Category Archives: Blog

Blog Post

Hello, I am Eve

Hi everyone, I’m Eve, the new software engineer at PRX. I started learning to program about a year ago after finishing up my English degree at Kenyon College. I was obsessed with public radio, and I thought to myself, “Maybe if I learn to program, I can work somewhere cool, like PRX.” So, I decided to go to Launch Academy here in Boston, and now, here I am. I’m excited to learn from the awesome tech team here at PRX!

Now’s the part where I list my radio nerd credentials. As a child I looked forward to Car Talk and Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! all week. In junior high I streamed BBC Radio 4 while writing HTML for my various websites. (I was very popular.) Then I discovered podcasts, and loaded up my iPod with The Sound of Young America and This American Life to make it through gym class. When I got to Kenyon, I tried to replicate shows like You Look Nice Today and Jordan, Jesse GO! with my own silly show on WKCO. I was lucky enough to intern at Studio 360 after my junior year. For my final project at Launch Academy, I made a social network for podcast listeners called Pod People. (Good name, right?)

But there’s more to my life than just listening to podcasts. I also make podcasts! I have a show about Disney Channel Original Movies where my friend and I use our liberal arts degrees to overanalyze them. It’s called The DCOM Podcast. (Good name, right?) The next episode will be about Johnny Tsunami. Check us out on iTunes.

A Golden Age: How to Join the Podcast Revolution

shutterstock_94778881 - Version 3

They call this the golden age of audio. How did it happen? What’s in store for podcasts—and how can producers and public radio stations be part of the movement? PRX CEO Jake Shapiro and Erik Diehn, Midroll Media‘s VP of Business Development, sit down on the PRX couch and talk radio (listen right here or read the transcript below).

___________________________________________________________

Jake Shapiro: Hi. It’s Jake here at PRX, and we’re very excited to have a guest in our offices, Erik Diehn, who most recently was at WNYC and, as of I think three or so weeks ago, has taken the plunge to join Midroll. So we’re gonna riff for a couple minutes on podcasting.

Erik Diehn: Sounds Good. Yes, it’s Midroll Media technically speaking, which is the parent company of the Midroll business which is the ad sales business, and Earwolf, which is the consumer-facing comedy podcast network and brand. We brought you shows like Comedy Bang Bang, How Did This Get Made, Who Charted?, Analyze Phish, The Andy Daly Podcast Pilot Project, and we have probably another dozen, half-dozen shows in the pipeline.

Jake Shapiro and Erik Diehn
PRX CEO Jake Shapiro and Midroll Media’s Erik Diehn

JS: Earwolf has a couple dozen shows, and then Midroll represents something like over a hundred different podcasts?

ED: Yeah, I think the total number of podcasts at this point is probably 120, 130.

JS: Part of what I wanted to just have a quick conversation about is podcasting itself, because we’re in this ripe moment.

In the minutes before walking in here to chat, we had American Public Media just launching its new podcast network, which I gather Midroll is representing on the sponsorship sales side. We were just excited here in the office because Bill McKibben at The Dish just wrote a rave review of Radiotopia—he’s talking about the golden age of audio, and of course Radiotopia being PRX’s podcast network we launched earlier this year.

So it seems like this convergent moment, a revival, in a way, because podcasting kind of leapt out of the blogging world right around the time PRX was getting started, but it feels like there was this arc where podcasting emerged, there was all this hype and hope, and then it kind of stalled out for a long time.

ED: It was always about to blow up. Next year, it was gonna be big, for a long time.

JS: I feel like you would probably agree with me, but I’d like to hear what you think about it. What do you think of podcasting, and why are we in this moment?

ED: Yeah, I think the reason it didn’t ever get larger than it was back then is for a couple reasons. First is on the commercial side, when Apple just decided podcasting was going to be free. That doomed it, in a way, to being an advertiser-driven business, at least in the initial run. Doom is probably the wrong word, because I think there’s been a lot of good to come out of that decision. It’s become something people can find now much more easily than things that are tucked away behind some monolithic paywall.

But the other reason for its late-blooming success was, I think, just the technology. As everyone knows it’s much easier on a smartphone to get to a podcast. The interface has shifted form this complicated one, where you have to download onto your iTunes and then sync it up. Well, you’ve already lost 97% of the American consumer when you have to do those steps.

Friction is the enemy of all products these days, and I think podcasts had a lot of friction for a long time. The plus side of that is the people who did come to it were really devoted fans. The intimacy of the medium, the fact that it was a really opt-in experience—versus the lean-back radio it’s just on in the car means the people who listen to podcast—those are your biggest fans.

And that’s part of what’s made Earwolf successful. A comedian can find a fan base there. They can engage them in a way they’re not necessarily gonna engage them on a Comedy Central stand-up special, and that drives all the other parts of their business. And obviously for public radio, it’s been a natural transition, because the audience is already so engaged. So I think that’s a  reason public radio was early to the game and continues to be such a huge part of it.

JS: So what would be your advice for producers who are now feeling like, “Well, maybe this actually is a viable path for me, no longer waiting to get on public radio.” What’s your advice for them?

ED: That’s a good question. Scarcity is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, having scarce air time means it’s really hard to get through the gatekeepers. It’s hard to get on air. Same thing with television. When there’s scarce number of channels, it’s hard to get in there—but once you do, the money starts to come in. Podcasting absolutely gets rid of all that. The barrier to entry is super, super low. You have to know how to record audio. So there’s this huge long tail of 99,000, 100,000 podcasts.

So if you’re a producer, one of the things you have to do is make something that’s good. That doesn’t guarantee it will find an audience. So actually what you really have to do is make something that 50,000-100,000 people find good.

If you put out a piece of audio content and within two to three weeks, 50,000 people download and/or stream that content, you have found an audience that can lead to some level of sustainability. That does not mean that you’re going to be a millionaire, and if you have a ten person staff, you’re not going to break even with 50,000 people listening.

But given where podcasting is today, and the growth that I personally expect over the next five years, today’s 50,000 threshold may be 250,000 a few years from now. A small show may be two to three times larger. And suddenly I think the cutoff between sustainable and not sustainable will go a little bit farther down the distribution curve.

So, you have to make something good. It helps if it’s not your only thing. If you’re a comedian and you’ve got a stand-up business and a movie business and all these other things going on, then podcasting is another angle. If you’re an audio producer, thinking about live events, thinking about ways to engage the audience in digital fora, or through other revenue streams, is super important from day one.

When I was at WNYC, what we were looking for as we looked to bring in producers for new shows—shows we sort of quasi-acquired—was real entrepreneurial, self-starter people who were just gonna do everything they could to make a show grow. And people who were also writing books on the side, and having video projects on the side. And people who have multiple streams for both their audience to consume and also to generate revenue are going to be healthier than people relying on just trying to get something on terrestrial radio.

So, first rule of podcasting, make sure it’s not your only job until probably a few years from now, when it can be. But the good news is today, it’s not a zero-dollar medium either. I don’t want to call it real money but there’s dollars coming in. Advertisers are interested, and the audience continues to show willingness to pay in some form or fashion.

JS: Anything else about frequency and length of podcasts, or other insights to gain from seeing this whole network you’re helping manage?

ED: Be consistent, and try and be regular, so the audience knows when to listen. If you put something out, and six months later, you put something else out, it’s going to be hard to build an audience. But if you do something every other week, that’s OK, as long as you do it every other week.

And then consistency in format. If the audience expects a ten-minute show, don’t suddenly go to two hours. But beyond that, I think there’s huge flexibility.

I was talking to somebody a couple weeks ago who had heard about this podcast called the 12 Hour Podcast, that is two guys who just mic themselves up and record their day, for twelve hours. And you would think, well, no one would possibly listen to that. But they know somebody’s listening because in hour nine of one of the episodes, the guys is transacting with a store clerk—because by hour two they actually forget that they’re recording—and he gives the store clerk his phone number. And he starts getting text messages, because people are listening in hour nine of this thing.

So there’s a whole lot of freedom. You’re not fitting into a broadcast clock, but you’ve gotta figure out what the audience wants, and then keep it consistent.

Now, given all that, you have to think about when people are listening. Commutes are 30-40 minutes. If you’re gonna do a produced, packaged show that people are engaging in, maybe keep it that length. On the other hand, there are people who like to have talk on at work for two hours in the background. Even some of our comedy shows can do quite well even though they’re multiple hours.

JS: Given your vantage point on the whole ecosystem that seems to be growing around podcasting, what are things that you’re excited about that you see on the horizon, and what are some things that you think remain a big challenges?

ED: I’m super excited about cars, in general. That has been such a huge place of listening for so long. I think Volvo’s releasing its first model with Carplay, which is the Apple iPod integration, where you’ve got the indash experience. Podcasts is among the seven apps you see there. And all of the sudden it becomes easier for people to listen. That’s gonna take several years to really take hold. I think the move away from cached downloaded listening to just it’s something to just I’m gonna hit play and listen—that helps all of us because it helps with content availability. It’s going to take a while for broadband to be widely penetrated for us for that to be universally true, but I think over time more and more listening will be that way.

I think general consumer awareness continues to increase. I’m excited because I keep talking to people who I wouldn’t expect to be listening to podcasts, and they say, “Oh, no, I listen to this and this and this and this.”

I really wish we had a better name. Unfortunately, we can’t just say audio, like people who make web video can. You know Netflix is, yeah, it’s movies and TV shows. “Podcast” still has that connotation. I guess we just have to embrace it, and eventually it kind of takes on a new meaning.

JS: Having now crossed the bridge from public radio out into the wide world of podcasting what’s your sense of what public radio’s opportunity or advantage or challenge is?

ED: Public radio has one of the most engaged audiences. That audience is increasingly going to shift from lean-back, linear, terrestrial streaming to on demand and digital streaming. And I think public radio needs to keep moving with the audience. The membership model’s gonna be a challenge, no question. The economics of the system are built for that terrestrial world. It’s gonna be really hard to navigate, and that’s part of what I enjoyed doing while I was there.

But I think creating that bridge between producer and audience is the critical task of public radio. And remembering that you can be a local station that produces great content for not necessarily a national audience. You can still be a producer without being a distributor. The more that stations understand their role in that ecosystem and understand that they need to start investing in content, that they need to start filling in gaps that newspapers, for example, are now creating in their disappearance—the more that happens,  the healthier the system will be in the long run.

It’s not about the transmitter. It’s about the good content, the audience, and having funding models that do not depend upon content that is purely commercially viable.

JS: Thanks so much, Erik. You are our debut guest on the couch in Jake’s office. And it was awesome.

ED: Thanks for having me. I love you guys, too. And I listen.

 

(Radio image via Shutterstock)

Meet this year’s STEM Story Project productions

The Public Radio Exchange and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation are proud to present our second annual STEM Story Project! This year, we’re bringing you 14 more brand new public radio stories that span a range of topics across science, technology, engineering, and math.

Open your minds and ears and listen to the pieces below, or navigate to the full playlist here.

Share your favorites via #PRXSTEM on Twitter!

Early Bloom, Peter Frick-Wright & Robbie Carver – Scientists are learning the language of plants. Hear about them and the controversies surrounding the research and the father of the field.

700 Fathoms Under the Sea, David Schulman – Something unusual happens about 1,000 meters under the sea. Ocean physics — pressure, temperature, and saltiness — create a zone called the “sound channel.”

The Indiana Jones of Mathematics, Ben Harden — The Indiana Jones of mathematics joins the dots between stealth shields, voter theory and osteoporosis as he studies the melting polar ice.

A Rainbow of Noise, Marnie Chesterson – Red and yellow and pink and green. Can you build a rainbow out of sound, not colour? We try, and tell the stories of the noise colors.

That Crime of the Month, Lauren Spohrer from the Criminal Show podcast – Can PMS be so debilitating for some women that it relieves them of criminal liability?

The Making of a Medical Detective or the Case of a Nutty Affair, Philip Graitcer – They’re called medical detectives. They hunt down the causes of outbreaks. Follow along as trainees learn and solve mock epidemics.

Fire on the Mountain: Climate Change, Fire, and the Ecological Future of the American West, Aengus Anderson – In the wake of a catastrophic fire, researchers use Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains to look centuries into the future of climate change.

Visual Stylometry: Where Math Forays into Art, Jenny Chen – Where math and art collide: mathematicians use stylometry in the battle to determine who created what art.

Asteroid Miners Prepare to Harvest Outer Space, Audrey Quinn – Life in space has one very practical roadblock: supply costs. We visit aspiring asteroid miners with plans to grab materials already out there.

Finding Science in Speculation with Bayes Theorem, Sydney Beveridge – From controversy and rejection to mystery-solving and everyday use.

COMING SOON: This is Crohn’s Disease, Jack Rodolico – A patient with Crohn’s disease visits the best doctor in the world. That patient is Jack’s wife.

COMING SOON: Células Madres: The Mother of All Cells, Anayansi Diaz-Cortes – What is a stem cell? What’s a stem cell transplant? To a scientist? A doctor? A husband? A mother?

COMING SOON: That Raving Animal, Britt Wray — A music industry for animals exists, but different species hear different sounds. One woman throws concerts for animals to test their ears.

COMING SOON: No Vaccination Without Information, Luke Quinton — In 1776 John Adams and his family weren’t just fighting a revolution, they were fighting smallpox. You’ll be surprised to hear just how.

Questions/comments? Contact us at stem@prx.org.

*For more information on how the stories were chosen, see this page.

A Snapshot of Homelessness: Finding the Richer, Truer Story

Don
Don Schonenbeck (photo by Clay Scott)

If I met Don Schonenbeck on the street, I’d probably step right past him. I’d walk by never understanding why he’s chosen to wander west coast highways — how a series of painful deaths thrust him toward alcohol and into depression. That’s why I appreciate stories like the one producer Clay Scott made about Don. (You should take five minutes right now and listen to it.)

When we workshopped it in our Second Ear program, I pushed Clay to go back to Don and dig up some tape we could use to restructure the piece. What Clay found when he went looking for Don wasn’t what we’d hoped, but it completely changed the nature of the story. It’s a lesson in how powerful revisiting a story can be. If you follow a person or a topic over time, the story will be richer — and truer.

Clay will explain in a moment. But first, a taste of what we talked about.

  • Narrative structure. Hooking the listener, clarifying chronology, and pacing emotional peaks.
  • Asking why, and then asking it again. People respond to death differently. That’s what makes death so interesting. Get to the bottom of what’s really going on.
  • Leading with sound. Start with the ambi, and don’t identify it right away.
  • Give emotion to the acts, use narration for the facts. Hey, it rhymes. But what I mean is that you can summarize a sequence of events, but only your subject’s voice can lend real emotion. So don’t overextend acts to explain boring info. Just keep the gems.
  • Recognizing the weird. When Don said he wanted to put himself in situations he could neither predict nor control, he was subverting a lot of human instinct. That’s something I want to hear more about in a raw, honest way.

Your turn. Take a listen to the “Before” and “After.” What differences do you hear?

BEFORE:

AFTER:

___________________________________________________
Here’s Clay:

Producer Clay Scott
Producer Clay Scott

I’m used to working alone, so it was an incredible treat to have Erika Lantz and Genevieve Sponsler lend their astute ears to “I Ain’t Leavin My Road Dog,” a profile of Don, a homeless Montana man.  

I thought the original story (which aired back in January in my series “Mountain West Voices”) was pretty good. Listeners found it powerful and moving. People told me they appreciated hearing the type of voice they don’t often get a chance to hear.

In particular, my audience seemed to like the symmetry of the story: A man endures unimaginable tragedy, falls into a depression, and wanders the back roads of America for 20 years before deciding to settle down. When we leave him, he is working on a grant to help him open a small business. It’s almost a Hollywood ending, and it was very satisfying. In fact, the other two profiles I’ve done of homeless people in recent months had similar happy endings.  

But when Erika and Genevieve asked me to follow up with Don to add more depth to the story, I found that he had fallen off the wagon, and that he’d been kicked out of the shelter where he was staying. So much for the happy ending! I spent a few days looking for him, before learning that he had been seen walking out of town along the highway.  

After consulting with the Second Ear team, we decided that I still had a story, and agreed that I should add a sort of post script or epilogue to the original piece.

In the end, I think the re-worked piece turned out to be much more powerful than the original. Instead of the happy ending (appealing though it was) we have a story that is much more reflective of the reality of homelessness: a story about how easy it is to lose your moorings, and, having lost them, how incredibly hard it can be to find your way again.

A few additional notes: I didn’t mean to imply that we left the original story intact, and simply tacked on a postscript. Like the top notch radio brains they are, Erika and Genevieve were able improve the flow and pacing of the story significantly with a few deft and subtle changes: switching these two acts, bringing up the ambi a couple beats earlier here, tightening this track, lengthening this fade, etc. All in all, a wonderful experience to work with the Second Ear team.

[You can submit a story to Second Ear during the first five days of every month. Follow #SecondEar on Twitter to hear the latest and share your thoughts.]

Announcing the New STEM Story Project Productions

For the second time, PRX received a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to fund public radio stories about STEM topics: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. One of PRX’s strategic goals is to massively increase listening to public radio works of all kinds. This partnership with Sloan is an opportunity to add to the pool of stories about science. Our goals are to:

• Unleash highly creative, STEM-based original stories and productions
• Educate and excite listeners about STEM topics and issues
• Tell stories and explain STEM issues in new ways

Our editorial team – with help from our science advisory board, representing various academic institutions across the U.S. (and NASA!) – pored through the 100+ proposals we received this year. The topics spanned an impressive range of the STEM spectrum. As you can imagine, the final decisions were incredibly difficult to make!

Without further ado, here are the proposals that will receive funding for the STEM Story Project 2.0! We look forward to hearing the final products in late August as much as you do.

Stylometry, Math, and Art, Jenny Chen – Where math and art collide: mathematicians use stylometry in the battle to determine who created what art.

The Colour of Sound: An Audio Rainbow, Marnie Chesterson – Red and yellow and pink and green. Can you build a rainbow out of sound, not colour? We try, and tell the stories of the noise colors.

Fire on the Mountain: Climate Change, Fire, and the Ecological Future of the American West, Aengus Anderson – In the wake of a catastrophic fire, researchers use Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains to look centuries into the future of climate change.

The Indiana Jones of Mathematics, Ben Harden — The Indiana Jones of mathematics joins the dots between stealth shields, voter theory and osteoporosis as he studies the melting polar ice.

Space Rocks: Interstellar Dreamers Put Their Faith in Asteroids, Audrey Quinn – Life in space has one very practical roadblock: supply costs. We visit aspiring asteroid miners with plans to grab materials already out there.

The Making of a Medical Detective or the Case of a Nutty Affair, Philip Graitcer – They’re called medical detectives. They hunt down the causes of outbreaks. Follow along as trainees learn and solve mock epidemics.

Early Bloom, Peter Frick-Wright & Robbie Carver – Scientists are learning the language of plants. Hear about them and the controversies surrounding the research and the father of the field.

No Vaccination Without Information, Luke Quinton — In 1776 John Adams and his family weren’t just fighting a revolution, they were fighting smallpox. You’ll be surprised to hear just how.

That Raving Animal, Britt Wray — A music industry for animals exists, but different species hear different sounds. One woman throws concerts for animals to test their ears.

Bayes’ Theorem: Finding Truth in a Mathematical Hunch, Sydney Beveridge – From controversy and rejection to mystery-solving and everyday use.

Get into the Groove, Kirsty McQuire — US & UK scientists have found the brain’s rhythm factory. Hear about your internal iPod and new hope for those living with Parkinsons.

This is Crohn’s Disease, Jack Rodolico – A patient with Crohn’s disease visits the best doctor in the world. That patient is Jack’s wife.

That Crime of the Month, Lauren Spohrer from the Criminal Show podcast – Can PMS be so debilitating for some women that it relieves them of criminal liability?

1,000 Meters Under the Sea, David Schulman – Something unusual happens about 1,000 meters under the sea. Ocean physics — pressure, temperature, and saltiness — create a zone called the “sound channel.”

Células Madres: The Mother of All Cells, Anayansi Diaz-Cortes – What is a stem cell? What’s a stem cell transplant? To a scientist? A doctor? A husband? A mother?

Science and storytelling often stem from one common thing: a question about the world around us. In that spirit, we’re confident that these stories help ignite deeper curiosity about our world, as well as the meticulous processes that make the pursuit of that knowledge possible.

Follow #PRXSTEM on Twitter for updates and to get a first listen to projects as they’re uploaded!

Hello from Conor

Hello friends,

Some quick introductory words for my first day as an intern at PRX. How did I get here?

I was born in Brighton, UK to an artist and teacher and grew up in Southern Maine in a town called Yarmouth. I went to school at Boston University, where I studied cultural history and wrote a final paper about composers John Cage and Erik Satie, two exceptional dudes.

About the same time as the paper, I began work on Stylus, a documentary program about sound, music, and listening. My co-producer Zack and I made a pilot episode about silence and pitched the series to WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station. They eventually picked it up and, along with a bunch of wonderful people in and around the station, we produced four themed programs. We’re finishing up that first series now.

I’ve arrived at PRX to continue work as a producer of public media.

I love radio. Partly because it is a creative medium, but mostly because it is an essential institution.

The question often asked of radio people, these days, is “How do we make audio go viral?” It seems, to me, that the far more basic question facing our moment is: How do we save ourselves from Total Noise? How do we maintain the best public space for listeners, producers, and communities to work together and stay connected in a meaningful way?

PRX continues to carve out that space, and I’m very excited to help do a part.

ADRIANNE MATHIOWETZ WHERE AM I NOW

Enjoy this guest blog post from Adrianne Mathiowetz, who worked at PRX from 2005-2008 and now works at This American Life.


Eating ice cream at PRX cookout 2006

110 months ago I graduated from college and started my first job as an editorial associate at PRX. 80 months ago I went part-time so that I could also work part-time, and remotely, as the web manager for This American Life. 74 months ago I left PRX to spend the free part of my workdays “focusing on my writing.” I’ve been asked to say something on the blog about what I’ve been up to since.

71 months ago I threw my lit magazine rejection letters into the trash as I moved out the apartment I’d shared with my now-suddenly-ex-boyfriend, 53 months ago I stuffed everything I owned into my now-suddenly-new-boyfriend’s car to drive to Portland, Maine, and 50 months ago I graduated from the documentary photography program at Salt. 49 months ago I moved in with my sister in to Minneapolis to start a side photography business, 42 months ago I helped the Mpls Photo Center organize a benefit auction so I could spend the following spring taking classes on studio lighting and portraiture, and 38 months ago I went to Kansas City to kill an animal with my bare hands only to throw it away after it spoiled in the fridge. I still think about it when I’m driving anywhere on a hot summer day, and there are a few passengers in the car but no one is talking.


Self portrait in Du Bois, Pa.

38 months ago I got an IUD and wrote about it, 34 months ago I looked at houses with a realtor in Detroit and proposed to my boyfriend offering him health insurance (he declined), 27 months ago I went to St. Louis to take photos for a Love & Radio episode about a man who turned his home into a holocaust museum, 26 months ago I did something emotionally ill-advised on a rooftop in a strange costume, and 23 months ago I stuffed my grandma’s ’95 Taurus with books and clothes and my terrified cat and I drove from Minnesota to New York. 18 months ago I started freelance shooting events for WQXR and the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 13 months ago I drove the car back home listening to a lot of Joni Mitchell, 11 months ago my boyfriend proposed to me with a swiss army knife (I declined), and 9 months ago I told a story about a personal Craigslist adventure in front of a large crowd of public radio peers at RadioVision. 7 months ago spoke with Andrea Silenzi in a Greenpoint bar for “Why Oh Why” about that IUD (still think it’s the greatest, ladies), 6 months ago I went to Washington, DC to shoot another Love & Radio story, and 2 months ago I moved for the 4th time within Brooklyn into a Bushwick apartment with three college friends. 2 weeks ago I finally sent my parents most of the money I’d borrowed.

Right now it is 0 months ago. Right now it is right now: I’m in the This American Life office, making sure our digital ducks are in a row for tomorrow. Tomorrow, I go to Portland for a week long multimedia intensive at Salt. Tomorrow I get on a train, and that is always exciting.


Funding Announced for More Episodes of Reveal

PRX and The Center for Investigative Reporting have been working on the creation of Reveal for only a year. In that time we and stations have created three pilots with digital assets, won a Peabody Award, and reported original stories of major importance and depth. Station response has been very strong and we’re very grateful and proud about that.

Today, CIR had a series of major announcements about Reveal that we are thrilled to share, especially news about the continuation and growth of Reveal in 2015:


PRESS RELEASE
Contact: Lisa Cohen, lisa@lisacohen.org, 310-395-2544

The Center for Investigative Reporting announces funding commitments of $3.5 million to launch ‘Reveal’
CIR invests in new strategy to create national platform for investigative reporting

EMERYVILLE, Calif., July 10, 2014 – The Center for Investigative Reporting announced today that it has received two multiyear grants totaling $3.5 million to launch “Reveal,” the nation’s first investigative public radio show and podcast. “Reveal,” a co-production of CIR and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX), will showcase high-impact investigative stories from CIR and other news outlets through a one-hour radio show, podcasts and an array of multiplatform assets, including text stories, broadcast news segments, online videos and animations, data interactives, live events and more.

The Reva and David Logan Foundation 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.”

“Our family has been deeply involved with CIR and investigative reporting for years, and we believe that this new initiative will be transformational,” said Jonathan Logan, one of five trustees of the foundation and a board member of CIR. “By amplifying the work of CIR and other news organizations, and by creating new collaborations in the public’s interest, ‘Reveal’ will benefit the journalism community at large and, most importantly, will provide the public access to high-quality investigative reporting.”

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.

“The most exciting thing about the CIR ‘Reveal’ project is the potential to bring high-quality, engaging investigative journalism to entirely new audiences,” said Barbara Raab, program officer of the media and justice initiative at the Ford Foundation. “In addition to groundbreaking national stories, ‘Reveal’ will elevate vital local stories to a national platform. Excellent investigative journalism, especially at the local level, is critical for keeping communities informed.”

The “Reveal” grants leverage ongoing general operating support provided to CIR by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and many other foundations and individual donors.

“The best investigative reporting leads to change that can help individuals and communities,” said Robert J. Rosenthal, CIR’s executive director. “ ‘Reveal’ will be a powerful platform for telling CIR’s stories and a catalyst for collaborations with other news organizations, large and small. Our success will be measured by the impact of the stories on ‘Reveal’ and the ways in which they help the public find solutions to critical issues.”
PRX CEO Jake Shapiro said, “PRX is partnering on ‘Reveal’ because of a clear demand for more investigative reporting, not just from public radio listeners, but from new mobile audiences hungry for meaningful storytelling available on demand.”

CIR and PRX produced three Reveal program pilots starting in 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, Michigan Radio and St. Louis Public Radio. The third pilot began airing on public radio stations nationwide June 28.

This is the first time in CIR’s 37-year history that it has created its own platform, beyond its website, for consistent and broad distribution of its reporting, as well as that of other media organizations. The initial funding commitments make it possible for CIR and PRX to proceed with the planned launch of “Reveal” as a regularly scheduled public radio program in 2015. Podcast production will begin this summer.

To prepare for the successful launch of “Reveal,” Joaquin Alvarado, CIR’s chief strategy and operations officer since 2012, has been named CEO of CIR and will oversee all operational and business aspects of the organization. Rosenthal, who joined CIR as executive director in 2008, will continue to serve in that role, focusing on editorial strategy and organizational sustainability. Robert Salladay, who has been managing editor since 2009, was named CIR’s new editorial director last week. Christa Scharfenberg, who has been with CIR since 2003, will remain on the senior leadership team as managing director.

“CIR’s board has been deeply involved in and passionate about developing and supporting this key initiative,” said Phil Bronstein, CIR’s executive chair. “ ‘Reveal’ reflects CIR’s core commitment to producing deeply researched investigative stories across all platforms and provides the opportunity to expand the reach and impact of our reporting, while building a direct relationship with our audiences.”

Support for “Reveal” from our collaborators:

Bill Buzenberg, executive director, Center for Public Integrity:
“Public radio needs more high-quality investigative journalism. The Center for Public Integrity is delighted to be a part of this new effort along with CIR and PRX to help fill that programming void, strengthening the public service role of public radio in the process.”

Steve Engelberg, editor-in-chief, ProPublica:
“We’re delighted that ‘Reveal’ is increasing the amount of independent investigative journalism being done for radio. We have a story in the works with CIR for ‘Reveal’ now and hope other such opportunities will arise.”

Tamar Charney, program director, Michigan Radio:
“Michigan Radio was thrilled with the opportunity to partner with CIR and ‘Reveal’ and co-report a story for the third pilot. The partnership allowed us to extend our reporting capacity and bring depth to an important local story. It was a great way to serve our audience and to build on our local and national reputation as a provider of in-depth journalism about important issues facing our communities.”

Margaret Freivogel, editor, St. Louis Public Radio and The Beacon:
“As a metro-focused news organization, we appreciate the chance to share our work with a national audience. What’s happening in Missouri has national significance, and it’s also important for Missourians to understand the national context of our situation. The ‘Reveal’ work helped us convey both.”

For more information about “Reveal,” visit revealradio.org.

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.

PRX and jācapps partner on station apps

We are excited to announce that PRX is working with jācapps to transition our station apps work. Jācapps is a great group, they are purely focused on radio apps, and offer stations terrific value. See the press release below for more details.

Four years ago PRX developed our first local station app with WBUR here in Boston, with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Since then we’ve gone on to build an extraordinary portfolio of apps for stations and programs, including WNYC, KQED, WGBH, KPBS, KCRW, VPR and programs This American Life, Radiolab, and The Moth. We’ve also built apps for our own PRX Remix, and the popular Public Radio Player (over 7 million downloads to date). We’ve learned a lot along the way, and have forged new and lasting relationships with our partners. We are so grateful for the opportunity to learn and innovate together with these remarkable folks.

The entire world of mobile audio has changed dramatically over these past 4 years, and PRX along with it. We see huge growth and opportunity in our content and distribution services — including our Radiotopia podcast network and the booming SubAuto service that This American Life, The WFMT Radio Network, and others are joining — and have decided to focus our energies on this core identify of PRX. This doesn’t mean we will stop building apps, but we will select projects that directly align with our content and distribution strategy. We will also continue to consult to stations and producers seeking to build apps; we’ve earned a lot of insights across strategic, business, metrics, marketing and technical needs that we enjoy sharing with others.

Please drop us and jācapps a line with any questions or ideas.

Best,
Jake



jacapps logo

PRX_logo_final

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Paul Jacobs, jācapps, 248-353-9030

PRX and jācapps announce partnership on
mobile apps for public radio stations

PRX (the Public Radio Exchange) has selected mobile application provider jācapps as its recommended partner to develop mobile apps for public radio stations. PRX has developed apps for some of the country’s largest and most prestigious public radio stations and is now transitioning to focus its mobile strategy on original and custom apps linked to PRX’s core distribution service while recommending that its current clients shift to jācapps.

Jācapps will not only continue to provide the functionality, quality, and service that PRX has become known for, but will also offer additional optional features to take advantage of the expanding capabilities of the mobile platform to deliver interactive media experiences. Among these new features are capabilities for users to share audio, video and photos back to the station, as well as integration of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds.

Jācapps currently provides mobile applications for nearly 40 public radio stations nationwide, and those current and future station clients will benefit from a newsfeed feature created by PRX enabling the delivery of high quality news content.

“jācapps intends to use this partnership as a springboard to grow our presence in the public radio sphere,” said jācapps COO Bob Kernen, “We think this is an opportunity to bring new ideas and products to the many outstanding organizations and stations in public radio.”

“We’re impressed with jacapps’ platform and professionalism, and enthusiastically recommend that stations outsourcing native app development work with Bob and his team,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX.

About PRX

PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring significant 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, Snap Judgment (with NPR), and 99% Invisible. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also a leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as the Public Radio Player, Radiolab, This American Life, KCRW Music Mine, and more.

About jācapps

With over 800 apps developed that have generated more than 21 million downloads, jācapps is a leading developer of mobile applications for businesses and organizations worldwide. Major brands include public radio’s “Car Talk,” Michigan Radio, WDET, WXPN, KUT, and numerous other public radio stations. Other clients include WGN Television and Radio, WEEI (Boston), Food Tripping, 100.3 The Sound (Los Angeles), WMMR (Philadelphia), and countless others.

jācapps is also the House Developer for The Ford Motor Company, working with mobile application developers to enable voice commands to enhance the in-car infotainment experience in vehicles equipped with the Ford AppLink operating system.