Friday roundup: WUGA cuts local programming; channel sharing is “feasible”

• WUGA-TV in Athens, Ga., is cutting all local programming from its schedule and eliminating six staff members as of June 30, the University of Georgia announced Thursday. The changes come as a result of a study requested by Jere Morehead, president of UGA, the station’s licensee. The study determined that the cost of ramping up local programming and student involvement for the station “was just too great relative to the cost of the operation,” according to the release. WUGA will switch to carrying the PBS World Channel full-time beginning July 1. The move will save the university about $565,000 annually, the release said.

Fresh Air returning to daytime in Mississippi

Fresh Air will air during daytime hours on MPB’s Think Radio network for the first time since 2010, when the network’s then–Executive Director Judith Lewis took the interview show off the air, citing concerns about host Terry Gross’s discussion of sex with her guests.

Sendak remembrance pairs illustrations with Fresh Air clip

As part of its annual “The Lives They Lived” issue, a collection of obituaries for people who passed away during the previous year, the New York Times Magazine drew on an interview with author and illustrator Maurice Sendak that aired on NPR’s Fresh Air in September 2011. In a video on the Times’s website, illustrations by Christoph Niemann accompany a touching clip from the interview, in which Sendak talked with Terry Gross about his athiesm, death, and getting older. “There’s something I’m finding out as I’m aging: I am in love with the world,” Sendak said. He also told Gross that of all the interviewers he knew, only she brought out such reflections in him. Sendak died May 8, 2012.

MPB fires reporter for leaking Fresh Air memo

There’s one more voice that’s off the air of Mississippi Public Broadcasting following the state network’s cancellation of Fresh Air. Carl Gibson, whose first job out of journalism school was covering the state capitol for MPB, was fired on Friday for leaking an internal memo about the state network’s decision to drop the NPR-distributed show. Gibson was just returning from an assignment covering the Gulf Coast oil spill, he said, when controversy over MPB’s cancellation erupted over the blogosphere on July 15. Friends at the Jackson Free Press, the state’s only alternative newspaper, approached Gibson as a source, and he wanted to help them get the story straight, he told Current. The Free Press’s July 16 story points to the discrepancy between MPB Executive Director Judith Lewis’s official statement describing the “careful consideration and review” given to the decision to drop Fresh Air and the email that Gibson leaked, which was written by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell shortly after the axe came down.

MPB listeners, blogosphere want to know: What’s inappropriate about ‘Fresh Air’?

Why did Mississippi Public Broadcasting drop Fresh Air from its radio schedule? The blog “A Unitarian Universalist Minister in the South” set off a blogosphere chain reaction yesterday by speculating that the “recurring inappropriate content” cited by MPB Radio Director Kevin Farrell must be the show’s willingness to treat homosexuals as normal people, not the “evil incarnate bent on destroying the American dream, baseball and apple pie, too.” MPB Executive Director Dr. Judith Lewis didn’t get into the details in a statement issued late yesterday, after Gawker and the Huffington Post had picked up on the story. “Too often Fresh Air’s interviews include gratuitous discussions on issues of an explicit sexual nature. We believe that most of these discussions do not contribute to or meaningfully enhance serious-minded public discourse on sexual issues,” she said.