Two Chicago stations pick up Smiley & West after WBEZ cancels show

The Smiley & West show is being picked up by two Chicago radio outlets, after WBEZ dropped the program due to sagging audience numbers. Tavis Smiley and his co-host, author and activist Cornel West, will be heard on Newsweb Radio progressive talk WCPT-AM and Midway Broadcasting urban news/talk WVON-AM, reports Chicago media critic Bob Feder. Thirteen stations have dropped the show since June 2011, with several taking issue with the co-hosts’ political opinionating or citing complaints from listeners. WBEZ’s cancellation and related comments from Torey Malatia, station president, triggered an angry letter from Smiley that sparked a widely reported controversy in Chicago. The program is distributed by Public Radio International.

Superstorm Sandy sidelines FM signals of New Jersey’s WFMU

Superstorm Sandy has knocked both transmitters of freeform WFMU in Jersey City, N.J., off the air, but the station is still webcasting from the Pittsburgh home of DJ Doug Schulkind. The station is surrounded by water and has no power, but its studios did not sustain damage. Current is working on coverage of other stations affected by the storm. Was your station or others that you know of affected? Leave a comment or email us at

Documentary filmmakers win extension on ‘fair use’ of DVD, streaming video content

The U.S. Copyright Office has renewed an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that allows documentary filmmakers to continue to rip content from DVDs and streaming video for “fair use” incorporation into their work, according to Kartemquin, a Chicago documentary house that was part of a coalition that worked to originally secure the right in 2010. “However,” Kartemquin noted, “the decision not to allow an exemption for Blu-Ray means that the future is uncertain and in some ways worryingly limited.”

WQED’s unique all-pledge channel surpasses fundraising projection

The all-fundraising content WQED Showcase multicast channel in Pittsburgh has brought in $140,000 in pledges in its first year — that’s $30,000 more than projected, according to the local Post-Gazette. “Over 40 percent of donations through Showcase were new donors,” Deborah Acklin, president of WQED Multimedia, said at an Oct. 25 station board meeting. The Showcase channel launched late last year, apparently a first in the pubcasting system. The newspaper also reports that on WQED, concerts and regional specials “aren’t inspiring viewers to donate as in years past, prompting a reduction of such pledge fundraising days by 18 percent.”

FCC spectrum workshop addresses timing, compensation, repacking, more

The FCC’s first spectrum auction workshop for broadcasters, Oct. 26 at its headquarters in Washington, D.C., covered a wide range of concerns from stations, reports Broadcasting & Cable, including new channel assignments, the timing of the auctions and compensation plans for stations giving up bandwidth. And Media Bureau Chief Bill Lake said that while the auctions would directly involved only the top 25 to 35 markets, spectrum repacking will affect far more. The workshop is archived online at the FCC website here.

Fajardo exits as WMFE converts into a radio-only outlet

After five years as president of Orlando’s WMFE, the Florida pubcasting outlet that completed the sale of its TV station last month, José Fajardo will leave the position on Dec. 1. His departure follows closure of the $3.3 million transaction transferring ownership of WMFE-TV to the University of Central Florida. Under an earlier sales contract, negotiated in 2011, the pubTV station was to be purchased by Community Educators of Orlando Inc., a nonprofit affiliate of Texas-based religious broadcaster Daystar Television. But the transaction came under FCC scrutiny and was withdrawn.