NJ lawmakers criticize NJTV over Hurricane Irene coverage

NJTV’s lack of live coverage of Hurricane Irene whipped at least one state lawmaker into a froth, according to the Star-Ledger. Assemblyman John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester), who opposed to the state’s decision to allow WNET to take over the former NJN, said NJTV officials should be embarrassed. “Its absence was glaring and unacceptable during a time of great crisis,” Burzichelli said in a statement Tuesday (Aug. 30). “NJTV promised to focus solely on New Jersey, but residents got nothing from them during the hurricane.”WNET President Neal Shapiro issued in a statement in response: “As we said in June, our video gathering capability and distribution wouldn’t be ready until after Labor Day.

Loan that saved Salt Lake’s KCPW for pubradio news comes due

Three years after its sale to a new community licensee, KCPW-FM in Salt Lake City is under the gun to raise $265,000 by Sept. 30. Wasatch Public Media financed most of its $2.2 million purchase of the NPR News station with a short-term loan from National Cooperative Bank; now the lender wants to get out of the business of public radio financing, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Donors who backed the 2008 purchase reneged on their pledges during the recession, KCPW President Ed Sweeney tells the Tribune. “The challenge we have is how often can you ask your donors for help,” he says.

PBS Hawaii gets $5 million donation toward new facility

 PBS Hawaii has received a $5 million grant from the Clarence T.C. Ching Foundation to build a new facility in Honolulu. The station said it has an “urgent need” for the space as it is losing its lease at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, its home for the past 40 years. The commitment brings PBS Hawaii past the midway point in its $30 million capital campaign.In traditional island style, PBS Hawaii rolled out the announcement with a visual story. A Moanalua High School student, part of the station’s innovative Hiki No journalism program, introduced “A Tree Grows on Nimitz Highway,” a short video about the life of the late Clarence T.C. Ching and his contributions to the state. PBS Hawaii will renovate and expand an existing one-story building into the Clarence T.C. Ching Campus, above, and relocate operations in 2014.

Looking to missions and origins to refocus pubcasting

From time to time, “the definition of public broadcasting and public service media should be reviewed,” writes Adam Powell, of the USC Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy. “The opportunity is immense.” In his post today (Aug. 31), Powell returns to the original 1967 report of the Carnegie Commission on Educational Television to examine how the system is living up to its responsibilities. One point: “Over the air, the mission of experimentation has largely atrophied,” Powell writes.

PBS ombudsman hears from viewers on diversity and Moyers

PBS viewers writing to ombudsman Michael Getler want more diversity (“I am tired of giving money to a station that simply refuses to represent any race except for the white race”) and Bill Moyers (“How interesting that you have room for endless showings of Antique Roadshow … but no time slot for Bill Moyers!”) on the air.

WXPR to move to downtown studios next year

WXPR-FM in Rhinelander, Wisc., is moving into a new building next year, it announced Monday (Aug. 29), joining a growing trend of pubcasting stations shifting to downtown locations. A capital campaign, “Hear the Future,” raised more than $400,000, and two local businessmen are donating 75 percent of the building cost. There’ll be space for four studios — a longtime station goal — and a new community features editor. The building has a news history: It used to house the Rhinelander Daily News.

CCTV from China coming to D.C. area via MHz Networks

MHz Networks is adding two English-language channels from China to its lineup in the Washington, D.C., metro area starting Oct. 1. CCTV News carries headlines, business, money and travel; CCTV Documentary runs cultural, historical, nature docs and more. “The addition of CCTV programming in D.C. opens a full-time window into China for all the residents of the region through free over-the-air and cable TV distribution,” said Fred Thomas, MHz c.e.o, in a press release.

WBUR finds ROI for stores in underwriting

Looking to expand the pool of companies that place underwriting spots on public radio stations, Boston’s WBUR unveiled results from its first-ever study demonstrating that sponsorship credits deliver a return on investment for corporate underwriters. Online surveys by Lightspeed Research, conducted in two waves since October, measured substantial gains for both new and continuing sponsors across 12 different product categories — including banks, supermarkets, health care and auto services. WBUR Station Manager Corey Lewis, who initiated the research, said the results demonstrate that public radio underwriting can compete with and even outperform advertising campaigns on three metrics: influencing customers’ purchasing frequency, perceptions of quality and consideration of a company for future purchases. NPR’s influential research on the “halo effect” of public radio sponsorship — identified in 2003 and confirmed by further survey research last fall — showed strong links between listeners’ perceptions of quality and purchase consideration for companies that underwrite public radio programs, according to Lewis and other research and underwriting specialists. To measure the underwriters’ return on investment, the WBUR study added questions about purchasing frequency.

Hurricane Irene disables two WUNC radio transmitters in N.C.

WUNC radio in Chapel Hill, N.C., is coping with signal loss at two transmitter sites due to Hurricane Irene: WBUX in Buxton, N.C., is located on the Outer Banks, just off Cape Hatteras; and WURI is at Manteo, N.C., on Roanoke Island, between the mainland and barrier islands. “We cannot even call the transmitters because the phones are out” as of Monday (Aug. 29) morning, Nandini Sen, WUNC director of technologies and engineering, told Current. “We’re just waiting. In the meantime we’re in touch with emergency personnel to figure out when can come in.”

WQED Multimedia’s unique iQZoo rolls out nationally in September

The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium are the first to use WQED Multimedia’s iQZoo, a QR (quick response) code project that provides visitors with audio clips, PBS videos and information about animals via a free smartphone app. It becomes available to all pubcasting stations in September, reports the Pittsburgh Business Times. WQED Multimedia developed iQZoo in-house, funded by a grant from PBS Interactive, said Jennifer Stancil, who heads up educational partnerships at the station. “We wanted to create something that could be relevant to kids in the moment when they’re asking questions and studying elephants and orangutans and polar bears, and provide the answers through PBS videos in a way never done before,” Stancil said. Carlow University in Pittsburgh is studying how families incorporate the technology during zoo visits.“We’re equipping other PBS stations and zoos around the nation to do this for free,” Stancil said.

Marketplace expands with new “after the bell” program

David Brancaccio will helm Marketplace Index, a new weekday report that will “psychoanalyze” economic trends based on what happens in the financial markets each day. The series, piloted as a four-minute segment, combines reporting, critical analysis and interviews with financial experts and newsmakers. It launches today on Minnesota Public Radio news stations and KPCC in Pasadena, American Public Media’s California affiliate, and is being syndicated to public radio stations nationwide. It will also be distributed as a podcast, available every weekday at 4:45 p.m., from this new website. “No one is in a better position than Marketplace to address rising anxiety about the economy,” said JJ Yore, v.p. and general manager.

Need to Know anchor Stewart to step down in September

Host Alison Stewart is departing WNET’s Need to Know, reports the New York Times Media Decoder blog, when it switches to a 30-minute format on Sept. 16. The shortened show will focus more on the 2012 election, and Stewart said she decided to bow out. “For a show about politics you have to have someone available and present 110 percent of the time,” and able to travel extensively, she said. Between a book she is completing and her 3-year-old, she said, “I didn’t feel like I was the right person and that it was the right time to continue with the show.” Her last appearance is expected to be Sept.

FCC reviewing comments on CAP vs. EAS emergency broadcasts

Here’s a good update from Radio World of news so far on the Federal Communication Commission’s move toward broadcast emergency message delivery via a Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) instead of the legacy Emergency Alert System (EAS). In general, opponents object to the timing of the switch, and say that many stations have had to order new gear even before CAP-EAS system requirements have been finalized. Supporters say CAP it is an improvement over EAS, allowing for better delivery, higher-fidelity audio, text-to-speech, matching audio and text, and other benefits. Included in Radio World’s post are excerpts of comments to the FCC from groups such as the National Association of Broadcasters, Prometheus Radio Project and the Broadcast Warning Working Group.

Moyers returns in January with weekly hour

The latest incarnation of Bill Moyers’ distinctive brand of talk programming will be the hourlong, multiplatform Moyers & Company, distributed by American Public Television. The January debut for the program — provided fully funded to pubTV stations — will mark the first time PBS has not been the distributor of an ongoing Moyers program to public TV stations, dating to his first show in 1972. His most recent series, Bill Moyers Journal, left the air April 30, 2010, when he retired. “Collaborating with APT offers stations flexibility in deciding where a broadcast can best serve their communities and it offers producers greater flexibility regarding the Web,” Moyers told Current in an email. “And we intend a major use of Web and social media.”

Moyers described the new show to pubTV stations in a letter Aug.

CPB-backed collaboration discussions in Alaska end; only minimal partnerships emerge

After more than two years of talks, a potential collaboration among Alaska public broadcasting stations that held great promise of potentially coming together has fallen apart, reports the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The stations, KUAC in Fairbanks, KTOO in Juneau and Alaska Public Telecommunications in Anchorage, were looking to consolidate bookkeeping, engineering and other functions to cut costs. “But after studying a plan to merge many of the administrative functions at the stations, it didn’t become clear those changes would actually result in any savings,” according to the newspaper.Patty Kastelic of Fairbanks, a member of the merger exploration committee, said there also was concern the state’s smaller public broadcasters would lose their local identities to the bigger stations. “I think some of these ideas require a leap of faith and a lot of trust,” Kastelic said. “I think people are fearful — with good cause, I think — that everything is going to be decided in Anchorage.”The merger study was funded by an $88,000 CPB grant.

Rick Steves donates $1 million to Edmonds, Wash., arts center

Globe-roaming pubcaster Rick Steves has donated $1 million to his hometown arts center — the amount he has saved in tax breaks since President Clinton left office, he said in a press release. “I see it as a civic duty for businessmen like me, who’ve directly benefited from our vibrant communities, to do our fair share,” Steves said. The money goes to support and expand the Edmonds Center for the Arts’ performances and community programs. A portion also will underwrite all facility costs for the next decade for the Edmonds’ Cascade Symphony Orchestra. Steves also said that to celebrate the donation, he will perform “Rick Steves’ Europe: A Symphonic Journey” with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra on Oct. 23 and 24 at the center, which will be filmed for a pubTV special.

KERA to honor contributions of Bob Wilson in documentary

In honor of its 50th anniversary, KERA is premiering the documentary Bob Wilson and the Early Years of KERA, focusing on a defining era in the Dallas station’s history, the impact of one of its early chief executives (right), and its national influence on pubcasting. Interviews include KERA veteran Jim Lehrer (Wilson gave him his first TV news job) as well as Wilson. The doc will run in conjunction with a historic episode of the station’s Newsroom series from Aug. 3, 1971, focusing on the federal court order to desegregate the Dallas Independent School District. Both shows air Sept.