WKAR Hosts ‘The Future of Television and Data Delivery’ with ATSC 3.0

(L-R) Dean of the College of Communication Arts and Sciences Prabu David and WKAR’s Director of Broadcasting and General Manager Susi Elkins at the start of NextGen TV Day.

On September 19, WKAR Public Media and MSU ComArtSci hosted a NextGen TV Day at their East Lansing studios.  The long session featured ATSC 3.0 demos, with presentations from partners working with WKAR’s experimental ATSC 3.0 television station.

Gaian Solutions Founder/CEO Chandra Kotaru discussed ATSC 3.0’s ability to provide rich media in education for those without cable or who may live in rural areas.  ATSC 3.0 allows providers to deliver targeted content, not just video.  He also covered emergency alerting in the ATSC 3.0 and that it can target alerts to specific audiences.  As an example, it can deliver traffic alerts to people in cars in specific locations.  There was a demonstration of a weather alert popup on the television monitor, again delivered to a specific geographical location.  Kotaru also stated that automobile manufacturers are waiting for broadcasters to begin using this new technology that they can incorporate it into their vehicles.  He also showed slides of highway signage fed by a ATSC 3.0 data stream, including speed limit signs that can be changed on demand when weather conditions and/or traffic require.

Fred Engel, Chief Technology Officer of UNC-TV Public Media in North Carolina discussed his group’s work with the public safety opportunities that will be available with ATSC 3.0.  In one demonstration, he showed that in today’s world, it may take up to 67 seconds once a 911 call is made for a dispatcher to alert fire fighters of an emergency, going through analog channels.  But with ATSC it can happen in as little as 1 second.  He also said that in today’s environment, multiple emergency alerts can stack up on analog channels, whereas with ATSC 3.0, they can all be immediately sent.

ATSC 3.0 weather alert popup delivered to television set.

Mark Corl, Sr. VP Emergent Technology Development of Triveni Digital discussed his work with WKAR on the station’s Curious Crew series and the experiments going on that can make the program more interactive with its viewers.

Later in the day there was a demo of the ComArtSci Virtual Reality Lab, a ribbon-cutting for the Media Innovation Lab created by MSU and WKAR, with MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.  This was followed by a tour of the MSU Spartan Mobility Park.  Its purpose is to drive mobility research and development to advance smart-vehicle technology and better understand the human element.

DPTV and WKAR Present Downton Abbey Movie Screenings

Both Detroit Public Television (DPTV/WTVS-TV) and WKAR Public Media (East Lansing) will be presenting advance screenings of the new Downton Abbey Movie for its viewers as a fundraiser.  The movie is scheduled for nationwide release on September 20.

This Sunday (9/15), DPTV will present an advance screening of the new “Downton Abbey” feature film at the AMC Livonia beginning at 7 p.m.  The station is encouraging attendees to show up in costumes. More here.

On Thursday (9/19), WKAR hosts a members-only screening at the Regal Cinema in Lansing at 7 p.m.  The station says “should you choose to don Downton Abbey period attire for this extraordinary event, you could find yourself the winner of a special gift bag from WKAR before the evening is over.”  More here.

Bill Ballard, WDCQ-TV Founder, Dies at 90

William “Bill” Ballard

By: Thomas Bennett, GM, Delta College Broadcasting, University Center

William “Bill” Ballard, founder of WDCQ-TV in University Center died August 25 in Traverse City. He was 90.

Ballard previously worked as director of broadcasting and TV station manager at Delta College, licensee of WDCQ. After graduating from Auburn University in Alabama, he went to Delta College to establish the station. He and chief engineer Ray Woods joined the staff in 1961 before Delta College even opened its doors.

Ballard worked tirelessly to build the station. WUCM-TV Channel 19 aired its first program Oct. 12, 1964. His direction helped the station become a well-known fixture in the area. Ballard and his staff provided a valuable community service that offered programming variety at a time before the advent of cable TV.

After 25 years at Delta College, Ballard retired from Channel 19 in 1986. After retirement, Ballard and his wife, Connie, moved from Midland “up north” to Lake Ann, Mich. Connie died in 2017 after 65 years of marriage.

Surviving Ballard are his children William (Karen) Ballard, Laura (Steve) King, Charles Ballard and Madele​ine Carey; nine grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.

Funeral arrangements are being made through Reynolds-Jonkhoff Funeral Home. A memorial service is scheduled for Sept. 27 with visitation at 2 p.m. and service at 3 p.m. Reception to follow.


Former WDET Host Nkenge Zola Has Died

Nkenge Zola

WDET-FM (Detroit) reports that Nkenge Zola, former 101.9 staffer and host of “All Things Considered” has passed away. She began working at WDET in 1976. A couple of years later, she created a WDET program called “Everywhere Music Goes.” She started a new show, “The Nkenge Zola Program”, in 1985. It featured music and poetry, performances and interviews with artists from around the world.

Zola moved to WDET’s news department in the early 1990s, and began hosting “All Things Considered.”

She received awards for her work from many organizations including the Detroit Coalition of Human Rights, the Detroit Press Club, The Michigan Association of Broadcasters and the Associated Press. Zola won the Loretta Moore Feminist of the Year award from the Detroit Chapter of the National Organization of Women in 1997.

Zola even traveled to Africa for the United Nations’ “International Decade of Women” conference as part of a Detroit delegation.

In a post on the station’s website, station news director Jerome Vaughn wrote, “Zola brought a deep sense of culture, language and history to everything she did. Those who knew her can think of a million more small things she did to shape our lives in big ways. She regularly urged us to live “in the moment fully.” I’ll continue to take her advice on that. I will miss her.”

Funeral services are pending.

Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton Wins Personal Finance Reporting Award

Tracy Samilton

via Steve Chrypinski, Michigan Radio

On August 15, The Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) announced that Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton is the winner of the 2019 Excellence in Personal Finance Reporting Award in the Radio category.

Samilton’s story, “Why the Funeral Rule is one of the least-known consumer protection laws in the country,” looked at a little known consumer protection law in the funeral business. A Freedom of Information Act request by Michigan Radio/NPR found that nearly 50% — seven out of 15 — Lansing area funeral homes had violated the Funeral Rule – an often flouted consumer protection law. The rule requires funeral homes to give potential customers a price list before they show them things like caskets, and an itemized statement before the services are provided.

The Excellence in Personal Finance Reporting awards are presented by RTDNA and NEFE as part of the Money Matters resource, a tool to help journalists better cover stories about financial issues. They recognize the best in personal finance reporting.

Also winning a Personal Finance Reporting award in the Digital category was Casey Bond, a Lifestyle Reporter for HuffPost, for a story on how multi-level marketing companies sell women on the dream of being their own boss, yet as many as 99% end up losing money. Winning the award in the TV category was Chris Vanderveen, Investigative Reporter for KUSA-TV in Denver. A six-month investigation discovered common, emergency surgeries inside Denver-area hospitals that led to lawsuits, property liens and wage garnishments.

All three winners will share their insights into financial reporting at the Excellence in Journalism conference this September in San Antonio.

The Radio Television Digital News Association is the world’s largest professional organization devoted exclusively to electronic journalism. The National Endowment for Financial Education provides financial education and practical information to people at all financial stages.

MAPB Honors Linda Yohn, Thomas C. Jones with 2019 Public Media Impact Awards

(L-R) 2019 MAPB Public Media Impact Award Recipient Linda Yohn and WEMU-FM Director/General Manager Molly Motherwell.

The Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters (MAPB) presented its 2019 Public Media Impact Awards on Tuesday, August 6 at the JW Marriott in Grand Rapids.

The MAPB presents Public Media Impact Awards to professionals and donors for their contribution to public broadcasting in Michigan. The awards are given to recognize outstanding individuals involved in public broadcasting for their innovation and creativity, inspire others involved in public broadcasting to greater achievement in the field of public radio and television and to increase awareness of public broadcasting and the contributions talented individuals make to the industry statewide.

2019 Public Media Award Impact Award Recipients

Linda Yohn, WEMU-FM (Professional Award)
Linda Yohn retired as music director for 89.1 WEMU-FM, Eastern Michigan University’s Community NPR station in December 2017, after a spectacular 30 year career at the station. The congenial morning host of 89-1 Jazz weekdays Yohn took her listeners on a daily jazz journey covering many jazz styles from traditional to today’s contemporary jazz, from bebop to the blues, from swing to sultry singers and from introspective solo piano to bouncing big bands. Yohn joined the WEMU staff in 1987. She was recruited because of her love of and expertise in jazz music and also brought her connections as a jazz publicist in New York and valuable public radio experience at WKSU-FM for Kent State University. Yohn is well-respected in both the public radio and music communities. She’s a past winner of the prestigious Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award by the Jazz Journalist’s Association and has received the JazzWeek Magazine Major Market Jazz Programmer Of The Year Award six times, out of the eight she was nominated and also won Jazz Presenter of the Year in 2017. In 2015, then-Michigan State Representative David Rutledge honored Yohn with a special award: “The Ambassador For Jazz Music From The Ypsilanti Area,” only the second ambassador award for the area. EMU’s jazz broadcast library is one of the largest, if not the largest, in the country primarily due to Yohn’s efforts, working with labels and artists from around the country and the globe. The library currently boasts more than 100,000 jazz tracks and includes everything from 78 RPM records from the 1920s to the digital downloads of the 21st century. During her 30 years at WEMU, Yohn made many appearances on behalf of WEMU including serving on panels at national conventions, hosting meet-the-artist sessions at The Detroit Jazz Festival and acting as Master of Ceremonies for community and music events.

(L-R) Steve Schram, Director of Broadcasting at Michigan Radio, and 2019 MAPB Public Media Impact Award Recipient Thomas C. Jones.

Thomas C. Jones, Michigan Radio (Donor Recognition)
Thomas Jones has been an exceptional supporter of Michigan Radio for nearly two decades and is one of the station’s most sought after individuals for counsel on fundraising matters. He participated in the drafting of the station’s most recent campaign case statement and assisted senior management with the introduction of endowment giving to our donor community. In 2014, he made what was then the largest gift to the station in support of a program editor for the daily show Stateside and two years later helped establish the Robben Fleming Public Media Internship Fund for students and others. Recently he extended his generosity and is challenging others to help endow that internship. His dedication to Michigan Radio recognizes not only current public broadcasting needs but the need to prepare the next generation of journalism professionals. Jones is a fellow of Northwestern Michigan College. He earned BBA and MBA degrees from the University of Michigan and participated in the Advanced Management Program of Harvard Business School.

StoryCorps to Begin Recording Interviews with Residents of Flint on August 6

StoryCorps, a renowned nonprofit organization celebrating the stories of everyday Americans, will record interviews in Flint from August 6 to September 6 as part of its cross-country MobileBooth tour. Having collected over 65,000 interviews from Americans in all 50 states, StoryCorps has gathered one of the largest single collections of human voices ever recorded. The StoryCorps MobileBooth will make its first ever visit to Flint to record, share, and preserve the stories of the city.

There will be an opening day press event on August 6 to introduce StoryCorps to the community and to allow press to interview StoryCorps staff and participants and tour the mobile recording studio.

What: StoryCorps in Flint Opening Day Event, with speakers from StoryCorps, Michigan Radio, FIA, and Hurley Medical Center; Tour of StoryCorps MobileBooth
Where: Flint Institute of Arts
When: Tuesday, August 6, 2019
11:30 a.m. Press Event
12:00 p.m. Tours of StoryCorps MobileBooth

StoryCorps’ MobileBooth—an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio—will be parked in front of the Flint Institute of Arts for 4 weeks, from August 6 to September 6. Local residents are invited to bring a friend or loved one to participate in a recorded conversation in the booth. Reservations for a recording time can now be made by calling StoryCorps’ 24-hour, toll-free reservation line at 1-800-850-4406 or visiting https://storycorps.org/stops/mobile-stop-flint-mi. Additional reservation slots are currently open.

StoryCorps is partnering with Michigan Radio, Michigan’s NPR News Leader, to collect and record over 60 interviews with residents in the Flint area. Michigan Radio will air a selection of local interviews recorded in the StoryCorps MobileBooth. StoryCorps may also share excerpts of these stories with the world through the project’s popular weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. With participant permission, all StoryCorps interviews will be archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Detroit Public Television Receives 2019 Governor’s Service Award

On July 26, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Detroit Public TV (DPTV) as the winner of a 2019 Governor’s Service Award as an Education Service Leader for its work in early childhood education, providing parents, educators and other caregivers with the skills and resources they need to prepare children for school and life.

Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Community Service Commission selected 43 service award winners this year, which included individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations selected for their commitment to volunteerism, service or philanthropy.

“We are extremely proud that our work in early childhood education has been honored by Gov. Whitmer and the Michigan Community Service Commission,” DPTV President and CEO Rich Homberg said. “We have striven to build strong, effective partnerships throughout the education community with people who are as motivated as we are to make a difference in the lives of young children. We believe we share this award with all the engaged parents and educators who have joined us in this crucial mission.

“We also want to thank the Hope Starts Here initiative in Detroit for doing so much to organize the community to support early childhood education as well as Michigan State University and the team at PBS Kids for helping us every step of the way.”

DPTV was recognized for its commitment to supporting the education of children in Southeast Michigan, both through television programming and through a variety of in-person and virtual reality learning opportunities. Its Detroit PBS Kids Channel launched in 2017 provides high quality, curriculum-based educational programming 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It continues to be among the highest rated Kids Channels in the Public Broadcasting System, especially popular in diverse and economically deprived communities.

DPTV also supports parents and caregivers of young learners through its nationally acclaimed Pre-School-U program, a series of workshops promoting school readiness through fun, everyday activities that can be pursued at home. This year DPTV’s education team has been especially active in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood, training educators in how to conduct their own Pre-School-U sessions for parents and caregivers.

“The progress we have made in working with the Brightmoor community has been outstanding,” Georgeann Herbert, senior vice president of strategy at DPTV, said. “Not only did the station learn a lot from the people it serves, the work has been credited with changing community attitudes, giving families hope and energizing educators.”

In announcing the Service Awards, Gov. Whitmer said, “Our state is lucky to have such outstanding Michiganders who work hard every single day to build a home for opportunity for everyone. Whether it’s uplifting our neighborhoods or bringing communities together when tragedy strikes, they do this work even when nobody’s looking because they know that every contribution makes a huge impact.”

The Governor’s Service Awards winners will be honored during a special ceremony hosted by the Michigan Community Service Commission at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Detroit Opera House. Admission is free, but registration is required. To register, visit https://2019governorsserviceawards.eventbrite.com.

The Governor’s Service Awards ceremony is an annual statewide recognition event acknowledging the contributions made by Michigan volunteers. The event is coordinated by the Michigan Community Service Commission (MCSC), the state’s lead agency on volunteerism. The MCSC strives to engage all Michigan residents in volunteerism to address critical community challenges. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/volunteer

WDET Hires Civic Reporter to Cover City Meetings with Detroit Documenters

Eleanore Catolico

WDET-FM, Detroit’s public radio station, has announced the hiring of Eleanore Catolico as Civic Reporter, working with Citizen Detroit, Outlier Media and WDET’s Detroit Documenters program to report on public meetings and related city activity.

The Documenters program recruits area residents to attend meetings and take notes on matters of public interest. The program trains Documenters to take detailed notes, live tweet and produce related media from meetings. The program was originally pioneered by Chicago’s City Bureau and brought to Detroit through a grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan’s Detroit Journalism Engagement Fund.

“These meetings often go uncovered by journalists, so my role is to work in collaboration with Documenters to generate reporting that is of interest to the people of the city of Detroit,” says Catolico.  Resources related to the Documenters program can be found at documenters.org.

Catolico was born in Detroit and raised in the suburbs. She began her career in Chicago covering criminal justice and education and was part of the inaugural cohort of City Bureau’s civic reporting fellowship program in 2015 as well as the organization’s Documenters program. She was a finalist for a 2018 Peter Lisagor Award in education reporting for her profile “Losing Harper High School.”

After returning to Detroit last year, Catolico completed fellowships with the Detroit Equity Action Lab and the Institute for Journalism & Natural Resources, focusing on water quality and affordability.

WGVU Presents Kids Day at the Zoo!

WGVU Public Media (Grand Rapids) is inviting their listeners and viewers to take their kids to the zoo on August 1.  KidsDay at the Zoo will be presented by WGVU with help from Meijer. Admission will be just $4 per person at the John Ball Park and Zoo from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The station says KidsDay at the Zoo is one of the best days of the summer and promises booths, give aways, games and characters, making a fun filled day at the zoo, and park.

More information here.