We have officially moved our blog presence over to Medium. Follow us there to get all the latest news about PRX, the Podcast Garage, Radiotopia and much more. See you there!
We’re big fans of the simple idea behind the #TryPod campaign: share a podcast you love with someone you love.
At PRX, we work with talented indie producers all over the world, but this month we want to share five podcasts made in our own Boston backyard. Each show tells stories in a unique way and belongs to our growing PRX Podcast Garage community.
In this blog, Podcast Garage Community Manager Alex Braunstein gives you her take on each show and asks their hosts about an episode you should try.
Show: Hiding in the Bathroom, a show for those of us in business who want to embrace our introverted selves.
Episode to Try: How to Do Powerful Work
Alex says: I’m insanely jealous of how at home Morra looks in front of a microphone. As a host, she oozes warmth and a desire to take on the world. It’s no surprise that by day, she runs digital campaigns for mission-driven clients like Planned Parenthood. Her Forbes podcast engages women in frank conversations about introversion, self-care, and feminism in the workplace. Count me in.
Host Morra Aarons-Mele says: “Meighan is humble in the face of a really big life, and she has incredible advice to give those of us who want our work to have meaning. She took Malala Fund from an organization with no logo to a globally-recognized leader in helping educate the world’s girls. And I’ve felt her sacrifices, and admired her fortitude even as she made some really hard decisions and missed her son greatly. Meighan believes she doesn’t choose her work; it chooses her. She wants to serve, she has great skills, and the job finds her. I think this episode is essential listening to anyone who feels like the work they want to do eludes them.”
Show: Soonish, a show about our technological future, and how our choices today will shape that future, though often in ways we can’t predict.
Episode to Try: Meat Without the Moo
Alex says: Wade’s storytelling is so precise and thoughtful that you can just tell the guy has a PhD from MIT. I love his ambitious approach to the show, which is remarkably produced by a team of one. It truly feels like he’s on an epic quest to discover the future and I’m along for the ride. You will literally be smarter just by listening!
Host Wade Roush says: “One of the places this episode ends up is an old automobile factory in San Leandro, CA where a startup called Tiny Farms has built a huge cricket farm. So as the CEO is walking me around the place, I’m trying not to step on any loose crickets, and then I’m trying to stick my mic into their nest to get some cricket-song on tape without scaring them. I’m being so careful! And then the CEO explains that pretty soon they’ll knock out these crickets with carbon dioxide and freeze them and grind them up for cricket flour. And I realize I’m totally okay with that. It’s funny, because I’m vegetarian, so I’m largely against eating animals. But I’d eat crickets all day if it would save a few cows and chickens. I guess we all have our own moral thresholds – and our own choices to make about the future.”
Show: One in a Billion, a show about China, through the voices of Chinese millennials in America.
Episode to Try: Finding Love in America: Reality Bites
Alex says: Being in Mable’s presence is electrifying. She talks fast and dreams big. It’s no wonder she’s put the word “billion” into her show’s title and is personally chasing down the untold stories of Chinese millennials living in America. A former producer for Good Morning America and Dateline, Mable is a seasoned pro exploring a new medium. She’s currently searching for other producers to join her and I can’t wait to hear what they do next.
Host Mable Chan says: “I love Qinghua’s character – adventurous, dutiful and defiant. I find it intriguing that a young woman from the middle of China came alone to America to get her PhD in Engineering. She quickly earned her degree by age 25 and landed her dream job as a data scientist at Silicon Valley! But just as everything seemed to be going well, she was getting bored at work while her 7-year relationship with her boyfriend was suddenly over. How did she turn things around – not only for herself but also for thousands other Chinese looking for love in America? You gotta listen.”
Show: Caught Up, a show with the latest and greatest scoop about South Boston and beyond.
Episode to Try: Losing My Religion
Alex says: The makers of the magazine Caught in Southie have captured my heart with a show about all-things-South-Boston. Even though I’ve never been to Southie (gimme a break, I just moved here), I love eavesdropping on Heather and Maureen’s local take on their neighborhood. They claim to know nothing about podcasting, but they’re clearly naturals when it comes to something pretty unteachable: chemistry. I laugh out loud when they’re recording in our studio and somehow feel nostalgia for a place I’ve never lived.
Hosts Maureen Dahill and Heather Foley say: “In this episode, you get a sense of how we grew up in South Boston. The majority of the kids growing up in Southie went to Catholic School which was taught by nuns. Needless to say, those nuns shaped who we are today – good, bad or otherwise i.e. our love of wine lightening the load of Catholic guilt.”
Show: The Courage to Listen, a show that explores issues of police community relationships, gang violence and race in America.
Episode to Try: Commissioner Ed Davis
Alex says: I crave compassionate leaders like Reverend Brown who know how to listen. It’s a privilege just to be a fly on the wall for his conversations about violence prevention, community mobilization, and policing. He’s credited as “an architect of The Boston Miracle,” in which a group of local preachers cut youth violence in the city by 79%… by listening. I find this show’s straightforward interview style totally gripping.
Host Reverend Jeffrey Brown says: “Ed led the police department for the city of Boston, and was featured in Mark Wahlberg’s film ‘Patriot’s Day.’ We had a fascinating discussion about the Marathon bombing, his personal transformation from traditional to community-oriented policing, and his thoughts on the future of police reform today. Oh, and we asked him how he felt about John Goodman playing him in the movie!”
Since our founding in 2003, our PRX.org marketplace has grown to house over 100,000 audio pieces—uploaded from around the world—from short, artsy works to hour-long music specials. Creators post their work on our site, and public radio stations and digital networks shop there for new work for their local audiences. The goal is to give great audio a second home online, and ideally a third home on broadcast and digital, where it can reach even more ears.
To celebrate our marketplace, we host our annual Zeitfunk awards. Below you’ll find the list of producers, programs and stations who sold the most in the PRX marketplace in 2016. These numbers are calculated from individual licenses of audio pieces on PRX. (Subscription-only shows like This American Life and The Moth are not included in these results.)
Most Licensed Pieces
1. Best of the Best: The 2016 Third Coast Festival Broadcast
2. The Rose Ensemble: Christmas in Baroque Malta from The WFMT Radio Network
3. Ten From David: A David Bowie Appreciation from Paul Ingles
4. A Bow To Prince: An Appreciation of The Artist from Paul Ingles
5. The Pioneers of Punk – Please Kill Me: Voices from the Archives from Creative PR
Most Licensed Series
(This list does not include subscription-only series, like This American Life and The Moth)
1. Global Village with Chris Heim
2. Classical Guitar Alive!
3. The International Americana Music Show
4. Travelers In The Night
5. Blue Dimensions
6. The Bluegrass Review
7. Stuck in the Psychedelic Era
8. Strange Currency
9. The Stone Age
10. The Latin Alternative
Most Licensed Producers
These are individual creators on PRX who sold the most.
1. Tony Morris
2. Daniel Wargo
3. Michael Park
4. Al Grauer
5. Philip Nusbaum
6. Stephen R Webb
7. Vic Muenzer
8. Mat Kaplan
9. Chris Kuborn
10. Jamie Hoover
Most Licensed Groups
Teams of producers who sold the most.
1. With Good Reason
2. Deutsche Welle
3. Bluesnet Radio
4. BackStory with the American History Guys
5. Science Update
6. NPR Music
7. L.A. Theatre Works
8. The Steve Pomeranz Show
9. Great Lakes Today
10. Footlight Parade
Most Licensed Stations
Stations are huge creators of work, too. These are the ones that sold the most in 2016.
2. The WFMT Radio Network
7. South Carolina ETV Radio
9. Kansas Public Radio
10. Louisville Public Media
Most Licensed Debut Producers
Producers who were new to PRX in 2016 who sold the most.
1. Brooke Halpin
2. Matt Davenport
3. Ryan Sweikert
4. Reade Levinson
Most Licensed Debut Groups
Teams of producers who were new to PRX in 2016 who sold the most.
1. Great Lakes Today
2. The World According to Sound
3. On Being with Krista Tippett
4. Safe Space Radio
5. Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street Radio
6. Outside Magazine
Most Licensed Producers by PRX Remix
PRX Remix is our XM Station, app, and broadcast show that purchases work directly from PRX.org. These are individual producers from which Remix purchased the most.
1. Nate DiMeo
2. Eric Molinsky
3. (tie) Erica Heilman and David Green
Most Licensed Groups by PRX Remix
PRX Remix is our Sirius XM station, app, and broadcast show that purchases work directly from PRX.org. These are teams of producers from which Remix purchased the most.
1. The World According to Sound
4. (three-way tie) KCRW’s Independent Producer Project, HowSound, and Out of the Blocks
Stations That Licensed the Most
We like to honor the stations that license (download for air) the most from PRX as well.
6. KCMJ Community Radio
10. KKWE Niijii Radio
Most Licensed Piece Lengths
Producers, these are the lengths of pieces on PRX that sell the most. You can see that hour-long and 5-min. or shorter pieces are the most popular.
1. 55-60 min. (20,275 individual licenses on PRX in 2016)
2. 5 min. or less (6,883 licenses)
3. 50-55 min. (4,735 licenses)
4. 25-30 min. (2,746 licenses)
5. 5-10 min. (2,416 licenses)
6. 30-35 min. (982 licenses)
7. 10-15 min. (466 licenses)
8. 40-45 min. (356 licenses)
9. 60-65 min. (350 licenses)
10. 15-20 min. (213 licenses)
11. 35-40 min. (182 licenses)
12. 10-25 min. (176 licenses)
13. 45-50 min. (84 licenses)
Radiotopia is headed out on our first West Coast tour! Radiotopia Live brings extraordinary, cutting-edge podcasts out of your headphones and onto the stage.
Join us in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA for live radio, conversations, stories and music from your favorite Radiotopia podcasts including 99% Invisible with Jon Mooallem and the Brink Players, Criminal, The Allusionist, The Memory Palace, Mortified and more. Plus a performance of The West Wing Weekly in LA only.
Full tour schedule:
Monday, May 8 – Aladdin Theater in Portland, OR
Tuesday, May 9 – Moore Theatre in Seattle
Thursday, May 11 – Nourse Theater in San Francisco
Friday, May 12 – Theatre at the Ace Hotel in LA
Get all the info, including tickets, at Radiotopia.fm/live. Enter code “RTLIVE” to get the best seats before the public; our exclusive pre-sale runs through 11:59 p.m. on March 2rd. Hope to see you there!
Radiotopia turns three this month, and to celebrate we launched a fancy new website! We also commissioned our first-ever original ad music from DJ, producer and musician JD Samson, who leads the band MEN and is one-third of the electronic-punk-feminist performance project, Le Tigre. Besides writing some fantastic music for us, JD kindly answered a few questions about working on the project.
Hi JD Samson! What appealed to you about working with Radiotopia to create original ad music?
I love Radiotopia’s programming, and felt really excited to be seen as an articulation of their aesthetic. Creating this kind of accompaniment was extremely meditative and exploratory for me, which is something I like to challenge myself with often.
How did the process compare with your usual song-writing approach?
The process was really interesting to me because there were so many aspects of the music that needed to make sense for ALL the producers. Some people wanted happier tunes, some people sad, so I had to really make sure the music was atmospheric, but not a “song”. I had to ensure the tone was kind of dull. Not too extreme in either direction, and make sure there weren’t a lot of melodies crowding the space. It was fun for me to break down my compositions after I made them and often heard the comment “make it more boring.” I honestly loved this direction because it forced me to see aspects of my production that were unnecessary in this case.
What are some of your favorite podcasts?
Is there anything on your horizon we can share with Radiotopia fans?
Five Things is an ongoing live series at the PRX Podcast Garage hosted by Julie Shapiro (EP, Radiotopia). The series invites some of today’s most talented and successful producers, artists, writers and thinkers to share five things —audio, visuals, books, objects or something else entirely — that have shaped their creative practice over time, and inform how they approach work today. In short: interesting people share cool stuff they love.
For the second installment of Five Things, we welcomed Jody Avirgan, host of the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast, producer of the upcoming Thirty for Thirty documentary podcast from ESPN, ultimate frisbee enthusiast and champion of sesame sticks and dried mango. Watch a video of the conversation and recap Jody’s Five Things below.
#1: Video for Dress Sexy at My Funeral, by Smog
“This is my favorite YouTube video of all time. It happens to include one of my favorite songs of all time, but more than anything it’s a random captured moment of peace that gives a window into a stranger’s life. If you read the comments you learn a tragic coda. I’ve never really brought myself to look into the life of Calab, but I’m grateful for this moment.”
#2: “On Leadership”, a book by legendary basketball player and coach, John Wooden
“This book sometimes slips into corporate-CEO speak, but there’s a lot of wisdom here. I’ve learned more from sports than almost anything. Two ideas in particular stick with me. One is the idea of “competitive greatness,” which is basically another name for “grace under pressure.” I think that your capacity to learn and perform under pressure is far more important than talent or skillset. The other thing I love about Wooden is his focus on process over outcomes. Winning/success is almost a byproduct, and afterthought, of doing all the steps along the way with attention and enthusiasm.”
#3: Lord God Bird, by Long Haul Productions and Sufjan Stevens
“A beautiful radio piece that listens as much as it talks. I love how it just goes to a place and sits. It’s un-narrated, which I don’t think people do enough, and it’s full of great moments. It’s also incredibly indulgent! Take an indie rock singer, have them write a song about a bird, make it over 10 minutes? Why not! But there’s a valuable lesson here, if someone’s going to let you get away with a piece like this, go for it.”
#4: “The punctum”, from Roland Barthes’ Camera Lucida
“The basic idea here is that some art is full of all the perfect elements of content, composition, execution… but still somehow lack that thing that “shoots out of it like an arrow.” Thinking about this taught me to be strategic about trying to create these moments in my work. When you have something that you think can be a punctum, make sure you’re getting out of the way and letting it do its thing.”
#5: Picture on the Wall, by Phyllis Dillon
“Just one of my favorite songs from what I think is the best moment in musical history: 1960s Jamaica. I love that many of the early reggae songs were soul covers, which is a reminder that every artist, even the ones we think of as sui generis, starts out as a deep fan. Fandom is a perfectly good place to start – it’s kind of the only place to start. So, copy the stuff you love.”
Prompted by Julie, Jody also shared responses to a call out on the What’s the Point podcast for listeners to track, visualize and illustrate a week’s worth of podcast listening via postcard.
Next Up for Five Things
March 22nd: Jenna Weiss-Berman (podcast producer, co-founder of Pineapple Street Media, former director of audio for BuzzFeed).
About Jody Avirgan
Jody is the host of the FiveThirtyEight politics podcast. His next venture is a series of sports-related audio docs under the “30 for 30” umbrella, coming spring 2017. Before ESPN, he was at WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, did reporting for the WNYC newsroom, and went on air and asked you for money during the pledge drive. He’s worked with On The Media, Radiolab, 99% Invisible, Marketplace, Studio 360 and many more. On the side, he hosts the comedy and storytelling show Ask Roulette, where strangers ask each other questions live on stage. He lives in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Find him online at @jodyavirgan and www.jodyavirgan.com.
About Julie Shapiro
Julie Shapiro is the executive producer of Radiotopia. From 2014–15, she was the executive producer of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Creative Audio Unit. In 2000 she co-founded the Third Coast International Audio Festival, where as artistic director, she prioritized innovative audio and a cross-pollinating international listening culture. Shapiro has taught radio to university students, presented at conferences all over the globe, and produced stories for the airwaves and podcasts in the US and beyond. You can find her on twitter @jatomic.
2016 was a banner year for Radiotopia. We performed our first live show, ran an hugely successful Podquest competition (look for Ear Hustle this summer!), added three new podcasts, and much more. We are so grateful to our fans for the love and support this year. To give 2016 a proper send-off, we gathered up the ‘Best of 2016’ podcast episode articles published this month, many included Radiotopia episodes. Check out our roundup below and take a listen, or load up our playlist. More audio goodness to come in 2017!
The Memory Palace
From Wired– Money Tree
Theory of Everything
Love + Radio
From The Atlantic– Totally Juvenile Election Special
From The Guardian– Mojave Phone Booth
From The Guardian– MGMT’s Time to Pretend
From New Statesman– Getting Toasty
From Thrillist– Majd’s Diary
From Thrillist– The Truth
From IndieWire– Commentary Track
Check out our playlist with (almost) all the episodes here.
PRX is excited to announce the first cohort of Project Catapult, an innovative podcast training project for public media stations, made possible by a $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).
The project initially intended to include five stations, but will now total seven. “The final pool of applicants was so strong, we found a way to expand the first Catapult class to seven station teams,” said PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman.
The stations are located across the US, have varying market sizes and represent diverse production teams and topics. They’ll kick things off at the PRX Podcast Garage in Cambridge, MA in January with a podcast bootcamp, and will continue an intensive production sprint for 20 weeks.
The Catapult process will create a professional network of diverse talent across the country, and help the podcasters hone skills in digital content development, audience engagement and monetization. At the end of the curriculum each station, in co-production with PRX, will launch a new, or re-launch an existing, podcast.
PRX has hired Enrico Benjamin as Catapult’s project director. Benjamin is an Emmy award-winning producer with a background in video and digital production, most recently KING-TV in Seattle. During his time at Stanford University, Benjamin was exposed to design thinking, a method that will guide Project Catapult.
“Through this innovative program, we’re pleased to help more stations increase their multimedia production capacity and increase the diversity of voices heard in public media,” said Erika Pulley-Hayes, CPB vice president, radio. “We hope the new podcasts that these stations produce will lay the groundwork for more multimedia content that connects with a broad range of audiences.”
“Project Catapult is an ambitious first step,” said PRX CEO Hoffman. “We are investing in station capacity so they can make digital content that is sustainable and relevant, both locally and beyond.”
Project Catapult will culminate in an open listening session in Boston in May to show off the work and progress to date.
Project Catapult Stations
Inflection Point, KALW – San Francisco, CA
Extraordinary women are leading the change in our world join the KALW team to tell their stories–to help us understand a moment when women are embracing their power as never before, and to inspire a future generation of women leaders.
Versify, Nashville Public Radio – Nashville, TN
Versify is a podcast with a twist on storytelling: Nashville poets travel to neighborhoods across the city, hear stories from people they’ve never met, and then capture them in verse.
Us & Them, West Virginia Public Radio
Stories of people on either side of the fault lines that divide Americans, from culture wars, to education and religion, to the basic beliefs about what defines Americans in a troubled time. From DuPont Award-winning producer Trey Kay.
We Live Here, St. Louis Public Radio – St. Louis, MO
We Live Here empowers you by untangling policy and systems so you can better understand how race and class influence everything from what we learn to how long we live.
Que Pasa Midwest, WNIN – Evansville, IN
Whether you speak Spanish, English, or both, come along on a rich journey of discovering El Sueño Americano, the many definitions and faces of the American Dream with Que Pasa Midwest.
Out of Blocks, WYPR – Baltimore, MD
Each episode is a collage of life-stories from a single city block. The episodes are rich with the sounds of people in their own spaces, talking about life on their own terms. The soundscape is enhanced when the natural sounds of the block are fused with an original musical score. There is no host; rather, the people on the block are the hosts.
Second Wave, KUOW – Seattle, WA
Thanh Tan takes the listener along on a quest to better understand her Vietnamese American identity and to explore the heartbreak and triumph of refugees who fled Southeast Asia en masse 40 years ago after the Vietnam War to pursue new lives in the United States.
PRX is shaping the future of public media content, talent and technology. PRX is a leading creator and distributor, connecting audio producers with their most engaged, supportive audiences across broadcast, web and mobile. A fierce champion of new voices, new formats, and new business models, PRX advocates for the entrepreneurial producer. PRX is an award-winning media company, reaching millions of weekly listeners worldwide. For over a dozen years, PRX has operated public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio shows including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour and Reveal. In 2015, PRX opened the Podcast Garage, a community recording studio and educational hub dedicated to the craft of audio storytelling. Follow us on Twitter at @prx.
This month, I’m featuring stories about dreams: the tale of a woman who dreams of a bigger apartment, the consequences of a jail system that puts dreams on hold, and a mother-daughter team helping each other to fulfill lifelong ambitions.
A young woman lives in a New York City apartment so cramped there’s no room for a couch. She doesn’t even need to get out of bed to open the door. So, why wouldn’t she participate in a bizarre science experiment to “biggerize” her digs? After all, as the story’s protagonist exclaims, “there’s nothing on the lease about ‘biggerization!’”
This is the situation in “Quadraturin,” a captivating piece of audio fiction from producer Jon Earle and actress Emma Wiseman, based on a short story by Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky. The piece won Best New Artist at the 2016 Sarah Awards.
Earle and Wiseman use scenes and natural sounds to great effect, turning the sonic apartment into an imaginary stage on which the story unfolds. In the booming audio fiction genre, it’s especially nice to hear a story that relies on smart staging and careful dialogue instead of the ‘found recording’ crutch, often used in other pieces, to drive narrative. To understand this crutch in the visual world, imagine a sudden plethora of TV shows with plots hinging on faux-archival videos.
The Los Angeles jail system is the largest in the country, with 17,000 people incarcerated at any given given time. The consequences are explored in “Off The Block,” a six-part series from KCRW. Bail, mental health, and jailhouse weddings are some of the topics covered in the series, which explains that even a short stint in the system can have numerous lasting impacts.
The episodes are short—most well under 10 minutes—and not an exhaustive investigation into the issues presented. But the series does a good job finding characters whose experiences and perspectives provide an access point for listeners who aren’t directly impacted by the jail system themselves.
When I listened to this piece I felt like I’d emerged from diving underwater, when the world looks slightly different than it did before the plunge. It’s the mark of a good story, one that shifts your life experience by just a few degrees so everything feels a bit shinier and more surreal.
There are two main stories nestled into one here. First, producer Jessica Ripka tells the story of her mother, Penelope DeWitt, whose creative dreams fell dormant for decades due to fear and insecurity. A car crash renews her interest in pursuing those dreams. Ripka then uses her mother’s story to reflect her own life, how she quit her desk job to pursue a dream career in radio storytelling. This piece represents an important first step towards that dream.
It’s a joy to follow the mother and daughter pair along on their overlapping journey to fulfill lifelong ambitions. Ripka’s piece is funny, surprising, and, perhaps unsurprising given the relationship between producer and subject, very tenderly told.
This piece was produced at the Fall 2016 Transom Story Workshop.
How To Listen to PRX Remix:
Download the PRX Remix app or go to prx.mx and press ‘play’. If you’re a satellite radio kind of person, check out channel 123 on Sirius XM or XM radio. If you’re a traditionalist and stick to the radio dial, check these listings to find Remix on a station near you.
Josh Swartz is the curator of PRX Remix. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
We recently wrapped up our Radiotopia 2016 fall fundraiser, and were blown away by the love and support from our fans, both old and new. With every drive, we gain new and important insights into the podcast fundraising universe and our dedicated fanbase. We’re always keen to learn how to best engage with listeners, make a genuine appeal, and secure the funds our shows need to keep creating quality, independent content.
Our fans: Whether they’ve been with us since the beginning, or just started listening…they’re the best.
This campaign taught us just how dedicated, generous and committed our fans truly are. A whopping 80% of our recurring 2015 donors stayed on as part of our active donor community this year. We aimed to steward existing relationships while encouraging steadfast donors to expose friends, partners, siblings and co-workers to the quality craft producing within Radiotopia. It worked!
As a surprise, we rewarded active sustaining members with our second challenge coin, this time Radiotopia themed.
Interestingly, of the 6,300 donors who contributed to this campaign, 64% had never before donated to Radiotopia.
Partnerships: Work together to drive donations.
Last year, we began a tradition of bringing our sponsors into the fundraiser to help provide donor challenges. These partners have become important tools that generate fan excitement and showcase our important corporate sponsors.
This year, Podster Magazine—a digital magazine dedicated to podcasts—jump-started the fundraiser by offering to chip in $10,000 if we hit 1,000 donors in the first two days. When we missed our goal by a few hours, our fans sprang into action and helped us ultimately secure the challenge funds from Podster (by the way, you can still get a free subscription). A big thank you to Podster!
A few days later, our friends at FreshBooks—who offer cloud-based accounting software for small businesses—issued another key challenge: a $40,000 donation if we snagged another 5,000 donors by the end of the campaign. This helped energize our fans to spread the word to friends and family, allowing us to soar beyond that goal to finish with over 6,000 donors. Thanks again to FreshBooks!
Producer rewards: Engaging, unique and original premiums.
This year, our producers offered up their time and talent to create exclusive, custom reward items that were incredibly popular with donors. Some rewards showcased their creative talents, like the curated mixtape from Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway (which quickly sold out), and the custom recording from Criminal’s Phoebe Judge.
Others gave lucky fans the opportunity to engage on more a personal level. These included a VIP Dinner with the Kitchen Sisters, one-on-one phone calls with Megan Tan from Millennial, a virtual documentary viewing with team Mortified, a museum tour with Nate DiMeo of The Memory Palace… oh, and a wedding ceremony officiated by Helen Zaltzman of The Allusionist. Overall, we found the personalized gifts were a great way to way to drive excitement and, sometimes, laughter.
Benefit without the reward: The choice of no gift.
A whopping 40% of donors opted for no reward at all. Despite the long-time association of public media with t-shirts and tote bags, nearly half of our donors opted to support us directly. This ultimately allows our independent producers to keep more of the funds and for Radiotopia to save on fulfillment expenses and benefit more directly from the campaign’s success.
The result: The reach of Radiotopia’s message is impressive (if we do say so ourselves).
- We surpassed our original goal of 5,000 donations by over 1,000 people
- 64% of donors were brand new to our community
- The industry average is 20% new donors for any fundraising drive
- 80% of our sustaining members from last year maintained their monthly commitments
- 12% of donors who has previously cancelled their recurring donations came back in 2016
- We had donors from all 50 states and 73 countries/territories