Pub Radio Finds Success In Alternatives To Pledge Drives

Public radio listeners hate on-air pledge drives. So some stations are looking for ways to eliminate the drives… and finding success. “With the help of well-timed renewal letters and on-air plugs for the mailings and website, WUWM’s fall donations were 73 percent higher without a pledge drive than in last year’s same period — with a nine-day on-air drive. The station also increased renewals by 296 percent and saw a slight upward bump in underwriting income.”

Public Broadcasting To Get In-House Critiques

Journalist Ken Bode and former Readers’ Digest editor William Schulz have been appointed to the positions of ombudsmen for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Bode and Schultz periodically will review public radio and TV shows after the programs have aired and report on their journalistic balance and accuracy. The appointments come after a long history of conservative complaints about alleged bias on PBS and NPR.” Observers say that the appointments are a clear reaction to the firestorm of controversy over an episode of a PBS children’s show which featured a lesbian couple and their children.

Feds Displeased With Kennedy Center

Washington’s Kennedy Center is under fire from the federal government’s General Accounting Office for cost overruns on several construction projects, and for failing to install what the GAO considers adequate fire safety equipment. Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser has called the GAO report “misleading,” and argues that it is based on incorrect and outdated information.

How About Prosecuting Grandstanding Politicians, Too?

According to one congressman, the FCC crackdown on “indecency” hasn’t worked, not because it was wrongheaded and infantile, but because it simply didn’t go far enough. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) is proposing to scrap the current system, under which offending TV and radio stations are fined for airing objectionable material, and replace it with criminal prosecution of offenders.

Democracy Flops In New York

“It had great buzz from London. It had terrific reviews in New York. It had ‘snob hit’ written all over it. And it had $2 million in the bank before opening night. And yet Democracy — Michael Frayn’s political drama about the spy who brought down West German Chancellor Willie Brandt — has collapsed almost as fast as the Berlin Wall. Once touted as a sure-fire Tony Award contender, the production will close April 17 after only four months on Broadway. It will lose nearly all of its $2.5 million investment.”

Illuminating An Annoying Snob

Nothing will turn the media against you faster than overexposure, and for novelist Jonathan Safran Foer, the tipping point seems fast approaching. His third novel is garnering some scathing reviews, and his particular brand of literary snobbery (think Dave Eggers with more gimmicks) is fast wearing thin within the book world. “Given Foer’s rock-star status, who can blame the rest of New York for being a bit sick of Brooklyn’s literary boy wonder?”

Book Busking

Hawking your self-published collection of poetry on the New York subway might not sound like a fun way to make a living. But for Brad Bathgate, aka Blue, it’s the only life he knows, and when you watch him work his magic on a subway car full of jaded, hostile New Yorkers, you start to believe that there just might be something to this unusual sales technique.

How Muti Was Edged Out Of La Scala

Riccardo Muti’s departure from La Scala was a long time coming. He maintained artistic standards in the opera house, but elsewhere in Italy opera is in decline. “Artistic standards have plummeted. With so many jobs to fill, orchestras and choruses are enfeebled. Most of the great voice teachers long ago emigrated to the richer pastures of American campuses, and the quality of native singing is now in terminal decline. Against such corruption and mediocrity, Muti has resolutely set his face. Like all dictators, he ultimately overestimated his own power and allowed his ego to get the better of his judgment. But La Scala will be hard pushed to find a successor – Riccardo Chailly? Daniele Gatti? – to match his charisma and idealism.”