Kansas dodges state pubcasting funding cut

Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson yesterday (May 27) used a line-item veto to override state legislators on a proposed funding cut of around $1 million for public broadcasting, reports Channel 3, the Wichita NBC affiliate. “I know it’s going to save programming and some of the work we do in the community, because that’s a lot of money,” said KPTS President and CEO Michele Gors Paris. In addition to affecting KPTS in Wichita, the cuts would have had an impact on Smokey Hills Public Television in Western Kansas and radio stations such as High Plains Public radio in Garden City.

WCMU pubcasting truck vandalized

A Central Michigan University Public Broadcasting truck was vandalized between 5 p.m. Tuesday (May 25) and 8 a.m. Wednesday. The driver and passenger side windows were shattered, reports Central Michigan Live. CMU Police Officer Bill Martinez said landscaping stones around the PBS affiliate building in Mount Pleasant, Mich., are somtimes used for similar vandalism. As the news website notes, Martinez mentioned the building’s proximity to local bars as a “contributing factor.” Damage is estimated at $400.

New York Times journalist selected to head Upper Midwest Local Journalism Center

New York Times senior business correspondent Micheline Maynard will oversee the Upper Midwest Local Journalism Center, one of seven around the country funded by CPB (Current, April 5, 2010). Michigan Radio, WBEZ FM-Chicago and Cleveland’s ideastream (90.3 WCPN and WVIZ/PBS) are collaborating on the coverage theme of “Changing Gears: Remaking the Manufacturing Belt,” which traces the transformation of the region’s industrial-based economy to one with a post-manufacturing focus. In addition to her newspaper work, she teaches college and has written four books, including 2009’s The Selling of the American Economy: How Foreign Companies Are Remaking the American Dream (Random House). Maynard will be based in Chicago with three reporters and a new media staffer to produce enterprise radio feature reports, special programs for radio and television, and Web content. The stations announced Maynard’s appointment as editor today (May 27).

Skoler to lead interactive media at PRI

Public radio news veteran Michael Skoler will join Public Radio International as v.p. of interactive media on June 1. Skoler, founding director of American Public Media’s Center for Innovation in Journalism, established the Public Insight Journalism model for tapping listeners’ expertise in news reporting. His earlier reporting career included stints at NPR as African bureau chief, science correspondent and science editor/producer.At PRI Skoler will develop interactive strategies for PRI programs and spearhead new digital content initiatives. “I’ve learned that culture is even more important than strategy for success in today’s networked media world,” Skolar said in a statement. “PRI has both — a creative, risk-taking culture and clear-eyed strategy for creating value.”And this from Melinda Ward, PRI senior v.p. of content: “Michael is a true innovator, and his pioneering approach to interactive media and global journalism will thrive at PRI.”

Images capture emotion of LZ Lambeau

Click here for Current’s slideshow of LZ Lambeau photographs, shot by Senior Editor Dru Sefton. More coverage of the Wisconsin Public Television outreach in the next issue of Current, June 7.

S.F. news project launches as Bay Citizen

The Bay Citizen, the online news start-up in which KQED was to have been a founding partner, launches today with a top story on how San Francisco’s wealthiest homeowners benefit from a property tax loophole written into California’s Proposition 13. The public media group, formerly known as the Bay Area News Project, has recruited a team of 13 editor/writers and two interns; among them is Queena Kim, a Makers Quest 2.0 grant recipient and producer/reporter who left Pasadena’s KPCC to join the launch team as community editor. Editor-in-chief Jon Weber plans to partner, not compete, with local bloggers and nontraditional news outlets, reports the San Francisco Bay Guardian. “We hope we can be a supporter of the local media ecosystem,” Weber tells SFBG. So far, 14 indie publishers are on board.

LZ Lambeau outreach brings in more than 70,000 vets and supporters

Event organizers have announced the final count of visitors to LZ Lambeau, Wisconsin Public TV’s massive “welcome home” for Vietnam vets last weekend. More than 70,000 people attended over the three days, and some 26,000 were present for the Saturday evening tribute event (above, Current image). Despite rain on Friday, 1,244 motorcycles completed the LZL Honor Ride from LaCrosse, Wisc., to Lambeau Field. A TV crew from PBS affiliate WGVU in Grand Rapids, Mich., was there capturing the happenings and getting tips for its LZ Michigan in July. “It’s moving, and it impacts more than just, ‘Here’s a documentary,’ or, ‘Here’s an event,'” Timothy Eernisse, development and marketing manager for WGVU, told the Green Bay ABC affiliate.

Get your Tweet on at Wednesday webinar

Curious about Tweeting and the Monday Public Media Chats? Get up to speed Wednesday (May 26) at a Peer Webinar sponsored by the National Center for Media Engagement and American Public Media. Learn how to Tweet and Twitter and engage in all those other birdlike social media techniques from Rob Bole, CPB’s veep of digital media strategy; Katie Kemple, PR and social media consultant; Julia Schrenkler, interactive producer, digital media, Minnesota Public Radio; Jonathan Coffman, PBS product manager, social media; Adam Schweigert, director of new media at WFIU/WTIU in Bloomington, Ind.; and pubmedia consultant and prolific blogger John Proffitt. The one-hour webinar kicks off at 2 p.m. Eastern, register here.

APT appoints contracts manager

American Public Television’s new contracts manager is entertainment attorney John Taxiarchis, said APT President Cynthia Fenneman in a statement today (May 25). Taxiarchis’ experience also includes intellectual property and new media, “both also important to APT,” Fenneman said. Taxiarchis will report to David Fournier, APT finance and administration veep.

Now THAT is some goodbye

Gravity Medium blogger John Proffitt weighs in on the bridge-burning farewell letter from former WLIW/WNET producer Sam Toperoff, which is quite the buzz throughout the system.

OMB cites $25 million to pubcasting as example of unnecessary spending

Millions of dollars in pubcasting funding through the Commerce Department and U.S. Department of Agriculture was cited Monday (May 24) as an instance of “programs that are heavily earmarked or not merit-based as well as those that are plainly wasteful and duplicative” by the Office of Management and Budget. Director Peter Orszog said in an OMB blog posting that President Barack Obama has sent to Capitol Hill the Reduce Unnecessary Spending Act of 2010, which Politico describes as “a line-item veto with a twist: The president would have a limited time after a bill is passed to submit a package of rescissions that must be considered by Congress in straight up or down votes.” Orszog said the proposed Act “will empower the President and the Congress to eliminate unnecessary spending while discouraging waste in the first place.” He noted in his post that Commerce was allocated $20 million and the USDA $5 million to fund public broadcasting, “even though this activity is ably supported through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.” Full text of the President’s proposed legislation here.UPDATE: CPB, PBS and APTS today (May 26) issued a statement in reaction to Orszag’s blog posting.

Head of PBS engineering will oversee team on next-gen broadcast TV for ATSC

Jim Kutzner, PBS chief engineer, is chairing the next-generation broadcast TV team of the Advanced Television Systems Committee, Television Broadcast reports. It’s one of three working teams, the other two probing the feasibility and market requirements for 3DTV, and broadcast Internet TV. Kutzner’s group will look at tech that might be used to “define a future terrestrial broadcast digital television standard,” according to the ATSC. The organization sets the tech standards for American broadcast television. It held its annual meeting last week in Pentagon City, Va., where the latest initiatives were announced.

McCartney to receive Gershwin Prize at “In Performance at the White House” concert

The third Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song will go to Sir Paul McCartney at a special concert in the East Room of the White House on June 2, the Librarian of Congress James Billington announced May 24. The show will recorded by WETA as one of the “In Performance at the White House” series, to air on PBS July 28 (check local listings). The concert will feature tributes to McCartney by stars including Stevie Wonder, Faith Hill, Jonas Brothers, Dave Grohl, Jack White, Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, Herbie Hancock and Corinne Bailey, as well as remarks by Jerry Seinfeld. The Gershwin Prize was created by the Library of Congress to honor artists “whose creative output transcends distinctions between musical styles and idioms, bringing diverse listeners together, and fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.”

Louisiana’s KEDU launches urgent fundraising appeal

To meet its CPB grant requirements, KEDM in Monroe, La., has scheduled an emergency fundraising drive for June 2 -4. CPB Community Service Grant criteria calls for the university-owned station to raise 48 cents for every potential listener in its service area, or $152,000 annually, G.M. Joel Willer tells the local News Star. “We have been really falling short for some time and it’s finally catching up to us.” The station needs to raise $45,000 if it is to meet CPB’s standard. KEDU licensee, the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has stipulated that programs will be cut if the station doesn’t raise at least $30,000.

Is pubcasting open enough to new media?

Pubcasting blogger John Proffitt today tackles “Closed vs. Open: Why Public Media Struggles With New Media.” The two types “are philosophically different, possibly opposed. One embraces community, drawing in participation and ‘hosting’ conversation and engagement. The other treats the public as a media receiver.

Lasar: Local CABs don’t necessarily represent the whole community

Matthew Lasar, a professor and media writer who authored a book on the history of Pacifica Radio, examines two of the “smaller recommendations” in Free Press’s recent white paper on public broadcasting reforms, and cautions against its proposal to strengthen the role of local station Community Advisory Boards.Free Press’s ideas for “pumping up” CABs assume that “there is an almost Rousseauean entity out there called ‘the public’ or ‘the community’ that, when consulted, will always serve up selfless suggestions about how to make a community or public radio station better….Lots of people who attend public media board meetings go there for self-interested reasons. They want some portion of the station’s resources. They want a show on the station. Or they want access to the station’s air time.”CABs have an important role to play in reaching public media’s under-served constituencies and providing input on programs, Lasar acknowledges, but: “These sort of boards can pressure stations to disconnect from their listeners by capitulating to small factions who have little interest in anything besides their own narrow agenda.”Lasar examined Free Press’s proposals for financing a public media trust fund last week on Ars Technica. Current’s summary of the paper, New Public Media: A Call for Action, with a link to the full report, is here.

Wisconsin PTV “welcome home” for Vietnam vets draws over 25,000

More than 25,000 Wisconsin veterans and their supporters journeyed to the LZ Lambeau outreach May 21-23 in Green Bay, Wisc., organized by Wisconsin Public Television, the state Department of Veterans Affairs, the Wisconsin Historical Society and many vets’ groups. The gathering was meant as a “welcome home” for Vietnam-era military members (image: Current). The highlight was an evening show inside legendary Lambeau Field, home of the Green Bay Packers, with music performances and preview segments of WPT’s documentary on veterans from the state. A moving “Missing Man Table Ceremony” honored POWs and MIAs, and 1,244 empty chairs nearly filled the football field, one for each military member and civilian from Wisconsin killed or missing in action in Southeast Asia. Bryce Kirchoff of the National Center for Media Engagement told Current at Lambeau that two more states are planning “LZ” (military lingo for “landing zone”) events.

NPR Mobile is a big hit with users, but Sutton foresees fallout for newsmags

Two different takes on NPR’s mobile strategy began circulating on the Web yesterday: MobileActive reports on how NPR’s work in the mobile space is attracting an audience with different usage habits than visitors to NPR.org; and pubradio fundraising consultant John Sutton writes that NPR’s aggressive push into mobile distribution could eventually undercut the dues-based business model that sustains its newsmagazines.

KUT to manage Cactus Cafe music venue

Austin’s KUT will begin booking acts for the Cactus Cafe, a music venue and bar in the University of Texas’s student union, in August. The partnership, announced after months of discussions about how to keep the Cafe open, puts KUT in charge of scheduling performances 200 nights per year and devising a business plan that will make the money-losing venue self-sustaining. That will include some mix of live broadcasts from the club, sponsorship sales, improved box office operations and sales of downloadable podcasts; managers of the Texas Union will oversee bar operations separately. “We believe the Cactus Cafe plays an essential role in the Austin music experience and are committed to preserving and sharing that experience with the UT campus and beyond,” said Stewart Vanderwilt, KUT director. The Horn, UT’s student newspaper, questioned whether this new arrangement has the broad support among student leaders that campus officials claim for it.