Celebrate 50 Years of Public Broadcasting, In Person or Online

From the Library of Congress

The Library of Congress and Boston public broadcaster WGBH will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 with a series of panels featuring pioneers and experts in public broadcasting Friday, Nov. 3, 2 –6 p.m.

The symposium — “Preserving Public Broadcasting at 50 Years” — will be held in the Montpelier room on the sixth floor of the Library’s James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave., SE, Washington, D.C.

The event is free, but tickets are required and there may be special restrictions. To secure tickets, visit this event-ticketing site: preservingat50.eventbrite.com.

Signed by President Lyndon Johnson, the act established public broadcasting as it is organized today and also authorized the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to establish and maintain a library and archives of non-commercial educational television and radio programs. CPB established the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) in 2009 and, in 2013, the Library of Congress and WGBH assumed responsibility of AAPB, coordinating a national effort to preserve and make accessible significant at-risk public media.

A Library report on television and video preservation in 1997 cited the importance of public broadcasting: “[I]t is still not easy to overstate the immense cultural value of this unique audiovisual legacy, whose loss would symbolize one of the great conflagrations of our age, tantamount to the burning of Alexandria’s library in the age of antiquity.”

The initial AAPB archive, donated by more than 100 public broadcasting stations, contained more than 40,000 hours of content from the early 1950s to the present.  The full collection, now more than 50,000 hours of preserved content, is available on-site to researchers at the Library in Washington, D.C., and WGBH in Boston, Massachusetts.  Nearly a third of the files, however, are now available online for research, educational and informational purposes at americanarchive.org.

During the symposium, panelists will examine the history of public broadcasting, the origins of its news and public affairs programming, the importance of preservation and the educational uses of public broadcasting programs for K-12 and college education, scholarship and adult education.  Also highlighted will be some of AAPB’s most significant collections, such as the “PBS NewsHour” and its predecessors, which are currently being digitized for online access, and full interviews conducted for “Eyes on the Prize” and “American Experience” documentaries.

Invitation

The Library of Congress and WGBH invite you to the symposium “Preserving Public Broadcasting at 50 Years” in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 and the formation of The American Archive of Public Broadcasting.

  • Friday, November 3, 2:00pm – 6:00 pm
  • The Library of Congress Montpelier Room
  • James Madison Memorial Building
  • 101 Independence Avenue, SE
  • Washington, DC

Opening Remarks:

  • Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden
  • U.S. Senator Edward Markey
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting President Patricia Harrison
  • WGBH President Jon Abbott

Four Panels Highlighting the Legislation, Early Days, Public Affairs, Documentaries and Educational Contributions Featuring Special Guests:

  • Paula Apsell
  • Clayborne Carson
  • Dick Cavett
  • Margaret Drain
  • David Fanning
  • Stephen Gong
  • Jennifer Lawson
  • Jim Lehrer
  • Nicholas Johnson
  • Newton Minow
  • Hugo Morales
  • Lloyd Morrisett
  • Cokie Roberts
  • Sharon Percy Rockefeller
  • Bill Siemering
  • Judy Woodruff

For more information and to register: preservingat50.eventbrite.com

The event also will be livestreamed on the Library’s Facebook page at facebook.com/libraryofcongress and its YouTube site (with captions) at youtube.com/LibraryOfCongress.

‘Nova’ has its tightest deadline ever with Aug. 21 eclipse

From the Boston Globe — August 14, 2017

For the people at the science television series “Nova,” Aug. 21 will be sort of like election night, at least when it comes to deadlines.

The program — produced by WGBH Boston — has decided to film that day’s total solar eclipse and air it hours later. It’ll be the series’ fastest turnaround to date.

“I used to do live television in earlier periods of my career,” said senior executive producer Paula S. Apsell, who’ll be running things that day. “This feels very much like it.”

Apsell said “Nova” will set up crews in Casper, Wyo.; Salem, Ore.; NASA’s Ellington Airfield in Houston; and Irwin, Idaho. Some PBS stations are planning to send their own footage of the eclipse for the special.

Participating experts will include Williams College professor Jay Pasachoff, who’s logged 65 eclipses.

“We’ll have five edit rooms,” Apsell said. “All of the material will come into each edit room.”

The eclipse should be visible (in some places better than others) at about 1:15 p.m. on the East Coast, and “Eclipse Over America” should be ready to air on WGBH at 9 p.m.

“Nova” has already prepared content about the history and science of solar eclipses to accompany the footage. Producers have a 52-minute show already done, which will help if weather isn’t in their favor.

Apsell promises “Nova” “will be getting the most pristine shots of the eclipse.” She also said everyone working on the project will get “Eclipse Over America” glasses for safety. “Nova” will give out some of those glasses at “An Eclipse for Everyone,” an event at the Boston Public Library on Tuesday night. (Seating is limited.)

Apsell probably won’t need a pair herself; she said she won’t get to see much of the eclipse as she runs the show from Boston.

From Yahoo News — January 15, 2017

PBS’ ‘Nova’ To Broadcast Fastest Turnaround Film To Date Hours After Solar Eclipse

PBS’s Nova will air its fastest turnaround film to date, Solar Eclipse on Monday August 21, 2017, hours after the United States experiences the first total solar eclipse since 1979.

The cosmic spectacle will pass through 13 states, and everyone in the continental U.S. will have the opportunity to see at least a partial eclipse, making it the most widely viewable eclipse of all time. Starting at 10:15 AM PDT (1:15 PM EDT), a lunar shadow 73 miles wide will take one hour and 33 minutes to travel from Oregon on the west coast to South Carolina on the east, allowing continuous observation for 90 minutes.

Solar Eclipse (working title) will be the ultimate companion to the celestial event. Nova will follow teams working on the forefront of solar science and solar storm detection, use CGI animation to reveal the sun’s secret mechanisms and integrate sequences of the eclipse itself — including scenes filmed at iconic locations along the path of the eclipse — user-generated content, NASA footage and more.

“Nova is thrilled to provide our audiences across the U.S. with an up close, in-depth look at this extraordinary scientific event,” said Senior Executive Producer Paula S. Apsell. “We are excited to share the experience with viewers — wherever they are — and the fascinating information it tells us about the inner workings of our sun.”

Ward Chamberlin, 95, Public Television Architect

Excerpts from the New York Times

Ward Chamberlin Jr., a leading architect of the nation’s public broadcasting system who revitalized PBS stations in New York and Washington and nurtured the career of the documentarian Ken Burns, died on Thursday in Bedford, Mass. He was 95.

The cause was complications of dementia, his daughter Carolyn Chamberlin said.

Ward B. Chamberlin Jr., left, then WNET’s executive vice president and managing director, with Tamara E. Robinson, vice president for national programming and William F. Baker, president, in 1996.Mr. Chamberlin’s four-decade television career began circuitously. A corporate lawyer at the time, he was working for the nonprofit International Executive Service Corps, where Frank Pace, a former Army secretary, was the president.

The two men were close: Mr. Pace had earlier been chairman of General Dynamics, the military contractor, and Mr. Chamberlin had worked for him there. They were also squash partners.

When Mr. Pace was appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to be the first chairman of the newly minted Corporation for Public Broadcasting early in 1968, he recruited Mr. Chamberlin to join him as chief operating officer.

Mr. Pace promptly asked Mr. Chamberlin to determine what challenges and opportunities public broadcasting presented and gave him the latitude to meet them. Mr. Chamberlin proceeded to pioneer an enduring decentralized network model of independent public stations.

He remained chief operating officer until he retired in 2003. He was also senior vice president of the Public Broadcasting Service, executive vice president and managing director of WNET in New York and president of WETA in Washington, which he transformed into the third most prolific producer of original programming after WNET and WGBH in Boston.

PBS was created in 1969 to connect local public television stations and to distribute programming. National Public Radio (now just NPR) was formed the next year under the corporation’s umbrella.

From 1975 to 1989, under Mr. Chamberlin, WETA introduced programs like “The MacNeil/Lehrer Report” and “Washington Week in Review.” At WNET, he was responsible for many of the station’s signature cultural productions and other original programming, including the series “The Secret Life of the Brain.” He extricated both stations from financial distress.

Mr. Burns was seeking financial support for his third documentary film, about Huey Long, the Louisiana governor and presidential candidate, when he arranged to meet Mr. Chamberlin to pitch it.

Mr. Burns recalled in a phone interview on Monday that he had been stunned to leave Mr. Chamberlin’s office with a check for $25,000. “They never did that before,” he said.

He was even more surprised by Mr. Chamberlin’s response years later when he learned that Mr. Burns’s series on the Civil War had grown longer than the originally projected five hours.

“Seven, eight?” Mr. Chamberlin inquired, as Mr. Burns recalled.

“I said 11½, 12,” Mr. Burns replied.

To which all Mr. Chamberlin asked was, “Is it good?”

The series, called simply “The Civil War,” was broadcast in nine episodes in September 1990 and watched by about 40 million viewers, setting a PBS ratings record.

“Ward never sought to take the limelight, as opposed to many of us who gravitate to it,” Mr. Burns said. “He was flabbergastingly generous and courageous and indispensable to my professional life.”

From Henry Becton

Ward was a giant in our industry and a special person to me, having taken me under his wing, so to speak, early in my career at WGBH.  We all owe a great deal to him for the wisdom and energy with which he helped shape CPB, PBS, WNET and WETA. 

I will always consider him as one of my key mentors in public media.  He was one of the few people in the industry who understood our unique challenges in creating a culture where creative people could work and thrive.  There were only a handful of places where that was achieved and Ward was responsible for at least two of them!  Our views of our mission and values were closely aligned.