Nightly Business Report trims staff, appoints Ferrell
The PBS business program Nightly Business Report eliminated the jobs of eight of its 44 staff members last week but is starting new production partnerships to expand its coverage and appeal to younger viewers, says Gary Ferrell, who was appointed executive v.p. of operations and c.f.o. Ferrell was president of KERA-FM/TV in Dallas and c.f.o. of KCET in Los Angeles.
Ferrell says the RIFs will "right-size" the staff. Four jobs were eliminated in Miami, three in Washington, one in New York.
Ferrell and Managing Editor Wendie Feinberg will oversee the program on a daily basis; Executive Editor Rodney Ward will take charge of editorial development, Ferrell said. Both will report to Mykalai Kontilai, chief executive. Kontilai, little seen in the field since his days as an instructional TV program marketer, with Ferrell and investors, surprised public TV by purchasing the 31-year-old program from its original producer, Miami’s WPBT.
NBR has attracted two new underwriters, Mercedes-Benz and Wells Fargo Advisors, though not at the same higher dollar level as longtime sponsor Franklin Templeton Investments, Ferrell says. The company will also try for an international distribution deal and other revenue supplements.
Before the purchase the program had begun working on the program's format with production consultant Jim Russell, former e.p. of Marketplace, public radio's business news franchise.
The producers continue to tweak NBR's electronically generated "virtual set," Ferrell says.
Ward has already taken the lead in arranging to establish a Silicon Valley bureau at KTEH in San Jose, Ferrell said. Robin McElhatton, an experienced TV and radio reporter in the area, will be based there to cover high tech and other Pacific Coast business news. Program spokesperson To Becker says the Miami-based program will open three to six new bureaus in addition to the present array of New York, Chicago and Washington.
NBR also is adding environmental news reports from Planet Forward, Frank Sesno’s reporting project at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. The unit’s first NBR report was a look at the 10 percent electric Nissan Leaf car.
The producers are also adding a regular Monday feature, “Beyond the $coreboard,” about the professional sports industry, reported by longtime NBR analyst Rich Horrow.
This article is an expanded version of the report in the print edition.
Web page posted Nov. 15, 2010
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