Robert Conley, first host of All Things Considered, dies at 85

Robert Conley, the first host of NPR’s All Things Considered, died of parotid cancer Nov. 16 at his home in Virginia. He was 85. As the host who inaugurated broadcast of NPR’s afternoon newsmagazine on May 3, 1971, Conley eschewed written scripts and delivered off-the-cuff intros to stories, while maintaining an air of professionalism. During ATC’s debut, Conley filled around six minutes of airtime while producers scrambled to bring a story on Vietnam War protests to the control room.

Lydon returns to Boston’s WBUR with new weekly show

Boston’s WBUR announced today that Christopher Lydon will rejoin the station to host and produce a weekly hourlong show, Open Source with Christopher Lydon. Bostonians last heard Lydon on WBUR when he hosted The Connection, a nationally syndicated interview show, from 1994 to 2001. He and much of his staff left WBUR in a bitter public dispute over ownership of their show, and Dick Gordon replaced him in the host’s chair. Lydon returned to the airwaves in Boston earlier this year as a contributor on WGBH. The new WBUR program will launch in January, airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. and with a repeat broadcast on weekends.

Sesame Workshop to get $20 million for worldwide financial education from MetLife

MetLife Foundation has pledged $20 million over the next five years to Sesame Workshop, the two announced today, to create financial educational content for low- and moderate-income families with young children around the world through digital media, broadcast, community outreach local events and seminars. World Bank research shows that more than 2.5 billion people live on less than $2 a day, most lacking access to basic financial services that could be the key to a more hopeful future. The two organizations will build a coalition of local partnerships worldwide to help deliver the content. The new initiative is planned to reach up to 10 countries and is expected to launch in 2014 in Brazil, China, India and Mexico, expanding later to Europe and the Middle East. “We see our partnership with Sesame Workshop as a powerful way to advance our new vision for financial inclusion throughout the world,” said Dennis White, president of the MetLife Foundation, “and we look forward to collaborating over the next five years to help more families prepare for their futures.”

The two collaborated in the past on initiatives involving health and emergency crisis response, among other issues.

PBS streaming app now on Apple TV

Apple has signed PBS to create an app for its Apple TV set-top box service, AllThingsD reported Nov. 19. The app will allow Apple TV users who sign in through Facebook, Google+ or PBS’s own registration system to access the pubTV network’s digital library of on-demand programs.

Previous seasons of Downton Abbey will be largely unavailable due to Amazon’s acquiring of exclusive on-demand rights to the program in June. But Apple TV users will be able to watch recent episodes of the show within a short window of their airing on PBS, including station reairings of the second and third seasons between now and December, a PBS spokesperson told AllThingsD. The Apple app is PBS’s latest expansion into set-top content streaming.

Former NBR co-anchor Hudson lands new spot at Miami’s WLRN

Tom Hudson, former co-anchor for Nightly Business Report, is stepping into a new position of vice president of news at WLRN as part of an executive reorganization at the Miami pubcaster, according to the Miami Herald, an editorial partner with the dual licensee. Hudson joined WLRN earlier this year as a special correspondent, creator and host of  The Sunshine Economy.  He also hosts The Florida Roundup, a weekly public-affairs program, and writes a weekly column in the Miami Herald’s Money section. Hudson lost his NBR job when the weeknightly newsmag was acquired by CNBC in February. The program, which originally was owned by WPBT in Miami, is now produced in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.

Terence Shepherd, WLRN’s former assignment editor, and Alicia Zuckerman, senior editor for enterprise reporting, will now run daily news operations of WLRN-Miami Herald News. Shepherd will be news director, overseeing hard-news coverage, and Zuckerman will supervise enterprise reporting and features, John Labonia, WLRN g.m., told the newspaper.

Patent-trolling bill would assist targets of nuisance lawsuits

A bipartisan bill to fight so-called “patent trolls” was introduced on Capitol Hill Monday, reports Broadcasting & Cable. Patent trolling, as the practice is known in the software industry, occurs when individuals or shell companies file broad, vague requests for software patents or ideas through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent holders then devote most or all of their company resources to filing lawsuits against companies whose products fit the description of their patents — such as podcasting. Several pubmedia podcasters have been targeted, including Jesse Thorn and his Bullseye program. The Patent Transparency and Improvement Act of 2013, backed by Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), would help consumers targeted in patent suits against companies by staying the case while the manufacturer litigates.

KPBS editorial employees approve representation by SAG-AFTRA

Staffers at dual licensee KPBS in San Diego voted Monday to join SAG-AFTRA, the union said in a statement. The new bargaining unit will cover 55 employees who produce, report and present content for television, radio and the Web. KPBS is the second pubmedia station in Southern California this year to organize with SAG-AFTRA; employees of KPCC in Pasadena voted to join in January. WBEZ in Chicago is currently petitioning to join the union, which was formed by the 2012 merger of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. SAG-AFTRA also represents pubmedia professionals at NPR, KQED in San Francisco, WNYC in New York and other stations.

NPR’s Slocum honored for leadership and service to public radio

The Public Radio Regional Organizations presented the annual PRRO Award Nov. 13 to NPR Chief Administrative Officer Joyce Slocum, whose five years with the network  included serving as NPR’s interim c.e.o. for nine months in 2011. The PRRO award recognizes behind-the-scenes “heroes” who have helped advance the field of public media throughout their careers. Georgette Bronfmann of Eastern Region Public Media presented the award, lauding Slocum for steering NPR during challenging times  and describing the respect she earned among colleagues for her leadership. As chief administrative officer of NPR, Slocum serves as secretary to the NPR Board of Directors and is an adviser to the NPR Foundation Board of Trustees.

Samuel English III, Aviation Weather host, dies at 79

Samuel James English III, host of Aviation Weather, a series produced and distributed by Maryland Public Television in the 1970s, died Nov. 3 of respiratory failure at his home in Pikesville, Md. He was 79. Known as “Jim” on the air, English delivered twice-weekly weather reports for private airplane pilots, and flew in his own spare time. The program was produced live, in partnership with the National Weather Service.

Raul Ramirez, longtime news director at KQED, dies at 67

Raul Ramirez, executive director of news and public affairs at San Francisco’s KQED, died Nov. 15 in Berkeley. He was 67 and had been fighting esophageal cancer since his July diagnosis. Born in Cuba, Ramirez began his career in the 1960s as a print journalist, working at major dailies such as the Miami Herald, the Washington Post and the San Francisco Examiner. He joined KQED in 1991, signing on as news director.

Moyers reverses decision to end show, which goes to 30 minutes in January

BOSTON — Bill Moyers, the journalist and veteran PBS personality who has come out of retirement at least twice to mount new weekly productions, announced Friday that he will be back in January with a 30-minute show. Three weeks ago, Moyers announced his decision to end production of Moyers & Company early next year, citing the end of two-year funding commitments. But the response from viewers and underwriters prompted him to reconsider, according to Executive Producer Judy Doctoroff, who spoke to public TV programmers during American Public Television’s Fall Marketplace. APT, which is showcasing new program offerings for local pubTV stations this week, distributes the series nationally. Moyers’ production team had already floated their proposal to keep the show going with station-based programmers, Doctoroff said in an interview.

NPR urges FCC to help stations dislocated by spectrum auction

NPR has asked the FCC to consider reimbursing broadcasters for the costs of any antenna relocations that may result from the upcoming auction of television broadcast spectrum. In a Nov. 4 comment filed with the commission, NPR pointed out that spectrum repacking may require broadcasters to upgrade towers, which in turn could temporarily dislocate radio antennas. “To avoid undue hardship to NCE and other radio stations as a result of the television spectrum reassignment, NPR urges the Commission to construe its statutory authority broadly and flexibly to assure cost reimbursement in all compelling cases such as these,” the network wrote. NPR can’t predict the costs or number of dislocations that may occur as a result of the auction, which is slated for next year, said Mike Riksen, v.p. for policy and representation.

CPB to support more collaborative journalism projects

CPB will devote $2.5 million to reporting projects spearheaded by stations and national producers, President Patricia Harrison announced Nov. 12 at the Public Radio Regional Organizations Super-Regional conference in Fort Washington, Md. The funder will provide $1.5 million for the Diverse Perspectives project, an initiative to support reporting from groups of news stations for local, regional and national use. Like the CPB-backed Local Journalism Centers, the stations will focus on particular topics. The number of stations to receive the two-year grants will depend on the range and size of proposals submitted, said Bruce Theriault, CPB senior v.p. of radio, but he estimated that about five groups will receive support.

APTS’ Butler sees “real progress” on GOP pubcasting support on Capitol Hill

BOSTON — More than half of the 22 signatories of a letter on Capitol Hill this week supporting public television’s efforts to include translators in costs of spectrum repacking were Senate Republicans, Patrick Butler told attendees at American Public Television’s Fall Marketplace. Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations advocacy organization, said that number seems small, and there is still “missionary work” to do. “But the number two years ago was zero, and I consider double-digits a sign of real progress,” he said. GOP members of the House and Senate also joined in letters to their respective appropriations committees identifying public broadcasting as a funding priority, and are working together as members of the newly reconstituted Congressional Public Broadcasting Caucus, Butler said. He said pubcasters are also seeing state funding return.  “During the five years since the recession began, public broadcasting had lost almost $100 million in state funding,” Butler said.