Pittsburgh’s WQED implements layoffs as part of restructuring

Pittsburgh’s WQED implemented layoffs this week as part of what it called a “minor reorganization” to help bring expenses in line with projected revenue. The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Tuesday that WQED laid off three full-time employees and one part-time employee. The station also reduced five full-time employees to part-time and cut four vacant positions from its budget. “With the start of its new fiscal year on Oct. 1, 2014, WQED will reorganize staff to reflect the changing media landscape,” the station said in a prepared statement.

Wednesday roundup: Pew releases annual media report, advocacy group protests renewal of WGBH license

• NPR’s monthly listenership hit an eight-year high in 2013 with an average of 27.3 million listeners each month, according to the State of the News Media study from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, released Wednesday. NPR’s average monthly audience was up from 26 million in 2012. On public television, the weeknight broadcast audience for PBS NewsHour continued to slide, dropping 3 percent from 2012 to an average of 947,000 viewers. The average audience in 2012 was 977,000, down 8 percent from 2011, when the average audience was 1.06 million viewers. The Pew study also found that while legacy media, especially newspapers, continued to provide the bulk of content, audience for online news outlets continued to grow at a brisk pace.

Pubcaster’s memoir details creative early years at WQED

A Secretly Handicapped Man, out in October, is not only the story of Norbert Nathanson’s place in the history of public broadcasting, but also the tale of his struggle with his own body and society’s attitude toward him: He was born without feet and one hand.

QED Cooks celebrates 20th anniversary with ‘Return of the Zucchinis’

Commemorating the accidental abundance of zucchinis in 1993 that spawned the creation of WQED’s hit series QED Cooks with Chris Fennimore, the Pittsburgh pubcaster will honor the prolific late-summer veggie for the program’s 20th anniversary. Back then, Fennimore, WQED-TV p.d. and an enthusiastic cook, was helping tend a community garden plot that exploded with the green squash. “So I asked Nancy Polinsky, director of continuity at the time, if she’d make a promo asking people for zucchini recipes,” Fennimore said. He had no idea that first recipe for zucchini cheesecake would be the beginning of more than 50 live cooking marathons ranging from “A is for Appetizers” to “S is for Seafood,” a growing line of cookbooks that proved to be popular pledge premiums and a hit show that passed its 100th-episode milestone in March 2012. Polinsky also became his co-host.

Benefits to multicasting pledge: new and lapsed donors respond

After 16 months on the air, WQED-TV’s all-pledge multicast Showcase channel is steadily bringing in donations of around $16,000 a month for the Pittsburgh station. That may not sound that impressive, considering WQED receives an average of $16,675 from airing just one day of pledge programming on its primary broadcast signal. But WQED officials say the revenues, and the benefits, are adding up.

Output: Bitton’s homage to Piaf, STEM rock tunes from PBS, where 5-year-olds hide evidence (on PRX), and more

Decades ago, a teenaged Raquel Bitton locked herself in her San Francisco bedroom, suffering miserably from her first broken heart. Her only comfort was an album by Edith Piaf, the diminutive French chanteuse known as “the Little Sparrow.”

“It is the love that you love,” Piaf sang in “C’est L’amour.” “It is love that makes you dream. It is love that wants love. It is love that makes us cry.”

“I listened to it all and came out of my room with a decision to get onstage and sing — and to love again,” Bitton said. “I put together a little revue singing Piaf’s songs, telling pieces of her stories.

Ann Thompson

NPR hires two reporters, WXXI news director rappels down 21 stories, and more…

Leila Fadel, Cairo bureau chief for the Washington Post, signs on as NPR’s Cairo-based correspondent in July. She covered the Iraq War for almost five years and won a George Polk Award in 2007 for her reporting from Baghdad. She replaces Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, who will report from Kabul, Afghanistan, and then Berlin. Gregory Warner, a senior reporter for American Public Media’s Marketplace, will join NPR as East Africa correspondent, based in Nairobi, Kenya, in December. Warner now covers the economics and business of healthcare, but he’s previously reported from Afghanistan, Pakistan and the DR Congo.

It’s a beautiful day for return to Make-Believe

In honor of its 40th anniversary on public TV, the famous Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make-Believe set, including King Friday XIII’s castle, will be assembled for public viewing one last time, Nov. 6–8 [2009] at Pittsburgh’s WQED. Much of the large set has been warehoused …