Guam PBS audit by government agency sets goal of transferring to community licensee

Guam’s Office of Public Accountabilty has released an audit of PBS Guam (PDF) that sets a longterm goal of converting it to a community licensee “to alleviate dependency on the government of Guam.” Government of Guam appropriations, 38 percent of station revenues, increased from $596,000 in fiscal 2009 to $610,000 in FY10.The audit shows a revenue decline of $2.6 million due primarily to a one-time $2.5 million grant to purchase and install a digital tower in 2009. The station also ended FY10 with a decrease in net assets of $204,000.

Tony Geiss dies at 86; longtime Muppet composer, lyricist and creator

Tony Geiss, composer and lyricist for Sesame Street for almost 40 years as well as a creator of several Muppets, died Jan. 21 in New York City of complications from a fall. He was 86.He’s at left in the photo, speaking with fellow Sesame Street writer Lou Berger and Executive Producer Carol-Lynn Parente on the set. (Image: Sesame Workshop)Geiss won 22 Emmys for scriptwriting and songwriting. He created the Honkers Muppets and, most recently, Abby Cadabby.

Signal expansion delays and disappointment in Tampa

Problems with signal interference from the U.S. Coast Guard’s emergency communications system has stymied launch of Tampa’s new full-time classical music service, according to the St. Petersburg Times. Since purchasing the license to 89.1 FM in Sarasota last fall, pubcaster WUSF-TV/FM has been broadcasting its new classical service WSMR at 30 percent power; the signal doesn’t reach far beyond Sarasota, disappointing expectant music lovers in Tampa. “The Coast Guard is huge and we don’t want to get in the way of a life being saved,” says JoAnn Urofsky, g.m. “But I’m still not sure why this stalemate happened.”

Future of “Need to Know” uncertain; PBS says it’s “evaluating the series carefully”

PBS has not yet decided whether to renew WNET’s newsmag Need to Know, which replaced Bill Moyers Journal in May 2010 (Current, March 22, 2010). PBS said in a statement to the New York Times that the show runs through June 2011, and it is currently “evaluating the series carefully.”Stephen Segaller, station v.p. for content, and Shelley Lewis, Need to Know e.p., sent an email to programmers December 3 thanking them for their feedback on the show. Apparently some of those comments had zeroed in on co-hosts Alison Stewart and Jon Meacham. The note, obtained by Current, said in part: “It’s fair to say (as some of you have) that Alison is far more comfortable in the anchor role than Jon, and Jon is a far more comfortable guest on other programs than he was (at first) as anchor on his own. We continue to work on ways to make ‘that Jon’ the Jon who appears in our studio every week.”

Exclusive content deal for Center for Public Integrity

The Center for Public Integrity, the nonprofit investigative news center helmed by public radio veteran Bill Buzenberg, has a new contract to provide exclusive stories to Newsweek and The Daily Beast. A feature on the effectiveness of digital mammography, featured in today’s Web and print editions of Newsweek, is the first CPI investigation to be published under the editorial partnership. “The value of incisive investigative reporting is going up,” says Buzenberg, executive director of the center, in a news release. “This is a tremendous opportunity for us to provide quality journalism to a new audience and to get paid for our work.”

UPDATE: Pubcasting travel show hosts caught in Egypt leading group of tourists

The hosts of WTTW’s nationally syndicated Grannies on Safari are in the midst of the chaos in Egypt, where protestors demanding the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak have been rioting for days.According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Regina Fraser and Pat Johnson (right, image: Grannies on Safari via AP) arrived with their group on Jan. 26 and are hoping to leave before their intended departure date of Feb. 4. At one point, their driver had to drop the group two blocks from the hotel because the bus couldn’t get through all the protestors. “We had to circumnavigate around the hotel because the crowds were massing up,” Fraser said.

Weiss’s departure from NPR, reexamined

Why exactly did NPR President Vivian Schiller tell her Senior News V.P. Ellen Weiss to resign or be fired? According to the Washington Post’s account of the circumstances leading up to Weiss’s sudden departure on Jan. 6, Weiss’s management style as news chief, and her account of the decision to fire longtime news analyst Juan Williams last October, undercut support for her within NPR’s newsroom and leadership ranks.The Post’s Paul Farhi interviews NPR News insiders and points to internal rifts over Weiss’s record and leadership style: “While several employees acknowledged her role in building NPR into a radio-news powerhouse and emerging digital-news player, they also questioned her methods….More damning was the suggestion – hotly disputed by people close to Weiss – that Weiss had preempted her boss, Schiller, in telling Williams that he had to go.”Weiss tells the Post she’d received no warning from Schiller that her job was in jeopardy nor an explanation of why she was being forced out. An anonymous defender within NPR News says Weiss’s ouster was “merely a smoke screen that helped Schiller keep her job and appease critics inside and outside NPR.” NPR communications chief Dana Davis Rehm declines to elaborate on “internal conversations” that led up to Weiss’s resignation.Former NPR host and correspondent Alex Chadwick is one of few sources who talks on-the-record, drawing parallels between how Weiss informed him that his job was being eliminated in 2008, and her cell phone firing of Juan Williams last Oct.