“Those of us working in public media have the potential as never before to expand and deepen understanding, tolerance, and common purpose among a broadly diverse citizenry,” writes Sue Schardt, executive director of the Association of Independents in Radio on MediaShift. How? Storytelling. “Storytelling has emerged as a safe zone that allows media practitioners to circumvent, or at least loosen up, some of the traditional boundaries that may be confining the industry during a time of great change,” she writes. “It is, in part, a way for us to flex and experiment on the edges of the often strict parameters of journalistic practice and the fixed broadcast medium that defines much of what we do — sort of like the Casual Friday versus Monday to Thursday in a workweek.”
The five-member FCC today voted unanimously to begin the process of reclaiming broadcast spectrum to auction for wireless broadband use, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Commissioners adopted the Incentive Auction Notice of Proposed Rule-Making, and now seek comment from stakeholders and the public on its recommendation for handling the massive undertaking. The auction, to open up bandwidth for mobile devices, will happen in three phases: TV broadcasters will offer spectrum for the lowest price, the FCC will repack remaining stations into a smaller section of the spectrum, and the freed-up spectrum will go to the highest bidder. The FCC is seeking comment on issues including auction design, repacking, unlicensed use of spectrum and transition deadlines. Congress authorized the auctions in February (Current, Feb.
The State We’re In, an English-language public radio series produced by Radio Netherlands Worldwide in partnership with WAMU in Washington, D.C., will shut down production next month, according to its producers. The show, which relates first-person accounts of life-changing experiences, has an audience reach of 12 million people, but it fell victim to domestic austerity measures imposed by the Dutch government in 2011. When Radio Netherlands’ government funding was cut by 70 percent, The State We’re In was reported to be one of the few programs to survive the transition. “We were assured at that time by Radio Netherlands’ outgoing management that the show was still going to be an integral part of Radio Netherlands, but those assurances didn’t hold,” Greg Kelly, the program’s editor, wrote in an announcement posted Sept. 28 on the show’s website.
A consultant’s report released Thursday afternoon recommends that the Salisbury University Foundation negotiate a deal with another public broadcaster to operate both of its Delmarva Public Radio stations as music stations, dropping the NPR News format now airing on WSDL 90.7 FM in Ocean City, Md. The foundation, licensee of WSDL and WSCL 89.5FM in Salisbury, Md., has been covering financial losses at the stations for three of the last four fiscal years — most notably covering a loss of more than $150,000 in 2008 — and faces increased capital expenses in relocating the stations’ studios from a university building that’s set to be demolished. The Delmarva stations closed fiscal 2010 in the black with about $25,000 in net income, but the overall financial picture and increased competition from other NPR stations in the market prompted the foundation to reconsider how the station is managed and financed. “It was a good opportunity for us to take a look at the stations and what’s happened over the last 25 years and what will happen in the future,” said Jason E. Curtin, interim assistant director of the Salisbury University Foundation. “We’re trying to find the best way to serve the area and be good stewards of the stations that we hold.” The foundation retained Public Radio Capital, the Colorado-based consultancy specializing in public radio signal expansion and preservation, to analyze the stations’ performance and recommend options for operating them in the future. According to Arbitron’s fall 2012 survey, Salisbury/Ocean City is the 140th largest market in the U.S. with a 12-plus listening population of 329,700.
A new report from Walrus Research shows that NPR’s Car Talk continued its streak as NPR’s most popular weekend program in Spring 2012, with Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me! coming in second and Weekend Edition Saturday a more distant third. The report says airing the three shows in sequence is the “ideal scheduling to benefit all three programs.” Car Talk goes into repeats starting next month.
Nebraska Educational Television’s Backyard Farmer — the longest-running local television program in the country — is celebrating its 60th season with a special, Backyard Farmer: 60 Years and Still Growing, and an event tonight on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. For the 60th anniversary special, producers went into the archives of the live call-in program, pulling interviews with panel members who tackled questions such as, “How fresh can manure be before you use it in your garden?” Panelists will be on hand at tonight’s event to answer questions, and NET will screen a blooper reel. The program airs Thursdays on NET during the growing season, mid-April through mid-September. Each show is also available on iTunes as a video podcast after the broadcast. It’s a co-production of NET Television and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension.
Two African-American Public Radio Consortium stations at historically black colleges and universities are offering jazz programs for national broadcast. Return to the Source with Douglas Turner is a traditional-jazz offering from WJAB-FM at Alabama A&M University, and The Soul of Jazz with Jamal Ahmad from WCLK at Clark Atlanta University combines classic and contemporary soul, jazz and world music. Each runs two hours weekly, and is available on Content Depot.
In an interview with the Kansas City Star, new CPB Chair and longtime KCUR radio pubcaster Patty Cahill recalls her 2009 Senate confirmation hearing for her appointment to the CPB Board. “I remember thinking, ‘How am I going to sit?’” she tells the newspaper. “Because I’m short and usually my feet don’t touch the ground and I sit on my leg. And I had been at KCUR so long, it seemed like getting a tattoo was a good idea, so I got one on my wrist. And it’s addicting, so whenever one of my daughters would get a tattoo I would go and get one.
Veteran public broadcaster Daniel Schiedel will be the new executive director of the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority, the OETA Board of Directors announced today. Schiedel has more than 21 years experience in public broadcasting. Currently he is general manager of KRSC-TV in Claremore, Okla. He previously served as g.m. of Wyoming Public Television Network, and has worked at pubTV stations in Missouri and South Dakota. Schiedel replaces John McCarroll, who served as OETA executive director for nine years and will retire Sept.
Cleveland commercial classical station WCLV-FM will begin operating as a noncommercial entity Jan. 1, 2013, the station’s owner, ideastream, announced yesterday. “The transition will allow generous businesses and organizations to support the work of WCLV, and will give individuals who appreciate hearing classical music on the radio the opportunity to provide support through donations large and small,” according to the press release. WCLV has been broadcasting since 1962. Last year it was acquired by public radio and TV broadcaster ideastream, but it continued to operate as a commercial station.
CPB has selected Crawford Media Services in Atlanta to digitize audio and video content for the American Archive. The CPB initiative is working to preserve local and national public media content from the past 60 years. So far, more than 100 public television and radio stations have identified some 1 million hours of programs, raw footage, unedited interviews, recorded speeches, scripts and photos. Around 40,000 hours will be preserved in the archive. Crawford has worked on similar archival projects for CNN, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the United States Marine Corps and the Coca-Cola Co.
In a meeting Tuesday (Sept. 25), a member of the Alabama Educational Television Commission accused two Alabama Public Television employees of giving false information during a recent court hearing, the Birmingham News reports. “We had two employees testify under oath to false information,” said Rodney Herring, a chiropractor from Opelika, Ala. “There’s a side of that where you could go so far as to say that’s perjury, there’s a side of that that maybe they just didn’t know what the heck was going on.” Herring was referring to testimony in August that was part of a lawsuit filed by former APT Executive Director Allan Pizzato over his abrupt June termination.
Madeleine Brand, who quit KPCC Sept. 21, told Current that “outside offers just became too attractive” for her to remain at the Pasadena station. Her hourlong morning Madeleine Brand show, which premiered on KPCC in September 2010, morphed last month into Brand & Martinez, when former ESPN sportscaster A Martinez signed on as co-host. The show also grew into a two-hour program for national distribution and will include a mix of segments intended to appeal to minority audiences. The changes were backed by a $1.8 million CPB grant to Southern California Public Radio in December 2011 as part of the One Nation Media Project, bolstering reporting and programming for and about Latinos and other people of color in the diverse Los Angeles area.
Pitch spots requesting donations for an audio preservation project at Detroit’s WDET did not violate fundraising ethics, according to an accredited fundraising consultant who reviewed the campaign at the station’s request. The spots, which simulated tape decay of recorded music in the station’s library to solicit donations for the preservation project, prompted an internal complaint that WDET had misled listeners about the state of its collection (Current, Sept. 10). WDET General Manager J. Mikel Ellcessor, who approved the spots, apologized to staff and to listeners who donated to the campaign, and pledged to have an independent consultant evaluate the matter. Rick Kress, a credentialed advanced certified fundraising executive retained by WDET, reviewed an audio sample from the spots and other materials generated by the fundraiser — including the letters of apology.
WGBH is offering a digitized collection of 50 episodes of the early pubTV debate program The Advocates, which initially ran on PBS from 1969 for six seasons. The programs are available on the station’s Open Vault archives site. “The Advocates staged debates about important public issues of the day and invited the public to mail in their votes to determine the winner — an early pre-cursor to voting/elimination-style reality television,” WGBH noted in the announcement. National figures appearing include Joseph Biden, Michael Dukakis, Barney Frank, Jesse Owens, Adlai Stevenson and Hubert Humphrey. Topics cover an array of issues such as gay marriage, financing of Social Security, limiting campaign contributions, tax credits for school tuition and government-funded healthcare for all Americans.
Now that Arbitron’s new ratings methodology is providing consistent and crunchable year-to-year data on radio listening, public radio programmers and producers are getting a clearer picture of listening trends — and it’s not a cheerful one. Cume and average–quarter-hour audience for NPR News stations has been falling for a year, according to NPR data. AQH began falling in 2008, after stations in the top 48 markets began the switch from diary to Portable People Meter ratings. Weekly cumes remained relatively consistent through spring 2011, then began a sharp decline. The slides have been driven in part by a fall-off in drivetime listening.
Anthony Tiano, president of KQED in San Francisco from 1979–93, died Aug. 12 at his home in Albuquerque, N.M. He was 71. At the time of his death he was president of Santa Fe Productions, which produced programming for public television stations. A statement from KQED said Tiano led the station “through a period of significant growth and change,” including starting a full seven-day schedule for KQED Public Television and the converting KQED Public Radio to an all-news format. Tiano spent more than 40 years running public television stations and producing programming for them.
George Stoney, a pioneering documentarian widely regarded as the father of public-access television, died July 12 at his Manhattan home, days after celebrating his 96th birthday. Stoney was a prolific filmmaker and longtime New York University professor, and was active on the boards of Manhattan Neighborhood Network, a public-access channel, and the Alliance for Community Media. He co-founded the Alternate Media Center, the organization that gave birth to public-access television. “A catalyst, that was the word for George,” said Barbara Abrash, former director of public programs at the Center for Media, Culture and History at NYU, and a longtime colleague and friend. “He inspired people to do what they could do best and was full of ambition, but only for worthwhile pursuits.”
Stoney was born July 1, 1916, in Winston-Salem, N.C., and his career ran the gamut: In addition to his work as a filmmaker, professor, and journalist, he served as a photo intelligence officer during WWII.
In the conclusion of an interview on Huffington Post, Bill Siemering, a founding father of NPR, talks about how the network now reflects his original goals. He tells University of Chicago Professor David Galenson about the importance of a good story, saying that although “personal storytelling is less common within the news magazine programs,” This American Life and Radio Lab “excel” at it. “In the very first All Things Considered,” Siemering recalls, “the first voice for the ‘teaser’ in the program was a nurse, who had been a drug addict, talking about when ‘Harry’ comes knocking on your door. ‘Harry’ being heroin. The point I was making was: we don’t want only an expert talking about drug addiction.