There are now enough public radio stations to reach more than 90 percent of the American public, and pubcasters have adding specialized stations to increase listening options in areas where pubradio already exists. So it’s rare that all-new stations arise, especially in the East, or can afford to get going with sparse populations. An exception: the twin stations of Cape & Islands Public Radio, WCAI on Cape Cod, Mass., and WNAN on Nantucket Island. Founder Jay Allison, a nationally prominent independent radio producer, surveyed colleagues nationwide for advice on the stations’ sound. A selection of the responses:
When every year seems to bring a new round of threats to public media funding, it’s clear that public media isn’t doing a very good job of asserting its value. Maybe its detractors have more money and better lobbyists, but clearly the “Save Big Bird” tactic is only a Band-Aid, and one that’s getting worn out from overuse.
David Fanning, e.p. of Frontline, discussed the WGBH program’s evolving use of the Web Aug. 23, 2010, in accepting the Goldsmith Career Award for Excellence in Journalism at Harvard University’s Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. At the same time, the Center honored the winner and finalists for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting. One of the four finalists was a reporting project, including a Frontline doc, “Law & Disorder.” The film about white vigilante activities in New Orleans was prepared in collaboration with ProPublica, the Nation Institute and the New Orleans Times-Picayne.
Posted in Current’s reader forum, DirectCurrent, by Mark Jeffries on April 22, 2009 at 12:55pm
In the Current article on spring fundraising and pledge drives, they say that Twin Cities Public Television (KTCA, St. Paul) placed its emphasis on the fans of established programming instead of relying on the off-message poppy concerts, Lawrence Welk retrospectives and disguised infomercials that have become too often the bread-and-butter of pledge drives — the concept, of course, that public radio has been able to emphasize in pledging for years with great success. Can I hope that the success of TPT might inspire other PTVers to dump what must be expensive shows to license and bring pledge drives back to the proper emphasis of the regular programming that regular viewers of PTV stations want? Or is that just too much to ask and that PTV programmers are just hooked on the Suze Orman and Andre Rieu FlavorAid? Replies to this discussion
Reply by Ezra Wall on June 10, 2009 at 3:15pm
Public broadcasters across the board receive ever-decreasing portions of their financial support from taxpayer sources.
“Let’s face it,” writes a prominent pubradio station news director, “despite 40 years of evolution, we have produced a lot of journalism, but we still lack full commitment. Especially local news commitment.”
Ride the school bus on the Hopi Reservation in northern Arizona and you’ll hear Shooting Stars, a program for kids produced mostly by volunteers at KUYI, the three-year-old public radio station on the reservation. Tune in during the day and you’ll hear an update on living with diabetes or asthma. Keep listening and you’ll hear junior- and senior-high school interns reading the news. Stop to chat with someone on the reservation about what they’ve heard on the radio. Everyone knows you’re talking about the same station.
After some fiddling with language, station leaders Feb. 23  endorsed a new mission statement describing public TV as a “unifying force in American culture.” Several participants celebrated the agreement at the PBS Annual Members Meeting as a significant demonstration of unity among the network’s notoriously divided members. “The beauty of this is that all the stations could sign on to something,” commented Ellis Bromberg, g.m. of WMVS/WMVT in Milwaukee. During the debate, station leaders agreed that the proposed “Vision” paragraph at the end of the mission statement had grown too wordy and needed to be simplified.
Public TV stations adopted this statement of mission at the PBS Members Meeting, Feb. 23, 2004. For more information. See also Current’s coverage, published March 8, 2004. Public television is the only universally accessible national resource that uses the power and accessibility of television to educate, enlighten, engage and inform.
In this letter to the first Carnegie Commission, the Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker magazine essayist (1899-1985) gives one of the most compact and eloquent descriptions of what advocates hoped public television would become. (White’s books included Charlotte’s Web, and he co-authored The Elements of Style, familiar to many English students.)
On stationery of the magazine where he worked for years, White addressed Stephen White, assistant to the Carnegie Commission chair, James R. Killian Jr.
Chapter 1 of the commission’s report begins with an excerpt from the letter shown in color below. The New Yorker
No. 23 West 43rd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036
September 26, 1966
I have a grandson now named Steven White, and I’ll bet he can swim faster and stay under longer than you can. As for television, I doubt that I have any ideas or suggestions that would be worth putting on paper.