‘Memory Palace’ creator joins Met, NPR Board welcomes Watson, and other comings and goings in public media

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has selected Los Angeles–based podcast producer Nate DiMeo as its artist-in-residence for the 2016–17 season.

DiMeo, creator of the critically-acclaimed The Memory Palace from Radiotopia, will produce 10 podcasts focused on objects in the museum’s American Wing. The first is to be released early next month and will be available on both the Met’s website and via The Memory Palace’s podcast feed.

Previously DiMeo contributed to All Things Considered, Morning Edition and Marketplace.

Limor Tomer, the Met’s g.m. of concerts and lectures and former e.p. of music at New York Public Radio, said the museum hopes to put the podcasts on its audio tours for visitors.

As artist-in-residence, DiMeo travels to New York roughly every six weeks to meet with the Met’s curators, conservators and scientists. Tomer, who arranges the meetings, said DiMeo recently met with the scholar Morrie Hecksher, former chairman of the American Wing who spent nearly a half-century at the Met.

“I can’t imagine that this relationship won’t continue,” said Tomer, who selected DiMeo for the residency. “He’ll make lifelong friends at the museum.”

The residency comes with one irresistible perk for DiMeo: after-hours access to the Met’s galleries.

“It’s a thrill to be in these spaces with no one standing in your way,” DiMeo told Current. “My M.O. in every visit has been to have some time when it is me with a notebook and headphones on, listening to music and I just wander.”

One of the podcasts will focus on Dance in a Subterranean Roundhouse, an 1878 painting of a Native American ceremony by French artist Jules Tavernier.

“The Tavernier story is a ripping yarn unto itself,” DiMeo said.

This has been a busy year for DiMeo. In addition to hiring a part-time engineer and part-time research assistant for Memory Palace, he worked for MTV, helping to create new podcasts.

Watson (Photo: WGBH)

Watson (Photo: WGBH)

The NPR Board of Directors elected new member Carlos Watson at a Thursday meeting.

Watson is the c.e.o. and co-founder of OZY Media Inc. and host of the PBS late-night show Point Taken. He is serving in a newly created public director position on NPR’s board.

Also at the meeting, the board bid farewell to Kit Jensen, c.o.o. of ideastream in Cleveland. Jensen served on the NPR Board for six years and was chair from 2012–15.

The National Black Programming Consortium has selected the second group of fellows for its 360 Incubator and Fund.

The seven producing teams are vying for up to $150,000 in funds for their TV and web pilots or transmedia projects about the black experience. The project’s goal is to bring new voices into public broadcasting.

Starting Monday the fellows will work with veteran producers over the next six weeks. That leads to Pitch Black in New York City, NBPC’s interactive pitch session in front of a panel of public media and other executives and a live audience of funders, distributors and production company representatives.

The teams and their projects:

Chef Ricky, a hybrid cooking/reality broadcast series by Shirlette Ammons that follows former Iron Chef contestant Ricky Moore as he develops a restaurant in Durham, N.C.;

Invisible Universe, a three-part documentary broadcast series by M. Asli Dukan and Clarivel Ruiz that follows an archivist of fantasy, horror and science-fiction literature and cinema who uncovers a history of racism as well as black artists excelling in the mediums;

Selfies from the Hill, a broadcast series by Gregory Scott Williams Jr. highlighting portraits of three teenagers from a gentrifying neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, once home to the city’s black middle class;

So Young, So Pretty, So White, a broadcast series by Chanelle Aponde Pearson and Christiana Mbakwe, explores the often-secret world of skin bleaching, exposing multinational corporations that exploit regional discrimination against people with darker skin tones;

The Storyscape, a transmedia project by Dominique Taylor and Stephanie Fields, which blends entertainment and education for adults to encourage a love of reading beyond the formative years;

The wHOLE, a fiction web series by Ramon Hamilton and Glenn Martin, providing viewers with access to a rarely seen world of prison solitary confinement through real-life experiences — the cast and crew have spent a combined seven years in solitary; and

Urban Food Chain, a nonfiction web series by Tiffany Judkins and Artimis Fannin spotlighting activists seeking inventive solutions to food challenges.


Canadian broadcaster Talia Schlanger is joining World Café from WXPN as contributing host and radio producer starting Oct. 3. Schlanger is host, writer and technical producer of CBC Radio 2’s Weekend Morning and interim host of the weekly national music program Canada Live. Earlier in her career she acted and sang in rock musicals and spent a year in the U.S. national touring company of Green Day’s American Idiot.

Jack Hopke, afternoon host at WWNO in New Orleans, retired from the position last month after 13 years on the air. He continues as host of music shows including Saturday Night Jazz and as guest host for NPR News programs. Earlier in his career Hopke handled marketing and promotion at RCA, Warner Brothers and Windham Hill Records for artists including Prince, Madonna, Sheryl Crow and the Neville Brothers.

Boyer. (Photo: Kainaz Amaria)

Boyer (Photo: Kainaz Amaria)

Brian Boyer, supervising senior editor of the visuals team at NPR, told Current that he is stepping back from his role to spend time with his family. Boyer arrived at NPR in 2012 as founding editor of the NPR News applications team, which merged with the network’s multimedia team the following year. He worked in software and consulting before entering journalism.

Sheilah Kast, Midday host at WYPR in Baltimore, is leaving that role to create a new long-form current events interview program to follow Morning Edition on the station. Tom Hall, current host of Maryland Morning, begins hosting Midday Sept. 19.

Erika Aguilar, former Orange County, Calif., reporter for KPCC, left Sept. 2 to work as an independent producer and reporter. Earlier in her career she reported for KUT in Austin.



Longtime Radiolab producer Andy Mills has left the WNYC show to join the audio team at the New York Times.

Rebecca Feldhaus Adams is the new editorial project manager at WAMU in Washington, D.C. Previously Adams was talent director for the Association of Independents in Radio.

Also new at WAMU is Kelsey Proud, managing editor of digital at the station. Proud previously was digital innovation editor at St. Louis Public Radio.


WQED in Pittsburgh has hired librarian Liz Kostandinu to manage Inquire Within, its educational partnership with neighborhood libraries. The project helps librarians and the station’s digital early-literacy team introduce kids to PBS content about reading, math and technology. Previously Kostandinu was children’s programming coordinator for the Plum Borough Community Library.




Scott Hanley, g.m. of WBHM in Birmingham, Ala., for four years, has left the station to return home to Pennsylvania. The 700-mile commute “was not sustainable,” Hanley wrote in a blog post. “But I leave Alabama with great pride in our accomplishments and the people I’ve had the privilege to work with over these years.” Hanley said he “will be busy with media, consulting, and family business interests.”

KPTS-TV in Wichita has hired veteran pubcaster Victor Hogstrom as president. He previously led KCPT in Kansas City, Mo.; KIXE in Redding, Calif.; and WTCI in Chattanooga, Tenn. Hogstrom said in a statement that he will focus on forming “greater collaborations” among the staff, board and community in programming, fundraising, educational outreach and technology. He begins work Oct. 1, succeeding Michele Gors, who resigned last year. Dave McClintock has been serving as interim president.

KGOU-FM GM Karen Holp will retire from the Norman, Okla., later this fall. She’ll also retire from her adjunct teaching position at licensee University of Oklahoma’s Gaylor School of Journalism. Holp has led KGOU since 1988. Earlier in her career she was program director at WMRA-FM, Harrisonburg, Va., and WUIS-FM, University of Illinois at Springfield; and g.m. at KRWG-FM in Las Cruces, N.M. Holp has served on the boards of NPR, Western States Public Radio, Rocky Mountain Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Oklahoma Public Media Exchange. The station is accepting donations in her honor to fund a $75,000 new transmitter. A retirement reception Sept. 29 at the university will include an update on the capital campaign.

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