Prairie Home Companion sound-effects guru Tom Keith dies at 64

Tom Keith, who created the sound effects for Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion radio show for decades, died Sunday (Oct. 30) after collapsing at his Woodbury, Minn., home. He was 64. The cause of death has not been determined, a spokesperson for the show told Minnesota Public Radio.”The Minnesota Public Radio family is shocked and saddened by the sudden loss of our friend and colleague, Tom Keith,” APHC producer MPR said in a statement. “Tom was beloved by everyone who had the pleasure of knowing and working with him.

The Documentary Group produces PBS “Primetime” series as well as its similar underwriting spots

America in Primetime, which premiered on PBS Sunday night (Oct. 30) carries underwriting spots for Unilever’s Dove brand produced by the Documentary Group, the team that created the program, and are shot in a style similar to the content, reports the New York Times. “Such crossover producing is increasingly common in commercial television,” the newspaper noted.Creators, writers and actors behind primetime television shows are interviewed in the series, which examines how character archetypes have evolved through the years. Unnamed Dove marketing and public relations executives are interviewed in the 30-second underwriting spots, discussing how the brand strives to relate to changing consumers.Tom Yellin, president and executive producer of the Documentary Group, approached Unilever with the idea, calling it a “natural opportunity” for a program about the creation of commercial primetime television to feature underwriting from a longtime primetime advertiser. He added that in the program, interviewees talk directly to the camera; in the spots, the executives are shot from the side.

Redding’s KIXE-TV partnering with AM radio show for home improvement program

KIXE-TV in Redding, Calif., is launching a television version of the On The House home-improvement AM radio call-in show. KIXE General Manager Mike Quinn tells the local Record Searchlight that the new show, set to debut in January, likened the project to a West Coast version of This Old House, originally produced by WGBH in Boston. Heard on around 200 stations, On The House offers advice from the Carey Brothers, James and Morris, experts in home building and renovation. Their first projects for the KIXE television version will be a remodel of the station’s Redding studio and construction of its new satellite studio in Oroville, Calif.James Carey says the regional difference is important. “If you watch This Old House, you see a lot about basements, a lot about oil-burning furnaces, snow and issues that surround snow.”

“Rakin’ that stuff out and givin’ it to the cows,” says David Dye, “that makes me feel really good”

The free downloads of World Cafe artists and newcomers celebrating the WXPN production’s 20th anniversary may be welcome in some quarters, but in terms of lasting impact on our little planet, you’d have to give props to the return of program host David Dye to craft brewing, which he virtually invented. As recalled in this parody video, Dye was back with his old beer magic this weekend, cooking up a few vats of Broadcaster Brown Ale for the program’s anniversary at Philadelphia Brewing Co.Another gift to fans — a live two-hour anniversary concert today, (Oct. 30) 2 to 4 p.m., on or WXPN’s local signal in Philadelphia.  Update:  Highlights of anniversary performances this weekend by John Hiatt, Dawes, Indigo Girls and Feist! will be heard on the broadcast Friday, Nov.

Second freelancer loses pubcasting job over link to Occupy Wall Street movement

A freelance web producer for The Takeaway, a co-production of WNYC Radio and Public Radio International, has been fired for her reported participation in the Occupy Wall Street protests.Brooklyn, N.Y.-based Caitlin E. Curran wrote a first-person piece Friday (Oct. 28) on the Gawker website detailing what happened during an Oct. 15 protest in Times Square, and her subsequent termination. Curran’s plan was to have her boyfriend hold a sign, and she would observe reactions to its message and post reports on her personal Twitter account. When her boyfriend “developed sign-holding fatigue” Curran wrote on Gawker, she “took over momentarily.”

It’s Kilkats vs. Raven Lunatics on . . . public broadcasting?

Here’s a probable first for the pubcasting system: Live roller derby! KXLL-FM/Excellent Radio in Juneau, Alaska (“Public Radio That Will Melt Your Face Off”), will stream the matchup between two local teams, the Kilkats and the Raven Lunatics, on its website, for later broadcast on the statewide 360 North channel. Tonight’s (Oct. 29) bout, “Night of the Living Derby,” will be hosted by In DeKline of KXLL and Money Honey of the Juneau Roller Girls. Check out all the excitement online at midnight Eastern, 8 p.m. Juneau time.

Miami and Reno pubcasters partner for lunar eclipse webcast in December

Two public broadcasters are collaborating with an Ohio observatory and Nevada planetarium in a unique partnership to bring a December lunar eclipse live to web viewers worldwide. KNPB in Reno, Nev., and Star Gazers, a production of WPBT2 in Miami, are producing the streaming event, which “offers the opportunity for everyone to enjoy and discuss the entire lunar eclipse regardless of their location,” said co-host Marlene Hildago, a science educator with the Miami Science Museum. She’ll host with Dean Regas, outreach astronomer for the Cincinnati Observatory; Bill Dishong, series producer of the new Star Gazers as well as the original Star Gazer with Jack Horkheimer; and Dan Ruby, associate director of the Fleischmann Planetarium in Reno.The Miami station had great success last year with a live stream of a lunar eclipse, ending up with more than 1,000 new Facebook friends and raves from chat-room participants from as far away as Japan.

PBS UK channel inks carriage deal with Virgin Media

PBS UK, the Public Broadcasting Service’s first international commercial channel, has finalized a carriage deal with Virgin Media. The agreement includes rights to offer PBS content across its TV On Demand services, including the Virgin Media online and its mobile player. The deal “gives PBS the best chance of reaching the widest audience,” said Richard Kingsbury, PBS UK general manager. PBS UK content also will run on Sky Digital.

Washington Post exec Bo Jones to take helm of MacNeil/Lehrer Productions

MacNeil/Lehrer Productions has hired a new president and c.e.o., Boisfeuillet “Bo” Jones Jr., who has spent the last 32 years in executive positions at the Washington Post Co. “It is a happy day for us in public broadcasting,” said Robert MacNeil in a statement. “We welcome a man of such rich experience in journalism management to help us keep MacNeil/Lehrer Productions and PBS NewsHour vital into the future.””Bo Jones is the ideal person to take us where we must go,” said Jim Lehrer, who stepped down from the anchor chair in June. “He has a unique combination of journalistic integrity and business acumen, plus he understands Americans’ increasing demand for serious journalism about the issues and events that matter.”  Jones is currently vice chairman of the Washington Post Co. and chairman of the Washington Post newspaper.