Friday roundup: This American Doodle, troubles at KCETLink

By Current Staff

• Nothing spells love quite like This American Life. For a Valentine’s Day Doodle, Google has enlisted the Public Radio International program to present five love-themed stories from the series, complete with animations. Host Ira Glass provides an introduction. Time has a behind-the-scenes video of how the Doodle came together.

Chet Tomczyk is retiring after nearly half a century in public broadcasting. (Photo: WTVP)

Chet Tomczyk is retiring after nearly half a century in public broadcasting. (Photo: WTVP)

• Veteran pubcasting exec Chet Tomczyk, currently managing Illinois stations WTVP-TV in Peoria and dual licensee WILL in Urbana in a unique agreement, announced yesterday that he is retiring, although he hasn’t set a date. Tomczyk has worked in the system for nearly 50 years, beginning in 1965 as associate producer of The Week in Michigan, a weekly travel and outdoor show produced at WKAR-FM in East Lansing, Mich. He also produced and directed at WBEZ-FM in Chicago and was part of the transition team that turned the educational station into an NPR affiliate; and he worked at PBS and WXXI in Rochester, N.Y.

“For as long as I can remember, someone was always harping on media being a negative influence on society,” Tomczyk said in the announcement. “For just as long, I thought it could be a profoundly positive force. Thanks to public broadcasting, I am constantly being proved right.”

• Berthold Reimers, g.m. at Pacifica’s WBAI in New York, fired interim PD Bob Hennelly yesterday, Capital New York reported. Hennelly joined the financially plagued station in December and spearheaded new initiatives, such as five new hours of drivetime programming and appealing to labor unions for donations. But he had told WBAI supporters that the station was falling short of its goal for this month’s fund drive. In a goodbye email to staff, Hennelly wrote that “Pacifica’s dysfunctional governance and the trouble [sic] WBAI business model” hindered his ability to help the station.

• “Is KCET going bankrupt?” That’s the question LA Weekly is asking after reviewing KCETLink’s latest financial documents, which show that the network lost $12.5 million in fiscal 2013. “KCETLink has suffered recurring losses that raise substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern,” an auditor wrote in the report. The network, which merged with LinkTV in 2012 after cutting ties with PBS, has also cut its operating budget by 35 percent. In April 2013, near the end of the fiscal year the report focuses on, the network laid off 22 full-time employees and announced its intent to refocus its efforts on “transmedia.”

• NPR’s longtime legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg recalls her early days at the network, when she was the only woman in the newsroom, for Adrienne LaFrance on Medium. “They just ignored me,” she said. “I was not one of the guys. They didn’t invite me to lunch. They just didn’t acknowledge me.”

• As part of its Olympics coverage, NPR is partnering with question-and-answer forum Quora. The network is reposting Olympics-related questions from the site on its own Olympics blog, The Edge, and seeking answers. For a recent question, about whether NBC announcers call the games live or on time-delay, NPR went straight to the source: Jim Bell, e.p. of NBC’s Olympics coverage.

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