If any part of the broadcast plant ever merited the label “necessary evil,” a top nominee would be the tower. Expensive to maintain, fraught with potential hazards, bound by an ever-growing web of regulations, unloved by neighbors and often located inconveniently far away, a pubcaster’s tower still serves as the essential link between its program service and its audience. In the early years of public TV and radio — before streaming and podcasting and cable and over-the-top video delivery — pubcasters and their audiences depended completely on the reach of the signals their towers could deliver. When broadcasting was a new and developing communications medium, those towers were much easier to build. As long as they weren’t in an airport flight path, the NIMBY factor was rarely a concern as public TV and FM stations spread across the country from the 1950s into the 1970s.
A request by a Canadian college radio station to mount a 100-watt repeater in Montreal has triggered stiff opposition from Vermont Public Radio, whose coverage in the market would suffer interference if the signal were approved. The Concordia Student Broadcasting Corporation, a nonprofit connected to Montreal’s Concordia University, operates CJLO 1690 AM. An area near one of Concordia’s campuses receives the AM signal infrequently if at all. An engineer looked for room on Montreal’s crowded FM band to accommodate a 100-watt repeater, which would fill the hole in the AM signal. The proposed signal, 107.9 FM, is also used by VPR’s Burlington station, about 100 miles away.
NPR stations won 82 large-market regional Murrow Awards, while small-market pubcasters captured 91. Among all stations, WLRN in Miami topped public radio’s regional winners by taking 11 awards in 13 Murrow categories: overall excellence, breaking news, continuing coverage, feature reporting, investigative reporting, news documentary, new series, hard-news reporting, use of sound, writing and website. “We feel thrilled and humbled by the honor,” said Dan Grech, news director. “I couldn’t be prouder of the team.”
Four additional large-market pubcasters each won six Murrows: KQED in San Francisco, WBEZ in Chicago, KUT in Austin and WBUR in Boston. And four large-market stations each won four Murrows: KUOW in Seattle; St.
With national producers offering new programs and the Magliozzi Brothers retiring from Car Talk, program directors at public radio stations may have an opportune moment to update strategies for weekend programming. Yet with no surefire hits available beyond the familiar warhorses, there’s no easy formula for success when Saturday rolls around.
Among the 54 public stations receiving regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for electronic journalism, WUFT-FM of Gainesville, Fla., won eight, and Vermont Public Radio captured seven. Five additional pubradio stations — KUNC, Greeley, Colo.; South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB); KCCU, Lawton, Okla.; WBUR, Boston; and WITF, Harrisburg, Pa. — each won six Murrows in regional RTDNA competitions among broadcast and online news outlets. Awards for overall excellence among large market stations went to KUT in Austin, Texas, and WUNC in Chapel Hill, N.C., while WUFT and Alabama Public Radio were recognized among small-market stations in their regions. The Radio Television Digital News Association honored broadcasters across 13 multistate U.S. regions for outstanding news reporting.