Plane crash claims lives of two WXXI board members, major donors

Two major donors and board members of Rochester, N.Y., dual licensee WXXI died Sept. 5 after their plane crashed in the ocean off the coast of Jamaica. Both were 68. Larry and Jane Glazer, major figures in Rochester’s business community who both served on WXXI’s board and co-chaired the station’s $17 million Go Public capital campaign, were flying their single-engine plane from Rochester to Naples, Fla., when their aircraft became unresponsive. Larry, a registered pilot, was at the controls.

Joy Parker, WXXI station relations and web coordinator, dies at 43

Joy Parker, a station relations and web coordinator for WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., died July 12 after a years-long battle with ALS. She was 43. Parker joined the TV station in 1996 as an operations technician. In 2002 she was promoted to segment producer on programs such as Need to Know and Assignment: The World, and she worked as an associate producer on the local documentary Crucible of Freedom. “She always brought a lot of energy to her projects,” said Marion French, WXXI’s v.p. of education and interactive services and Parker’s supervisor.

Five New York pubcasters team up for CPB-backed regional newsroom

Five public media stations in New York will create a regional newsroom with a $375,000 grant from CPB, announced today. The two-year backing will support Upstate Insight, which CPB called “an innovative model for covering news across a large geographic area.” Principal partners are WXXI, Rochester; WSKG, Binghamton; WRVO, Oswego; and WMHT, Troy. WBFO in Buffalo is an associate partner. In the announcement, CPB said the stations “will develop news data capability and adopt content sharing and communications systems to support connectivity between organizations.”

WXXI ends 54-year run of Assignment: The World due to lack of funding

Assignment: The World, the longest-running social-studies instructional TV program in the country, broadcast its last episode May 23. WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., which produced the ITV series for 54 years, announced the cancellation May 20. “Assignment: The World has experienced an increase in news acquisition costs, which were unfortunately not offset by program funding,” said Elissa Orlando, WXXI v.p. for television, in the announcement. “WXXI is saddened by this decision, but will continue to discover new ways to serve the educational needs of students.”

Every season, students could watch 32 weekly episodes, 15 minutes in length, in classrooms, either on the air or on-demand over the Internet. Teej Jenkins, the last host to anchor the show, presented a roundup of news events from the past week; teachers and students often interact with the show through writing prompts, issue questions and polls.

WXXI and Rochester Museum promote dialogue on race

WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., is teaming up with a local museum to encourage a community dialogue on race relations. The Rochester Museum & Science Center is hosting “Race: Are We So Different?” The traveling exhibit from the American Anthropological Association examines the history, human variations and personal experiences surrounding racial differences. WXXI-FM produced five feature-length reports prior to the exhibit’s Jan. 19 opening. The reports aired during Morning Edition and All Things Considered and examined the political and cultural history of racism, the science and genetics of human biological diversity, the link between race and health, and other matters. WXXI Radio’s daily 1370 Connection public affairs show also is producing four one-hour programs with WDKX-FM, a local urban contemporary station, which run weekly through Feb.

Seven rules for station execs to succeed in fundraising

More than a decade ago, I was appearing on-air during a television pledge drive when a phone bank volunteer said a caller on his line insisted on talking to me. I picked up the phone with some trepidation and — sure enough — a WXXI member complained angrily about getting too much direct mail. He was especially upset because he had received a letter inviting him to join WXXI when he was already a member. I apologized and, to make up for his inconvenience, invited him to lunch and a tour of the station. He accepted, and took a bus to the station (he didn’t drive) to meet with me.

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.

Rochester indie-movie venue now operated by WXXI

WXXI in Rochester, N.Y., has acquired a downtown movie house, The Little Theatre, it announced Dec. 19. The art-deco theater, founded in 1929 as part of a “little theatre” movement promoting alternatives to Hollywood’s mass-audience movies, still specializes in indie and foreign films, including anime and docs. In recent decades it was expanded from one to five screens, and to 940 seats, and it became a nonprofit. “The Little,” as it’s known locally, screens more than 100 films a year and hosts several annual community film festivals.