October 22, 2012 | Vol. 31, No. 19
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Tavis Smiley, WBEZ spar over cancellation of Smiley & West Rookies take top prizes at this year’s ShortDocs Challenge Commentary: It’s time to rethink public media’s value
Presidential sparring puts pubcasting in political bulls-eye By Dru Sefton
OP presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pledge to defund PBS, which he reiterated during the Oct. 3 televised presidential debate, set off a flurry of advocacy activity by pubcasters working at both the national and local levels. PBS had already spent several months developing its ValuePBS.org site, trumpeting the importance of public TV, and sped up its launch to the day after the debate. Stations sprung into action to alert their viewers and listeners, sending waves of them to the grassroots-advocacy 170 Million Americans website — which has since garnered 50,000 new fans. “Thousands of people are coming to our aid,” particularly on Twitter and Facebook, said Pat Butler, president of the Association of Public Television Stations advocacy organization. The supporters include everyone from A-list entertainers such as Ashley Judd and will.i.am to “ordinary moms who value our services — and teachers, and police officers,” Butler said. “It’s very heartwarming. And it hasn’t stopped. Gov. Romney lit a candle and started a forest fire of support. That feels pretty good.” The spark came in response to a question about how to tackle the federal debt. “I like PBS, I love Big Bird,” Romney said. But he added, “I’m not going to Continued on page 9
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An unusual pubTV marriage Alliance boosts reach, funding of KCET, Link TV
Jerome, left, and Mason began discussing a merger after discovering “complementary factors” between them.
By Dru Sefton
he merger of KCET in Los Angeles and satellite programmer Link TV pairs two noncommercial outlets with a shared focus on serving non-traditional public TV audiences, complementary expertise in media production, and the challenge of figuring out a new public media revenue model. Both partners gain new platforms for their programming from the marriage and can learn from each other’s distribution, audience engagement and fundraising strategies. For KCET, that means help with its efforts to engage online audiences and to tap foundations for financial support. The merger was approved Oct. 16 by the boards of KCET and San Franciscobased Link TV and takes effect Jan. 1. No money was involved in the transaction. The new nonprofit, KCETLink, will have one board and management team but continue to distribute programming under each established brand.
KCET President Al Jerome will be chief executive officer of KCETLink, with Link TV President Paul Mason serving as chief strategy officer. Both will work from KCET headquarters in Los Angeles. As KCETLink, each gains new distribution outlets. Link TV, now available in 33 million households nationwide via the DirecTV and Dish satellite networks, will pick up some KCET programs and take over one of KCET’s three multicast channels in Los Angeles, securing access to broadcast audiences in the nation’s second-largest market. KCET will air some Link TV news programs on its main channel. Advantages for KCET go beyond the extended reach of its programming. Link TV is known for its many partnerships with innovative media organiza-
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Search for ‘truth’ results in Radiolab apology By Andrew Lapin
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tions, said Josh Stearns, journalism and public media campaign director for media-reform advocate Free Press. Link TV has a longstanding relationship with YouthNoise, a website founded in 2001 to help young people connect and network around causes, and that alliance could bring “hard-hitting, fantastic youth-driven voices” to the pubcaster, Stearns said. (YouthNoise last year merged with millennial activist site Mobilize.org — another Link TV partner.) More public broadcasters need to develop such relationships if they want to engage younger audiences, Stearns said. Stearns compared the KCET-Link merger to the acquisition by American Public Media’s Public Insight Network
n interview that went awry for Radiolab co-host Robert Krulwich sparked an outcry from listeners and an unusual apology from a show unaccustomed to accusations of insensitivity. The interview, conducted for a story that revisits an investigation of the use of chemical weapons at the end of the Vietnam War, has yet to air on public radio stations. It was distributed Sept. 24 as part of a one-hour podcast, “The Heart of the Matter,” exploring the notion of truth. The podcast was still a point of contention two weeks later at the Third Coast Conference in Evanston, Ill., where a panel that discussed ethics in public broadcasting questioned whether Krulwich and Radiolab had been fair to their sources. In the piece, inspired by a 1991 investigation by The New Yorker, Krulwich and producer Pat Walters examine allegations that the Viet Cong used chemical weapons to retaliate against the Hmong people of
The inclusion of co-host Krulwich’s contentious interview in a podcast left the staff of Radiolab feeling “exposed” and “vulnerable,” Abumrad said at Third Coast. (Photo: Kate Joyce Studios) Southeast Asia for their cooperation with the U.S. military during the war. The U.S. government advanced the claims of Hmong eyewitnesses who recalled seeing yellow substances fall from the sky and the decimation of crops, animals and people.
During his presidency, Ronald Reagan drew upon the “yellow rain” theory as justification for renewing America’s own chemicalweapons production. Yet an investigation by Harvard scientists more than a decade later postulated that the yellow rain was most likely bee droppings. In reporting the story, Krulwich and Walters interviewed one eyewitness — Eng Yang, a Hmong whose village in Laos was attacked by the Viet Cong by ground and air in 1975 as yellow rain fell. Yang’s niece Kao Kalia Yang, a memoirist, served as his translator. Krulwich drew upon the studies that concluded that chemical weapons had not been used on the Hmong people, asking whether Yang had actually seen Viet Cong planes dropping chemicals on his village. Krulwich’s persistence upset the Yangs so much that Kao Kalia Yang, through tears, ended the interview early, saying, “We can play the semantics game — we can. But I am not interested . . . We have lost too much heart, and too
12 People Online at Current.org Jobs 10 Letters 16 People 3 Thinking 15JobsOutput 5 8Online at Current.org
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2 | October 22, 2012 | Current
Punditry, audience declines cost Smiley & West stations
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By Mike Janssen
avis Smiley is defending the tone and content of his weekly public radio show Smiley & West after Chicago’s WBEZ became the latest and largest-market station to drop it from its schedule. The hour-long show, now airing on 71 stations, features longtime public radio and TV host Smiley riding shotgun with author and activist Cornel West, interviewing guests and sounding off on current events. It debuted two years ago, an offshoot of Smiley’s hourlong interview show, which he continues to host solo. Both programs are distributed by Public Radio International. For some stations, Smiley & West’s political content has become too strident. Thirteen stations have dropped the show since June 2011, with several taking issue with the cohosts’ political opinionating or citing complaints from listeners. WBEZ dropped Smiley & West mostly because of a steep decline in audience, President Torey Malatia told Current. Its cume dropped by two-thirds over the past year and a half, he said, and its share by 75 percent. Shows airing before and after its noontime slot on Sundays had not seen similar declines. Malatia can’t say for sure, but he speculated that the decline may have been due to the co-hosts’ political punditizing. “No one is against someone having a political point of view, but it does nothing to advance your vision if you’re not willing to hear an opposing point of view,” he said. “There are indications that Tavis and Cornel were going in that direction.” Malatia also told a Chicago Sun-Times columnist that the show had been showing “multiple signs of significant sloppiness,” and recently featured “a lot of seat-of-the-pants kind of crap.” Smiley shot back with an open letter to Malatia that circulated in the Chicago and media blogospheres. Malatia’s comments
6930 Carroll Ave., Suite 350, Takoma Park, MD 20912 Web: Current.org Phone: 301-270-7240, extensions below Fax: 301-270-7241 E-mail: see below Interim Managing Editor Karen Everhart, x 33, firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Editors Dru Sefton, x 39, email@example.com Ben Mook, x 32, firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Editor Andrew Lapin, x 34, email@example.com Associate Editor Mike Janssen, firstname.lastname@example.org Project Editor Steve Behrens, email@example.com Business/Circulation Manager Laura Rogers, x 38, firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Director Kathleen Unwin, 877-745-8776, x 1 email@example.com Administrative Assistant Dorian Jones Director of Strategic Initiatives Mark Fuerst, 877-745-8776, x 2 Contributing Editors Louis Barbash, Theodore Fischer Editorial Intern Dawn Morgan Founder of Current, 1980 James A. Fellows, National Association of Educational Broadcasters Published 23 times a year as an editorially independent service of American University School of Communication, Washington, D.C. Postmaster: Send address changes to address above. ISSN: 0739-991X. Copyright 2012 American University.
about the show were “demeaning, derogatory and dead wrong,” the host wrote. “That’s not an explanation,” Smiley said of Malatia’s “crap” comment in an interview with Current. “That’s pejorative. That’s punitive.” He contested Malatia’s opinion that the show was developing an exclusive tone. The first 15 minutes of the show are devoted to Smiley and West discussing the news, but the balance of time features listener comments and interviews with guests. Smiley & West’s website also invites interaction from listeners. “We want to be democratic and give the audience a chance to respond,” Smiley said. Complaints in the Midwest Whatever the cause of Smiley & West’s cancellation on WBEZ, it had hit other speed bumps in the race to build carriage. Some stations dropped the show because it was the only PRI offering they aired apart from the BBC World Service, says Joe Zefran, producer for Smiley & West. When American Public Media took over distribution of the BBC, those stations could no longer afford the show. However, Sam Fleming, managing director of news and programming at Boston’s WBUR, cut the show partly because it had become too political, according to comments he shared with PRI, which Zefran then forwarded to Current. When asked by Current, Fleming did not cite politics as a reason for dropping Smiley & West, but said the station wanted to air Snap Judgment in that timeslot, in part to attract a younger audience. KWMU in St. Louis dropped the show because it was “not good radio” and had drawn complaints from African-American listeners, according to PRI. And Minneapolis’s KMOJ, a station that targets an AfricanAmerican audience, cut the program in part because listeners disliked Smiley and West’s criticisms of President Barack Obama, said Candice Breedlove, p.d. KMOJ also lost listeners when it aired Smiley & West, Breedlove said. Smiley is taking the carriage declines in stride, and said none of the stations that dropped the show contacted him about poor audience or production values. Several stations have expressed interest in adding Smiley & West to their lineups in recent weeks, he said, and the show’s socialmedia footprint on Facebook and Twitter has grown. He expects to secure the show’s first underwriting contracts and line up support from foundations next year. “The fact that it doesn’t work for every station ought not to call into question the highquality nature of the program,” Smiley said. When he introduced Smiley & West in 2010, he warned programmers that it would be different from his other programs and would include personal opinions: “I am an acquired taste.” To Smiley, the attitudes regarding the program validate a point of view that he also shared in 2004, when he quit his daily NPR series and accused that network of not trying hard enough to diversify its staff and audience. “Public television and public radio . . . are a wholly owned subsidiary of white intelligentsia, and people don’t want to hear it,” he said. n
NPR has promoted a top Morning Edition producer and reassigned its elections editor to oversee business coverage. Madhulika Sikka, currently executive producer of Morning Edition, becomes executive editor of NPR News in January 2013, overseeing all desks and reporters, and helping set the agenda for the entire news division. She joined NPR and ME six years ago from ABC News’ Nightline, where she was a senior producer. Her awards include four Emmys, two duPont-Columbias and two Peabodys. Sikka is also author of the upcoming book A Breast Cancer Alphabet. Neal Carruth, supervising editor of NPR’s elections unit, will begin leading a redefined business desk in December, when he’ll take a new job as senior business editor. The role involves working closely with NPR’s Planet Money team. Carruth has been running NPR’s election coverage since August 2011; previously, he was the supervising senior producer of All Things Considered, managing daily production of the newsmag.
Two indie filmmakers whose documentaries have run on POV received 2012 “genius grants” from the MacArthur Foundation. Natalia Almada and Laura Poitras, along with 21 other grantees, will each receive $500,000 paid over five years. Almada, based in Brooklyn and Mexico City, produces documentaries that tell personal stories about life in her native Mexico and the ways in which politics affect those on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Three of her films have aired on POV: 2006’s Al Otro Lado, 2010’s El General, and her most recent work, El Velador (The Night Watchman), which ran Sept. 27. She is the first Latina filmmaker to receive the grant. Poitras is best known for her trilogy of documentaries about the lasting effects of America’s approach to its war on terror, the first two of which (My Country, My Country from 2006 and The Oath from 2010) aired on POV. The Independent Television Service produced and provided funding for her debut feature-length film, 2003’s Flag Wars, another POV selection.
Ind., for 10 years, resigned on Oct. 8. Her departure took effect immediately. Pruess told Current she feels “very confident that the station is in a strong position to build on for the coming years.” Steven Funk, station v.p. of development and marketing, is serving as interim executive director while the WNIT board conducts a search for Pruess’ replacement. Pruess is immediate past presiIndie filmmakers Almada, left, and Poitras, are recipients of dent of the Affinity Group MacArthur’s 2012 “genius grants.” Coalition’s Small Station Association. “I look forward to continuing to play a good Management high-profile role in the system,” Pruess said. Mary Pruess, president and g.m. of “I’m looking for the next best opportunity.” WNIT Public Television in South Bend,
| October 22, 2012 | 3
Programming Veteran public radio broadcaster Madeleine Brand has joined the staff of SoCal Connected, KCET’s award-winning news magazine. The show is ramping up production from weekly to daily programs for its fifth season on the independent Los Angeles pubTV station. Brand left local KPCC in September after The Madeleine Brand Show was revamped into Brand & Martinez with a new co-host, local sportscaster A Martinez (Current, Oct. 9). This is Brand’s first foray into television. Before KPCC, she spent 13 years at NPR, including as host of the national newsmag Day to Day. Bret Marcus, KCET’s chief content officer and SoCal Connected’s executive producer, called Brand “a terrific broadcaster who has developed a loyal following among both listeners and newsmakers.” n Please send People items to firstname.lastname@example.org
BENTO IS HERE and coming soon to a station near you
“ Best part about Bento is the integration with other products like COVE and Merlin.”
“ It's easy to use, I love the templates, & I love the intelligence behind it.”
— Steve Burger, WNIN
— Roberta Wong Murray, PBS Hawaii
Whad’Ya Know? has tapped a new announcer to succeed the late Jim Packard. Sara Nics will take the on-air role for Wisconsin Public Radio’s weekly quiz show while continuing to work as a producer of WPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge, which she joined in 2011. Both series are distributed by Public Radio International. “I’ve been laughing with Whad’Ya Know? for years,” Nics said in the announcement. “It was an enormous compliment to be asked to audition for the gig, and fun to discover that the show’s even funnier from the stage.” “No one can fill Jim Packard’s seat,” she added. “I won’t even try. But I’m looking forward to spending my Saturday mornings with Michael and his listeners,” she said referring to host Michael Feldman. Nics previously covered Asia for Radio Netherlands.
LEARN MORE ABOUT BENTO & PBS INTERACTIVE: CONTACT: PBSI_STATIONSERVICES@PBS.ORG VISIT: BIT.LY/BENTOGUIDE FOLLOW: @SPI_PBS
Stop By: PBS Interactive & PBS LearningMedia booth at NETA 2012 Oct 30-Nov 1 The Renaissance Hotel St. Louis, Missouri
4 | October 22, 2012 | Current
Foundation backs news expansion at KERA The Lyda Hill Foundation has donated $1 million to Dallas pubcaster KERA to expand the station’s regional news coverage. The contribution comes on the heels of the foundation’s 2011 support for KERA’s reporting on health and science issues, which included sponsorship of the station’s weekly Health Checkup segment. The Lyda Hill Foundation focuses on funding organizations that “make game-changing advances in nature and science research.” “As a KERA viewer, listener and donor, I recognized the importance of funding such a vital community resource,” Hill said in a statement. “This gift is also meant to inspire others to support the kind of local news stories and reporting not found anywhere else in North Texas.”
Kickstarter crowd backs Seabrook’s Decode DC Former NPR correspondent Andrea Seabrook, who covered Congress until departing in July to launch an independent podcast called Decode DC, crossed the finish line on her Kickstarter fundraising campaign Oct. 17, hitting her goal of $75,000. Seabrook launched the campaign Sept. 25 and met her fundraising target with two days to spare. Seabrook conceded during an Oct. 5 panel discussion at the Third Coast Conference in Evanston, Ill., midway through the campaign, that she “did everything wrong” in her approach to the crowdfunding platform — from distributing a weak promotional video to offering uninteresting gifts. Yet favorable coverage from outlets such as Politico and WNYC’s On The Media, combined with nontraditional outreach such as a crossover episode with Roman Mars’s 99% Invisible podcast, created enough buzz to push the campaign through. Decode DC is distributed online by the Mule Radio Syndicate podcast network and has produced three episodes to date. The show’s mission is to expose the truths in politics that traditional media don’t report on. The online audio platform SoundCloud gave Seabrook a fellowship to pursue the project.
March organizers drop Muppets for puppets Two public broadcasting fans in different cities who separately conceived plans for a “Million Muppet March” in support of federal funding have teamed up to try to organize an advocacy event Nov. 3 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Michael Bellavia, 42, of Los Angeles, and Chris Mecham, 46, of Boise, Idaho, were watching the presidential debate Oct. 3 when Republican nominee Mitt Romney said that he would end subsidies to PBS if elected. Even before the debate ended, Bellavia had secured the URL millionmuppetmarch.com, and Mecham created the Million Muppet March Facebook page. “We just merged the two into one effort,” said Bellavia, president of Animax Entertainment, an animation production studio in Los Angeles. Animax created the Elmo’s Potty Time game for Sesame Workshop in 2006. Sesame Workshop and PBS are not involved in the march. In an Oct. 15 email to Current, Jodi Lefkowitz, spokesperson for Sesame Workshop, said that the nonprofit “has not granted permission to the Million Muppet March organizers to use our characters or intellectual property. We are continuing to review their use of our characters and trademarks.” On Oct. 16, the name of the event was changed to the Million Puppet March. Bellavia said Sesame Workshop had not requested the name change. The new name is “more inclusive of all puppetkind,” according to the event’s Facebook page. The Facebook event page lists some 1,300 individuals as planning to attend the march, with 450 “maybe’s.” Bellavia said he is working with the National Park Service to secure a permit.
Glass describes TAL’s revised fact-checking policy After retracting its fabrication-riddled January episode about labor conditions at Apple factories in China, This American Life re-examined its editorial process, according to host Ira Glass. In an Oct. 10 Q&A session on Reddit, Glass wrote that the program, which previously checked only “questionable facts,” has tightened its standards. “Now we have professional fact-checkers for everything, including the personal essays,” Glass wrote. The show’s producers are still struggling with how to label contributions from humorist David Sedaris, who often exaggerates or fabricates details of his stories for comic effect. During his keynote speech at the Third Coast Conference Oct. 5, Glass also said TAL producers were mulling a spin-off from the show that would cover the news of the week in the program’s distinctive style. TAL experimented with current-events coverage in a May 2011 episode and will attempt the format again this November.
Corrections n Julie Coan is the chief operating officer of KLRN in San Antonio, not chief executive officer, as was reported in the Sept. 24 issue of Current. n L.A. Public Media, a startup for young minority listeners backed by CPB, closed operations in 2011, not 2008 as reported in the Oct. 9 issue of Current.
Some states get a little sexier every four years: Ohio. Florida. North Carolina. Their pivotal role in deciding the presidential election has made them the backbone of a new ad hoc collaboration, the (Mostly) Swing State Public Radio Network. Spearheaded by New York’s WNYC, the network brings together public radio stations in political battleground states to reflect the concerns and viewpoints of their much-scrutinized voters. WNYC talk show host Brian Lehrer anchors the programs, interviewing callers, chatting with stationbased reporters and participating in online chats. The shows present “a mix of people right on the front lines” of where the Nov. 6 presidential election is expected to be decided, said Jim Schachter, WNYC’s v.p. of news. The network’s programs began earlier this year during primary elections, are continuing through the conventions and presidential and vice-presidential debates, and will conclude on Election Night. The list of participating stations has grown along the way, from seven stations during the conventions to 18 during the debates. Inclusion of stations in non– swing states, such as Philadelphia’s WHYY and Detroit’s WDET, prompted WNYC to add “(Mostly)” to the network’s name. The lineup of participating stations has shifted from night to night, with some stations pulling out, depending on their local and national programming priorities. “It’s a series of individual decisions that intersect with our highly energetic New York-style cajoling,” Schachter said. WNYC’s newsroom began expanding its focus to national politics with its coverage of Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman’s 2006 re-election bid. In 2008 it teamed up with Iowa Public Radio and New Hampshire Public Radio to cover primary contests. Listeners got a hint of the high turnout that Iowa would see that year when an Iowa Public Radio reporter told Lehrer that voters couldn’t find parking at caucus sites and the polls were staying open later to accommodate them. In an era when fewer people were using Twitter for up-to-the-minute information, “that was exciting because we knew how much interest there was going to be,” said Andrea Bernstein, WNYC’s director of news special initiatives. The network later created ItsaFreeCountry. org. The national-politics subsite of WNYC. org now serves as the home of Lehrer’s postcoverage live chats and provides blog posts, commentaries and additional coverage. Bernstein is now working to fill out the network’s roster for its Election Night broadcast, which will start an hour before NPR’s live coverage. — Mike Janssen
store. And The Lady Vanishes, a 90-minute film, is an adaptation of the 1930s thriller about a woman aboard a train who unwittingly becomes embroiled in a dangerous plot. In the Oct. 9 announcement, Masterpiece Executive Producer Rebecca Eaton said the two are “the latest in a long line of beautifully made, award-winning co-productions. The BBC has been our trusted partner, and fellow public broadcaster, for over 40 years.” For The Paradise, executive producer is Susan Hogg (The Fades, Lark Rise to Candleford, Five Daughters). Diarmuid Lawrence (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, The Body Farm) is directing The Lady Vanishes; executive producer is Anne Pivcevic (The Mystery of Edwin Drood, — Dru Sefton Great Expectations).
Legendary comedian Jerry Lewis will make a rare television appearance in a PBS special premiering in March 2013, the month of the entertainer’s 87th birthday. The program will be available to member stations as a pledge special. “We have been thinking about doing something with or about Jerry Lewis for some time,” Joe Campbell, PBS v.p., fundraising programming, told Current. “Jimmy Osmond pitched this specific show in early August. The Osmond family has a long relationship with Jerry and convinced him to do the show.” An Evening with Jerry Lewis — Live from Las Vegas! will feature Lewis in performance as well as reminiscing about his long career. — D.S.
| October 22, 2012 | 5
Philadelphia’s WXPN has begun independent syndication of XPoNential Radio, its 24-hour stream of Triple A music programming. XPoNential Radio, which had been offered by NPR as a packaged HD Radio feed, offers a blend of blues, rock, folk, alternative country and international music, according to a news release announcing the new syndication offer. NPR discontinued its service offering XPoNential and two other HD Radio program streams this month. WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay said about 20 stations already carry the stream. “With XPoNential Radio being the most popular of the HD streams NPR offered, we decided to offer it on our own,” LaMay said. The 24/7 stream can be used on the Internet Continued on page 16
A Daily Global News Hour
Masterpiece has signed a co-production deal with BBC Worldwide America for two titles. The eight-episode Victorian-era series
The Paradise finds a young shop girl navi-
gating her way through behind-the-scenes power struggles in Britain’s first department
FOR DETAILS GO TO WWW.DEMOCRACYNOW.ORG/CURRENT OR CALL 212.431.9090 X8812
6 | October 22, 2012 | Current
Audio amateurs turn heads at ShortDocs competition the contest. The 2012 competition, which was judged EVANSTON, Ill. – If the Third Coast by five Third Coast staff members and six International Audio Festival exists to shine a EveryBlock representatives, had the highspotlight on exceptional radio craftsmanship, est ratio of “new (to us) participants” in the ShortDocs Challenge that runs alongside ShortDocs history, Shapiro said. it exists to draw new talent into the world of To produce his piece about the imagined audio storytelling. lives of the strangers who share his workday The 2012 ShortDocs contest hit the mark, bus commute, Eldridge used his MacBook’s setting a new record of 180 entries with built-in microphone and basic editing softtwo of the top prizes going to newcomers ware. To record his narration, he stood on in audio production. a chair and talked Luke Eldridge, a finanthrough an embroicial services worker dery hoop. from London, and “I didn’t have an John Musto, an elecappreciation of the trician from Chicago, radio, the broadcastwere two of the four ing element of some ShortDocs winners of this stuff,” the honored Oct. 6 dur27-year-old Eldridge ing the biennial Third told Current, explainCoast Conference. ing that he learned Their entries had each about U.S.-based been produced in less public radio programs than three weeks and by listening to them beat those submitted as podcasts during his by far more experitwo-hour daily comEldridge, a Londoner who discovered the enced public radio mute. “I’m in the U.K. competition through a Third Coast podproducers. I just press ‘Subscribe’ cast, used “really basic tools” to produce on iTunes and that’s “A lot of these his winning entry. (Photo: Kate Joyce people have studied it. That’s how it comes Studios) for years and worked to me.” really, really hard, Eldridge discovand then this guy just uses a lot of really, ered the ShortDocs competition by listening really basic tools and gets up on stage,” joked to Third Coast’s own Re:Sound podcast, and Eldridge, whose piece, The Red, White and decided to produce a piece that was set on Blue Bus, wowed Third Coast veterans — the bus where he first discovered the world including This American Life host Ira Glass. of public radio. “I thought, ‘Well, that’s easy.’ In his keynote speech, Glass played a clip I mean, not easy, but I can do three minutes,” from the piece, presenting it as evidence that he said. 2012 is a golden time for public radio. During his ShortDocs presentation, Radio amateurs have participated in Eldridge said he still refrains from talking to ShortDocs since its inception in 2003, and his bus mates; however, he admits the way he at least one non-professional has received a perceives his ride has changed. prize every year the contest has been held, “It’s become something different for me according to Julie Shapiro, Third Coast artisnow, that bus journey. I get on and I see these tic director. But it is unusual for complete faces and it takes me to somewhere else,” he first-timers to come out on top. told Current. “I’m thinking, ‘Yeah, I made “I think this is a great sign that a lot of a story about all you guys, and it got me to people out there are interested in producing Chicago.’” audio stories, and will jump at the chance when given the opportunity to do it,” Shapiro Recording for a bruising wrote in an email. “It’s impossible to say for John Musto, a fresh-faced ShortDocs winsure, but I’m confident that dozens of subner, lives in the Chicago neighborhood of missions came from first-timers.” Pilsen, a short drive from where Third Coast ShortDocs was conceived as a way to fosconvened this year’s conference. He saw the ter and encourage aspiring audio producers, contest as a chance to tell the story of his and provide new creative challenges for radio 80-year-old mentor Don Floyd. professionals. Two additional ShortDocs “There’s something about this fellow. He’s 2012 winners, Adam Kampe and Abby such an attention-grabber, and he’s such a Wendle, are both full-time audio producers: ham that he loves to be in front of people,” Kampe, whose piece focused on a chess club the 31-year old Musto told Current. “I figin Washington, D.C., works for the National ured if I could get him amplified to the bigEndowment for the Arts; Wendle, who comgest pool, that would make him happiest.” piled stories recollecting the 1995 Oklahoma Floyd had been an upholstery instructor City bombing, works for the Tulsa, Okla.– at the College of DuPage for 27 years; Musto based independent media company This was a student in one of the last DuPage Land Press. Wendle is also a newcomer to classes he taught, and afterwards he became ShortDocs, winning on her first run in the Floyd’s apprentice. Musto works evenings as contest, according to Shapiro. a union electrician for the city of Chicago, The rules for this year’s contest were strict. but he first became interested in radio as Beyond length restrictions between two-and- an undergraduate at the University of Iowa. a-half and three minutes, each submission After Floyd suffered a heart attack in March, had to feature at least two “neighbors,” use Musto decided to record him as he recounted a color in the title and contain at least three his life (and numerous near-death experiseconds of “narrative silence.” Co-sponsors ences). EveryBlock, an online neighborhood forum, The result, which Musto’s friend and and SoundCloud, an online audio publishing Continued on next page platform, collaborated with Third Coast on
By Andrew Lapin
Programming Pledge Promotion Success in public television is measured by how many people stand up for your station; by the number of people who respond when you ask them to contact their legislator; and by how many renew their membership year after year. Success in public television is when people say “thank you” for being a part of their community. Success in public television starts with a program schedule that is intelligent, thought provoking and original – one that that respects the people who support your station. Let us create a successful program schedule for your station. At the NETA conference, look for Steve Graziano, or call 402-779-6752.
P3 Public Media – Public Broadcasting’s mission-driven programming service. www.p3publicmedia.com
Radiolab Continued from page 1
many people.” Reflecting on the interview after returning to the studio, Krulwich told co-host Jad Abumrad that Kao Kalia Yang’s “desire was not for balance. Her desire was to monopolize the story.” The response from podcast listeners was swift and overwhelmingly negative, with hundreds of comments criticizing Krulwich’s attitude toward the Yangs and the program’s approach to the story. In an Oct. 10 blog post for Hyphen, a nonprofit magazine about Asian-American interests, Kirti Kamboj called the piece “an Orientalist, ethnocentric framing and narrative” that set up a conflict of “rational Americans versus backwater Asians.” Kao Kalia Yang, who weighed in on her own Tumblr, wrote that during the interview Krulwich “grew increasingly disrespectful toward my uncle’s experiences and his lack of formal education.” “The story is billed as a search for truth. I am a firm believer that the truth belongs to those who’ve lived it,” Yang wrote. Both Abumrad and Krulwich wrote about the episode in follow-up blog posts, and Krulwich apologized twice — on the show’s blog and in a recorded apology to the Yangs that was inserted into a revised version of the podcast Oct. 5. “I have to ask questions to search for truth, but in this case, given how much Mr. Yang had already suffered, I should have done it with more respect and more gently,” Krulwich said. Abumrad, who has the final say on all Radiolab content before it airs, told Current that both he and Krulwich regret the direction the interview took, but defended their reporting methods. “We had never actually heard from the people who were there, and we were genuinely curious: Did they see something that would allow us to rethink the story and to rethink what the scientists were saying?” Abumrad said. “I don’t feel like an outcry of emotion should necessarily divert a line of questioning which is valid.” The podcast will not air over broadcast radio until 2013, and producers haven’t decided how to edit the podcast for radio.
Producers haven’t contacted the Yangs since Krulwich’s apology, and they aren’t planning additional coverage of the Hmong community, according to Abumrad. During a keynote address at the Third Coast Conference Oct. 7, Abumrad said including the interview in the podcast had made everyone on the program feel “exposed” and “vulnerable.” But they reasoned that, in an episode about truth, such transparency was important. He also used the incident to illustrate one of his talk’s key points: People who work in creative professions should keep pushing themselves into areas where they feel uncomfortable. The ethics of storytelling This level of scrutiny is rare for Radiolab, one of the most decorated shows in public radio. The program won a Peabody Award for Broadcast Excellence in 2010, and the MacArthur Foundation gave Abumrad a prestigious “genius grant” fellowship in 2011. At Third Coast, Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute urged journalists in attendance to think about the concept of “ethics” in broader terms than factual accuracy, saying it should also refer to fidelity to sources, to represent their viewpoints as accurately as possible. McBride, Poynter’s senior faculty on ethics in reporting, said public-media reporters are among the most conscientious in journalism. She receives more calls for ethics consultations per capita from public-media reporters than from those working in for-profit media, and takes this as a sign that “public media has a much more thoughtful, deliberate approach to making ethical decisions.” McBride told Current that the lack of diversity on Radiolab’s staff may have played a role in its perceived insensitivity toward the Hmong people. “I think that the people who called out Radiolab on this topic felt like that’s what happened: Because these people are not very affluent . . . because they don’t speak English, because they are so different, it’s very hard to afford them the same kind of emotional nuance that you might afford somebody who works in your own building,” she said. Outside of Abumrad, who is Lebanese, all other Radiolab staff members are white and of European descent, according to WNYC spokeswoman Jennifer Houlihan. While Abumrad acknowledged that
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diversity in public radio remains a “crucially important” issue, he disputed the idea that Radiolab has difficulty empathizing with different ethnicities. “My parents came over to America in the early ’70s as the result of a civil war that killed over 100,000 people, and a lot of people that we knew,” he said. “Sensitivity to perspectives that are outside the norm, a sensitivity to people who are isolated, whose voices you don’t usually hear from — I get that. I still think the line of questioning in that piece is not only valid, it’s important.” Because the Radiolab segment didn’t involve questions of factual accuracy, McBride said, it poses less of a ethical quandary than the journalistic concerns she usually hears of. “Ethically, [Radiolab] didn’t deceive anybody. They didn’t get anything horribly wrong and cause damage by getting it wrong.
| October 22, 2012 | 7
They just framed their story in a way that discounted somebody else’s story, and that was hurtful,” she said. The episode underscores the importance of operating under journalistic standards, regardless of whether a show bills itself as a news program, McBride said. “The reality is that your audience is using the information as journalism. And the audience doesn’t distinguish.” Abumrad doesn’t know whether Radiolab will change its editorial process in light of the reactions to “Yellow Rain.” He’s determined to continue taking the program into tougher terrain. “We will be telling stories that are controversial. We will be telling stories that provoke reactions one way or another,” he said. “That’s the direction we’re going in.” n Questions, comments, tips? email@example.com
ShortDocs Continued from page 6
Chicago-area photographer Brian Barnhart Jr. helped edit, became Red, White and Bruised. In gathering material for his entry, Musto coached Floyd and members of his family to retell his stories and philosophies. “Hey, Don, what’s it all about?” asks the family in the piece, in unison. “Hell if I know,” Don responds. “I just took life as it came. If it kicked the hell out of me, I kicked back.” Musto has listened to public radio for 10 years, but he’d never contributed — creatively or with donations — before entering the Third Coast contest. “I just was usurping the public radio that other people were supporting,” he said. “I am in my first six months of being an active supporter.” Outsiders no more Now that Eldridge has had a taste of life in radio, he wants more. He plans to submit work to In The Dark, a grant competition sponsored by a British radio collaborative. He’s also considering turning his sports blog into its own podcast. Though Musto, unlike Eldridge, sees his audio work as a “novel pastime,” he’s also beginning work on his second piece, which
Musto, a Chicago electrician, recorded stories of the life and near-death experiences of his mentor. (Photo: Kate Joyce Studios) will focus on another Chicagoan with a unique voice. “I am a big fan of the human stories,” Musto said, citing the late Chicago author and broadcaster Studs Terkel as an inspiration for his work. “There are a couple vignettes of people’s lives that make me think it’s not so bad, you know? That’s life.” n Questions, comments, tips? firstname.lastname@example.org
Celebrating 24 years, AIR identifies, cultivates and deploys gifted media-makers from across the US and world-wide whose stories enrich public media and its service to Americans each day.
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8 | October 22, 2012 | Current
Continued from page 1
of the crowdfunder platform Spot.Us last year (Current, Dec. 12, 2011). “One of the goals of this deal might be that idea of bringing innovation in-house,” Sterns said, “rather than trying to build an innovation team internally, which is a slow process from the ground up.” KCET’s Jerome acknowledged that Link’s digital know-how made the match attractive. “Link is doing a tremendous job in digital technology,” he told Current, “so that’s complementary to us.” Later this month Link TV is scheduled to release the first iPad app offering curated video coverage of international news. Journalists working from 125 sources will aggregate materials ranging from mainstream media feeds to unedited eyewitness footage, as well as related stories from 50,000 international news sources.
“An unusual pairing” Link derives most of its funding from major foundations. Among the 42 credited on its website as providing grants over the past two years are the Knight Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation. The Philadelphia-based Wyncote Foundation, which provided a three-year grant supporting Current’s organizational development in 2011, is also a funder. Foundation grants make up about 70 percent of Link TV’s $8 million annual operating budget; philanthropic support to KCET, by contrast, provides 13 percent of its $33 million budget. It’s too early to say whether Link’s relationships with major foundations will bolster KCET’s new business model. “It’s so hard to predict how different funders will react to any news like this,” said Vince Stehle, executive director of Media Impact Funders (formerly Grantmakers in Film and Electronic Media), although he sees the merger as “a bold move.” “It’s an unusual pairing,” he said, “a very exciting connection between two very different types of public broadcasting entities.” The move gives KCET “a new story to distinguish itself from the traditional public
broadcasting approach,” Stehle said. And what he called Link TV’s “impressive list” of funders over its 13-year history is even more remarkable considering that many of its foundation backers are in major cities where use of satellite TV is not widespread. “It was always a leap of faith for people to invest in a service they weren’t experiencing in their own homes,” Stehle said. Now Link TV will be available in the second-largest broadcast market in the country, in a city that many consider to be the media capital of the world. “That’s a powerful position,” Stehle said.
“Architects of our own future” Merger talks began “serendipitously” about six months Among the new programs that the merger will bring to KCET’s channel line-up is Borgen, a Danish drama set ago, Link TV’s Mason told in a world of political gamesmanship that’s been a hit for LinkTV. Current, when leaders of the organizations “started to This announcement is the latest of several see KCET’s relationship with the BBC, and notice complementary factors” program initiatives unveiled by KCET since the international programming they’ve been between them. its split from PBS in January 2011. The stasharing both in news and entertainment, as Public media need to become more effition retooled its lineup to feature internation- having the same values that are important to cient, Jerome said. “By consolidating our al news programming paired with popular our audience.” workforces, we came up with operating and British dramas offered by other distributors, Jerome and Mason also have similar backfinancial efficiencies, at the same time taking such as Doc Martin. Deals aimed at expandgrounds. Jerome went to KCET in 1996 from advantage of our complementary strengths,” ing the station’s production output — such a career in commercial broadcasting that he said. “As we walked down that road, we as a $50 million partnership with a former included 17 years in NBC management. And said, ‘We have to be the architects of our own Disney executive — have been slow to bear before Mason took over in September 2011 at future.’ The merger idea was the best solufruit (Current, June 25). Link TV, he was a senior v.p. of ABC News. tion.” Big changes at KCET go beyond programLink TV premiered on Direct TV nearly Staff and operations will be consolidated, ming. The station sold its longtime home, 13 years ago after the FCC required satellite Jerome said, with KCET taking on “a siga circa-1920s studio on Hollywood’s Sunset broadcasters to set aside part of their specnificant number” of Link’s 40 employees, Boulevard, in April 2011 to the Church of trum for public-service purposes (Current, for a total of around 150 staffers. “As with Scientology for $42 million. One year later, it Dec. 13, 1999). Its parent organization, Link any merger situation, we’ll be taking a look” moved into a new headquarters in a gleaming Media, was co-founded by the Independent at possible restructuring or layoffs, he said. high-rise in Burbank. Television Service (ITVS); the Internews Employees will work for both entities. With those updated production facilities, Network, a global nonprofit supporting local Programming also will be combined. Jerome said, KCET’s leaders “felt we had real, media worldwide; and InterAct, which uses Some nationally relevant episodes of SoCal significant production expertise to bring to webcams, online chat rooms, videoconConnected, KCET’s weeknightly newsmagabear to assist Link. ” ferencing and mobile digital platforms to zine, will be among the shows to run on Link Link carries global and national news, advance participatory democracy. n TV’s schedule. KCET has yet to decide which documentaries and international cultural of its three multicast channels will make way Comments, questions, tips? email@example.com programming; KCET has since 1998 has for Link TV. It currently offers the Kids & distributed BBC World News to pubTV staFamily channel, V-me and MHz Worldview. tions. Mason said Link TV execs “came to
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Big Bird politics Continued from page 1
keep on spending money on things to borrow money from China to pay for.” The former Massachusetts governor had repeatedly railed against federal aid to the system throughout his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, but this time he made the comment before a television and online audience of a reported 73 million viewers. Gov. Romney “has gotten this PBS talking point into his head and can’t get it out,” Butler said. “He’s using it with alarming frequency.” During the Oct. 16 town-hall debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., President Obama brought up Romney’s pledge again, while chiding his opponent for the lack of details in his plan to cut taxes without raising the deficit. “We haven’t heard from the governor any specifics,” Obama said, “beyond Big Bird and eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood, in terms of how he pays for that.” The Obama campaign also made political hay with Romney’s Big Bird statement in a 31-second online ad produced after the first debate. The spot criticizes Romney for targeting Big Bird, not big money. “[I] t’s not Wall Street you have to worry about, it’s Sesame Street,” the voiceover announcer says. The ad goes on to compare Big Bird to disgraced financiers, including Bernie Madoff. Sesame Workshop, which owns the Sesame Street character, issued a statement Oct. 9 asserting that it had “approved no campaign ads, and, as is our general practice, [we] have requested that the ad be taken down.” As of Oct. 18 the ad was still online and had received 3.3 million views. (See it here: tinyurl.com/BigBirdAd) “Our legal department is reviewing our options,” said Jodi Lefkowitz, Sesame Workshop spokesperson. The partisan rhetoric puts public broadcasting back into the political fray for the second consecutive national election cycle — only this time PBS is being played by both parties to rouse their supporters. It’s a tricky situation for the field, especially given how political attacks sharpened on NPR and public broadcasting after the 2010 midterm elections. (See commentary, page 15). Pubcasters, who historically relied on strong bipartisan support in Congress, continue to strive for nonpartisanship in advocating on their own behalf. Yet the stakes have been raised unlike ever before in the debate over government spending and taxbased support for CPB. “We’re trying to play this straight, right down the middle, and use this as a teachable moment,” Butler said. “We’re very uncomfortable to have become a significant political issue.”
APTS has made “substantial progress” in talks with Romney’s policy people and other campaign staff, Butler said. “That’s not to say we’ve changed their minds, but they do understand our minds. It’s a matter of pounding the rock and making sure that if we ever get the opportunity to speak with Gov. Romney, we can make our case directly.” In the right place at the right time, online PBS had begun work on its ValuePBS.org site over the summer, said spokesperson Jan McNamara, with an aim to launch sometime in October. The site wasn’t conceived in reaction to Romney’s ongoing pokes at pubcasting, McNamara said, but rather to provide a centralized source for facts about PBS and its member stations. Unlike 170MillionAmericans.org, comanaged by APTS and NPR, which is a call-to-action site that links supporters with Congress, ValuePBS. org is an educational resource for stations and the public, she said. Stations had long wanted one web-based resource where PBS could tell its story. PBS presented the site to station managers during a round-robin meeting at PBS headquarters on Oct. 3. “Their reaction to the site was extremely positive,” McNamara said. Following the presidential debate that night, “the media were suddenly very interested in PBS’s funding. Given this, and the positive feedback we heard from stations, we went live on Oct. 4.” The straightforward, graphically simple site offers downloadable information for communities, teachers, and kids and parents. A sample factoid: “Watched on TV by 236 million Americans annually. In a month, Americans stream 145 million videos on PBS’s Web and mobile platforms.” It’s housed as a microsite on the PBS.org platform, “which means it can be updated and localized easily on an ongoing basis,” McNamara said. “Stations can use the data collected there, or simply link to it, depending on their individual goals and communication plans.” As of the morning of Oct. 16, ValuePBS.org had received 38,000 unique visitors and more than 51,000 page views. The site also houses testimonials in which viewers talk about how their lives have been affected by PBS programs. In one video, a man living in rural Montana describes how he discovered information about his wife’s Alzheimer’s disease through his local member station. Those personal testimonials are exactly what public broadcasting needs to strengthen its case for continued federal support, said Josh Stearns, journalism and public media campaign director at media-reform nonprofit Free Press. Members of Congress should be “surrounded by first-person accounts” of how necessary public broadcasting is, he said. “This is not about taking a political position, but building relationships and gaining cham-
“We’re trying to play this straight, right down the middle, and use this as a teachable moment. We’re very uncomfortable to have become a significant political issue.”
| October 22, 2012 | 9
Drucker on the Dial
“Drucker on the Dial” is part of the Drucker Institute’s media suite, which includes a daily blog (thedx.org) and a biweekly column “the Drucker Difference” on Forbes.com, that draws tens of thousands of hits per month from a highly engaged global audience.
Available for free, the second Friday of every month, on prx.org. Notable guests include: Marcus Buckingham, A.G. Lafley, Gail McGovern, Roger Martin, Richard Ford and Charles Handy.
— Pat Butler, APTS president
Continued on next page
John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships at Stanford Barbara Allen Producer/engineer, WTTW-TV PBS Chicago, Ill.
Eric Westervelt Foreign correspondent, NPR News, Berlin
is proud to have Barbara and Eric as fellows in 2012-13 The John S. Knight Journalism Fellowships program serves the needs of journalists in an ever-changing media environment, by fostering innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership.
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Knight Fellows spend a year leveraging the resources of Stanford University and Silicon Valley to broaden their skills and perspectives while developing their own proposal to beneﬁt journalism and journalists. Fellows receive a stipend of $65,000, plus Stanford tuition and supplements for moving expenses, health insurance, books, housing and child care.
Deadline is Jan. 15, 2013 for U.S. applicants; Dec. 1, 2012 for international applicants.
BECOME A KNIGHT FELLOW
10 | October 22, 2012 | Current
Big Bird politics Continued from page 9
pions.” “We didn’t want to exploit this situation” KQED already counts 18 of the 19 members of Congress that represent the Bay Area as strong supporters, said Michael Lupetin, station vice president, marketing and brand. Even before the Oct. 3 debate had ended, KQED staffers were calling and texting one another, brainstorming ways to take advantage of the station’s political backing while still getting the word out about the need for funding vigilance. They knew they wanted to “Save Big Bird!” And they knew this campaign would have a limited run: from Thursday, Oct. 4, until 11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 8. “Then we stopped, and it was back to business as usual,” Lupetin said. “We needed not only to get the message out there right away,” said Scott Walton, communications director, “but also to respect the people who were already supportive. We didn’t want to exploit this situation.” KQED wanted to drive fans to the 170 Million Americans site, broadcasting 30- and 60-second promo spots provided by APTS, placing banner ads on the KQED website, and posting on Facebook and Twitter. “By 11 a.m. Pacific on Thursday, that was all in rotation,” Lupetin said. The station also sent an email blast to its list of 230,000-plus supporters, requesting that they thank members of Congress for their ongoing support. The emails took what Lupetin called “a Dragnet approach: ‘Just the
facts, ma’am,’” with data on the cost and value of programming. That generated 5,000 click-throughs to the 170 Million Americans site and close to 4,000 hits on the station’s own donation page, with 447 actual contributions — even though the station was not specifically asking for cash, Lupetin noted. KQED’s Facebook post of an infographic supplied by ValuePBS got 6,716 views, 617 likes, and 321 shares. Its tweet of that infographic received 25 times reach of an average tweet by the station, with 1,659 clicks and 104 retweets, Lupetin said. PBS doesn’t know how many stations used the materials created for its new campaign, McNamara said, “but judging from what we observed across social media channels, stations were extraordinarily helpful in promoting ValuePBS.org.” Other stations also continued to funnel visitors to 170 Million. Through its email campaign, WNET sent 16,000 pledges of support to the site — with 66 percent of those also opting to sign up for WNET program updates, said Kellie Specter, WNET spokesperson. The advocacy work will continue beyond campaign season, regardless of the outcome of the presidential election. And some political strategists see a potential upside to the candidates’ sparring over pubcasting’s federal funding. “The more the issue of public broadcasting funding gets elevated,” said John Lawson, former APTS president, “the harder it will be to quietly kill it.” n Questions, comments, tips? firstname.lastname@example.org
Coming this fall...
Soon we’ll have a new set of useful tools for every public media employer and job seeker. In addition to online job postings, the career center will offer a truly anonymous and fully searchable resume bank, an applicant screening tool, intern board, the ability for employers to accept online applications and more. It’s just another benefit of being a PMBA member and a Current subscriber. Look for its debut later this fall.
EVP and Chief Operating Officer Reporting to the President and Chief Executive Officer North Texas Public Broadcasting, Inc., the Dallas/Fort Worth NPR and PBS station is currently seeking an executive to join the senior leadership team. Reporting directly to the President & Chief Executive Officer, the Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer drives the fulfillment of NTPB’s Mission and Strategic Plan goals through effective and efficient operational planning, outputs, and measurements. Via strategic collaboration, oversight of the organization’s daily operations, enhancement of internal processes and systems and regular reporting, the COO will support the work of the President/CEO to grow the organization’s community service and assure a solid fiscal foundation. The COO ensures that the Operating Departments are organized, coordinated and complementary and that they are led with creativity and a clear focus on timely achievement of goals. Operating Departments reporting to the COO include Finance, Technology, Membership and Sponsorship. The COO represents the President/CEO in operational matters, and has functional supervision of the senior management team. Essential Functions: The Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer will lead internal operations and will have the following responsibilities: 1. Collaborate with the President & CEO on strategic planning, goal setting, and assessment of community impact. 2. Regularly report to the President & CEO the current and expected future state of the organization’s operations. 3. Finance, Accounting and Administration a. Supervise the Chief Financial Officer and oversee the Finance, Accounting, and Administration functions. b. Lead the budgeting process and advise the CEO on financial issues and decisions. c. Review and analyze financial reports and the organization’s financial performance. d. Identify and implement appropriate cost-saving measures to assure that maximum resources are available for growth in strategic areas and for meeting the Mission of NTPB. e. Develop the Human Resources function to ensure that NTPB is fully staffed with superlative individuals capable of delivering extraordinary results. Train, coach, evaluate and compensate staff to grow the organization’s capabilities. f. Ensure that NTPB is well-represented by capable legal services. g. Ensure that NTPB’s office facility and grounds are well-maintained and that they reflect and enhance the organization’s brand promise of delivering community services of the highest quality. 4. Technology a. Supervise the Chief Engineer in building, maintaining, and operating the production, broadcast, and information technology resources required for NTPB’s creation and distribution of public service content as well as its business operations. b. Ensure that NTPB broadcasts are in compliance with all applicable broadcast laws and regulations. c. Ensure that technological facilities are reliable. d. Develop a comprehensive and evolving plan for short-term and long-term replacement, upgrade, and enhancement of facilities to ensure that NTPB is capable of meeting its strategic plan goals. 5. Transactional Revenue Generation a. Supervise the Vice President of Membership. b. Supervise the relationship with Market Enginuity (Sales). c. Ensure that challenging but achievable revenue goals are set and met. d. Ensure that data is captured, accurately maintained, analyzed and used in appropriate ways to build strong relationships with current and potential individual and corporate funders for maximum revenue generation. e. Ensure that contemporary and effective fundraising techniques and message points are adapted for NTPB’s fundraising efforts. Required Qualifications - Knowledge, Skills and Abilities: 1. Minimum of 10 years experience managing a wide range of functions that are key to a public media or other mission-driven organization’s success. 2. Ability to think strategically, anticipate future trends and outcomes, and incorporate them into the organizational plan. 3. Goal oriented. 4. Strong organizational skills. 5. Thorough understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by public media organizations. 6. Managerial experience in finance, budgeting, business analysis, information systems, personnel management and development. 7. Ability to get things done with efficiency and effectiveness. 8. Ability to simultaneously drive results from multiple and diverse tasks. 9. MBA or equivalent advanced degree in organizational management. To Apply: Please send your resume and cover letter to KERA as you prefer: E-mail to email@example.com Fax to 214-740-9323 Mail to: KERA, Attn. Human Resources, 3000 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas, Texas 75201. KERA/KXT is an Equal Opportunity Employer
| October 22, 2012 | 11
Current Classifieds To place an ad, visit Current.org/jobs and look in the right hand side-bar for our new online insertion order form. Just fill it out, paste in your copy and hit submit. You’ll receive confirmation by email.
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Chief Operating Officer Marking its 50th anniversary in 2012, the Connecticut Public Broadcasting Network [www.cpbn. org] consists of numerous media services including Connecticut Public Television (CPTV), Connecticut Public Radio (WNPR), CPTV4U, and CPTV Sports. As a member of the Public Broadcasting System (PBS) and National Public Radio (NPR), the nonprofit network houses production studios and headquarter offices in Hartford, with an additional radio studio in New Haven. JOB TITLE: Chief Operating Officer (COO) REPORTS TO: President and CEO JOB SUMMARY: The COO is responsible for ensuring that all network operating units are aligned with the company’s mission, strategic objectives, and initiatives. Specifically, the position provides executive leadership to the day-to-day operations and direction for all departments outside of the finance area, including membership, fundraising, corporate sponsorships and development, corporate communications, human resources, broadcast programs and operations and other media services, including CPTV, CPTV4U, CPTV Sports, WNPR and online services.Those efforts are expected to culminate in reaching greater audiences and securing revenues of over $20 million across the enterprise, as well as planning, charting, and implementing a newly launched $3.5 million Capital Campaign, a subset of a $50 million Endowment Campaign. RESPONSIBILITIES: u Lead and implement a diverse portfolio of development and fundraising initiatives from local, state and federal sources u Manage relationships with partner organizations; cultivate existing relationships; and develop new funder relationships; proactively identifying and developing new sources of philanthropic revenues u Oversee all radio and television broadcast services, as well as online services, ensuring ongoing programmatic excellence u Expand revenue generating and fundraising activities to support existing programs and the opportunities for programming and content initiatives u Provide leadership in the development of inter-team communication and cohesiveness, sustaining a culture where company and department objectives are met QUALIFICATIONS: u Bachelor’s degree, with at least 10 years of management experience u A minimum of 15 years of development, public broadcasting national programming, and online media experience in increasingly responsible positions u Interest in working closely with the CEO and in being identified as a future successor to the senior leadership position within the company u A successful track record in both managing sizeable content and development projects and in senior level solicitation and stewardship u Must be results-oriented, creative, highly articulate, confident, an able team builder, strategic minded, entrepreneurial, highly adept at identifying, building, and stewarding funding relationships at the highest level, both corporate and individual COMPENSATION: u Compensation is both competitive and commensurate with the candidate’s experience and includes a competitive bonus and benefits package TO APPLY: Send resume and cover letter to Human Resources, Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc., 1049 Asylum Avenue, Hartford, CT 06105/ E-mail: email@example.com. Connecticut Public Broadcasting, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply.
Management/Finance Chief Operating Officer PBS SoCaL, Costa Mesa, CA PBS SoCaL has been growing steadily since becoming Southern California’s primary PBS station in January of 2011, and is now seeking to accelerate that growth. The Board of Trustees and CEO are seeking a mission-focused, seasoned, strategic, and businessminded leader with experience scaling an organization, leading an executive management team, and developing a performance culture among a group of
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diverse, talented individuals. The COO must be a leader who is able to help others at PBS SoCaL deliver measurable, cost-effective results that make the vision a reality. Importantly, the ideal candidate will be a great team builder with the skills, sensitivity, and personal confidence to tap into the power that each member of the team brings to this mission. It is essential that the COO creates and executes organization-wide strategies, tactics and programs to increase the productivity of the organization and enhance sustainability of Continued on next page
President & G.M. WYES , NEW ORLEANS, seeks a dynamic and experienced leader with outstanding credentials in the public television or related field who can build on the growth and success of New Orleans’ premiere public television station’s 55 year legacy and meet new challenges and opportunities ahead. Primary duties include: 1.
Provide leadership to achieve WYES’ mission and strategic goals, plans and policies to assure the highest quality service to our unique, vibrant and resilient community.
Lead the station’s relationship with the Board of Trustees, Board Committees, Building Committee, Capital Campaign Committee, Community Advisory Board and volunteers.
Provide essential fundraising skills with the ability to build relations with, and successfully solicit, major donors, local and national foundations, grants and national underwriters.
Ability to cultivate city, state and national governmental funding and support and represent WYES’ interests with key national organizations such as Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Association of Public Television Stations, Public Broadcasting Service & the FCC.
Oversight and direction of station services and operations ensuring sound fiscal planning, financial management, long-range planning and development.
Create an atmosphere that encourages creativity and pride in professional achievement while managing, directly or through Senior Staff department managers, the personnel, and departments including Administration, Finance, Broadcasting, Individual Giving, Institutional Development, Engineering, Local Initiatives and YES PRODUCTIONS, WYES’ for-profit division which includes 2 high definition mobile television trucks.
Ensure efficient use of existing and future resources with regular monitoring of industry trends, technologies, digital distribution platforms and oversee acquisition, implementation, maintenance and replacement of the station’s technologies.
Possess entrepreneurial skills to conceive, develop and grow new services or products which will support WYES and its future needs.
Ensure compliance with all FCC rules and all regulations pertaining to WYES’ non-profit 501c3 status.
Successful candidate must have Bachelor’s Degree in a relevant academic discipline, with an advanced degree desirable; a minimum of 10 years senior management experience in one or more aspects of public media or related field; successful strategic and financial planning, fundraising, governmental relations experience; exceptional interpersonal and entrepreneurial skills; the ability to inspire a talented staff and dedicated volunteers; outstanding written and oral communication skills; personal and professional integrity; understanding and appreciation of WYES and the unique Greater New Orleans and Mississippi Gulf Coast area, and enthusiasm for representing WYES as a principal “public persona”. Applications must include: (1) a detailed cover letter describing how the candidate’s education, training, and experience meet or exceed the listed job responsibilities, (2) a detailed professional resume, and (3) a list of five professional references who have worked directly with or for the applicant or for whom the applicant has worked. The position is open until filled. Please send cover letter, resume’, references and salary requirements to: SEARCH COMMITTEE/WYES PRESIDENT c/o Human Resources WYES TV 111 Veterans Blvd. Suite 250 Metairie, LA 70005 Or email to: firstname.lastname@example.org WYES is an EOE.
12 | October 22, 2012 | Current
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operations. It is also critical that the COO is an idea generator who captures opportunities at every turn and explores new ways to creatively expand the PBS SoCaL brand and product offerings to drive revenue development and strengthen PBS SoCaL’s competitive position. The ideal candidate will be able to promote a culture that reflects PBS SoCaL’s values, encourages outstanding performance and rewards productivity and innovation. Reporting to the CEO, the Chief Operating Officer will oversee all operations and lead a team of approximately 45 professionals in development, membership, underwriting and sponsorship, programming services, broadcast station operations, engineering and digital technology management, marketing and communications, government and board relations and finance and human resource management. Externally, the COO will represent the stations’ interests to selected partners, vendors, communities, national organizations, and other public service media organizations – serving as the public face for the service with interaction with a broad range of constituents such as audiences, funders, and business and community leaders. If interested, please contact: Melissa Petersen, Tel: 410-5288400, email@example.com.
Engineering/Technology Director of Engineering WGCU Public Media, Fort Myers/Naples, FL WGCU Public Media (PBS & NPR), licensed to Florida Gulf Coast University, seeks qualified applicants for the position of Director of Engineering. WGCU operates with a $7 million annual budget and a staff of 40 employees. Position reports to the General Manager and is responsible for overseeing and providing leadership for all technical and operational activities for this TV/FM joint licensee. Serving Florida’s Southwest Coast -- including the communities of Fort Myers, Naples, and Marco, Sanibel and Captiva Islands – WGCU-TV consistently ranks among the top most-watched public television stations in the country and WGCU-FM ranks in the top 10 stations in the market. Over $1.6 million in TV production and TV/ FM transmission equipment upgrades have been installed in the past 14 months including a new HDTV production chain, new TV transmitter and antenna and a new high-gain HD radio antenna. Successful candidate will have a strong RF engineering background and significant IT experience in a TV/ FM broadcast and production environment as well as excellent management and interpersonal communication skills. Applications accepted through November 9, 2012. Excellent benefits and competitive salary. How to Apply: Visit http://jobs.fgcu.edu and access REQ #1687. ALL applications MUST BE submitted electronically through the University’s online system “SOAR”.
| October 22, 2012 | 13
No paper or email applications will be accepted. FGCU is an EOE, which has a commitment to cultural, racial, and ethnic communities & encourages women and minorities to apply. It is expected that successful candidates share this commitment. VP, Engineering and Technology Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB), Portland, Oregon OPB seeks an engineering and technology leader excited about the evolving public media/broadcast industry. The VP, Engineering and Technology, serving as OPB’s Chief Technology Officer, must be a technology strategist able to identify and capitalize on broadcast and digital technology solutions to advance OPB’s business. For more information and instructions on how to apply, go to www.opb.org/insideopb/ careers/jobs/. OPB is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
Production/Programming Series Manager WGBH, Boston, MA Department Overview: American Experience is an award-winning historical documentary series broadcasting nationally on PBS. It is the longest running and most watched history series on television. Position Overview: Reporting to the American Experience executive producer, the series manager serves as the point person for American Experience, representing the series to PBS, public television stations, producers, co-producers and other departments at WGBH as necessary. The series manager is responsible for developing and managing the American Experience brand and for overseeing the day-to-day activities of promotion, marketing, scheduling and outreach for individual programs and mini-series. Responsible for maintaining a working environment that leverages the potential and diversity of the department’s entire staff. Provide direction and leadership in such a way as to nurture, create and maintain an environment that is (1) free from discrimination, intolerance and harassment and (2) provides employees with equal access to opportunities for growth and advancement including professional development whenever possible. Skills Required: Candidates for this position should have a solid understanding of the production process, an established aptitude for working with the national media, and experience in marketing and communications. Familiarity with the public broadcasting system is highly desirable. Experience supervising personnel and managing multiple projects is required. Ideal applicants should possess strong strategic planning and analytical skills, solid writing and editing abilities and a creative approach to problem solving. They must be self-directed and able to collaborate successfully with a variety of internal departments and external partners. Educational Requirements: Bachelor’s degree or higher. Please apply online via the WGBH career’s Continued on next page
Join a culture of curiosity. Marketplace is looking for talented people to help create outstanding journalism. You’ll work in a fast-paced environment that fosters innovation and excellence. Each week, more than 9 million listeners* turn to Marketplace programs for the latest business, economic and tech news delivered in a fresh voice. The current openings at Marketplace include:
MANAGING EDITOR: Marketplace’s chief journalist will oversee a 25-person team producing journalism in audio and text.
HOST, Marketplace Money®: The new host of Marketplace’s weekend program will work with a talented and dynamic team.
BACK-UP HOST: A new, signature voice across all four Marketplace programs. This job also provides opportunity to do reporting. View full postings and apply online at marketplace.org/careers You can learn more about Marketplace at marketplace.org/about American Public Media offers competitive benefits and salary, and supports a diverse and inclusive work environment. *Source: Arbitron Nationwide DMA P12+, Spring 2012.
14 | October 22, 2012 | Current
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page at: www.wgbh.org/about/employmentOpportunities.cfm Programming and Production Coordinator Northstate Public Radio, Chico, California Northstate Public Radio is the NPR affiliate for northeastern California. The network is comprised of KCHO 91.7 FM based in Chico and KFPR 88.9 FM in Redding which, combined with eight translators, serves a 12-county region often compared in size to the State of Ohio. Programming focuses on NPR and BBC news, Classical, and Jazz but also features a wide variety of national public radio favorites as well as locally-produced programs and features. Northstate Public Radio is licensed to the California State University Chico Research Foundation and is headquartered on the Chico State campus. The Programming and Production Coordinator supervises and coordinates approved programming and production including national and regional programming and locally-originated radio programs. Detail including description and requirements as well as application process are available at www. csuchico.edu/rfdn or by contacting the CSU, Chico Research Foundation, Bldg. 25, CSU, Chico (25 Main St., Ste 203), Chico, CA 95929-0246, 530-898-6811. Closes 5 pm, 11/14/2012. AA/EOE News Director/ME Host 88.9 KETR (100kW, NPR), Commerce, TX Duties: On-air and online local, state,
Digital Sales Development Manager Market Enginuity You can make a big difference for local NPR and PBS stations! As Digital Sales Development Manager, your job is to drive digital revenue development for the public media clients that Market Enginuity represents in ten markets across the country by developing, implementing and maintaining the necessary ad operations infrastructure and sales support. The qualified candidate will have 4 to 5 years of experience in digital media and advertising, solid experience in ad trafficking with a major commercial ad server (DART for Publishers, Atlas, Google DFP, etc.), and workflow management experience. To apply, email your cover letter and resume to Jim Taszarek at hr@ marketenginuityjobs.com. More information at marketenginuity. com/about/employment.php.
and national news, managing staff, directing interns. Licensed to Texas A&M University-Commerce. EOE. Apply here: http://bit.ly/QienZ9
Development/Marketing Corporate Support Manager/ Representative KRCB North Bay Public Media Rohnert Park, CA Live and work in WINE COUNTRY, San Francisco’s North Bay, California! One of the most beautiful, desirable places to live in the country! KRCB, a joint licensee public television and radio station, is looking for a unique individual to manage and sell underwriting. The successful candidate will have a minimum of four years of experience in broadcast and relevant new media sales management, be entrepreneurialminded and self-motivated with a strong understanding of customer and market dynamics. As Manager, the candidate will supervise and evaluate selling effort of other sales representatives. As Rep, the candidate will secure funding from corporate and nonprofit sources in support of non-commercial, broadcast public television/radio and online content. Experience with Salesforce CRM and International Demographics’ Media Audit software is helpful. This is an in-house, full-time, benefits-eligible position. Candidate must live within commuting distance. EEO. View full job description at krcb.org/ employment. Reply via email with cover letter, resume, and salary requirements to firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line Sales Manager – Current. No phone calls please. Reply by 10/31. Development Manager Wisconsin Public Television If you are a fund raising professional ready to step up to new challenges in your career, take a look at this opportunity. Wisconsin Public Television is searching for a seasoned Manager to oversee a major portion of our funds development work. You will direct the Corporate Development department and supervise the Auction and Special Events Managers. Requires: Seven or more increasingly successful years’ experience in non-profit fundraising; supervising; fundraising event management and more… Details at www.wpt. org/employment.cfm. Betsy.nelson@ wpr.org, EOE. Director I, Development Institutional Sponsorship and Philanthropy Las Vegas PBS, Las Vegas, NV Develop, execute ongoing plan for revenue producing campaigns using proposal writing, electronic and print media sponsorships, special events, social media and personal solicitations. Applicant must demonstrate record of success through increased corporate foundation and governmental grants or annual and planned giving by individuals; strong marketing skills; knowledge of audience research; experience in guiding a development team and leadership skills. Successful candidate
will have management experience in a large scale broadcasting or nonprofit fundraising environment; demonstrate a collaborative management style; commitment to innovative techniques. MIN QUALS: Bachelor’s degree; 5 yrs management experience. STARTING SALARY $72,756. Competitive applicants must submit formal online application at www.ccsd.net/jobs AND submit resume to Bernie Goodemote, email@example.com, 3050 E. Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89121; fax 702-799-2954. Position open until filled. EOE. See full job description at VegasPBS.org. Two Development Positions Maryland Public Television, Owings Mills Introduction: As an equal opportunity employer Maryland is committed to recruiting, retaining and promoting employees who are reflective of the state’s diversity. MPT Technician II Assistant Director, Major Gifts Filing deadline 11/22/12. Salary to be determined. Main purpose: The Assistant Director, Major Gifts is responsible for raising funds to support the programming and operation of the Maryland Public Television (MPT) by increasing the total dollars raised and number of donors to the major giving program. The assistant director is responsible for managing MPT’s annual leadership giving society and raising major gifts of five figures or more. Duties of position: grow the pool of major and planned giving donors to MPT; direct annual solicitation strategy for society for excellence in television program (set); coordinate with the managing director , grants specialist, major gifts staff and volunteers and unit and station-wide cultivation and stewardship of events; ensure that donor activity is accurately recorded in the database. Minimum qualifications: bachelor’s degree and five years of experience in development running a leadership annual giving program and a background in carrying a major gifts portfolio is required. The successful candidate will be skilled in creating and enhancing donor relationships in a non-profit environment. Excellent written and oral communications skills, proven skill in building and managing a large portfolio of annual and major gifts and strong interpersonal and organizational skills are essential. PBS experience is a plus. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite and familiarity with moves management are required. A valid driver’s license is required. MPT Administrator II– Managing Director, Individual Giving Filing deadline 1/30/2013. Salary commensurate with experience. Main purpose of job: Leading a staff of 10 overseeing and leading the efforts of the membership and on-air fundraising departments at Maryland Public Television. The two cost centers are responsible for producing $5.915M of the overall development goal of $7M. Duties of position: in conjunction with the vice president of development create a realistic and ambitious revenue plan for each fiscal year; design and implement fundraising strat-
egies and coordinate between membership and on-air departments; ensure a positive experience for all MPT customers, viewers and donors alike; oversee the efforts of the coordinator of viewer services, to ensure online fundraising efforts are utilized to maximum effect; oversee the efforts of the volunteer coordinator with a goal of greatly enhancing the volunteer footprint and efforts of MPT; work with the on-air fundraising manager and director of programming to formulate all on-air fundraising schedules; oversee outbound telemarketing efforts, working with an outside vendor. Manage and troubleshoot results of these efforts; work with membership manager to ensure all direct mail efforts to members and prospects alike are appropriate; manage the expense budgets of departments and staff, as well as, the tracking and reporting of revenue; Minimum qualifications: Bachelor’s degree in marketing, communication or related field and five years of experience in the administration of development for nonprofit fundraising. Note: additional years of qualifying experience may substitute for the required education. Experience in broadcast as stated in the minimum qualifications is a plus. To apply for either position: Visit http:// jobaps.com/md/jobs/mpt/. Submit resumes to firstname.lastname@example.org or paper resumes to: Maryland Public Television, Human Resources Department, 11767 Owings Mills Blvd., Owings Mills, MD, 21117. MPT offers the state of Maryland employee benefits package that includes a variety of health insurance options, a prescription program, pension plan and a generous leave plan. Maryland public television is a leader in the production of broadcast programming for public television. MPT’s local/ regional television credits include public affairs, original performance, entertainment and documentary programs for the citizens of Maryland. Beyond broadcast, MPT creates and develops training that serves tens of thousands of students, teachers and child-care providers annually. MPT outreach activities, especially relating to arts, culture and history, take place in all areas of the state to further fulfill MPT’s mission to engage, enlighten and entertain. Our state of the art television facility is located in Owings Mills, MD. The campus like setting provides plenty of free parking and is an easy commute from any location in the greater Baltimore metropolitan area.
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| October 22, 2012 | 15
Beyond Big Bird: What is public media’s value today? Commentary by Amanda Hirsch
very time someone threatens to cut PBS’s funding (as Mitt Romney did in the Oct. 3 presidential debate), public television’s supporters play the Big Bird card. “Surely, Mr. Grinch, you won’t rob the children of their Big Bird?” I’d like to call bull on that tactic. Using Big Bird as a symbol of PBS’s value is disingenuous and obscures the legitimate questions of (a) whether PBS is essential and (b) whether it should be federally funded. I worked for PBS for more than six years and have in fact spent most of my career working to raise the visibility and impact of public media online. So, I’m in the pro–public-media camp. But Big Bird is a red herring. He’s not an apt symbol of PBS, a network that is also home to Downton Abbey and the NewsHour, This Old House and, yes, doo-wop shows at pledge time (not to mention the infomercials for wrinkle cream that some stations air). If you think of PBS as a variety show, Big Bird only represents only one act. We may need Big Bird, but do we need PBS? Do we need the variety show? Ken Burns says “Yes.” In a recent op-ed published in USA Today, titled “Romney’s war on public TV is a loss for USA,” he wrote: “In an increasingly difficult world to navigate, with multiple media outlets and a constant onslaught of viewpoints, PBS remains our shared space, one where we can experience the best in arts and education, public affairs, history, science and journalism. It is a place where we can all feel at home.” I don’t think so. While PBS is definitely valued by millions of Americans, it’s a stretch to call it a shared space (for example, don’t people typically interact inside a shared space? Otherwise, what makes it shared?). And the problem for PBS, trying to make its case to Congress and funders and the public, is that while it’s valued by millions of Americans, different people value it for different reasons. For some people, PBS is Big Bird, and more generally, a safe haven for children (I personally think PBS Kids is a national treasure). For others, PBS is about cooking shows, investigative journalism presented on Frontline, history discovered through collectibles on Antiques Roadshow, or the independent films of POV and Independent Lens. The aesthetic, audience and mission of PBS shows are all over the map, and it’s not clear, to me, what knits them together. What’s the common value proposition? Public media’s true value The collective value proposition of public media more generally, of course, is that it’s produced as a public service. It’s noncommercial, treating viewers/listeners/users as citizens, not consumers. Yes, the underwriting spots on PBS and NPR today are often indistinguishable from commercials; and yes, there’s plain-old advertising on PBS.org. These are unfortunate developments, but also understandable as these enterprises struggle to stay competitive in a fast-changing media landscape, where users don’t expect less of them just because they have less money than their commercial counterparts.
(Illustration by Electronic Ink for Current) To me, the strongest argument for federalI personally trust that the people who make content for public media generally ly funded public media is that Americans who do so because they are moved to educate, can’t afford cable television and who don’t have Internet access should be able to access inspire, inform — to help people, and serve them, not to sell them something. If they’re quality news and information. (Of course, selling anything, it’s ideas, and I trust that the government should also make sure everygreat care is taken to make sure a diverse one has Internet access.) Sure, people may array of ideas are on prefer to watch The display. Biggest Loser, but if they want trustBut I also know “Cutting PBS support (0.012% of worthy journalism, that there’s no shortage of ego in public they should have it. budget) to help balance the Federal media — a lot of Information is power, budget is like deleting text files to and if we want to call content producers and editors who ourselves the greatmake room on your 500Gig est democracy in the think they know hard drive.” best. Many of them world, we need to are superlative empower our citizens with information at what they do Neil deGrasse Tyson and have Peabody they can trust. via Twitter on Oct. 3. Awards and the like But as I’ve illusto prove it. But ego trated above, PBS can lead to insularity isn’t just trustworthy — over-confidence news. It’s also British that the way you’re doing things is the only dramas, nature shows, cooking shows, pledge way, the best way. And then when your specials and so much more. Is all of this detractors call for your demise, you are more content essential to democracy? That’s the likely to be defensive than to consider anew million-dollar question. what it is that truly defines your value. Who gets to decide what media the American public needs? Programming execuWho decides? tives at PBS and NPR? Private funders at corporations and foundations? (After all, if a When every year seems to bring a new great documentary that programming execs round of threats to public media funding, it’s want to air never gets the funding it needs, it clear to me that public media isn’t doing a may never see the light of day.) 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. Collectively, public media has a huge megaphone, and a tremendous amount of intelligence, both about media-making and about meaningfully engaging the public in compelling and respectful ways. It’s time to harness these resources and facilitate an ongoing, online discussion about what public media should look like in 2012, whether it should be federally funded, and how it should best remain accountable to the public it serves.
someone who watches PBS in Florida, or Michigan, or New York. Given the local/national structure of public television and radio, decision-making about public media programming is in fact very distributed, but that doesn’t necessarily make it democratic or responsive to the public it serves. It just means that a lot of programmers are making disparate decisions without necessarily having accountability to their local communities. The fact is, in 2012, media is nothing like it was in the ’60s, when public broadcasting was founded. Back then, there were a few channels, and it made sense that there would be only a few gatekeepers. But today, anyone with Internet access can be a media maker. The floodgates are open, so the role of the gatekeeper needs to evolve. In 2012, the public-media ecosystem is complex, comprising not just PBS but also NPR, local stations, independent producers — and, some would argue, public access channels, nonprofit news start-ups, citizen journalism and more. Today, anyone can be a media maker, launching a blog, podcast or Twitter feed. Executives in board rooms shouldn’t be the only ones with a say in what makes it to the airwaves — there should be more accountability, transparency and responsiveness in order for public-media content to truly meet the needs of diverse Americans. Affordability isn’t the issue As Ken Burns pointed out, PBS represents something like 1/100th of 1 percent of the federal budget. Or, as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson tweeted (and was retweeted 62,000+ times): “Cutting PBS support (0.012% of budget) to help balance the Federal budget is like deleting text files to make room on your 500Gig hard drive.” Cutting PBS is not a smart or meaningful way to improve the economic outlook of this country. But that doesn’t mean the government should necessarily fund PBS. Just because something is affordable doesn’t mean it’s necessary.
What do you think? What is public media’s true public service value, and are we delivering and communicating that value as effectively as possible? How is our value proposition different today than it was in the ’60s? Can we truly make the case that federal funding for public media is essential in 2012? Weigh in online at tinyurl.com/HirschOpEd or send a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The local/national wrinkle The great strength and great weakness of public media lie in the fact that what you or I experience as “PBS” or “NPR” relies entirely on what our local station chooses to air. For example, POV is an incredible independent film series that PBS distributes; last time I checked, many stations air it at 11 p.m. or later, in some cases because they’re afraid of the political ramifications of airing a documentary that addresses challenging social issues in often provocative ways. So if someone in Idaho argues to save or kill PBS, they’re arguing for something entirely different than
Amanda Hirsch, the former editorial director of PBS.org, edits MediaShift’s Collaboration Central, a website about collaboration in the digital age. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y., and blogs at amandahirsch.com. This commentary was originally published by MediaShift, the PBS.org blog tracking how new media is changing society and culture. (Visit www.pbs. org/mediashift/)
16 | October 22, 2012 | Current
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as well as HD channels. The stream is priced at $3,000 a year. Subscribers can pick it up via either ContentDepot or satellite. — Ben Mook
PBS will broadcast its first show marking Veterans Day Nov. 11. The one-hour special National Salute to Veterans will be hosted by actors Joe Mantegna (Criminal Minds) and Gary Sinise (CSI: New York), and present highlights from past National Memorial Day Concerts. Performance segments feature acclaimed actor Forest Whitaker, singer/songwriter Javier Colon (winner of NBC’s The Voice), American Idol winner Kris Allen, and gospel legend Yolanda Adams, accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra. The broadcast will be paired with social media and a website supporting veterans and their families. Interactive elements include a “Wall of Honor,” where personal tributes may be posted, as well as an online forum for veterans to share their stories. The program is a co-production of Jerry Colbert and Michael Colbert of Capital Concerts, and WETA in Washington, D.C. The production team includes Walter C. Miller (The Grammy Awards, The Country Music Awards), Paul Miller (Saturday Night Live) and Joan Meyerson (National Memorial Day Concerts). — D.S.
Read |Write Technology is not a barrier for content-sharing To the editors, Regarding your recent article about discussions of audiencebuilding strategies for public radio at last month’s Public Radio Program Directors conference [What to do about public radio’s rating’s slide?” Current, Sept. 24], I do note with interest this exchange: During a Q&A in Las Vegas, John Van Hoesen, v.p. for news and programming at Vermont Public Radio, asked NPR Chief Content Officer Kinsey Wilson whether NPR would produce more newsmagazine-like programming for middays. Wilson questioned whether NPR has the capacity to help fill that gap. But both he and David Kansas, c.o.o. of Minnesota Public Radio/American Public Media, said that stations and networks could work together more to share content, creating a system for allowing local stations to pick up and air each other’s reporting. “There are some interesting things that new technology makes possible there,” Kansas said. NPR, MPR/APM and hundreds of stations are Public Radio Exchange members, and they can share unlimited audio for stations at any time, with any terms they wish to set. The “technology” through PRX makes it possible for any producer, station or network to make content openly available. Last year more than 17,000 programs or pieces were licensed and broadcast by stations, podcasters and our own Public Radio Remix service (though Remix is a small fraction of the whole) through PRX.org. We’re on track to far exceed that in 2012. NPR posts some jazz programming and the podcast How to
Serenade Big Bands in the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Camps
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Do Everything to PRX.org; APM posts occasional American RadioWorks programs. We wish that NPR, APM and Public Radio International would consider doing a lot more — opening their archives, offering select pieces and segments from national shows to all stations (KUOW has found engaging ways to program disaggregated network content), and redistributing classic material (Studio 360’s series, for example, are excellent). PRX.org also has ways to control access based on affiliation fees, so only “member” stations would get access to certain content. Hundreds of stations and thousands of producers already take advantage of PRX’s reach. The creators of the content on PRX retain full ownership of their works on PRX.org. A WNYC program distributed on PRX, unless otherwise negotiated, is and always will be a WNYC show. A network program or pieces or series belong to the network, not PRX. We do not co-brand that content as ours unless through some special arrangement. PRX believes stations and listeners have helped pay for decades of incredible content, most of which, in the right context, can continue to touch, enthrall and inform listeners — in fresh ways, in new frames of relevance. We could, perhaps, spend less time creating new and costly national programs if stations also had access to proven content that they could locally program and contextualize for their own listeners. KUT does this each week with O’Dark 30, a quirky, entertaining mix that thrills late-night fans. Some content comes from PRX but a lot comes from other sources. The barrier to sharing is not technology. PRX has built the system. After nine years, PRX.org is a proven, reliable, inexpensive, powerful open-distribution and curatorial tool for showing off the best of what everyone is doing in public radio. We encourage networks and stations to embrace PRX even further so that smart programmers and listeners benefit. John Barth Managing Director, Public Radio Exchange Cambridge, Mass.
120,000 Japanese Americans were forced to live in incarceration camps during World War II. “SEARCHLIGHT SERENADE: Big Bands in the WWII Japanese American Incarceration Camps” tells the stories of 9 detainees – big band trumpet players, saxophonists, and singers – who created a soulful escape for themselves and their fellow prisoners. Their accounts are accompanied by an evocative animation created from woodcuts and drawings. Feed Date/Schedule:
Friday, Nov. 9, 2012 | 1230-1330 ET | HD04 Contact: Claire Reynolds email@example.com 707-445-0813 www.keet.org KEET-TV, Eureka, CA
For people in public media