PRX at Public Media Camp Boston

Most Bostonians will tell you that when the sun shines, they feel compelled to get outside immediately before it goes away. The weather this past Saturday was spectacular, but several PRXers and more than one hundred other local media makers and enthusiasts opted to be indoors. For good cause: Public Media Camp Boston.

It all started with a Friday night party here at PRX.

PubCamp Pre-Party
Pre-party at the PRX office

The next morning, everyone reconvened at WGBH’s impressive studios in Boston’s Brighton neighborhood. This being an unconference, anyone could propose a session or workshop for the day. Many did, and Andy Carvin of NPR (a founder of Public Media Camps nationwide) arranged them on a board.

Unconference session organizing
Andy at the board (photo by chris_beer)

There were technology sessions on APIs, mobile technology, and tools for multimedia productions. Other sessions convened active discussions around media’s impact on education, the environment, and local communities. Cambridge Community Television’s Nilagia McCoy, a former PRX volunteer, led a fruitful session, “Setting the stage for collaboration between public media and public access.” The full schedule is here, and an in-progress page of session notes is here.

PRXers put on a strong showing at Public Media Camp, if we may say so ourselves. Early in the day, Andrew Kuklewicz and Rekha Murthy (that’s me) teamed up with Jesse Shapins and Kara Oehler of Media And Place Productions to talk about using publicly available APIs to enhance online projects. This spurred discussion of the emerging Public Media Platform project. Andrew then joined George Capalbo of Backbone Networks (which powers PRX’s REMIX stream) to give a tour of internet radio technologies. As George describes it:

The point of what we wanted to get across was to give a general idea of what it is like to have your station stream online — like every other area of internet and computer technology, there is general anarchy, and learning how to deal with that anarchy is the trick to succeeding.
George Capalbo and Andrew Kuklewicz
George and Andrew
(photo by chris_beer)

George and Andrew then went through the various streaming formats and platforms and how to develop for them. Questions and discussion ensued. George and Andrew have proposed the same panel for the SXSW conference, so if you like the idea, vote it up by this Friday!

PRXer Emily Corwin co-organizes monthly Sonic Soirees, listening salons for radio producers. She brought some of the magic to Public Media Camp in the form of radio pieces and cookies.

I’m so happy to report that the Listening Salon had a great turnout and positive responses from participants of all kinds. It seems our collective appetite for homemade cookies was only outdone by our appetite for creative, entertaining, innovative radio stories. We heard work from PRX producers Hans Anderson and Katie Mingle, Boston’s esteemed Sean Cole and Charles Spearin.

Emily Corwin's Listening Salon
Emily’s listening salon (photo by chris_beer)

My favorite moment was when Emily asked, “Do we want to hear more radio, or do we want to talk about how great radio is?” The answer: “Hear more radio!” (in a tone that indicated everyone was sold on how great radio is.)

My other favorite moment was at my own session, “What do we want from Boston’s media?” when I stepped back after 30 minutes of writing furiously on a big pad as people named all the local and regional news outlets they could think of. The list was HUGE — and it was far from complete. (To see it, go to 46:30 in this video by Jeff Cutler). And yet, the consensus in the room was that many communities and many stories aren’t getting covered.

So we talked about what we felt was missing:

What's Missing From Boston's Media

Some of the exciting ideas to emerge from that session were the need for an “intelligent aggregator” to surface quality content and expose redundancies in coverage, from Adam Weiss, and Marc Levy‘s suggestion that independent media entrepreneurs band together to make themselves more attractive to funders.

George and Jake
George, Jake, and ice cream
(photo by chris_beer)

PRX CEO Jake Shapiro didn’t lead sessions, but he attended several and worked the crowds during times like the surprise afternoon ice cream mingle. Which reminds me to thank WGBH and its staff and volunteers for providing the perfect venue and a welcoming environment. The biggest thanks go to organizers Chris Beer, Andy Carvin, Heather Kapplow, Jason Pramas, Annie Shreffler, and Noah Xu for bringing so many energetic and talented people together. We at PRX were so glad to be a part, and we look forward to future events!

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