Monday roundup: Questions about WGBH income; VPT legal fees

By Current Staff

• WGBH’s “fastest-growing line item isn’t its membership donations or programming royalties,” reports the Boston Business Journal, but income from its stake in Public Media Distribution Co. (PBSd), its collaboration with PBS that handles deals for content such as the megahit Downton Abbey. However, “unlike its nonprofit parents,” the Journal notes, “PBSd does not provide an annual report or make public its tax filings — meaning one of WGBH’s fastest-growing line items also is among its most opaque, from a disclosure standpoint.”

• Two days before Vermont Public Television President John King “parted ways” with the station, he warned its board that directors “might be personally on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees,” according to Seven Days, an alt-weekly in the state (third item on the page). In an email obtained by the newspaper, King tells directors that the board spent “more than six times the [station's] annual budget for legal expenses” in two months while fighting allegations of closed-meeting violations. Also, the CPB Inspector General’s office verified to Seven Days that it is continuing its investigation into those issues.

The Spotify playlist "Run with WCRB" provides ear-bud inspiration for joggers training for the Boston Marathon. (Photo: Meredith Nierman, WGBH)

The Spotify playlist “Run with WCRB” provides ear-bud inspiration for joggers training for the Boston Marathon. (Photo: Meredith Nierman, WGBH)

“Run with WCRB,” a Spotify playlist from WGBH’s classical radio station, premiered on Friday to provide motivation to runners training for the Boston Marathon. “Boston is a running city,” said Station Manager Anthony Rudel in the announcement. “WCRB wanted to connect with that community by offering a fun, new music experience for local runners.” The station is inviting runners to contribute their favorite tracks to a community playlist, which will air on Marathon Monday, April 21. The press release also notes that the playlist was “tested by reporters and staff at WGBH who regularly run across a range of distances,” and includes pieces such as Orff’s Carmina Burana, Bernstein’s Candide Overture, and Bizet’s Carmen.

For more pubradio musings on the Boston Marathon, Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! host and avid runner Peter Sagal penned a piece for Runner’s World on returning to the site of last year’s bombings. Sagal was a participant in the 2013 Boston Marathon, where he guided a legally blind runner to the finish line just before the bombs went off.

• Nielsen Audio is changing its methodology for measuring radio streaming. The company announced its still-in-progress plan during last week’s National Association of Broadcasters conference, according to Rain News. The measurement system involves software that radio stations install into their listening apps to track data such as a user’s point of consumption (web player, mobile app or other) and demographics.

• Documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras, who has been a key player in reporting the scope of the National Security Administration’s secret activities since summer 2013, re-entered the U.S. for the first time since 2012. She travelled to New York to collect a Polk Award for her NSA reporting, along with colleague and fellow expat Glenn Greenwald. Poitras’s films have aired on PBS’s POV and Independent Lens for over a decade. Currently she and Greenwald work for investigative journalism startup First Look, which is seeking to become incorporated as a nonprofit.

• Radiolab producer Andy Mills is not a musician, but he has much advice to offer when it comes to scoring radio. In a piece for Transom, Mills gives tips for storytelling with sound, including ways to build sound around the story’s subject matter: “There is a natural and magnetic musicality that springs from the voice of a good storyteller.”

• Finally, enjoy this Vine of Elmo and comedian Craig Robinson being silly.

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