You can take a photographic stroll around the Washington, D.C., rowhouse of Jennifer Lawson, CPB’s s.v.p., television and digital video content, thanks to Thursday’s Washington Post. The Real Estate section features a peek inside the 1909 architectural gem that Lawson and her husband Tony Gittens, founder and director of Film Fest DC, had modernized for their empty-nest years. The Post noted that the kitchen and adjacent seating area hold two of six televisions in the home. “I actually need to watch Downton Abbey — it’s my professional responsibility,” Lawson quips.
This item has been updated and reposted with additional information. After more than two decades on the air, NPR’s Talk of the Nation will come to an end in June to make way for the newsmag Here & Now, which will be revamped under a new partnership between NPR and Boston’s WBUR-FM. Talk of the Nation will air its last episode June 28, ending a 21-year-long run. The call-in talk show has helped launch big names in public media, including original host John Hockenberry, This American Life’s Ira Glass and PBS NewsHour’s Ray Suarez. NPR Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson said the network decided to end Talk of the Nation because a newsmagazine might pull a bigger audience in midday.
Patrick Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations, will be the featured guest on C-SPAN’s The Communicators at 6:30 p.m. Eastern Saturday, with a repeat at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Eastern April 1. He’ll discuss the future of public broadcasting with Communications Daily reporter Kamala Lane, and Communicators host Peter Slen.
Bret Marcus, executive producer of SoCal Connected on KCETLink in Los Angeles, addressed the award-winning investigative program’s future in a statement today. “SoCal Connected is going on hiatus as Season 5 ends this week, although we will continue to be on the air twice a week with some original programming and the best of the season,” said Marcus, s.v.p., news and factual programming. “As happens every year, there are questions about the show’s future. And the answer is always the same. SoCal Connected depends on public funding and we don’t know at this time what that funding will be.
Blue Ridge PBS in Roanoke, Va., is shutting down two transmitters due to state funding and federal sequestration, according to the Roanoke Times. Households in the Tri-Cities region of Bristol, Va./Tenn. and Kingsport and Johnson City, Tenn., and far southwest Virginia, will lose the station’s over-the-air digital signal. About 15 percent of viewers in that area receive its programming through digital antennas or converters. The state cut all funding for pubcasting last year, which meant a drop of about $1 million for Blue Ridge PBS, nearly a third of its operating budget.
Is KCETLink’s award-winning news show SoCal Connected ending production? There’s no official announcement from the pubcaster in Los Angeles yet, but co-host Madeline Brand tells Current that she’s “proud to have worked” on the program. “It’s a journalistic gem in TV news,” she said. “The show regularly aired investigative, hard-news stories and in-depth interviews — something that’s becoming increasingly rare in all media. Unfortunately, it costs a lot of money to do that.”
Judges in the 72nd annual Peabody competition selected winners as “the best in electronic media for the year 2012,” including PBS programs presented on Independent Lens, NPR’s coverage of the Syrian conflict and a ProPublica investigation produced with This American Life.
NPR called on rockers OK Go to mark the network’s move to new digs, the Washington Post reports. The performance, “filmed in meticulous, stop-motion-ish staccato at the old offices and the new — and on a truck weaving through the streets of Washington in between,” will be featured in a video that lands online late next month. NPR is relocating from 635 Massachusetts Ave. NW, in downtown D.C., where it has been since 1994, to 1111 North Capitol St. NE, near Capitol Hill.
New England Public Radio in Amherst, Mass., got a helping hand earlier this month from a famous friend when listener and local resident Bill Cosby staged a benefit performance for the station’s capital campaign. Cosby’s March 2 show at Symphony Hall in Springfield, Mass., raised $140,000 for the station, drawing more than 2,000 attendees who each paid from $37.50 to $75 to see the comic. The event stemmed from relationships between Cosby and various station staff that developed over the past few years. Cosby first got in touch Tom Reney, host of the station’s weeknight jazz show, says General Manager Martin Miller. Cosby and his wife then began donating money by sponsoring challenge grants during on-air fund drives, for which they were credited as “Dr. Bill and Dr. Camille.” The comedian visited the station in 2011 for an interview, and when he came back for a second interview, Miller discussed the station’s capital campaign with him.
Veteran radio pubcaster Tanya Ott is joining Georgia Public Broadcasting as vice president of radio, responsible for management of 17 stations statewide, GPB announced today. She assumes her post in mid-May. Ott is currently news director at WBHM-FM in Birmingham, Ala. She has also worked in Florida, Colorado and New York and for national programs including NPR’s Morning Edition and APM’s Marketplace. At GPB, Ott additionally will oversee multiple ongoing GPB initiatives, including the Southern Education Desk pubmedia consortium; the Center for Collaborative Journalism, a partnership between GPB Radio Macon, The Telegraph and Mercer University; and several statewide radio partnerships.
PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler takes on a controversial documentary aired by a local station, Denver-based Colorado Public Television, in his latest column. Burzynski the Movie — Cancer Is Serious Business ran as a March pledge special on CPT. It follows a Polish-born physician and biochemist Stanislaw Burzynski and his work at the Texas clinic he established in 1976 for a cancer treatment based on what he calls “antineoplastons.” As Getler notes: “There is almost nothing about this film that isn’t controversial.” Getler said he received about a dozen critical letters even before it even aired.
SoundCloud, the Berlin-based web company that serves as a hub for listening to and sharing audio, added a new tier of service this month for producers and media companies seeking more exposure to its users.
Reinvention Stories, part of pubmedia’s Localore initiative, is the recipient of one of nine grants totaling more than $1 million announced today by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The project, from producers Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert’s Community Media Productions, received $80,000 for its documentary, pubradio series and collaborative website about how Dayton, Ohio, is adjusting to a post-industrial economy. Also, Chicago doc house Kartemquin received two grants totaling $240,000 for films on the impact of natural disasters on poor communities and an alternative high school in rural North Carolina with a focus on digital technology. Filmmaker Barbara Kopple (Harlan County) got $250,000 for her Betrayal of the American Dream, exploring the country’s widening income gap and its impact on the middle class. Here is a full list of the winners.
Idaho Public Television General Manger Peter Morrill is retiring, the state Board of Education announced today. “Peter has been an exceptional leader, and our state has been truly fortunate to have a person of his caliber at the helm of Idaho Public Television,” said Don Soltman, acting board president. Morrill told Current the timing is right for the announcement: A state legislative committee is recommending a 9 percent hike in funding, station fundraising is solid and local content has received 53 national and regional awards this year. “Public broadcasting has been part of my life since I was 18 years old,” Morrill said. “And this position is the longest job I’ve ever held.”
The Supreme Court has declined to review a 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding an injunction against the streaming television provider ivi, reports Broadcasting & Cable, effectively ending the service. The Seattle-based ivi launched in September 2010, when it began selling worldwide access to 28 broadcast signals including those of pubcasters WNET in New York City and KCTS in Seattle — without asking for permission or even informing the stations. The controversial firm captured and encrypted TV stations’ signals for distribution through a web app to subscribers who paid $4.99 a month. WNET and WGBH were among 11 stations that sent ivi cease and desist letters soon after its launch; PBS was also part of a lawsuit against the startup. A U.S. District Court judge in New York granted an injunction to keep ivi from streaming the stations’ content without consent in February 2011, which the appeals court upheld.
After a season of bad press following PBS’s much-maligned 2012 decision to move its flagship independent documentary program POV from Tuesday nights to Thursdays, the show will move to Mondays for its 26th season, which premieres June 24. POV announced the lineup for its new season today. The program is also building off another recent round of good news: a $1 million grant from the MacArthur Foundation on Feb. 28. Its premiere episode will be Homegoings, a documentary about Harlem undertakers that was selected as part of the New York Museum of Modern Art’s 2013 Documentary Fortnight. The lineup, with 15 national broadcast premieres and two encore presentations, will also include the Oscar-nominated Palestinian film 5 Broken Cameras on Aug.
The first of four men who late last year accused former Sesame Street puppeteer Kevin Clash of sexual improprieties filed another lawsuit on Monday. Sheldon Stephens had previously recanted his accusations against Clash, who resigned from Sesame Workshop in November 2012. In this complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania, Stephens alleges a years-long sexual relationship beginning when he was 16 years old, and accuses Clash of drug use. Stephens also claims that as a minor, he did not have the capacity to consent to a sexual relationship and “suffered physical, psychological and emotional damages.” In a statement to USA Today, Clash’s attorney calls the lawsuit “meritless.”
Season 3 of the Masterpiece Classic hit Downton Abbey scored a 7.7 average rating and average season audience of 11.5 million viewers, according to Nielsen and PBS. Those figures topped Season 2 by 64 percent and 65 percent, respectively. The numbers are also comparable to the CBS newsmagazine 60 Minutes and Fox hit American Idol for the week of March 4. The Downton Season 3 finale on Feb. 17 garnered an 8.1 national rating and an average audience of 12.3 million viewers, making it the top-rated show of the night, beating all broadcast and cable competition in primetime.
WGBH News’ Jared Bowen received the Commonwealth Award recognizing “exceptional achievement in the arts, humanities and sciences.”
Bowen is an Emmy-winning reporter with WGBH-TV’s Greater Boston with Emily Rooney; host of the weekly TV show Open Studio with Jared Bowen; and a regular contributor to Morning Edition and WGBH’s Boston Public Radio. “Jared’s coverage takes him from breaking news to politics to arts and culture. In his cornerstone arts reporting, Jared covers the latest in the Boston area’s theater, art, music, dance and film scenes,” the Massachusetts Cultural Council stated in its awards announcement. “I’m beyond astonished and grateful to receive the Commonwealth Award,” Bowen said. “The fact of the matter is I simply love my work.