Burka; the magazine declined to send anyone and dropped out as a sponsor. The Tribune suggests that Hutchinson’s campaign leaned on KERA to ban Burka, who has been “a fixture” in the state’s political debates since the late 1980s. “We were dismayed at what they decided to do, and surprised, given Paul Burka’s involvement in past debates,” Texas Monthly Editor Jake Silverstein tells the Tribune. “We stand behind everything he does, and we consider his voice our voice on Texas politics.”

NPR’s Android app now available for download

The NPR News app for Google’s Android mobile platform, announced earlier this month, has gone live. Mashable has already taken it for a test-run: “[T]he Android version of NPR News is very similar to its iPhone counterpart. Most of the menu designations are the same and most of the layout options are similar.” The biggest missing feature is the live streaming function: “You can listen to archived programs, but live-streaming and tuning in to live stations won’t be available until spring 2010.”

Thomas to exit Etsy next month

Former NPR digital media chief Maria Thomas is leaving Etsy, the online marketplace for hand-crafted goods that she has run as chief executive since 2008. Founder Rob Kalin will takeover as c.e.o. in January. It’s not clear why Thomas is leaving. In a blog post announcing the change, Kalin wrote that the company has become profitable under her leadership. “Maria helped us reach this major milestone….Her long experience and business skills were hugely helpful.”

Comic book reveals listening preferences of mutant antiheroes

What else would Marvel Comics stars Wolverine, a Canadian mutant who has sideburns and retractable claws, and Nightcrawler, a German Catholic mutant who has a tail, listen to during a road trip? In the comic “Nation X #1,” the X-Men’s ears are glued to WBEZ-produced This American Life, as revealed by news producer Hunter Clauss in a blog for WBEZ’s sister station, Vocalo. Current has determined that they are listening to a towering achievement of self-deprecatory humor in which TAL’s staff takes blood tests and finds that even some of the women have more testosterone than Ira Glass. (The stuff is poison, anyway!) Wolverine and Nightcrawler do not acknowledge the subject. They are shown staring straight ahead at the highway, as mutant guys always do.Andrew Gill, a Vocalo web producer, followed up with James Asmus, author of the Marvel comic, who confirmed: “I’m a huge TAL fan (NPR in general), so when trying to depict the warm and wistfully quiet moments in a road trip, it felt like the perfect way to set the mood.” Nightcrawler has listened to TAL for years, Asmus says, and introduced Wolverine to the show.

PBS signs up for full-time Nielsens

PBS announced today that for the first time, it has subscribed to full-time Nielsen ratings, reports the New York Times. The ratings will provide weekly numbers only. Andrew Russell, a senior v.p. for PBS Ventures, told the paper that monthly ratings were no longer satisfying marketers, who want shorter time frames for sponsorships and more information on viewership. The subscription started tracking numbers with National Parks: America’s Best Idea in September. That reached an average of 5.5 million viewers over its six-night run.

Tweet away, pubmedia brainstormers

Want to talk public media 140 characters at a time with like-minded thinkers? Use the Twitter #pubmedia hashtag to join in the discussion. Idea comes from Jessica Clark of the Center for Social Media at American University.