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PBS Seeks Host for Kids Block

Noncommercial TV is building a new digital neighborhood. Now all it needs is a new Mr. (or Ms.) Rogers.

PBS has launched what it calls a "nationwide search" for the host of a new preschool programming block and online destination to debut in fall 2006.

The new effort is part of a just-announced five-year initative, PBS Kids Next Generation Media, to figure out the role of noncommercial programming in the new-media mix.

PBS is looking at teachers and child-development specialists as well as TV vets ((Fred Rogers was both) as potential hosts of the block, which will air for at least two hours each morning and provide a mix of veteran shows like Sesame Street with new shows.

PBS says it is looking for an "authentic talent who embodies a warm, creative and charismatic approach to lifelong learning and child engagement." That host will provide interstitials to wrap around the TV shows and host online games and activities.

Any would-be hosts will find submission info at beginning Friday, Jan. 20