Jones posted on Tuesday, November 19th, 2013 | Blog, PRX at Ten | No Comments
This post is part of PRX at Ten’s Where Are They Now series about former PRX staff.
Back when Generation PRX started YouthCast in 2006 — a podcast to showcase the best in youth-produced radio — we decided to look for a smart host who could reach both youth and adult audiences. Kiera Feldman – who began in youth radio at KBOO and was a Brown University junior at the time – basically blew the lid off what we asked for and elevated the job to art form. Funny, talented and whip-insightful, we knew Kiera was destined for greatness. Now a freelance reporter for the Nation Institute’s Investigative Fund, we asked Kiera to share what she’s been up to since the good ol’ YouthCast days.
I often find myself returning to something I read in a Transom essay some years back. “Radio is my first love,” wrote Gwen Macsai, “and like a first love, no matter how far you stray and no matter how badly it ended, your heart still skips a beat when it walks through the door.”
Back when I hosted PRX’s alt.NPR YouthCast podcast (2007-2008), I thought of myself first and foremost as a Radio Person. I’d be making annual pilgrimages to public radio conferences ’til I died, I thought. But these days, my shotgun mic is stashed away beneath my bed, still a treasured possession but more of a relic from another time. (It’s an AT835b, because I know you want to know.)
To recap: after graduating college in 2008, I moved to Brooklyn because it was a thing people did. I found a new extracurricular: producing segments for a progressive radio collective on WBAI called Beyond the Pale, and I’ve stuck with it ever since. (That first year, I also worked on PBS documentaries and as a fill-in producer at WNYC.) I was the only 20-something in the lefty radio collective, which meant I’d get goaded into doing all the stories that involved young people and going into the belly of the beast. I was a Radio Person working with print people on a volunteer-run show, and gradually I became a print person, too. It started with doing magazine versions of radio stories, like this n+1 story about Jews for Jesus.
The thing was, in the radio world, there just wasn’t much opportunity to do longform narrative storytelling of the muckraking variety–which I discovered was what really made me tick. But that’s a thing you can do in magazines, and I’m deeply indebted to radio: my ear for dialogue, being able to pull off the print version of the perfect tape-to-tape transition, being able to do interviews where you get people to recount events so that you can reconstruct it as a scene later (the Ira Glass “and then what did you say? And then what did she say? And what was going through your mind?” approach), and on and on.
Lots of my stuff is on my website, but here are some highlights:
+ The story I’m most proud of: “Grace in Broken Arrow,” about child sex abuse cover-up at an Oklahoma megachurch. (Over at the Nieman Foundation, I laid out some of my thoughts and working theories about trauma reporting, investigative narrative, and the tremendous honor and responsibility of being entrusted with vulnerable people’s stories.)
+ “The Romance of Birthright Israel” in The Nation. The story was funded by the awesome and amazing Investigative Fund, which is supporting a few of my current projects (thus making it possible to be a freelance investigative reporter).
+ The last radio story I did–a dispatch from the Birthright trenches–and it is pretty funny, I must say.
+ “Living the American Dream in the West Bank” for VICE: about New Yorkers who become West Bank settlers (“the long white flight,” I called it in a follow-up story).
kerri posted on Wednesday, November 13th, 2013 | Blog, PRX at Ten | No Comments
PRX is home to the largest open marketplace of independent public radio content. Stations of all sizes buy weekly shows, specials, short pieces, and long documentaries. We take pride in the quality and variety of content that stations can buy and present to their audiences.
Stations are also active producers. One of our founding objectives was to make good on the “X” part of PRX. The exchange was intended for stations, recognizing their dual role as consumers and producers.
This is why we’ve been watching WFIU of Bloomington, Indiana. They have been a consistent royalty earner on PRX, often in the top 20 each quarter.
What makes WFIU stand out? They post several regular series on PRX and the royalties have added up. At this point, WFIU has made back their PRX membership two times over. Yep, more than double.
WFIU has been broadcasting since 1950 bringing classical music and jazz to southern Indiana. They are charter members of NPR, showing their early and deep roots in public service. Back in 2004, they joined PRX and quickly saw us as a distribution path as well as a valuable catalog from which to select material.
“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with PRX — it gives smaller stations like ours a great opportunity to get to much larger audiences and helps other stations extend their programming resources.” -Will Murphy, Program Director
So today we salute WFIU – they are producing great content locally and distributing it nationally. PRX helps them get it out into the world… and monetize it!
(Hey, other stations! The lesson here: charge for your pieces! Choosing zero points is okay for a one-off special, but if you do a weekly series, we encourage you to charge points so you make royalties.)
Lily Bui posted on Friday, November 8th, 2013 | Blog, PRX, STEM Story Project | No Comments
This post is part of PRX’s STEM Story Project series.
For a long time, scientists have known that breathing in soot from vehicles and power plants is bad for us. But the soot itself might not be the problem—at least not entirely. Scientists have found that particles live a ‘secret life’ once released into the atmosphere, picking up toxic gases and other hitchhikers before making their way into our lungs.
In researching Tracking the Secret Life of Soot, producer Reid Frazier was struck by how the scientists he spoke with described the properties of soot as it ages in the atmosphere. Their words of choice were “sticky” and “gooey,” not exactly the most scientific terms in the book! “It struck me as a wonderful way to describe the process–it’s visceral,” he explains.
But how to convey that through audio? Then one day, Frazier had an idea:
“I was at home writing the script one day when I looked at my garden—really, just a patch of untended flowers and weeds. I got an idea. I dug a hole, filled it up with water, then took my shoes off and stood in the muddy pit I’d created. I turned my mic on to capture the mucky, suction-y sound of me trying to lift my feet out. This is how I made that goopy sound you here in the background of the story as one of the scientists explains what happens to a soot particle in the atmosphere. It was the most fun you can have working—getting to walk barefoot in the mud. And it made great ‘gooey’ audio.”
Since Reid’s piece came out, a new study from MIT found that 53,000 people a year die prematurely because of automobile pollution in the U.S., compared to 34,000 people a year who die in traffic accidents.
Air pollution has also been implicated in low birth weight (and subsequent health problems and premature death), 430,000 premature deaths per year in Europe, and 4,655 premature deaths in São Paulo in 2011. Emissions from cars are a major cause of Beijing’s infamous smog.
Learn more about the secret life of soot and other particles in the air around us by listening to Reid’s piece.
Want to help monitor local air quality? A new citizen science project named AirCasting allows you to use your smartphone to record and share data about the air quality around you.
Image from EarthTimes.
Audrey posted on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013 | Blog, PRX | No Comments
A few months ago, our colleague Rebecca Nesson threw her name in the hat to tell a story at one of the Cambridge Moth storySLAMS. Her story was so exceptional that it led to her telling her story at a Moth Mainstage show at the Somerville Theater. And this week, the story is featured in the Moth podcast!
By day Becca works on PRX’s mobile apps, including of course The Moth app.
We all knew Becca was a talented developer but we didn’t know how gifted she was as a storyteller. Proof is in the puddin’. Listen and enjoy.
Here’s Becca on The Moth’s homepage this week!
kerri posted on Thursday, October 24th, 2013 | Blog, PRX at Ten | No Comments
In the ten years since PRX launched, over 112,000 individual pieces have been purchased in the PRX.org marketplace. Just think about that. In our relatively small public media world, that is a lot of decisions regarding a lot of content.
Back in 2003, there was little to no market for the exchange and payment of non-network public radio content. We took a leap of faith in assuming stations were hungry for a diverse array of content and were willing to pay for it. PRX set out to reduce the friction of each transaction. That hypothesis has proved correct. PRX has distributed over $2M in payments to producers over this span of time. We can boldly claim that without PRX, this money would not have been paid to so many audio content producers.
Back in 2003 we introduced (and still use) PRX points. Stations pre-buy point packages (much like buying tickets at a fair) then they can spend those points on content that best suits their audience. The cost of points is on a sliding scale, so that small stations can get access to excellent content. PRX subsidizes royalties for some of the smallest stations.
As we reflect on our 10-year milestone, we are taking a thorough look at the economy we built. Today, the exchange of paid content is commonplace.
The first batch of royalties ever paid (January 2004) totaled $4,414. We pay almost 70 times that amount each year now. Back then we calculated each check individually and sent paper statements using mail merge. Looking at the first list of payees below, we are reminded that PRX was built for multiple users – individual producers, organizations and stations. I look at this list often – as a reminder of the producers who took the leap of faith with us and as a call to action to continue improving our service.
Many of these first royalty earners are still selling their work on PRX today:
- Paul Ingles
- Scott Gurian
- Eric Nuzum
- Paul Fenton
- Jake Warga
- Jackson Braider
- Jay Allison
- Helen Borten
- Lydon McGrath, Inc.
- Vermont Public Radio
- Atlantic Public Media
- Joe Bevilacqua
- Earth Chronicle Productions
- Radio Netherlands
- The Kitchen Sisters
- Making Contact
- Soundprint Media Center, Inc.
- Ira Glass
Jones posted on Monday, October 21st, 2013 | Blog, PRX | No Comments
Originally posted on Generation PRX.
At PRX HQ, we’ve been talking about how to improve PRX in a number of ways, including some exciting changes to profile pages, audio and, ultimately, listening. It’s a project we’re calling PRX NXT. We asked Director of Project Management Matt MacDonald, who heads up the project, to break it down.
GPRX: Take it from the top: What is PRX NXT?
Matt: PRX NXT is a significant refresh and update to the PRX.org website, improving the publishing process and creating brand new piece and producer profile pages with a focus on increasing listening.
GPRX: What are the biggest changes producers will notice as it rolls out?
Matt: Producers will notice that piece pages will be updated to make it much easier for people to listen to their stories and share their work. We know that visitors to PRX often first experience a producers work via a piece page, that essentially a piece page is a homepage for PRX and the producer. With that in mind we’re focusing on designing that page to encourage more listening. Right now when you visit a PRX piece page it is very much geared toward the marketplace, producers selling pieces and stations buying pieces. The most visible change will probably be how much we’re improving the listening experience.
GPRX: How will these changes help producers get audio work out in the world?
Matt: I’d say the most important change that we’re making relates to the listening experience. PRX.org has always been an open and transparent marketplace and the listener community has just sort of come along for the ride. With PRX NXT we are creating a world-class listening destination for professional audio and storytelling producers. We want to make sure that when a producer points someone to their PRX piece or producer profile that they get a great listening experience.
GPRX: Anything else we should know?
Matt: We’d love to hear what producers at all stages of their career and experience level need to improve their work and build audience. Whether you are looking to become a professional producer or a skilled hobbyist, we want to make sure that PRX is the home for your audio stories.
Have an opinion? Fill out the PRX Producer Survey.
Jake posted on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 | Blog, PRX Projects | No Comments
We are excited to announce Matter Two!
This was an extraordinarily competitive and rigorous selection process. Hundreds of startups applied from across the U.S. and from around the world. It’s clear that word of Matter has spread, and our focus on mission, our design thinking and entrepreneurship program, and our growing community of mentors and partners is a beacon for many remarkable entrepreneurs.
We conducted in-person interviews with the top 48 semi-finalists and then selected 20 finalists to complete an 8-hour design thinking assignment that tested key assumptions about the desirability, feasibility, and viability of their ventures.
And then we jumped into a round of intensive follow-up conversations, product demos, code reviews, reference checks, due diligence, and many, many, internal discussions about our choice.
We are so proud of the result – Matter is investing in 7 media startups that will change media for good:
Connu helps emerging writers find, connect with, and monetize audiences through publishing the best new short stories.
Contextly enables publications of all sizes to be both informative and viable in the age of drive-by readers by marrying editorial wisdom to the power of algorithms.
Creative Action Network is a marketplace for artists, causes and supporters to harness their talents for good by creating, buying and sharing original, crowdsourced creative content and merchandise.
Formidable Corp. bursts the filter bubble to help connect you to people outside of your social circle.
GetCast empowers creative professionals to take control of their careers by connecting them through a platform that helps them showcase their work, hone their craft, and collaborate on a global scale.
Hacklog empowers individual journalists to be more relevant to their audiences, impactful with their stories, and in charge of their careers by providing honest analytics.
Woopie (Write Only Once, Publish It Everywhere) empowers writers and publishers to easily reach their audiences on all devices and platforms through a digital content publishing tool focused on responsive design.
Last week, these 15 mission-driven entrepreneurs packed up their lives and converged on their new home in San Francisco. They traveled from as far as Finland, Argentina, and Ireland and from as close as SOMA and the Mission. Matter has officially gone international.
Their journey kicked off with an intense, week-long bootcamp focused on building scalable media ventures using a human-centered and prototype-driven process.
The experience not only gave our entrepreneurs the tools and mindsets they’ll need to navigate the “drunken walk of the entrepreneur,” but also established the culture and community that will provide the true acceleration of the Matter experience.
Now, we drive to Demo Day. Each team with unveil their products on Feb. 20 in San Francisco and on Feb. 25 in New York City.
Where you see the teams now is just a snapshot in time. Each team will constantly iterate on its product, its distribution strategy, and its business model by getting out into the world, testing its assumptions, and gaining traction with their customers. The application process was all about testing to see if they could do that.
Each day they will be a step closer to hitting the sweet spot of feasibility, viability, and desirability. We are excited to see where they end up.
The adventure has just begun.
Lily Bui posted on Tuesday, October 15th, 2013 | Blog, STEM Story Project | No Comments
This post is part of a series of posts featuring the stories from our STEM Story Project.
What motivates young people to become scientists? Meet Maricruz Jaramillo and Samoa Asigau, two young women scientists from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean, whose professional aspirations have taken them to the Galapagos Islands. Science reporter Véronique LaCapra joined Mari and Samoa in the Galapagos, where they are studying a type of malaria that is affecting native bird populations there. “Following in Darwin’s Footsteps” profiles their research and personal journeys into science, and highlight the changing face of scientific research. The Galapagos Islands — Charles Darwin’s inspiration and a touchstone in the history of evolutionary biology — serve as a sound-rich backdrop.
For producer Veronique LaCapra, gathering the audio and photos for her story were just the beginning. There were physical challenges as well, including
- Hiking up a steep, rocky hillside to get to one of the field sites, in the dark (before dawn), with all my recording/photo gear
- Not being able to drink the water in my room at the field station (or even brush my teeth with it). Sometimes the water went off altogether…
- Very variable weather — hot most of the time, but could be very chilly if it rained, or at night, or at higher elevation
As if physical toil wasn’t enough during her trip to the Galapagos, Veronique also experienced some close encounters with the insect kind. Centipedes, to be exact.
There was really only one thing I was sort of concerned about — a kind of centipede that is endemic to the Galapagos Islands. It’s poisonous — enough to put you in the hospital, if a larger one bites you.
[My] first night in the Galapagos, what did I see walking along the wall, right above my bed? A five-inch-long centipede (and a really big spider, but I wasn’t AS worried about that!).
There was nothing I could do about it — it was too high up on the wall for me to knock down (you’re actually not supposed to kill them, since they’re only found in the Galapagos and are protected). I left the room and by the time I came back again, it had disappeared. I checked in my bed…under my bed…nothing. So I just hoped for the best and went to sleep!
Fortunately for us, Veronique made it back to the U.S. and lived to tell the tale–both her own and that of scientists Maricruz and Samoa.
Image: Veronique LaCapra, St. Louis Public Radio
Want to follow in Darwin’s footsteps and get a close-up view of the Galapagos? Try out Darwin for a Day, a citizen science application that allows you to explore the Galapagos Islands through Google Street View and document its unique plants and animals.
Lily Bui posted on Friday, September 20th, 2013 | Blog, Press Releases | 2 Comments
The Public Radio Exchange (PRX) and The Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) announced at the Public Radio Program Directors Association (PRPD) conference in Atlanta that they’re partnering to create Reveal, an hour-long national radio pilot that will air starting September 28 on public radio stations across the country.
The pilot is hosted by Al Letson, creator and host of State of the Re:Union, and produced by CIR’s Susanne Reber and Marketplace alum Ben Adair.
Reveal will also give listeners a behind-the-scenes look at investigations in progress, break national investigative stories, and follow up on the impact and changes that result from these stories. Online, the Reveal website will feature data apps, video, and other ways listeners can engage with deep storytelling.
In an interview with Current, CIR’s Joaquin Alvarado (CIR’s Chief Strategy Officer) said that CIR is “multi-platform already, [but] the chance to work with PRX brings together two organizations with a lot of momentum. I feel like we’re really poised, with this relationship with PRX, to take things to a new level.”
PRX’s Managing Director John Barth states, “[Alvarado and I] both came to the same realization that there is a gap around consistent investigative journalism in public radio.” Thus, the collaboration between PRX and CIR seemed like a natural partnership.
Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX, adds, “We felt that there was really a hole in the public radio schedule for an investigative voice. This show creates a reliable, creative platform for some of the most important stories being told.”
The series premiere is slated for next fall. Tune in starting the week of September 28, and follow along on the website and social media for more updates because as we all know, there’s always more to the story.
Listen to the Reveal promo.
Follow along online:
Genevieve posted on Wednesday, August 7th, 2013 | Blog, STEM Story Project | 1 Comment
As storms raged through Oklahoma earlier this year, Martha Lillard waited them out from inside her iron lung. She is one of just dozens of polio survivors who still rely on iron lungs to breathe.
The Last of the Iron Lungs, produced by Julia Scott for our STEM Story Project, is a portrait of Martha, who contracted polio in 1953. To Martha, the 1940s machine is comfort and survival, and she is not interested in modern machines. As a researcher explains in the story, new machines operate differently, forcing air into the lungs in a way that doesn’t feel right for iron lung patients. Take a listen all the way through to hear about Martha’s dreams of driving inside her iron lung:
Julia Scott sent us some thoughts about her experience producing this story:
“Martha’s story is fascinating enough on its own. It’s a radio producer’s dream to be able to capture the kinds of sounds no one will ever hear again – the mechanical bellows, pushing air through a machine older than Martha herself.
“Reporting this story made me realize how distant and abstracted polio has become in our national memory. Martha’s bedroom is dominated by her iron lung, a relic of history that most people my age may never even have heard of (I’m 32). To her, it’s a trusted companion and a lifelong friend. But the iron lung symbolized one of the most terrifying, unpredictable health epidemics of the 20th century. Archival photos like this one brought home the sheer scale of the outbreak – and the prospect of lifelong paralysis that thousands of people endured.
“One of the highlights of this project was being able to try out Martha’s iron lung – something I was a little scared to do. I laid down on the sliding cot, pushed my head through her foam neck collar and she sealed me in. It wasn’t claustrophobic, but I wasn’t counting on how hard it would be stop drawing breath and let the respirator take over pushing my diaphragm in and out, forcing air to whoosh into my throat. “Stop trying to breathe!” Martha instructed. For her, lying in the iron lung is the most comfortable sensation in the world.
“Since the story has aired I’ve received emails from people whose families were touched by polio, grandfathers and great-aunts who spent time in an iron lung but graduated to breathing on their own. They see Martha’s story as part of the same continuum.”
Want more? Check out our other STEM Story Project pieces.
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