Reader Response: Keeping Me Accurate

Before I left for vacation, I posted a few articles (here and here) about the San Francisco Symphony’s outreach program that was produced and aired by PBS. 

In the second article I called PBS member station “affiliates” and I wondered why they didn’t choose to broadcast the Keeping Score program. 

Thankfully, one of Adaptistration’s readers wrote in to correct my nomenclature and clarify how some of the programming at PBS works.  Janet Shapiro, Associate Director and Editor for Brandenburg Productions, Inc., sent an email with the following:

Re the postings on Adaptistration regarding Keeping Score, I’d like to attempt to clarify for your readers the way that the PBS system works.  PBS isn’t a network, it’s a membership organization, with headquarters in Alexandria, VA.  The individual stations aren’t affiliates, they’re member stations. 

The stations pay PBS an annual membership fee, and in return the stations may broadcast any program that PBS distributes. They may do so at time of initial feed, at any time after that (limited only by the rights package of the program) or not at all. 

Not all programs that you see on your local PBS station are distributed by PBS  – there are alternative distribution channels.  But if a program is distributed by PBS (identifiable to the viewer by the 5-second PBS system cue at the end of the show) there is no per-program charge.
The programmers at PBS in Alexandria chose the initial feed day and time for Keeping Score, and then it was up to the programmer at each station to decide when and if to schedule it. 

The specifics of these decisions speak volumes about the regard that PBS, both corporately and locally, has for serious music these days. You don’t have space for my usual rant about this – your readers can contact me via our web site if any of them wants to engage in a dialogue.

Many thanks to Janet for making the relationship between PBS and their member stations easier to understand.

For all of the readers who took the time to write in about the situation asking who they should contact at PBS to complain about the lack of air time for Keeping Score, you should do the following:

  1. Determine your member station by visiting this page on the PBS website: You will then find an email link and a home page link to that member station’s website. 
  2. Send them an email expressing your views and send a copy of it to the PBS national office in Alexandria.  Here’s a link to their email submission form:

It only takes a second to express your opinion and as Janet mentions, PBS won’t continue to make good programs like Keeping Score if they don’t think anyone cares to view them.

Let them know you liked it and want more of it!

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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