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PBS

PBS CEO on Big Bird Mention: ‘It Was a Stunning Moment’

While Mitt Romney appears to be the winner of last night’s first presidential debate, Big Bird and Jim Lehrer — two of PBS’s biggest stars — seem to be the losers.

On CNN this morning anchor Carol Costello talked with PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger who was stunned that Romney brought up the PBS funding issue. Kerger said the value of PBS goes beyond Sesame Street or The Newshour. She said she’s just visited a PBS affiliate KBTC in Tacoma where the station is working with the local school system.

Storm Topples Minnesota Station’s Tower

KSMQ, the PBS affiliate for Austin, MN avoided a broadcasters nightmare after they were taken off the air when their transmission tower was brought down during a fast moving storm Tuesday.  Station management was preparing viewers for the reality of the station remaining dark for anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks.

The station posted a picture of the broken tower and an explanation of what viewers could expect from station president and general manager Eric Olson to their website.

However, a post to the station’s Facebook page last night credits the hard work of chief engineer Tim Gassmann and KTTC, the local NBC affiliate, in returning the station to the airwaves.  See the post after the jump.

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WYES General Manager Randall Feldman to Retire

Randall Feldman, the general manager of New Orleans PBS station WYES, will retire at the end of the year, the station announced yesterday.

Feldman has been the GM at WYES for 22 years. He has spent his entire career in public television, including at stations in Harlingen, TX, New York, Massachusetts, Wisconsin and Indiana.

“I am proud of what the Board and staff have accomplished during this time. It has been an exciting journey,” he said in a statement. “I am committed to working with the Board to implement the smoothest possible succession.” [via New Orleans Times-Picayune]

WTTW Will Bring Content From Al Jazeera English to Chicago

Starting October 31, Chicago public television station WTTW will air global programming from Al Jazeera English for an hour each day.

Launched in 2006, Al Jazeera English is available in a limited capacity in the U.S. The agreement with WTTW will make AJE programming available to Chicago viewers for the first time.

“It’s covering issues in parts of the world that we don’t often hear from,” WTTW head of programming Dan Soles told the Chicago Tribune. “We thought it would be a service to give people in Chicago a chance to view this broadcast, which is seen all over the world.”

WTTW will air the Al Jazeera programming on weekdays from 5:30 to 6:30 a.m.; on a digital channel, it will also air from 6:30 to 7 a.m. and 11 to 11:30 p.m.

Boston Stations Team Up to Collect Historical Footage

Boston’s WGBH has more than 750,000 hours of historical footage in an archives vault — everything from visits to the city by Fidel Castro and Martin Luther King, Jr., to protest footage of President Barack Obama outside Harvard University in 1990.

Now, the area PBS station has begun the ambitious project of digitizing some of its most famous clips, taking the footage from their current format of tapes and film canisters — which deteriorate over time — and putting the collection online, The Boston Globe reports. The finished product will include historical footage from several other Boston stations, including WCVB, the area ABC affiliate, and WHDH, the area NBC affiliate.

WGBH did not get the collections directly from the stations — instead, the PBS station obtained them from non-profit groups that have housed archival film from WHDH and WCVB. “When we proposed the project, the only historical collections known were the WHDH, WCVB, and WGBH materials,’’ said Karen Cariani, director of WGBH media library and archives. “We thought it made sense to start with those, and then expand to include the other stations as interest in the project grew.”

After the jump, sample video clips from WGBH.

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Akron’s WEAO Has Been Off the Air Since Thursday Due to Technical Difficulties

WEAO, a PBS-affiliate based in Akron, OH, has been off the air since Thursday evening due to technical difficulties.

WEAO has been frantically working to repair the problem, which the station says involves a section of the 800-foot transmission line that runs from the transmitter to the transmission tower’s antenna.

The station went dark at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday and most cable and satellite providers in the area have switched to WEAO sister station WNEO, which is based in Youngstown.

Don Freeman, programmer for WEAO and WNEO, tweeted on Friday that technicians were working to get the station back on the air by that afternoon. As of this morning, WEAO is still dark.

>Update: A spokesperson for the station tells TVSpy that, because of weather conditions that have made the tower too wet for the repair crew to climb to the necessary 600 feet, WEAO likely won’t be back on the air until Thursday.

In New York, WNET Enters Local News Game

New York public broadcasting company WNET is set to launch a lineup of local news programming later this year that will include shows on PBS-affiliates WNET and WLIW.

According to The New York Times:

The new venture, named “MetroFocus,” is envisioned as a half-hour television show and, eventually, a mobile application as well. The expansion to television specials or a monthly or weekly show, appearing on both television stations, could come as soon as the fall, and a daily version is expected to follow later.

Laura van Straaten, the current editor in chief and executive producer of WNET’s website, is overseeing the new venture.

“One of the futures of public television is making local connections,” WNET president and chief executive Neal Shapiro told the Times.

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