Former KNME associate g.m. files suit alleging her firing was tied to whistleblowing

Joanne Bachmann, former associate general manager at KNME in Albuquerque, N.M., has filed suit against the University of New Mexico, claiming she was fired for complaining that the university took more than $2 million that should have gone to the station. Co-defendant in the suit is Polly Anderson, current station g.m., who allegedly told Bachmann to “drop the matter,” according to Bachmann’s March 14 filing in Bernalillo County Court.The suit says that Bachmann was hired at KNME in February 2001 for digital transition fundraising. She was promoted to associate g.m. in 2005. Anderson came on as general manager in September 2008. Bachmann was told her position was eliminated in October 2009 for budgetary reasons, according to the filing.Among Bachmann’s allegations:— That the university had kept interest earned on KMNE’s community service grants from CPB for about 10 years and although it discontinued the practice in 2004, the university never reimbursed the station;— That a $2.3 million bond award in November 2004 to KNME for digital upgrades was “redistributed” by the university in 2006 for the “political benefit of UNM,” forcing the university to dip into a KNME endowment to cover digital equipment purchases the station already made;— That when Bachmann and station board members protested, the university removed three KNME board members.Bachmann is claiming breach of contract as well as violation of the New Mexico Whistleblower Protection Act.

New distribution path for “American Routes”

American Routes, the New Orleans-based public radio music series hosted and produced by Nick Spitzer, is moving from American Public Media to Public Radio Exchange distribution as of July 1. Spitzer has retained pubradio veteran Ken Mills to manage the transition and “help plan a new independent future for American Routes,” he said in a statement. Spitzer and Judy McAlpine, APM senior v.p. of national content, described the split as amicable. PRX picked up distribution of Sound Opinions, the weekly rock music show from WBEZ in Chicago, last July.

What happens with financial returns from pubradio’s biggest shows?

As discussions of public radio’s federal funding continue, AOL’s DailyFinanceblog looks at the finances and talent compensation for top national shows such as Morning Edition, and Fresh Air, This American Life. Net earnings from each of the programs, all of which are produced by nonprofit public media companies, may be reinvested in the show itself or redirected to other operations, AOL’s Jonathan Beer reports. For two years during recession, for example, revenues from This American Life covered other operating losses at producing station WBEZ Chicago, spokesman Daniel Ash explains. “However, moving forward, there is no expectation that TAL revenues will underwrite any other…initiative.”

Inskeep: NPR News isn’t biased, it’s “honest and honorable”

It’s not his job to address questions about federal funding of public radio, but Morning Edition co-host Steve Inskeep takes on complaints about “perceived bias” in NPR News programs in today’s Wall Street Journal . The “recent tempests,” he writes, “have nothing to do with what NPR puts on the air.”

Journalism panel to discuss myths about news media

Tom Rosenstiel of the Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism will discuss the latest State of the News Media report during a panel discussion to be webcast live at 1 p.m. on Thursday, March 24. His talk will focus on “myths” about contemporary media, drawing on PEJ’s research and insights from a panel of media experts, including Alberto Ibargüen of the Knight Foundation, Jane McDonnell of the Online Journalism Association, and Matthew Hindman of George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs, which is hosting the event. Broadcast journalist Frank Sesno, director of the school and host of PBS’s Planet Forward, will moderate.

WNET’s first 3D series, with DirecTV, premiering this weekend

WNET in New York City and DirecTV are announcing the premiere U.S. broadcast of their “Treasure Houses of Britain in 3D,” WNET’s first 3D project. The five-part series debuts Saturday (March 26) on DirecTV’s n3D channel. Producer-Director is Alastair Layzell of Colonial Pictures, cinematographer is Richard Hall. Executives in charge for WNET are Gillian Rose and Stephen Segaller. Neal Shapiro, WNET president, said in a statement that the “Treasure Houses” 3D series “showcases public media’s continued journey toward the future of television programming, which our viewers have come to expect.”

Need to transport turkey chicks? Call North County Public Radio

Ellen Rocco, station manager at North County Public Radio in Canton, N.Y., writes today (March 23) on the station’s blog about how staffers helped an errant shipment of turkey chicks find their way home to her farm. Well, one did manage to escape down a station hallway. But fear not: Program Director Jackie Sauter made it a little nest while Rocco was on the air with her blues show, Blue Note.

Loss of federal aid will stifle diversity, innovation in public media

As the political battle over federal aid to public broadcasting focuses narrowly on NPR, two public media leaders describe what’s most vulnerable to funding cuts: diversity and innovation in content.”[W]hat bothers me about this debate is the lack of true understanding in the public eye about just what public media is,” writes Jacquie Jones of the National Black Programming Consortium for the Huffington Post. “Despite NPR’s and PBS’s enormous contributions to the media universe — their bedrock news and information services and their role in the documentation of American life, history, culture and experience — public media is a whole lot more than NPR and PBS. . . .””Public media is a tapestry of independently produced media that represents the full range of experiences in our society — from the very good to the very bad,” Jones writes.

Why does Gowalla matter?

The National Center for Media Engagement explains why today (March 23), in its first of five postings exploring the use of social media by public media. Today’s post discusses location-based social network sites. Writes Bryce Kirchoff, “Imagine: A mobile user checks into your city’s art museum on Gowalla and they’re offered a clip your station produced about the institution’s Picasso exhibit. Or, a high school student visits Washington D.C.’s Vietnam War Memorial and is prompted to stream a preview of a Ken Burns film. Both are potential parts of public media’s future.”

Beyond brand, editorial narrative important in era of paywall news, Bole says

Pubmedia thought leader Rob Bole has posted on his Public Purpose Media blog his presentation for Media Future Now on new forms and formats of digital storytelling, from the D.C. group’s meeting Tuesday (March 22). One point: “In the seemingly coming era of paywalls (or the final, sad collapse of mainstream journalism), it is not just brand that carries the day, but quality, unique, relevant content that has editorial narrative … and this might be supplied, in part, by new forms of digital journalism.”

Regional WAMC raises $188K for Japan disaster relief

In a special one-day fund drive, WAMC Northeast Public Radio raised more than $188,000 for disaster relief in Japan. The station, based in Albany, N.Y., but heard through 22 transmitters in several states, asked for and received an FCC waiver from the rule that noncommercial stations ordinarily can raise funds only for their own operations. WAMC organized the drive in cooperation with American Red Cross of Northeastern New York, and the proceeds went directly to the Japanese Red Cross. “There wasn’t a moment the phones weren’t ringing, and the empathy and love for those in need came roaring through,” said station President Alan Chartock. In 2005, the station raised more than $500,000 in a one-day drive for victims of Hurricane Katrina.A more recent drive, including a performance by James Taylor, raised more than $200,000 for earthquake relief in Haiti.See also this roundup of disaster relief resources from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

University of Alabama buys WHIL-FM for $1.1 million

The University of Alabama purchased WHIL-FM from Spring Hill College on Monday (March 21) for $1.1 million, pending federal approval, reports the Press-Register. Spring Hill College, in Mobile, had lost $160,000 in fiscal 2010 on the station. The university will transmit WHIL programming from Tuscaloosa. The university already operates WUAL Alabama Public Radio.

NPR’s Twitter connections “left of center,” Duke data shows

An analysis of NPR’s connections on Twitter “shows it has the sort of network you’d expect to see from a left-of-center person or institution,” reports Forbes today (March 22). The mag cites data from a Duke University study examining whether Twitter could be used to plot ideological affiliations of political candidates. As part of that study, researchers looked at the Twitter networks of individuals and brands in the media.  Forbes asked Duke researcher David B. Sparks where NPR’s Twitter connections fell on the study’s conservative-to-liberal curve (right). He said somewhat to the left of center, but further to the right than CBS News anchor Katie Couric, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times or NBC News anchor Brian Williams.Of course the results don’t directly reveal the ideologies of the entities, only the makeup of the networks that surround them, Forbes noted. “However, for the purposes of our paper and possibly for thinking about the media, perceptions may be what is actually important,” Sparks said.

Forget local when shooting for national distribution, filmmaker says

PubTV station relations consultant Jennifer Owensby Sanza, who produced “The Teachings of Jon” about her brother and his challenges with Down syndrome, has advice for first-time filmmakers aiming to see their work on PBS. “Many producers make the mistake of rushing to their local PBS station, begging them to air their program,” she writes on The Independent. “STOP RIGHT THERE! Yes, it is important to find out if you have the support of your local station — you may want to partner with them as a presenting station down the road. But don’t air the program anywhere until you have exhausted EVERY national opportunity first (and there are several).

Pubcasters advise FCC to “carefully evaluate” any channel-sharing proposals

The G4 — the Association of Public Television Stations, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Television Service and National Public Radio — on March 18 filed a 19-page document with the Federal Communications Commission commenting on its notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on spectrum allocation. In it, the orgs say that pubcasting would support “certain goals” by the FCC to maximize efficient use of spectrum (Current, Feb. 8, 2010), “but is concerned with the potential ramifications of a number of proposals.”One topic of talk among stations: Channel sharing. The FCC is pondering letting two or more TV stations — commercial and noncommercial — share a single six-megahertz channel, “thereby fostering efficient use of the U/V Bands,” as it said in the NPRM. The public broadcasters said they may support that, “in certain circumstances.””The reservation of spectrum exclusively for noncommercial and educational use, which dates back to the earliest days of FM and television regulation, serves a vital public interest and has been critical to the growth of public broadcasting,” they say in the filing.

“Civil War” April rebroadcast will premiere on mobile media

The first episode of “The Civil War” by Ken Burns will debut on the free PBS for iPad and PBS App for iPhone and iPod Touch on Thursday (March 24), 10 days before the entire film is shown on the air. The rebroadcast honors the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War. The series will air nationally on PBS from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern April 3-7 (check local listings). The first episode will also be streamed on, April 4-10. The Civil War attracted an audience of 40 million during its premiere in September 1990, and established Burns as a star documentarian.

No comment on KSMQ president’s departure; board announces search for replacement

The board of directors for Austin, Minn.-based KSMQ Public Television announced today (March 21) that they are looking a new station president to replace Marianne Potter. The Austin Daily Herald is reporting that Potter, who had been with the station about two and a half years, left two weeks ago. “A KSMQ spokesperson would not comment on the circumstances regarding Potter’s departure,” the paper said. NETA Consulting is assisting in the search.

Detroit PTV opening second studio in heart of city

Detroit Public Television is opening a satellite studio in the heart of Detroit, in the historic Maccabees Building — former home to the Lone Ranger radio show when it debuted in 1933, and Soupy Sales program in the 1950s, according to webmag Model D. The project builds on the partnership between DPTV and Wayne State University, which has already invested $100,000 in renovations. “We’re going to back up our high-definition mobile television production truck behind the studio and start producing television right away,” said station President Rich Homburg, while rehab work continues. “The good news is, we can immediately start to produce there, with an eye towards expanding the footprint and really expanding the service of that studio to Detroit.”

Who will be affected, and by how much, in House bill to defund pubradio programming

An analysis of HR 1076, the bill to prohibit federal funding for National Public Radio that won House approval on a March 17 party line vote, details which congressional districts have the most on the line if the legislation is enacted.Alaska Republican Don Young, whose at-large district encompasses 26 public radio stations, has the most at stake — more than $5 million in CPB grants from 2009. Young was one of 11 members of Congress, seven of whom were Democrats, who did not vote on the bill, according to the official tally of the roll call.Minority staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee crunched the numbers to assess the legislation’s impact and found that 414 stations with listeners in 280 congressional districts would be affected. These stations provide about 7,800 jobs, according to the analysis.HR 1076 won’t actually cut off CPB funding to local public radio stations, but it would prohibit these stations from spending any federal dollars on NPR dues or other national programming. It also prohibits NPR itself from receiving federal grants and eliminates CPB’s grant programs backing national services for minority audiences, such as Radio Bilingüe and Native Voice One networks, and special initiatives such as the StoryCorps oral history project, which produces regular features for NPR’s Morning Edition.Three of the Republican lawmakers who crossed party lines to vote against the measure represent districts that received six-figure sums of federal pubcasting aid in 2009. Reps.

Vivian Schiller will speak at U-Texas online journalism event

Former NPR chief exec Vivian Schiller will keep her April 1 speaking engagement at the University of Texas’s international symposium on online journalism, even though she accepted the invitation prior to her March 9 resignation. U-Texas J-School professor Rosental Alves, organizer of the annual conference, reached out to Schiller after her abrupt departure and asked her to discuss her vision for online journalism, based on her experiences at NPR and “The most important work that she has done was moving NPR into the digital age,” Alves tells The Daily Texan, UT’s student newspaper. “That experience alone would be very relevant for us who are concerned with the future of journalism in this country.”Additional keynoters are Meredith Artley of, Madanmohan Rao of the Asia Pacific Internet Handbook, and Warren Webster of Patch Media. Full schedule here.