Wick Rowland is Denver Post’s TV person of the year

The TV critic for the Denver Post has selected Wick Rowland, president of KBDI/Colorado Public Television, as the local 2010 television person of the year. Joanne Ostrow also called KBDI “the little station that could,” and a “feisty outlet” that “routinely stands up to the Public Broadcasting Service bureaucracy.””When more timid station managers caved on matters of censorship or politics,” she says, “Rowland hangs tough.”

KCET creates Kids & Family channel

In 2011, KCET in Los Angeles will replace PBS’s famous children’s programming with a new digital family channel, as well as a daily lineup that includes Busytown Mysteries, a Canadian animated series with feline characters; and Peep and the Big Wide World, a cartoon that teaches children about nature and science. The station’s Peabody Award-winning series A Place of Our Own/Los Niños en Su Casa will remain part of the station’s morning programming.The moves come as the station nears its Jan. 1, 2011, drop from PBS membership (Current, Oct. 18).The station is also revamping its digital channels. It will launch KCET Kids & Family on the channel previously called KCET Orange; PBS World becomes MHz Worldview, with international programming. KCET will continue to carry Spanish-language channel V-me.

“New York Street Games” on PBS gets nod as one of TV’s best in 2010

The documentary “New York Street Games” snagged a spot for PBS in the top 10 TV shows of 2010 as complied by New York Daily News critic David Hinckley. “This fairly modest production is a documentary shown on local PBS stations, which confirms again the value of PBS,” he writes. “It’s an unpretentious, straightforward and thoroughly charming look at the games New York kids used to play on New York streets —presented not as nostalgia, but a vivid, riveting snapshot of growing up in the melting pot that was early and mid-20th-century New York.” Other shows on the list include HBO’s miniseries “Boardwalk Empire”; AMC’s Mad Men series and TBS’s late-night Conan O’Brien.

Knight winner ponders lack of minority participation in ONA confab

2010 Knight News Challenge winner Retha Hill attended the Online News Association gathering in October in Washington, D.C., and found it valuable. However: Where were the minority participants? “The lack of diversity at ONA ’10 was the subject of a brief but heated conversation between some National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) members, a few of whom wanted to ‘do something’ about it, like call ONA’s leadership out,” she writes on today’s (Dec. 28) MediaShift.”Was it an oversight? A slap?”

WHRO helps blind listeners keep up with publications

The Hampton Roads Virginia Voice, a service of dual licensee WHRO in Hampton Roads, Va., uses more than 90 volunteer readers to bring newspaper stories (even grocery ads), magazines and online publications to blind listeners. A story in today’s (Dec. 28) Virginian-Pilot highlights the program, which uses a closed circuit signal via a specially modified radio; about 1,000 of the devices are in use. Live broadcasts are also streamed over the Internet.

NPR has become “Champale,” Shearer opines

“I think comparing NPR to the BBC is like comparing Champale to Champagne,” writes actor, satirist and KCRW’s Le Show host Harry Shearer in a comment in response to a lengthy analysis of the past year at NPR on Radio Survivor. He adds: “The days when the former would ‘go long’ on a story of prime importance have long since been superseded by the era of the unbreakable, predictable format.”Perhaps Shearer is still upset with the network because it didn’t cover his Cine Golden Eagle award-winning Katrina doc “The Big Uneasy,” and wouldn’t let him buy underwriting to promote the film.In the Monday (Dec. 27) Radio Survivor post, writer Gavin Dahl looks at what he calls NPR’s “identity crisis,” examining everything from minority employment within the network to the politics behind its funding in 2010. It’s his second post on the topic; the first is here.

NPR lands in third place on annual PR blunders list

NPR’s handling of the Juan Williams controversy holds the No. 3 spot on the 16th annual year-end “Top 10 PR Blunders List,” compiled by San Francisco’s Fineman PR. It ranks behind BP’s reaction to its disastrous oil spill, and Toyota’s decisions after its massive recall.”Although [NPR] commentator Juan Williams raised eyebrows when he told Bill O’Reilly of FOX News’ The O’Reilly Factor that flying on airplanes with overt Muslims made him nervous, it was NPR that took the damaging reputational hit,” the list notes. It faults NPR President Vivan Schiller for firing Williams over the phone and later hinting that he had psychological problems.Fineman PR says it “assembles the annual PR Blunders List as a reminder that good public relations is critical to businesses and organizations. Selections are limited to Americans, American companies or offenses that occurred in America.

Nebraska pubTV crew endures challenging conditions in Antarctica

Think it’s cold where you are? A Nebraska Educational Television crew endured 35-degrees-below-zero temperatures when they shot Tuesday’s (Dec. 28) Nova episode, “Secrets Beneath the Ice.” Since 2005, scientists from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have journeyed to Antarctica to drill through ice and rock to find clues to what might happen if the Earth’s atmosphere and oceans continue to warm.Producer Gary Hochman, videographer/editor Brian Seifferlein and senior audio engineer Jim Lenertz traveled from Lincoln, Neb., to McMurdo Station on the frozen continent, landing on 26 feet of ice. Little thermometers that came with survival gear couldn’t register low enough.

MPT President Rob Shuman to retire in June

Robert J. Shuman, president of Maryland Public Television since 1986, announced last week that he’ll retire at the end of June. The state-operated network operates Thinkport.org, one of the more active public media sites for K-12 education, and produces MotorWeek, among other national programs.Shuman succeeded Raymond Ho, who was fired in 1985 after an unsuccessful drive to establish MPT as an international coproducer. The network later lost its major national production when Louis Rukeyser rebelled at PBS/MPT plans to refresh Wall Street Week, and new version without him failed to take hold.MPT took a shot at a nightly newscast, but NewsnightMaryand didn’t find ongoing funding and ended in 1991. Now Shuman is working with the University of Maryland’s j-school to start an online news service. More on that in CurrentShuman’s MPT went on to establish Maryland-centric programming and educational services as its specialty.