Pubcaster elected chairman of Radio Television Digital News Association

Michigan Radio News Director Vincent Duffy is the new chairman of the board of the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA), the first public media news director elected to the position. Members chose Duffy during the 2011 Excellence in Journalism Conference this week in New Orleans. Here’s a roundup of other news from the meeting.

Alvarado, Jackson, Taylor named to FCC Diversity Committee

Three public broadcasters have been named to the Federal Communication Commission’s Diversity Committee (PDF). Joaquin Alvarado, senior vice president for digital innovation for American Public Media/Minnesota Public Radio; Maxie Jackson, president of the National Federation of Community Broadcasters; and Loris Ann Taylor, president of Native Public Media, will serve on the committee, which advises the commission on policies and practices to enhance diversity in telecommunications. It is chaired by former FCC Commissioner Henry Rivera. The committee’s first meeting will be Dec. 6.

Labor HHS proposal would block NPR funds, asks CPB to wean radio money by 2014

The draft for the House Appropriations Committee’s fiscal 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services bill, introduced Thursday (Sept. 29) by the subcommittee chairman Denny Rehburg (R-Mont.), would prohibit the Corporation for Public Broadcasting from funding NPR, and requests a report from CPB on how to remove NPR from federal funding by 2014. CPB receives the expected $445 million in funding over the upcoming year. In all, the bill proposes a 2.5 percent reduction in total discretionary funding over 2011, and 15.2 percent less than President Barack Obama’s budget request. Details from the committee here.A spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee told Current that specifics on the report requested from CPB regarding NPR will be made public when the bill moves to the full committee for mark up.  UPDATE: The Association of Public Television Stations issued this statement regarding the Labor-HHS proposal.

Cops nab WNET MetroFocus journalist at Wall Street protests

A Web editor with WNET’s new MetroFocus local news and culture site was arrested while reporting on citizen journalism at this week’s protests on Wall Street. John Farley wrote that he was “thrown against a wall and handcuffed with hard plastic zip-tie restraints. I sat on the sidewalk with about 50 others. I yelled over and over, ‘I’m press! I’m with WNET MetroFocus!

DeAnne Hamilton to lead WESA in Pittsburgh

DeAnne Hamilton becomes president of WESA-90.5 FM in Pittsburgh on Oct. 17, Essential Public Radio announced today (Sept. 28). She previously was general manager of WKAR at Michigan State University, and was a vice president and station manager of KQED Public Television in San Francisco. Hamilton also is a member of the PBS Board of Directors.

New PBS primary in Orlando raises $60,000 in first pledge drive

WUCF-TV, the new PBS primary station in Orlando, Fla., has raised $60,000 in its first pledge drive, reports the Orlando Sentinel. Grant Heston, assistant vice president of news and information at licensee University of Central Florida, said he was “very pleased,” and looking forward to larger numbers for its next fundraiser in December. The station took a “low-key approach” to the drive, the paper noted, with no announced goal. WUCF-TV, a partnership between the university and Brevard Community College, signed on as the primary on July 1, in the wake of the sale announcement of WMFE-TV (Current, April 18, 2011).

Documents reveal financial struggles for Michigan State’s WKAR

In recent years, Michigan State University has provided an average annual subsidy of $3.5 million for WKAR-TV and radio — about one-third of its budget, according to financial statements obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the the State Journal in Lansing, Mich. Neither Gary Reid, director of broadcasting, nor Pamela Whitten, college dean, could say what future MSU funding levels will be for WKAR, the paper said. Last month WKAR laid off 10 employees. The pubTV and radio station had combined operating shortfalls of $411,158 in fiscal year 2008, $929,237 in 2009 and $634,991 in 2010, according to financial documents.

Rep. Yarmuth introduces bill to reauthorize Ready To Learn

Congressman John Yarmuth (D-Ky.) has introduced the Ready To Compete Act, H.R. 3036, which would reauthorize public television’s longtime education program, Ready To Learn.“We are extremely grateful to Congressman Yarmuth for his unwavering support of public broadcasting’s educational mission and recognizing the important role local stations play in educating communities across the country,” said Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, in a statement. RTL uses public television’s on-air and online educational content to build the math, science and reading skills of children ages 2 to 8, especially targeting those from low-income families and underserved communities. In addition, Yarmuth’s bill, introduced Sept. 22, would expand RTL by including the creation of content and resources for children age 9 to 13, if adequate funding is available. And Ready To Compete would provide assistance to help adults get ready for work through its Ready To Earn program, supporting educational digital content and services focused on GED (high-school diploma equivalency) preparation, adult literacy and workforce training skills.

Two pubcasters honored as Powerful and Influential Latinos

Sandie Pedlow, executive director of Latino Public Broadcasting, and Joseph Tovares, CPB’s senior v.p. for diversity and innovation, are on this year’s list of Most Powerful and Influential Latinos from the Imagen Foundation. The nonprofit advocates for positive portrayals of Latinos in all forms of entertainment media. Honorees will be recognized at a gala at the Beverly Hills Hilton Tuesday night (Sept. 27).