WNYC, the producer of public radio’s Radiolab, has found “no reason to believe” that frequent contributor Jonah Lehrer’s appearances on the show are “compromised.” Lehrer resigned from The New Yorker Sunday after Tablet magazine revealed that he had made up quotes attributed to Bob Dylan in his book Imagine: How Creativity Works. Here’s the full statement from WNYC:
Jonah Lehrer has been a regular contributor to Radiolab as an “explainer,” making technical science more accessible and bringing much needed meaning to new scientific research. He has been a lively and compelling voice and has helped make the history of science come alive for listeners. We are deeply saddened by the news this week about such a talented and valued colleague.
Georgia Public Broadcasting is laying off eight full-time employees and nine part-timers as it outsources its master-control operations over the next 90 to 120 days, station spokesperson Nancy Zintak told Current. Transitioning its master control to Encompass Digital Media in Atlanta will save the state network around $300,000 annually, Zintak said. Zintak said GPB “looked very carefully” at the two CPB-backed public-broadcasting centralcasters, the Jacksonville Digital Convergence Alliance that serves seven stations from Florida, and Centralcast LLC, running controls for 13 stations in New York and New Jersey. A “huge part” of the decision, Zintak said, was that Encompass is an Atlanta-based company. “And, Encompass is up and running now,” she said.
The new nonprofit newsroom that NPR and WWNO announced today will not compete directly with the Times-Picayne, NPR’s Kinsey Wilson told Current in an interview. The Wall Street Journal, which first reported on plans for a hybrid radio-digital news operation covering New Orleans, played up the potential for competition between the news outlets, but Wilson sees it differently. “I wouldn’t characterize it as a competitor,” said NPR’s chief content officer and digital strategist. “Frankly I don’t think that’s how anybody locally [sees it], and certainly not how we’re looking at it.” WWNO and various New Orleans community leaders attempted to rally behind the T-P when cutbacks were announced in June, Wilson said.
NPR is launching a new nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans in conjunction with WWNO, the local public radio station owned by the University of New Orleans, the Wall Street Journal reports. The partners announced the changes today. The new venture, which will include a revamped, local-news–focused WWNO lineup as well as the website NewOrleansReporter.org, is a response to the declining resources of the city’s daily for-profit newspaper, the Times-Picayune. On June 12 the owners of the T-P announced plans to cut 201 personnel, nearly a third of its staff, and cut back print operations to three days a week beginning in the fall. “This is an exciting opportunity to converge digital, mobile and broadcast together in a multiplatform newsroom for New Orleans,” Paul Maassen, g.m. of WWNO, said in an accompanying press release.
Sesame Workshop is getting into the for-profit educational franchise business, starting with India, where it’s launching Sesame Schoolhouse preschools and after-school clubs, reports the Wall Street Journal’s India Real Time blog. The Workshop has had a presence in the country since 2006 with Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Hindi version of Sesame Street. Sesame Workshop India also takes the show on mobile screens into slum communities in five cities. Sesame Workshop aims to have 20 franchised schools open by March 2013, with plans for 382 within five years, according to the report. So far, one has opened in Jaipur, the capital and largest city in the northwest Indian state of Rajasthan.
In a move signalling its ambitions to extend its clout and influence in public radio, Boston’s WGBH has acquired Public Radio International, the Minnesota-based program distributor of radio programs such as This American Life, The World and The Takeaway. Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but the sale will help to stabilize the nonprofit program distributor PRI, which ran an operating deficit of $2 million in 2011, according to PRI spokesperson Julia Yager. “This is a deal borne out of shared visions,” Yager said in an interview with Current. PRI began examining its options last year as its leadership considered the implications of various funding scenarios for public media. PRI looked for partners to help it continue distributing radio programming and found that WGBH was best aligned with its own mission and values.
The national board of the Pacifica Foundation voted Sunday (July 22) to begin a search for two new top executives. The board will not renew contracts for Executive Director Arlene Engelhardt and Chief Financial Officer LaVarn Williams, which both expire Nov. 30. The two were invited to apply for new terms in their positions. The action was reported in an email to the SaveKPFA listserv and confirmed by Margy Wilkinson, chair of the local station board at KPFA, Pacifica’s Berkeley station, who attended the meeting.
Oregon Public Broadcasting is making major changes to its broadcast radio lineup as of Aug. 6, reports The Oregonian. “All the long-form music programs are going away from OPB radio,” John Bell, director of member communications for OPB, told the newspaper. Gone are The Thistle and Shamrock, the Celtic music show the station has carried since the 1980s; the local In House and American Routes are moving to opbmusic.org and HD radio. The variety show eTown is canceled, as are the comedy program Michael Feldman’s Whad’Ya Know?
NPR, PBS and the Association of Public Television Stations are among broadcast organizations weighing in with the FCC on its April proposal for a change in policy to allow pubcasters to raise money for charities and other nonprofits on the air without first obtaining a waiver. All three are opposed. Other pubcasters filing comments include New England Public Radio and the University Station Alliance, which also oppose the change, and North Carolina’s UNC-TV, which “generally supports” the change. Several religious organizations, including the National Religious Broadcasters, also back the proposal. Joint comments from PBS and APTS, filed Monday (July 23), urge the FCC to limit any rule change to licensees that do not receive a CPB community service grant.