On May 16, David Koch, billionaire and powerful backer of conservative causes, resigned from the board of WNET in New York City. The resignation “was the result, an insider said, of his unwillingness to back a media organization that had so unsparingly covered its sponsor,” writes Jane Mayer in the New Yorker. The problem, according to the story, stemmed from a documentary examining Koch’s wealth and influence, “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream” by filmmaker Alex Gibney. The doc was set to run last year, just as WNET was about to begin a big capital campaign. Koch “had been planning to make a very large gift,” the story said.
New York Public Radio has applied to the FCC to acquire 90.3 FM in Ossining, N.Y., from community licensee Hudson Valley Community Radio for $400,000. The broadcaster plans to use the new signal as a repeater for WQXR, its classical music station airing on 105.9 FM in New York City. Ossining is about 40 miles north of the city, on the eastern bank of the Hudson River. The addition of 90.3 FM would expand WQXR’s reach to areas of Westchester County that were within its coverage area when it was owned by the New York Times. NYPR’s 2009 purchase of WQXR was a three-way transaction with Spanish-language broadcaster Univision that involved moving the classical station to a weaker signal.
KCLU-FM in Thousand Oaks, Calif., will extend its range to the northwest next month when it begins broadcasting on a new full-power signal in Santa Maria and translator in San Luis Obispo. California Lutheran University, KCLU’s licensee, acquired KHFR and the translator May 6 from Family Stations Inc. The religious broadcasting chain is led by Harold Camping, whose frequent and faulty predictions of apocalypse have received widespread attention. The school paid $475,000 in the deal. The new signals sign on June 18 and will carry local news, traffic and weather.
NPR and the Association of Independents in Radio have launched the Freelance and Station Contributor Resource Site, an online repository of information for reporters interested in filing stories with the network. “This first of its kind site includes Ethics Guidelines, examples of good freelance/station producer stories, ‘how stories go from idea to air,’ key editorial contacts, FTP filing guidelines, the most current AQH audience data for producers airing features on NPR programs, and more,” wrote AIR Executive Director Sue Schardt in an email announcing the site. Freelancers who want to sign up should go to nprstations.org and fill out the registration form, selecting “AIR” under “Station Where You Work.” Non-AIR members are also permitted to join by using the organization’s name. Schardt noted that many of AIR’s newest members are under 34 years old and have never worked with NPR. The site is dedicated to Bill Siemering, NPR’s first program director and a longtime AIR member.
The nonprofit InsideClimate News won this year’s National Reporting Pulitzer Prize for its investigative series The Dilbit Disaster: Inside the Biggest Oil Spill You’ve Never Heard Of. Reporters Elizabeth McGowan, Lisa Song and David Hasemyer took on a seven-month investigation about a 2010 oil spill in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The winning package consisted of a three-part narrative and follow-up articles delving deeper into the circumstances of the oil spill. “It was an important story, and we told it well through the eyes of the people who experienced it and who are investigating it,” said David Sassoon, founder and publisher of ICN. Sassoon started ICN six years ago as a blog with just two people.
Three NPR journalists will start academic fellowships starting this fall, with Dina Temple-Raston and Alison MacAdam joining the Nieman program at Harvard, and Louisa Lim attending the University of Michigan as a Knight-Wallace fellow. Temple-Raston, who covers counterterrorism for the network, will study the use of big data in intelligence gathering. MacAdam, a senior All Things Considered editor, will study the business of the art world. In Michigan, Lim will study the sustainability of China’s current political structures. She currently reports from Beijing.
The University of Kentucky has sued a reporter at its public radio station, WUKY in Lexington, in an attempt to guard information she had requested about surgical practices at its pediatric hospital. By filing the complaint, UK is challenging the state’s attorney general, who in March endorsed reporter Brenna Angel’s request for documents. UK declined the AG’s request as well, citing state and federal privacy laws. The dispute began in December 2012, when Angel made an Open Records Request to the university regarding the cardiothoracic surgery program at Kentucky Children’s Hospital in Lexington. The program has been suspended pending an internal review, according to local media reports.
MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — PBS President Paula Kerger called for local public TV stations and PBS to move beyond their reputations as a “dysfunctional family” to embrace “the power of a collective system” to strengthen their public service. In a keynote speech opening this year’s PBS Annual Meeting, Kerger said public television has reached an important moment in its history — one that she considers to be “the most important moment of my tenure” as PBS president. Kerger pointed to the outpouring of support for public TV when its federal funding came under attack during the fall presidential elections and the international attention and praise that accrued to PBS and stations following the blockbuster Masterpiece Classic hit Downton Abbey. “We have the potential to accomplish great things,” Kerger said.
Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns is adapting a book about cancer into a six-hour series for public TV, reports the New York Times. The project was originally conceived by Sharon Rockefeller, CEO of WETA in Washington, D.C., who read Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer in late 2010. Rockefeller herself had been treated for advanced cancer. The broadcast will coincide with an outreach campaign.
Aereo, the over-the-air TV streaming service that broadcasters have gone to federal court to block, plans to expand into Atlanta, its third major market, next month. The move into Atlanta is to take effect June 17. Aereo’s launch in Boston is scheduled for May 15. In March 2012, Aereo began offering daily, monthly or annual subscriptions to television viewers in New York. It uses dime-sized antennas to capture broadcast signals and convert them into streaming video distributed over the Internet.
San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor is recommending that the district’s pubTV station, KCSM, be sold to a spectrum speculator owned by private equity firm The Blackstone Group. Mark Albertson, who covers technology in the San Francisco area for Examiner.com, reported Monday that Ron Galatolo, chancellor of the college, had chosen LocusPoint out of the four bidders for the station. Other interested buyers include: Public TV Financing, an arm of Independent Public Media, a nonprofit working to preserve noncommercial spectrum; KMTP-TV, a multicultural independent public TV station licensed to Minority Television Project Inc. in San Francisco; and the Oriental Culture and Media Center of Southern California, a nonprofit promoting communication among different cultures. The Blackstone Group LP, which recorded a $2 billion profit in 2012, owns 99 percent of LocusPoint through its “Blackstone Tactical Opportunities” division, according to FCC filings. A pair of veteran telecom executives owns the remaining 1 percent.
Boston NPR station WBUR announced May 10 two leadership changes in its newsroom. Richard Chacón will fill the newly created position of executive director of news content, while Tom Melville has moved to news director from the role of executive editor of content. Chacón was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University and an Ethics Fellow at The Poynter Institute. He will start at WBUR June 10. Prior to joining WBUR in 2011, Melville was news director at New England Cable News.
NPR and Miami’s WLRN are collaborating to boost coverage of Latin America, with NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro assigned to a new foreign desk in São Paulo. In addition to Garcia-Navarro, the team of journalists includes Tim Padgett, a longtime reporter on Latin America and the Caribbean who previously wrote for Time and Newsweek and recently joined WLRN. Padgett’s primary task will be to coordinate coverage from Miami. Four reporters on the staff of the Miami Herald and its sister Spanish-language publication, El Nuevo Herald, will also contribute. WLRN and the Herald have collaborated on news coverage for a decade.
Ousted Iowa Public Radio C.E.O. Mary Grace Herrington on Thursday reached a six-figure settlement with her former employers that staves off future litigation. According to Iowa Public Radio, Herrington will receive two payments totaling $197,000 in return for forgoing any legal claims against IPR. The settlement was reportedly for “emotional distress and other compensatory damages, and attorneys’ fees and expenses.”
Herrington was removed as c.e.o. in February by a 6-1 vote of the board of directors. Her dismissal came after the IPR board began responding to internal complaints about staff morale in June, according to board-meeting minutes and local press accounts. Herrington had been chief executive since 2009, leading IPR through a signal expansion and format differentiation that created two distinct public radio channels for Iowans.
At Texas Public Radio, “basic pet memberships cost $60, the same as basic human memberships,” according to the San Antonio Express-News. And so far, the new tactic is paying off. Of 617 new memberships, 126, or about 20 percent, are pets. That’s outselling a new children’s membership five to one. Pet members receive a “TPaRf” scarf and small bowl or rope toy.