This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. Independent Public Media this week unveiled a new program to provide bridge funding to financially troubled pubTV stations. The loans will help them stay on-the-air through the FCC’s incentive spectrum auction, and require a pay out from auction proceeds. IPM designed the loan program to assist noncommercial broadcasters until they can sell off some, but not all, of their spectrum bandwidth through the FCC auction, and assumed that stations will gain a big pay-off by participating. Once auction proceeds begin rolling in, IPM will recover the costs of auction expenses and then principal and interest on its loan.
What do the holidays sound like in Austin, Texas? Austin’s KUT-FM is answering that question with an “Austin-centric” stream of holiday music, now airing on its new station, KUTX 98.9 FM, and on its website at kut.org. The holiday tunes are airing while KUT prepares the launch of its new all-music format on KUTX Jan. 2, when it will also move KUT to an all-news format. Music shows now on KUT will migrate to the station, which will pick up some additional music programs and air performances from a new studio at KUT as well.
The Latino Public Radio Consortium and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters are joining the Austin, Texas-based Artists for Media Diversity (A4MD) to premiere a virtual online album, “Artists for Vieques.” The fundraiser will support construction of WVQR-FM, which will be the only public radio station on the small Puerto Rican island. The U.S. Navy used Vieques as a bombing range and testing ground until protests forced it from the island in 2003. Artists including the popular Puerto Rican band Calle 13, Willie Nelson and Los Lonely Boys donated songs for exclusive use. Funds generated by sales will go toward building and launching Radio Vieques before its June 30, 2013, FCC deadline.
Lloyd Wright received the 2012 William Kobin Public Television Leadership Award from public TV’s Major Market Group. Wright has served as president of WFYI Public Media in Indianapolis for more than 23 years and was recently re-elected to his fourth term on the PBS Board of Directors. For the past two years he’s also served as chair of the MMG’s Board of Directors. The award was established in 2010 in honor of Bill Kobin, among the first producers of national programs for National Educational Television (NET), the forerunner of PBS. Kobin also headed stations in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and led the MMG for 14 years until retiring in 2011.
Conrad, president and co-founder of the 50-year-old Cleveland-based classical music station, received ideastream’s “Great Idea Award” for his service as a leading classical musical broadcaster, producer and distributor of cultural programming. Ideastream praised Conrad and his colleagues for ensuring that WCLV remains a treasured resource by donating the commercial station to the nonprofit ideastream, operator of WVIZ-TV and WCPN-FM. The transfer takes effect Jan. 1, 2013. “This will complete the transition of WCLV into the ideastream family and will give listeners who appreciate classical music on the radio as well as businesses, foundations and other organizations, the opportunity to support this institution,” wrote Conrad on the WCLV website.
PBS has restructured its senior management, effective immediately, elevating programmer/producer Beth Hoppe to chief programming executive and general manager, according to a memo circulated to PBS stations today. Chief programmer John Wilson, who has worn many hats since joining PBS in 1994, will focus on fundraising programs as senior v.p., pledge strategy and special projects. Wilson will “build on the experiments undertaken this year to reshape our pledge programming and will continue to work closely with PBS colleagues, producers and stations to develop these plans,” said PBS Chief Operating Officer Michael Jones, in his memo announcing the management changes. Hoppe signed on at PBS last year as one of Wilson’s deputies. She has specialized in nonfiction programming during a TV career that includes a run as one of PBS’s hottest producers and a stint producing and developing science programming for Discovery Studios.
WNYC’s Toms River, N.J.-based transmitter, which had gone dark when Superstorm Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore community Oct. 29, came back on the air Dec. 14, according to WNYC spokesperson Jennifer Houlihan.
The FCC has granted permission to WNET, parent company of Thirteen in New York City and operator of NJTV, to broadcast a concert fundraiser for victims of Hurricane Sandy. 12-12-12: The Concert for Sandy Relief will air at 8 p.m. Eastern Wednesday on WNET and other outlets. Performers at Madison Square Garden for the four-and-a-half hour show include the Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Kanye West, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, Eric Clapton, Alicia Keys and Billy Joel. WNET will air the show on a 30-minute delay, a spokesperson said, to avoid disruption of its public affairs programming. Donations are being accepted online now, and viewers also may call to pledge during the concert.
A fourth accuser has filed the third lawsuit against former Elmo puppeteer Kevin Clash, who resigned from Sesame Workshop in the wake of the multiple allegations of underage sexual contact. The Miami Herald is reporting that Clash paid for this alleged victim, an anonymous Florida resident, to fly to New York for a visit. The lawsuit contends that Clash “knowingly paid to transport a minor across state lines for the purpose of satisfying his sexual interests.” Clash’s attorney, Michael Berger, said in a statement Monday that the lawsuit “is without merit and we will vigorously defend the case and Mr. Clash’s reputation.”
During last month’s Fall Marketplace conference in Sanibel Harbour, Fla., APT honored Doc Martin, Nightly Business Report, Rick Steves’ Hidden Europe and New Scandinavian Cooking with Programming Excellence Awards, recognizing the four series for their positive impact on public TV based on a number of factors, including scope of content, execution, originality, creativity and effectiveness. APT also recognized Robert (Bob) Scully, host and producer of Scully/The World Show, for his outstanding contributions to public television. Scully has provided “10 years of smart television programming” to stations through APT distribution, APT said. He’s also awarded $80,000 in travel scholarships to 63 local station programmers over the years, making it possible for those whose stations couldn’t afford to send them to APT’s Fall Marketplace to attend the event. APT President Cynthia Fenneman presented “Savvy Scheduler Awards” to programmers at five public TV stations, honoring those who have used APT programs to greatest advantage.
More than a decade ago, I was appearing on-air during a television pledge drive when a phone bank volunteer said a caller on his line insisted on talking to me. I picked up the phone with some trepidation and — sure enough — a WXXI member complained angrily about getting too much direct mail. He was especially upset because he had received a letter inviting him to join WXXI when he was already a member. I apologized and, to make up for his inconvenience, invited him to lunch and a tour of the station. He accepted, and took a bus to the station (he didn’t drive) to meet with me.
Two years after Antioch College reopened its campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio, it negotiated an $8 million deal to buy back WYSO, NPR News and contemporary music station broadcasting at 50,000-watts on 91.3 MHz. Antioch University, a five-campus university system, has operated WYSO since 2008, when its undergraduate school in Yellow Springs shut down. A group of Antioch College alumni bought the school and most of its assets in 2009 and accepted a new class of freshmen in fall 2011. The $8 million purchase agreement announced Dec. 10 transfers ownership of WYSO back to the small liberal arts college in Yellow Springs; it also strikes clauses in the 2009 purchase agreement that would have allowed the university to claims on Antioch College’s campus or assets.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science singled out the first of four BURN documentary specials, “Particles: Nuclear Power After Fukushima,” which aired March 11, 2012, the first anniversary of the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. The series was produced by SoundVision Productions in partnership with American Public Media’s Marketplace and distributed by APM. The award citation recognizes SoundVision Executive Producer Bari Scott, Host Alex Chadwick, Managing Producer Mary Beth Kirchner, Senior Producer/Editor Robert Rand and Technical Director/Mix Engineer Robin Wise. AP science reporter Seth Borenstein, a judge in the competition, called the broadcast “gripping, informative and thorough — radio science journalism at its best.” Larry Engel, an associate professor in the American University School of Communication, praised its “excellent combination of story reporting, writing, character development, and sound recording and editing.”
The award was announced Nov. 14, and the winners will receive $3,000 and a plaque at the AAAS Annual Meeting in Boston in February 2013.
A group of local boosters looking to take over operations of Delmarva Public Radio’s two public radio stations submitted a bid last week that outlined their proposal to preserve the stations’ existing formats, but the Salisbury University Foundation has postponed any decisions on the future of WSDL in Ocean City, Md., and WSCL in Salisbury. During its regular quarterly meeting on Dec. 5, directors of the foundation did not discuss or vote on bids submitted by organizations seeking to operate the stations, according to Jason Curtin, interim executive director. The foundation is an affiliate of Salisbury University that holds broadcast licenses for the two stations. “We are not going to rush into any decisions,” Curtin said.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal said he hopes to “use Georgia Public Broadcasting as an economic development tool to a greater extent than we’re currently doing,” with the appointment of former Republican state Sen. Chip Rogers to an executive position at the station, the Atlanta Journal Constitution is reporting. Deal made the comment to WABE-FM, a pubstation not affiliated with the state network. Rogers, a controversial politician who resigned from the legislature last week, will oversee a new GPB programming initiative promoting economic development and jobs. When the WABE reporter asked Deal about the station’s editorial independence in the wake of the appointment, the governor replied: “I don’t consider job creation for the citizens of our state to have a political connotation to it. It’s simply doing what’s best for our state.”
The Maine Public Broadcasting Network is considering a six-month pilot of an over-the-air channel covering the state legislature, premiering perhaps as early as February 2013. Programming would include daily Maine House and Senate proceedings as well as select committee hearings and press conferences. MPBN President Mark Vogelzang said in the announcement that the State House Channel “would, for the first time, provide open access to public policy debate and the decision-making process of our state government” to all citizens. MPBN’s Board of Trustees and Maine’s Legislative Council must approve the proposal before launch. UPDATE: The channel was approved on Jan.
This story has been updated. KCRW in Santa Monica, Calif., is the only radio station to partner with streaming music service Spotify on its upcoming new music discovery platform, debuting early next year, and one of only 25 American outlets to be included. The station will offer several themed playlists — such as a “Rainy Day Music Mix” — as well as the most-played tracks on KCRW’s signature music show Morning Becomes Eclectic. KCRW was the first American station to launch a music discovery app on the Spotify platform, KCRW Music Mine for Spotify, which is now one of the most popular apps on the site. The Music Mine app for iPad was originally developed by Public Radio Exchange.
After a two-year fight, documentary filmmaker Phillip Rodriguez has gained access to autopsy results, investigative documents and coroner’s photographs relating to the controversial 1970 killing of journalist Ruben Salazar by a Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputy, according to MALDEF, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Rodriguez is working on a film about the murder, Ruben Salazar: The Man in the Middle, for PBS. The project was funded by Latino Public Broadcasting in 2010. Over the past two years, MALDEF said, the Sheriff’s Department had claimed the documents were exempt from public records requests. Sheriff Lee Baca allowed a limited public inspection of the records in March 2011, but refused to allow copies to be made.
NPR fans will get a new chance to get up close and personal for the holidays Dec. 14 and 15, when the network will open the doors of its Washington, D.C., headquarters to the public for a two-day NPR Shop Warehouse Sale-a-bration. The event, the first of its kind, will allow visitors to buy official NPR merchandise for deep discounts, enter NPR Shop raffles and meet and mingle with some of public radio’s stars as they give live talks and performances. The lineup of NPR personalities will include Susan Stamberg, Ken Rudin, Guy Raz, Scott Simon and Carl Kasell, with a live performance from NPR Music’s Alt.Latino co-host Felix Contreras as well as a live taping of the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast.
Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (South Carolina), a longtime public broadcasting foe, is departing the Senate to lead the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, the Wall Street Journal is reporting. DeMint has circulated letters on Capitol Hill attempting to defund CPB, and sponsored several bills to do the same.