Broadcasters across Colorado, including several public media stations, raised $1.1 million Sept. 18 during Colorado Flood Relief, a live fundraiser. Torrential rains caused the massive flooding, which began Sept. 9. Floods have destroyed some 1,800 homes so far, with property losses statewide estimated at almost $2 billion, according to Reuters.
In a letter dated Sept. 20, a bipartisan group of senators tells the FCC that it is “essential” that the U.S. coordinate closely with Mexico and Canada over the quickly approaching broadcast spectrum auctions, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Signatories include members of the Commerce Committee and the chair of the Judiciary Committee, who insist that international issues be “addressed expeditiously.” Read a copy of the letter here.
WBUR in Boston, Northwest Public Radio in Pullman, Wash., and The Lens, a nonprofit newsroom in New Orleans, are among 10 recipients of this year’s Knight Community Information Challenge grants to strengthen community journalism and promote government transparency. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation awarded a total of $545,000 to the winners, each of which raised additional matching grants from community-based funders. With $50,000 from Knight and a matching grant from the Boston Foundation, WBUR will establish a statewide education reporting project, Learning Lab. The station partnered with Glass Eye Media, founders of the Homicide Watch D.C. crime blog covering murder cases in the District of Columbia, to develop the idea. Learning Lab aims to provide a forum for ideas to improve schools in Massachusetts.
Susan Lacy created PBS’s iconic cultural biography series in 1986, and will exit after signing a “very nice multiyear deal” to produce biographical films for the subscription channel’s documentary division.
NPR and WBGO-FM in Newark, N.J., are teaming up to produce Jazz Night in America, a series of radio broadcasts paired with live, high-quality video webcasts of jazz performances from venues across the country. The series will debut in April 2014, said Anya Grundmann, e.p. of NPR Music, who discussed the project with jazz programmers during a Sept. 18 conference session at the PRPD conference. Videos will stream on NPR’s and WBGO’s websites, and stations will be able to install a video player platform on their own sites to present the webcasts with their stations’ brands prominently displayed. The series will mark the most prominent visual presentation of live jazz performance in U.S. broadcasting since CBS presented concerts in the 1950s, said Josh Jackson, v.p. of content at WBGO.
Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton was close to retirement a few years back — but no more, she tells the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Eaton is making the rounds in the press in anticipation of her 320-page book, Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS, out next month. She was pondering retirement, she said, “before lightning in the form of Downton Abbey struck and before I wrote the book. In the writing of the book, in relishing the success of Downton and the success of Masterpiece, I thought: ‘Wait a minute.
The new Pink Martini disc is out Tuesday, with guest performances by two pubcasters: NPR’s Ari Shapiro (or, as Pink Martini calls him, “the handsome and brilliant radio superstar”) and Oregon Public Broadcasting President Steve Bass. The latest from the Portland-based self-described “little orchestra,” whose sounds range from Latin and jazz to pop and lounge music, is “Get Happy.” Listen for Shapiro singing on “Yo te quiero siempre,” and Bass playing a short clarinet interlude on “She Was Too Good To Me.” Phyllis Diller’s final recording is also on the disc; the legendary comedian died six months after recording “Smile.” The eclectic cuts include songs in German, French, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Farsi, Turkish and Romanian.
Jack Brown, longtime g.m. of Northstate Public Radio and the man who transitioned the Chico, Calif., station from a student-run enterprise to the NPR affiliate for northeast California, died in Chico Sept. 15. He was 68.
Betty Cope, the founding general manager of Cleveland’s pubTV station and one of the first women to ascend into television broadcast management, died Sept. 14 at her home in Bainbridge, Ohio. She was 87.
Detroit Public Television is using its new arts series, Detroit Performs, to showcase the Motor City’s talents on a wider scale. Local reaction to the show, now 10 weeks into broadcast, “has been tremendous,” DTV President Rich Homberg said in a note to his Major Market Group (MMG) pubTV coalition colleagues. “Every day we are hearing from new producers, emerging organizations and raving fans.”
The series grew out of the MMG Arts content initiative, curated by WNET in New York City, and DTV’s five-year-old “category strategy,” which set a course for engagement and partnership around specific topics. Similar efforts include DTV’s Great Lakes Now, which evolved from a reporting focus into a conservation conference attracting more than 300,000 participants. “We wanted to find a way for Detroit Performs to create a voice beyond our city,” Homberg said.
The financial stranglehold on Pacifica is taking down Free Speech Radio News, a progressive news show that relied on the five-station network for the bulk of its operating costs. The show, airing weekdays on 100 stations, will close production Sept. 27 and lay off its staff, a core of part-timers and an international network of nearly 100 stringers. Owed nearly $200,000 in back payments by the California-based Pacifica Foundation, FSRN’s board of directors decided Sept. 13 to shutter the program, holding out hope that FSRN could be revived under a different production model.
Lynn Fitch, station manager of KBOO-FM in Portland, Ore., has resigned after losing support from the community radio station’s board of directors, reports the Portland Tribune. On Sept.15, members of the KBOO Foundation elected four new board members, all recommended by the group Committee to Keep KBOO as KBOO, which opposed Fitch’s policies. The previous board had promoted Fitch from development director to station manager last year, when the station faced increasing financial pressures. “The board had given Fitch a mandate to change personnel and other policies,” the newspaper noted, “but those provoked a backlash at the alternative station, long a voice for music, news and public affairs programming not found elsewhere on the Portland radio dial.” The station currently has about 4,850 paid members, down about 6 percent from last year, and no longer receives CPB funding.
Susan Farmer, longtime president of Rhode Island’s only pubTV network, died Sept. 16 after a 12-year battle with cancer. She was 71. Farmer broke down barriers in Rhode Island by becoming the state’s first female secretary of state in 1982. After losing a bid for lieutenant governor in 1986, she was offered the position of president of Providence’s WSBE (now branded as Rhode Island PBS) the following year.
Robert Larson, a mission-driven public broadcaster who helped pioneer techniques for creating television programs and outreach for underserved communities, died Sept. 13 in Kissimmee, Fla., at the age of 83.
American Public Media has updated its popular online game Budget Hero to reflect the ongoing battle over sequestration cuts in Congress. This fifth version, backed by funding from CPB, also includes updated cost projections for federal spending in 2014 and new policy options to overhaul immigration policy, expand states’ Medicaid programs and reverse the effects of sequester cutbacks on defense and non-defense spending. The original game came out in 2008. Budget Hero currently gets some 40,000 plays a month, according to Linda Fantin, who heads APM’s Public Insight Network and oversees development of the game. The game has been played more than 1.7 million times, according to Diane Tucker, director of the Wilson Center’s Serious Games Initiative and APM’s partner.
Public Radio Exchange is adding a new weekly show to its development slate — Reveal, a joint production with the Center for Investigative Reporting. The hourlong series will be hosted by Al Letson of State of the Re:Union and feature investigative stories generated by CIR. The partners plan to develop relationships with other investigative organizations and news stations to bring in additional reporting. Reveal is scheduled to hit the air next year, so PRX and CIR are producing a pilot to be distributed to stations next week. Details about the reporting to be presented in the first show are under wraps, but CIR and PRX officials described it as an original national investigative piece dealing with veterans’ issues.