The WKSU Item

Kent State University’s WKSU/89.7 has been so busy lately…we’ve talked with the station’s Ann VerWiebe the past few days more than we’ve talked with some of our relatives.

But…there’s been a lot to talk about on East Summit Street…so, let’s get started…

THE SOUND OF REGINA: Plain Dealer columnist Regina Brett makes her local public radio return with a new weekly show on WKSU.

The former Friday host of Ideastream WCPN/90.3’s “The Sound of Ideas” launches her own program on the Kent-based public broadcaster, making her roughly the 20th person in the past 5 years to shuttle back and forth between WCPN and WKSU.

The program, however, won’t be the usual political/issues talk show.

From a description in the press release written by the always-helpful Ms. VerWiebe:

The weekly radio show was inspired by Brett’s book God Never Blinks: 50 Lessons for Life’s Little Detours, an inspirational collection of essays and stories about the lessons that life had taught based on a popular column she wrote after turning 50. Each show features guests with insights, tips or fresh concepts to help people create a greater life for themselves and for others. Programs will revolve around themes of life’s transitions and universal issues of home, work, community and finding a personal balance.

“The Regina Brett Show” will air Wednesday nights at 7 PM, starting September 8…

AND MORE PROGRAMMING NOTES: Shortly after we heard about Ms. Brett’s new show, WKSU announced another new spoken word program…this, on the station’s daily schedule.

The station will add the Boston-based “Here and Now” show weekdays 12 noon-1 PM, starting August 30th:

The hour-long news magazine is produced by WBUR in Boston and hosted by veteran journalist Robin Young. The fast-paced program features a broad-range of topics from public policy, foreign affairs and technology to food, culture and the arts. Reports from the WKSU newsroom will also be part of the Monday through Friday broadcasts.

WKSU general manager Al Bartholet cites the public radio audience’s hunger for news and information:

“Airing ‘Here and Now’ over the noon hour means that breaking news won’t have to wait until ‘All Things Considered’ begins at 4 p.m. Young’s program is produced with the curious, intelligent and information-hungry public radio audience in mind. Plus, an additional news hour means more opportunities for the WKSU news staff to present stories on arts and culture to Northeast Ohio listeners.”

Robin Young has extensive news experience, a 25 year career working for the Discovery Channel, CBS, ABC and for NBC’s “Today Show”

The release also notes the Thursday evening show “Other Voices”, offering hour-long audio documentaries at 7 PM…

AND IN NON-PROGRAMMING ANNOUNCEMENTS: We already mentioned the WKSU-based Folk Alley’s Android app – added to the existing iPhone/iOS4 app.

The station has been busy offering a full menu of smartphone and smart device apps.

In addition to the iPhone/iPod Touch and Android versions of the WKSU and Folk Alley apps, the station is also now directly supporting the iPad…allowing the use of more text and images than just running the iPhone version on the iPad.

If the iPad version of the WKSU app is not available in the iTunes store yet, it will be soon.

All of the WKSU apps play the four WKSU streams, with high-quality streaming available assuming you have the bandwidth to support it. We can play the high-quality versions of the WKSU streams with no problem on the 3G connection on our Android device.

The streams include the main WKSU simulcast (HD1), the Folk Alley feed (HD2), the Classical Channel (HD3) and the News Channel (HD4).

The dedicated Folk Alley app, of course, only plays the Folk Alley stream.

Dedicated would be the word for the young man directly responsible for all this, a recent high school graduate who has written all the apps for WKSU. From the appropriate release:

The WKSU apps were developed in-house by the WKSU web development team under the lead of IT Director Chuck Poulton. The WKSU apps follow the release of the Folk Alley Player iPhone app last summer. Both were created by James Savage, a recent graduate of Hoban High School (Akron, Ohio) who will attend Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind., in the fall.

And for those of us in the Android world, there’s a backstory to the creation of the WKSU apps:

Savage constructed the WKSU Android app in part using code from NPR’s app. In the same atmosphere that prompted public media powerhouse NPR to share content on NPR.org through an open source API, the network invited input from the community in the development of the its Android app. Sharing this type of information reflects the spirit of the Android operating system and also NPR’s mission of public service and cooperation between content providers and the listening audience.

All of the apps are downloadable for free in the appropriate place: the iTunes Store for the iOS4 devices, and the Android Market for Android devices. And background audio is supported on iOS4, and of course, on Android.

You can find out more at the WKSU website…complete with screenshots of the apps.

And of course, WKSU’s programming is available on your good old fashioned radio, at WKSU/89.7 Kent, WKSV/89.1 Thompson, WKRW/89.3 Wooster, WKRJ/91.5 New Philadelphia, WNRK/90.7 Norwalk, and translators W298BA/107.5 Boardman, and W239AZ/95.7 Ashland. (Yes, we did that entire list from memory, though we needed help with the translator call letters…)

AND SPEAKING OF THE WEBSITE: Our news from East Summit Street is not complete, yet.

WKSU has revamped its website…the most notable change is the placement of news on the new front page of WKSU.org.

Before the change, if we remember right, you had to go to the WKSU News page to discover the station’s news output…

AND THANK YOU: …to WKSU’s Ann VerWiebe, for all of the above information.

Like her counterpart (in the “Talk to OMW” department) at Western Reserve PBS, Diane Steinert, Ann is always accomodating and cooperative with your Mighty Blog of Fun(tm).

It’s a tradition that goes back to Bob Burford’s time as public relations director/OMW handler at East Summit Street…and we’re appreciative! There’s something about those Kent-based public broadcasters that make them accessible…

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