Years later, columnist still thinks NPR is a “cultish echo chamber”

The Miami Herald’s columnist Glen Garvin recently came across a piece he wrote in June 1993 bashing NPR. Now he writes: “NPR remains a cultish echo chamber with a tiny audience anchored in a dying medium, funded almost entirely with money extorted from taxpayers. Other than that, public radio is great.” Here’s the original 7,300-word column that ran in the Chicago Reader.

“The Old Scout” steps aside, for now

Garrison Keillor is taking a hiatus. Nope, not from pubradio’s popular Prairie Home Companion, but rather from “The Old Scout,” his weekly newspaper column. The Star Tribune in Minneapolis says Keillor told his syndicator, Tribune Media Services, that he wants to complete a screenplay and start writing a novel. No word on when he’ll return to his newspaper writing.

N.C. college station hopes to become the latest NPR affiliate

The radio station at Gaston College in Dallas, N.C., is beginning the process of becoming an NPR affiliate, according to the Gaston Gazette. The catalyst, officials at the community college say, was losing a state grant when the Legislature zeroed out college radio funding this year. Fundraisers weren’t bringing in enough money to WSGE and the college had to make up the shortfall. The station has applied for a CPB grant that would help pay for becoming an NPR affiliate; it will hear on that in July.

Kerger signs on for three more years at PBS

PBS CEO Paula Kerger has inked another three-year contract, according to PBS. No word on salary. According to a 2009 survey of nonprofits by the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Kerger was making $534,500 at the end of fiscal 2008, up from $424,209 in 2007. During 2008 she had $60,198 in benefits and an expense account of $11,225.

Uproar in Charlottesville over pubradio format change

A change in format at WTJU, the University of Virginia pubradio station in Charlottesville, is the subject of dueling forums, a walkout by a longtime DJ and an upcoming town hall meeting. The furor began, according to the C-Ville arts and news site, when new g.m. Burr Beard sent an internal e-mail describing “The All New Consistent and Reliable WTJU.” The station currently plays an eclectic mixture of music selected by DJs. The proposal would drop the number of weekly hours for rock and jazz and institute a rotation of four songs per hour, chosen by department directors from 20 releases and electronically placed on a DJ’s program log for airplay each hour. All this has not gone over well with DJ’s, notes C-Ville.

WV pubcasters seeking permission for staffers to work pledge drives

The West Virginia governor’s office is attempting to determine whether Educational Broadcasting Authority employees can still participate in on-air pledge drives for West Virginia Public Broadcasting, the Charleston Gazette is reporting. A recent legislative audit determined that pubcasting staff should not provide services for the network’s two fundraising nonprofs, the Public Broadcasting Foundation and the Friends of Public Broadcasting. Friends organizations supporting pubcasting in both West Virginia and Florida have recently come under scrutiny (Current, June 21, 2010). The groups give pubcasters more flexibility and speed in purchasing and contracting than government procedures usually permit and they can pay for programming or other mission-related activities that the stations couldn’t otherwise afford.

Vegas PBS opens $60 million facility

Vegas PBS’s $60 million Educational Technology Campus was dedicated Monday (June 28), reports the Las Vegas Business Press. The 112,000-square-foot facility houses operations and production for the station, as well as the Clark County School District’s Virtual High School and educational media database. “Our role in the community as a local media company is to work with organizations to empower them through the use of the technologies and the distribution networks we have,” said g.m. Tom Axtell. Vegas PBS has seven broadcast channels and oversees six closed-circuit channels, and a Homeland Security database of building blueprints for police and fire departments to access during civil emergencies. KLVX is the first totally “green” television station in the United States or Canada to seek LEED gold certification for its facilities (Current, Jan.

Al Rose

Al Rose, 70

Albert E. Rose, former program director of New Jersey Network and later the program distributor who brought nightly British news programs to U.S. public TV, died of lung cancer June 16, 2010, at a hospice in Newtown, Pa.

NJ Senate okays study of NJN assets as part of break from state

The New Jersey Senate today (June 28) approved a study of New Jersey Network’s assets and its plan to break from the state, is reporting. Under the legislation, a panel would investigate the value of equipment and licenses held by dual pubcasting licensee NJN, and ascertain if it could operate as an independent nonprofit without state funding. The network’s state support in fiscal 2011, beginning July 1, falls to $1.98 million from $3.9 million in FY10. Howard Blumenthal, NJN’s interim executive director, wanted the stations to go independent July 1 (his plan, PDF). The network has been asking for independence as far back as 2008 (Current, May 12, 2008).