• Diane Rehm has no intention of retiring from public radio anytime soon, according to a feature story in this month’s Washingtonian. The 77-year-old host of WAMU’s The Diane Rehm Show, who has publicly battled spasmodic dysphonia since 1998, has “zero intention of hanging up her microphone,” according to the story reported by former NPR ombudsman and Current contributor Alicia Shepard. Last fall WAMU and NPR extended their contract to distribute Rehm’s show nationally for another three years. The article also discusses Rehm’s intimidating interview style and her pull in the book publishing industry, and allows her to sneak in a jab at On Point host Tom Ashbrook.
• I Am Big Bird: The Caroll Spinney Story, a documentary on the only original Sesame Street Muppeteer still working on the iconic PBS Kids show, had its world premiere at the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto in late April. The 80-year-old Spinney, who plays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, attended in person with his wife Debra. Early reviews of the film have been largely positive. The film has yet to find a distributor.
• Free Speech Radio News has filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the Pacifica Radio Foundation in Alameda County, Calif. FSRN is seeking $236,303 in damages it claims that Pacifica, its former funder, never paid. The show’s producers were forced to wind down production last year after the foundation failed to pay them for an extended period of time.
FSRN re-launched a self-distributed weekly show on May 9; the program is available for free download on fsrn.org and on SoundCloud.
• Georgia Public Broadcasting is moving fast to fill the broadcast schedule of Atlanta’s WRAS, the FM station it begins programming June 1 under a channel-sharing deal with Georgia State University. The dual licensee state network will adapt its nightly pubTV program On the Story for radio; Bill Nigut, co-host and executive producer of the TV show, will host the weekly hourlong broadcast for WRAS audiences. The expansion puts Eric Burns, former CNN supervising producer, in charge of day-to-day management of the TV production and online presence, according to the GPB release. GPB Radio’s On the Story will join Celeste Headlee’s daily news and public affairs program as original productions of WRAS.
GPB took over all the primetime airtime from a 100,000 Watt station that has been wholly student run for 40 years. The contract was negotiated between two government agencies in secret and presented to the public as a fait accompli. WRAS is a college media and Atlanta institution. Get on the #saveWRAS train American students. :)
An Atlanta institution that came in dead last in the last Atlanta ratings book. WABE does a lot better and I suspect WRAS will have more listeners with GPB instead of the Rotting Scabs and Festering Boils.