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Introducing Transistor, A Science Podcast from PRX

PRX is thrilled to announce the launch of a new weekly podcast series Transistor (official press release). Three scientist hosts — a biologist, an astrophysicist, and a neuroscientist — report on conundrums, curiosities, and current events in and beyond their fields. Sprinkled among their episodes are the winners of the PRX STEM Story Project, a competition we held for unique science radio.

Just as the transistor radio was a new technical leap, this Transistor features new women voices and their science perspectives. We’ve launched with four episodes from our three scientist hosts:

  • Dr. Michelle Thaller, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, who studies binary stars and the life cycles of the stars.
    • We Are Stardust: We’re closer than ever before to discovering if we’re not alone in the universe. Astrophysicist Michelle Thaller visits the NASA lab that discovered that comets contain some of the very same chemical elements that we contain. Then, Michelle talks to a Vatican planetary scientist about how science and religion can meet on the topic of life beyond Earth.
  • Dr. Christina Agapakis, a biologist and writer based in Los Angeles. Her research focuses on the intersection of microbiology and design, exploring the symbiosis among microbes and biology, technology, and culture.
    • Food, Meet Fungus: The microbiome — the trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that live in and on our body — is hot right now. We explore what we do know in the face of so much hope and hype, starting with food.
  • Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a Professor of Neural Science and Psychology in the Center for Neural Science at New York University, whose research focuses on understanding how our brains form and retain new long-term memories and the effects of aerobic exercise on memory. Her book Brain Healthy will be published by Harper Collins in the Spring of 2015.
    • Totally Cerebral: Untangling the Mystery of Memory: Neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki introduces us to scientists who have uncovered some of the deepest secrets about our brains. She begins by talking with experimental psychologist Brenda Milner, who in the 1950s, completely changed our understanding of the parts of the brain important for forming new long-term memories.
    • Totally Cerebral: The Man Without a Memory: Imagine never being able to form a new long term memory after the age of 27. Welcome to the life of the famous amnesic patient “HM”. Neuroscientist Suzanne Corkin studied HM for almost half a century, and gives us a glimpse of what daily life was like for him, and his tremendous contribution to our understanding of how our memories work.

Each scientist is working with a talented independent producer: Lauren Ober, Julie Burstein, and Kerry Donahue.

Subscribe to the show through iTunes or RSS, or you can stream it on PRX.org.

Follow us at @TransistorShow.

Transistor is supported by the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, enhancing public understanding of science, technology, and economic performance. Learn more at sloan.org.




PRESS RELEASE

For information, interviews, photos contact:
Patrick Kowalczyk, patrick@pkpr.com
Scott Piro, scott@pkpr.com
PKPR, 212.627.8098

PRX LAUNCHES TRANSISTOR – A NEW PODCAST

FUSING SCIENCE & STORYTELLING AND FEATURING WOMEN SCIENTIST HOSTS

Cambridge, MA (February 18, 2015) – Blending science and storytelling, a new podcast featuring three women scientists as hosts officially debuts today from PRX, the public media nonprofit that last week was named one of the world’s ten most innovative media companies by Fast Company.

Reporting on conundrums, curiosities and current events from across the scientific world, the “Transistor” podcast launches with four episodes exploring a wildly diverse range of topics from long-term memory and amnesia to the search for intelligent life in the universe and the role that trillions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses play in food and in our gut.

“Transistor” is part of a PRX science storytelling initiative supported by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. In addition to its scientist-hosted episodes, “Transistor” will include winners of PRX’s STEM Story Project, which has brought dozens of original stories about science, technology, engineering and math to public radio since 2013.

Three of the “Transistor” featured hosts are women scientists who have never done a podcast before: Dr. Wendy Suzuki, a Professor of Neural Science and Psychology at NYU and author of the forthcoming book Brain Healthy; Dr. Michelle Thaller, an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; and Dr. Christina Agapakis, a biologist and writer based in Los Angeles, whose work focuses on the intersection of microbiology and design.

“There is a growing audience for scientific news, and ‘Transistor’ meets that demand with original, captivating storytelling from the perspectives of women at the forefront of their fields,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “We are thrilled to bring this fascinating and addictive series to listeners worldwide.”

“‘Transistor’ explores the meanings behind scientific discoveries that we hear about everywhere in our lives,” said Dr. Suzuki. “Asking big questions humanizes science, and ‘Transistor’ opens up scientific fascination to audiences who don’t always look past the headlines.”

Listeners can subscribe to “Transistor” through iTunes and stream the show for free at transistor.prx.org.

About PRX (Public Radio Exchange)
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Reveal, Snap Judgment and the Radiotopia podcast network. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also the leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as Public Radio Player, PRX Remix, and This American Life.

Matter Expands: four media partners join forces

Matter — the mission-driven media accelerator that PRX helped launch back in 2012 — has just announced that four major media companies have joined our community alongside original founding partners PRX, Knight Foundation, and KQED.

You can read more from Matter Managing Partner Corey Ford in his post. Below is also a press release from McClatchy — one of the four new partners — that helps explain their reason for joining.

With our fourth class of startups underway (announcement on who is in the class will be out tomorrow) and these new partners, it’s clear that Matter has reached an important moment of impact in media.

Having helped first developed the concept of the “public media accelerator” that evolved into Matter under Corey’s leadership, it’s exciting to see Matter take shape at the center of a community bringing entrepreneurship, design thinking, and public media values into the tech startup movement.


PRESS RELEASE

McCLATCHY JOINS MEDIA ACCELERATOR MATTER

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 17, 2015 – The McClatchy Company (NYSE: MNI) announced today that it has signed on as a media partner with Matter, a San Francisco-based venture capital firm and incubator that supports promising media startups and entrepreneurs.

“This is a very exciting partnership and opportunity for McClatchy,” said Pat Talamantes, McClatchy president and CEO. “In the midst of our company’s own digital transformation, Matter and the startups it nurtures will provide ideas, innovation and potential new business models for successful media companies of the future.”

In addition to McClatchy, The Associated Press, A.H. Belo Corporation and Community Newspaper Holdings Inc. will join founding media partners KQED Public Media for Northern California, the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and Public Radio Exchange in support of the Matter program.

The new partnership features a powerful mix of international, national and local media organizations with a vast reach across television, radio, digital and print. The network of media partners gives participating startups extensive mentorship by industry leaders, connections to potential customers and real-world opportunities to test their ideas.

Matter, founded in 2012, brings selected startups together at its San Francisco headquarters that “have potential to become meaningful media institutions of the future – creating a more informed, connected and empowered society.”

Matter invests seed capital and provides an intensive, five-month program for the budding entrepreneurs to refine their business plans, develop prototypes, work collaboratively with other entrepreneurs and learn from leaders in media and technology. The program culminates with “demo days” presentations in San Francisco and New York in front of a select group of investors, media executives, mentors and others.

Matter has a current portfolio of 19 early-stage media ventures.

About McClatchy

The McClatchy Company is a 21st century news and information leader, publisher of iconic brands such as the Miami Herald, The Kansas City Star, The Sacramento Bee, The Charlotte Observer, The (Raleigh) News and Observer, and the (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram. McClatchy operates media companies in 28 U.S. markets in 14 states, providing each of its communities with high-quality news and advertising services in a wide array of digital and print formats. McClatchy is headquartered in Sacramento, Calif., and listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol MNI.

Contact: Karole Morgan-Prager
Vice President, Corporate Development,
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
(916) 321-1828
kmorgan-prager@mcclatchy.com

Fast Company Names PRX and Radiotopia Top Innovative Companies

We’re thrilled to announce that Fast Company has named PRX one of the Ten Most Innovative Companies in Media and Radiotopia one of the Ten Most Innovative Kickstarter Companies (press release).

This has been a big year for PRX with Radiotopia launching just a year ago this month with a hugely successful and record-breaking Kickstarter in between. We’re a small company with a lot of big ideas and we’re honored to accept these nominations alongside other media companies like The Washington Post, Buzzfeed, Gimlet, and Medium.

Check out all of Fast Company’s Most Innovative and read our press release below.

__________________________
PRESS RELEASE

For information, interviews, photos contact:
Patrick Kowalczyk, patrick@pkpr.com
Scott Piro, scott@pkpr.com
PKPR, 212.627.8098

FAST COMPANY ANNOUNCES MOST INNOVATIVE COMPANIES

PRX AND RADIOTOPIA NAMED IN MEDIA AND KICKSTARTER CATEGORIES

New York, February 9, 2015 – Fast Company today announced its annual ranking of the world’s Most Innovative Companies for 2015, honoring leading enterprises and rising newcomers that exemplify the best in business and innovation. For “breathing life back into radio,” PRX earned the No. 5 spot in the Most Innovative Companies in Media. In addition, PRX’s podcast network Radiotopia earned the No. 4 spot in the Most Innovative Kickstarter Companies for “creating an audio utopia.”

Other companies honored along with PRX in the Media category include The Washington Post, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, Gimlet, and Medium. Radiotopia is honored in the Kickstarter category alongside Oculus VR, RRKidz, and others.

“Public radio is ripe for reinvention and we are thrilled that Fast Company has named PRX and Radiotopia as top innovators,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “Credit goes to our remarkable team, talented producers in our network, and listeners like you. Stay tuned for lots more to come.”

Most Innovative Companies is one of Fast Company’s most significant and highly anticipated editorial efforts of the year. The magazine’s editors spend months gathering and analyzing data on companies around the globe. The resulting package emphasizes the breadth of companies with progressive, nimble business models, an ethos of sustainability, and a culture of creativity.

Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies issue (March 2015) is now available online at www.fastcompany.com/MIC as well as in app form via iTunes, and on newsstands beginning February 17.

ABOUT PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Reveal, Snap Judgment and the Radiotopia podcast network. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also the leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as Public Radio Player, PRX Remix, and This American Life.

ABOUT FAST COMPANY
Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership, and design. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, one of the U.S.’s leading media companies.

Welcome, Mortified!
Now, We Are Eleven.

It’s been a year since PRX launched Radiotopia, our collective of amazing, digital-first storytelling shows. Then, we were seven.

Now, we are eleven. We are thrilled to welcome the brand-new Mortified Podcast to Radiotopia (press release below). They join The Heart, Criminal, and The Allusionist as the newest members of our podcast family. These shows broaden our range of styles and stories while sharing the special qualities – describable and not – that make all of our shows Radiotopia shows.

MortifiedThe Mortified Podcast is a storytelling series where adults share the embarrassing things they created as kids — diaries, letters, lyrics & beyond — in front of total strangers. PS: It totally likes you. Hosted by David Nadelberg and Neil Katcher and produced by Gina Delvac and Pierce Purselley.

 

The Heart is a radio show about the triumphs and the terrors of intimacy, the bliss and banality of being in love and the wild diversity of the human heart. Produced by Kaitlin Prest and Mitra Kaboli.

 

Criminal is a new take on true crime, with stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. Hosted by Phoebe Judge and produced by Lauren Spohrer.

 

The Allusionist scratches the surface of why we say the things we say. English is a big messy mutt of a language, formed by military invasion after military invasion, plus countless tiny idiosyncratic decisions made by its users along the way. Hosted and produced by Helen Zaltzman.

 

Special thanks to our Kickstarter backers who gave us the love and funding to spread our wings in many ways, including this very important one.


PRESS RELEASE

For information, interviews, photos contact:
Patrick Kowalczyk, patrick@pkpr.com
Scott Piro, scott@pkpr.com
PKPR, 212.627.8098

MORTIFIED’S HEARTBREAKING AND HILARIOUS STORIES

LEAP INTO THE PODCASTING UNIVERSE AS LATEST SHOW FROM PRX’S RADIOTOPIA

The weekly Mortified Podcast debuts on February 9th

Cambridge, MA (February 9, 2015) – Mortified, the cultural phenomenon that has inspired thousands of adults to share awkward writings from their youth, will bring its unique blend of hilarious and heartbreaking stories to headphones everywhere when it debuts on February 9th as the latest series from Radiotopia, the acclaimed podcasting collective from PRX.

Ripped from the pages of real life, The Mortified Podcast features adults on stage sharing awkward and embarrassing artifacts of their youth in front of total strangers, from teenage diaries to pretentious college poetry to middle school love letters. Hosted by Mortified’s founder David Nadelberg and artist director Neil Katcher, each episode features one performance from the vast audio archives of the Mortified stage shows, which have been performed throughout the US for over the past thirteen years.

Last November, Radiotopia became the most funded radio/podcast project in Kickstarter history, raising over $620,000 from over 21,808 backers, far surpassing its original goal of $250,000. The Kickstarter enabled Radiotopia to launch The Mortified Podcast, and add three new shows: Criminal, The Heart, and The Allusionist. They join Radiotopia’s roster of envelope-pushing podcasts, including anchor program 99% Invisible, Radio Diaries, Theory of Everything, Strangers, Fugitive Waves, The Truth, and Love+Radio.

Radiotopia was launched in February 2014 by PRX, the award-winning public media company, and has quickly become the leader in today’s audio storytelling renaissance by helping the best and the brightest in the podcasting world grow their audiences and create the best work of their careers.

Mortified has long been one of the bravest and funniest live shows in the storytelling field, with an utterly unique premise that celebrates the universality of humiliation,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “We’re thrilled to bring this addictive and infinitely relatable series to a mass audience through our Radiotopia network.”

“For years, Neil and I have wanted to do a Mortified podcast,” said Nadelberg. “We finally found the perfect home for that at Radiotopia, who not only understand the power of the medium, but who truly get storytelling. We are honored to have Mortified join their lineup of innovative audio series.”

Mortified began in the late 1990s, when Nadelberg unearthed an awkward love letter and began sharing it with friends. The project has since sifted through thousands of otherwise forgotten notebooks, photos, and envelopes. Participants have ranged from professional comics, actors, and singers to architects, ad execs, salesmen, and other amateurs, all in the noble pursuit of personal redemption through public humiliation.

The show has since been featured on This American Life, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and other public radio mainstays. In addition to its new podcast, Mortified has produced live events, books, a documentary (Mortified Nation), and an interview series for Sundance TV (The Mortified Sessions).

The Radiotopia network roster will expand as PRX enlists new producers and programs that push the boundaries of storytelling and adopt a wide digital distribution model. PRX has a track record of introducing innovative new programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment and PRX Remix to millions of listeners across broadcast and digital, Shapiro said.

About PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, Reveal, Snap Judgment, and the Radiotopia podcast network. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also the leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as Public Radio Player, This American Life, and PRX Remix. PRX was created through a collaboration of the Station Resource Group and Atlantic Public Media, and receives support from public radio stations and producers, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and Knight Foundation.

# # #

Reveal Launches as Monthly Investigative Series

Reveal with CIR_PRX
Wow.

For only the second time in its history, PRX is launching a new home-grown show today.

That show is Reveal and, like The Moth Radio Hour, it is designed in many ways to move the public radio landscape forward.

With our amazing partners at The Center for Investigative Reporting and various editorial collaborators (stations, investigative centers like the Center for Public Integrity, Bloomberg News and others…), Reveal does something public radio has not been able to do until now: deliver a regular investigative reporting program for public radio.

Risky? Yes. Needed? Now more than ever. And listeners and stations now it as news hungry audiences flock to original stories with meaning and depth.

We’re building a staff on top of the considerable reporting resources at CIR. Welcome Kevin Sullivan, fresh from Here and Now, as the executive producer.

Check out the video CIR did to intro the show.

The program, at last count, will air monthly on 200 stations. Reveal goes weekly in July.

Don’t forget to also subscribe to get the episodes via the Reveal podcast.

Listen. Send feedback. And join us on the next breakthrough program for public radio wherever you might listen.


PRESS RELEASE

CIR and PRX Launch Reveal as Nation’s First Monthly Public Radio Series Devoted to Investigative Journalism

Emeryville, Calif. – “Reveal,” the nation’s first public radio show and podcast devoted to investigative reporting, will begin airing on public radio stations nationwide in monthly episodes starting Jan. 24, marking a significant expansion of the show conceived and produced by The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX.

The hour-long “Reveal” show will feature investigations and storytelling from CIR’s own newsroom and from media partners around the world. PRX’s commitment to “Reveal” builds on its success in creating and distributing “The Moth Radio Hour,” one of the most successful launches in public radio history.

“Reveal” is hosted by Al Letson, creator of the award-winning public radio series “State of the Re:Union.”

“CIR is committed to creating the opportunity for investigative reporting to find its voice for a new generation of fans and communities while continuing to deliver the high-impact journalism that has helped define, challenge and preserve our democracy,” said Joaquin Alvarado, CEO of The Center for Investigative Reporting.

The January “Reveal” episode will feature investigative stories about poorly regulated day care centers, online currency trading, scientific integrity at the Environmental Protection Agency, and the surrogate baby industry. Reporters and freelance writers from CIR, Bloomberg Markets and The Center for Public Integrity contributed to the episode.

The series will air on nearly 200 public radio stations nationwide, including WNYC, KCRW (Los Angeles), WBEZ (Chicago), KQED (San Francisco), and WAMU (Washington D.C.)

CIR and PRX have produced three “Reveal” program pilots since September 2013. The first pilot won a George Foster Peabody Award, one of broadcasting’s highest honors, for CIR’s story about how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs feeds prescription opiate addictions. The pilot episodes featured investigations by CIR, WBEZ/Chicago Public Radio, The Center for Public Integrity, St. Louis Public Radio, The Hollywood Reporter and others.

“Public radio listeners are hungry for meaningful journalism. ‘Reveal’ brings high-quality investigative stories from around the country to audiences nationwide,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX.

Significant funding for “Reveal” comes from The Reva and David Logan Foundation, which last year awarded CIR a three-year grant of $3 million for “Reveal,” citing its founders’ commitment to investigative journalism as the “guardian of the public interest.” The Ford Foundation awarded CIR a two-year grant of $500,000 for the show and its accompanying podcast. In awarding the grant, the foundation noted CIR’s commitment to multiplatform journalism, helping other newsrooms localize deeply researched investigative reporting on “Reveal” and engaging the public in seeking solutions to the issues raised by its reports.

About The Center For Investigative Reporting
The Center for Investigative Reporting is the nation’s first independent, multiplatform investigative reporting organization. Devoted to holding powerful interests accountable to the public trust, CIR creatively employs cutting-edge technology and innovative storytelling to reveal injustice, spark change at all levels of society and influence public dialogue on critical issues. CIR produces high-impact reporting across print, video, TV, radio and online platforms and is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions, winner of a 2013 Emmy Award and a 2014 George Foster Peabody Award, and a Pulitzer Prize finalist in 2012 (for local reporting) and 2013 (for public service).

About PRX (Public Radio Exchange)
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including “This American Life,” “The Moth Radio Hour,” “Sound Opinions,” “State of the Re:Union,” “Snap Judgment” and “WTF with Marc Maron.” PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also the leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as Public Radio Player, Radiolab, This American Life, WBUR, KCRW Music Mine and more.

The Future of State of the Re:Union

Dear Stations,

Seven years ago, the CPB-funded “Public Radio Talent Quest” went looking for new voices. A defining quality of the search was “hostiness,” people an audience would want to spend time with, and explore with. One of those voices was Al Letson, who created and has been producing State of the Re:Union since 2008 for NPR, PRX, and the more than 200 stations that have supported each season.

This winter, Al Letson will partner with PRX to host Reveal, a new, weekly investigative news program from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX. Watch for Reveal‘s debut in January 2015.

In turn, in Spring 2015, following the release of new Black History Month (February 2015) and National Poetry Month (April 2015) programs, State of the Re:Union will end production of its 10-programs-a-year seasons. However, Al and WJCT (SOTRU’s producing station) are exploring opportunities for additional SOTRU specials in 2015.

The 2014 fall season of five SOTRU programs is available now to all NPR Member Stations, on both Content Depot and PRX.org — have a listen now. It’s filled with the kind of work that won Al Letson and producer Laura Starecheski an Edward R. Murrow Award for the episode, “The Hospital Always Wins,” last season. SOTRU has been recognized with the Murrow two years in a row.

NPR and PRX’s collaboration with Al, CPB and WJCT/Jacksonville to share the program is something we’re all are proud of. Keep an eye out for more on Al’s new show, as well as details on possible SOTRU specials in 2015. We thank the stations who have and will continue to present Al Letson’s work, and the man himself for telling the story of America, one community at a time.

Sincerely,

Israel Smith, NPR
John Barth, PRX

More listeners and more listening

We’ve released an exciting change at PRX today: non-logged-in visitors to PRX.org will see our new story page, like this.

Why does the piece page (now a “story” page) look different?

For the love of listening. Millions of people visit PRX.org who want to hear your stories and we want them to have a simple and awesome listening experience.

We’ve been working on this experience for months — designing, coding, testing, and making changes so we can encourage more people to click play and listen for longer periods. The data we’ve collected so far shows that the changes we’ve made have resulted in just that.

When people visit PRX.org on their mobile phone, tablet, or desktop they’ll see a large play button that makes it simple for them to hear your story. We’ve also removed the bulky listener signup process, a high hurdle for most listeners that resulted in most of them not hearing your work. Moving forward it is dead simple: send someone a link to your PRX story and with a single click they can start listening.

I’m with a station or outside purchaser. How do I license?

You won’t be able to license just yet from the new pages. To license a story, just sign in, and you will see the old site with the “Buy” button.

story-page

I still see the old piece pages. Where are the new ones?

When logged-in — which is most station staff and producers — you will see the same look and experience that you are familiar with. Nothing is changing yet for people who are logged-in. We’re working on the whole site: improvements to uploading, how stories are curated and found, and so on. Stay tuned for updates.

For over 10 years PRX has been the distribution pathway for producers to have their work licensed by stations for broadcast. With updates like these we’re also making PRX a great place for listeners to hear your stories.

If you have questions, feedback or thoughts we’d love to hear them.

Asteroid miners prepare to harvest outer space

Image credit: thespacereview.com
Image credit: thespacereview.com

Don’t get too attached to your real estate — human civilization may be headed toward space.

It currently costs $10,000 a pound to transport material from Earth into space. If humans want to live in space someday, those transport costs alone pose a major roadblock. Asteroid mining companies offer an alternative idea: support life in space with resources from space. That may sound like science fiction, but these companies are already scrambling to extract goods from space rocks — an average asteroid holds about $100 billion in water and minerals. In producer Audrey Quinn’s PRX STEM Story Project piece, we’ll visit a spacecraft facility and take a look into the business, the science, and the legality of the asteroid mining industry.

In September 2013, Quinn reported for Marketplace on NASA’s interest in asteroids. As part of that story, she interviewed Deep Space Industries’s Rick Tumlinson and was struck by how committed he and his company were to asteroid mining, a prospect that sounded like pure science fiction. Quinn reflects, “I thought it would be a great chance to dive deeper into this idea that seemed so fantastical to me.”

These space entrepreneurs are thinking beyond science fiction and are are banking on the idea that humans will live in space someday, that the future of human civilization is, in fact, in space. They are also preparing to have the technology ready to make that a reality within the next couple of decades.

Quinn hopes listeners will learn that a lot of the materials we rely on here on Earth are also out there in some form in asteroids: “That could make life in space might be more viable and imminent than you realized before.”

Finding Science in Speculation with Bayes’ Theorem

Image: "Bayes' Theorem MMB 01" by mattbuck (category) - Own work by mattbuck. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
Image: “Bayes’ Theorem MMB 01″ by mattbuck (category) – Own work by mattbuck. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re not mathematically inclined, one look at Bayes’ Theorem – a parade of parenthetical A’s and B’s stacked on top of each other — can be a bit intimidating.

However, the theorem can be traced to many different parts of our everyday lives. First conceived around the time that Ben Franklin experimented with his infamous kite and key, it now helps us predict things like the weather, election results, health trends, even locating missing people and things.

Sydney Beveridge’s PRX STEM Story Project guides us through different ways the theorem is used, framing it with how it might be used to help someone find their missing keys.

When asked how she chose the topic, producer Sydney Beveridge responds, “This story was an opportunity to dig into the magic and manipulation behind the numbers that we encounter in our daily lives.” Outside of radio, she works with data at the demographic research and visualization website Social Explorer, which focuses on numbers to communicate trends and ideas. Also, she admits, she lost her keys last year.

“Even though numbers feel so concrete, the way we work with them varies and can be heavily disputed,” Beveridge reminds us. While researching the story, she was surprised to learn that the field of statistics is fraught with controversy; it even has warring factions within the field. No huge surprise there, especially with books like How to Lie With Statistics juxtaposing statistics and dishonesty, and general skepticism around exit polling during elections.

However, Beveridge hopes that listeners come away from the piece better understanding the difference between Bayesian statistics and classical statistics. “In some ways, the theorem is a common sense idea…but it is also conceptually rich in its handling of subjectivity, contradictory possibilities and iteration.”

That said, if you end up listening to the piece, the odds might just fall in your favor.

Reveal Coming January 2015 from The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX

Reveal Logo

Here’s the story.

Reveal will launch officially on a monthly schedule on Saturday, January 24, 2015.

The full hour-long radio show will be distributed exclusively by PRX.org starting Thursday, January 22, 2015. The radio air window opens Saturday, January 24.

Reveal will be free to all stations regardless of PRX membership. Not sure how to use PRX? – drop us a line at PRXhelp@prx.org.

Reveal launched with three hour-long pilots in 2013 and 2014, tackling multiple investigative stories, winning a Peabody Award and leading to real impact. Hundreds of stations aired the programs.  CIR and PRX created the program because stations told us they wanted a regular investigative presence in public radio. Listeners are showing a hunger for deeper journalism with meaningful impact. Reveal will showcase the best investigative reporting together in one regular, national broadcast.

Reveal is based on a collaborative production model: many of the stories come from CIR’s award-winning newsroom, but excellent stories come from many investigative efforts. The pilots featured work from the Center for Public Integrity and public radio stations including WNYC, Chicago Public Radio, Michigan Radio, KQED and others. The pilots also included collaborations with the PBS NewsHour, various print outlets and websites to extend the reach of their featured stories. CIR and PRX are in conversation with dozens of other news outlets and public radio stations to feature their stories on Reveal.

Reveal is more than a radio program. It also produces stand-alone digital assets – from accompanying text stories, to data interactives, video, animations, and more – offered to stations for their audiences to engage with any time. Plus a Reveal podcast is in production for 2015.

Reveal won a 2014 Peabody award for CIR’s original investigation into the Department of Veterans Affairs’ role in over-prescribing opioid drugs to returning Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. The story put pressure on the VA and, as a result, the federal agency has reformed some of its most egregious prescription practices.

Al Letson, the recipient of multiple journalism awards for his original series, State of the Re:Union, is the host of Reveal. Al’s engaging storytelling style and straight-on questioning will be hallmarks of Reveal.

Reveal will air monthly from January through June. The air dates for the first two quarters are:

January 24, 2015

February 14, 2015

March 14, 2015

April 11, 2015

May 9, 2015

June 13, 2015

The first WEEKLY show of Reveal will be released on July 2, 2015 for broadcast starting Saturday July 4, 2015. It will be delivered to station automation systems through SubAuto on PRX or available by exclusive download through PRX.org. The weekly program will also be free to all stations regardless of PRX membership status.

Questions, comments, concerns? Contact John Barth at john@prx.org or Kathleen Unwin at kathleen@prx.org.