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PRX and Radiotopia Stories Come to Spotify

spotify_logo_rgb_greenGreat stories thoughtfully curated for a potential audience of 60 million. It makes perfect sense, right? Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, is expanding to include podcasts, and PRX is proud to be a launch partner.

We were in the audience at last week’s announcement event when Spotify’s VP of User Experience and Design pointed to a big screen with the 99% Invisible logo and exclaimed, “I love that show!”

Ridiculously early the next morning, PRX CEO Jake Shapiro appeared on Bloomberg TV to talk about the power of podcasting in clear business terms: “It is a revenue producer.”

This partnership is part of a PRX strategy that we’ve been pursuing since the early days of digital audio distribution. Aggregation services like iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and, of course, Spotify are used by millions of people. By building distribution relationships with these services, PRX is bringing public radio to new audiences, and reaching existing audiences on the platforms they use regularly.

Spotify’s new version rolls out over the next several weeks. Once you get it, head straight to the Storytellers section to see all of Radiotopia and The Moth. You can listen to other PRX shows – Reveal, Transistor, and How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black (launching tomorrow!) on the app, too. And more to come!

Starting June 1: Open Call for Your Science Audio Story Ideas

PRX is back with our third annual open call for science radio ideas — the STEM Story Project. STEM Stories from 2013 and 2014 aired on Here & Now, All Things Considered, Studio 360, our science podcast Transistor, PRX Remix, and numerous other podcasts and public radio stations around the country. We’re excited to do this again.

Starting June 1, we’ll accept proposals to create radio stories inspired by STEM topics (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). We have a pool of funding from the the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to distribute among multiple projects.

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

Have an idea for a story? We will accept proposals between June 1st and July 1st, 2015. Here are the application guidelines. Be sure to check them out, and stay tuned to #PRXSTEM on Twitter, via our handles @TransistorShow and @prx

Have questions? Comment below or email your questions to But please refer to the FAQ below and application guidelines first!

May the force be with you.
-John Barth & Genevieve Sponsler

The PRX STEM Story Project Team


What is PRX’s STEM Story Project?

An open call for proposals to create radio stories about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). In the past two years, PRX has funded the creation of 29 STEM stories. They’ve aired on national shows like Here & Now, Studio 360, All Things Considered, our science podcast Transistor, and PRX Remix, in addition to being aired on stations throughout the country.


What are the dates?
PRX will accept proposals online between June 1 and July 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m. ET. Accepted proposals will be announced in early September. Producers will then have two months to create their stories and publish them to by November 1, 2015.


Who can apply?
We welcome any producers or writers with audio production experience to apply. Producers can be independent or station-based.

What if I don’t have audio production experience but want to submit a story?
We recommend that you work with an audio producer to come up with a story proposal and to provide audio samples.

If I already received a grant last year, can I apply again this year?

If I applied last year and didn’t get a grant, can I apply again?
Yes, but you must apply with a different story than the one you submitted last year.

I have a podcast/an idea for a podcast. Can I submit my podcast as a proposal?
We cannot fund an entire series, but you can submit an entry for a single episode of your podcast. For example, in past STEM open calls PRX has funded single episodes of Criminal, 30 Minutes West, and Destination DIY.


What do I need to include in my application?
We’re looking for a proposal of your story idea, two audio samples of your previous work, and a proposed budget.

How long should my proposed audio story be?
We generally ask that the stories be 10 minutes or less. Shorter stories are more shareable online and more likely to get picked up by national shows, podcasts, and stations. Past stories we’ve funded have ranged from 6 to 18 minutes long, but again, with the majority being under 10 minutes.

How will proposals be chosen?
We will work with a team of science advisors and radio advisors to select proposals that best fit the project’s goals.


What should I include in my budget?
Producer fees, engineering fees, travel expenses, and editor fees. If your proposal is chosen, we will contact you to revise your budget, if necessary. See the application form here for details.

How much funding do you tend to provide for each story? What is the average budget?
The total pool of money we have is about $50k, and in the past we have broken that up over 15 or so applicants. However, that being said, we don’t share more budget info than that. We want the flexibility to work with producers on stories that may surprise us, and change what we do year to year. Some stories require travel or big expenses, and some do not. So we want to see your budget, your freelance rate, etc. And then if we want to work together but the numbers aren’t quite doable, we talk about it with you.

I’m wondering how you go about funding station-based reporters. Does it go straight to the reporter, based on the time spent on the STEM story? Or does it go to the station?
We set this up based on whatever rules/process you have regarding employment at the station and the nature of the story. If it is a station-based story that is one thing; if it is a total freelance thing, that might mean something else. If you are allowed to do freelance work and keep 100%, we do that. If stations get a cut no matter what, we have to abide by that. If stations demand 100%, we have to respect that. Let us know in the budget section of your application.


Will you be giving me any guidance during the production process?
PRX requires at least one mandatory check-in during the production period to go over initial script drafts.


What happens after the stories are done?
PRX will work with you to get the pieces licensed to different stations within our network as well as placed on blogs + other digital platforms.

The Birth of Rice-A-Roni and the Power of Podcasts

This week, as people observe the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Fugitive Waves podcast published a story about Rice-A-Roni. The genocide and the ubiquitous rice mix are linked in an unexpected way: A young couple rent a room from an old Armenian woman. The older woman, Pailadzou Captanian, teaches her young, pregnant tenant how to cook, and shares her personal stories of the Armenian tragedy – stories that she published in a book decades earlier. From these kitchen sessions comes a delicious pilaf that eventually becomes Rice-A-Roni.

Read more and view photos.

Nikki Silva of The Kitchen Sisters, which produces Fugitive Waves, shared some thoughts about the piece:

“The Birth of Rice-A-Roni” was originally a shorter piece for NPR’s Morning Edition. It absolutely killed us that we couldn’t include more than a quick mention of Mrs. Captanian and her rare eyewitness account. I’ve been sitting here listening back to the tapes and crying – because of the stories, but also because it’s taken us so long to get them out there. So, finally, we’re able to include extended interviews with the librarian in Germany who translated the book, and with Mrs. Captanian’s grandson, and can begin to piece together the story of this woman’s experiences and accomplishments.

Hooray for podcasts!

Hooray, indeed. Listen to the episode, and subscribe to Fugitive Waves. Listen to all the Radiotopia shows at

Producer Spotlight: Conor Gillies of Stylus

Each month we’ll be highlighting a different PRX producer to find out what they’re working on and hear about the challenges they face as indies as well as the stuff that gets them stoked.

How long have you been using PRX?
Been using it for three years or so.

What are you working on right now?
Producing a weekly show and podcast for Radio Open Source and working on a couple new podcast pilots, too. Trying to get Stylus on the airwaves, as always.

Can you tell us more about your show, Stylus?
Stylus is a radio series about big ideas in sound, music, and listening. It started when my coproducer Zack and I and a cadre of people in and around WBUR pitched the show and produced a pilot, which led to the station funding us for a four-episode first season: “Silence,” “Seeing and Illustrating Music,” “Songs of the Earth,” and “The Sound of Science Fiction.” It’s a kind of left-field, non-narrated documentary show for music people and art fans, but also anyone who’s interested in the links between sound, place, history, and society.

What is your biggest challenge with that project?
Finding new listeners through the Internet. Of course, everyone doing community radio or longform audio faces that challenge—largely because social media isn’t designed for sound or not-for-profit content. But also I’m just bad at tweets. [Editor’s note: aren’t we all, Conor.]

What are you most excited about in public radio or podcasting?
For shows, I’m excited about Reveal. I hope it gives old-school muckraking a shot in the arm. Wicked excited Scott Carrier is podcasting. Also, I’m excited about the serial format generally. I’m listening out for the big return of radio drama.

Want to learn more? Sam Greenspan of 99% Invisible wrote a nice little thang about Stylus and the first episode, Silence, was featured on HowSound.

The Top Poetry Audio

I’ve made the claim before that poetry is for everyone, especially radio lovers and I stand by that! I wanted to dig a little deeper and see what poets were doing with audio, whether it be podcasts, broadcast programs or archival audio recordings. There’s so much amazing poetry to listen to on the web, here are some of my favorites.

Studs Terkel in Conversation with American Poets
“Poetry doesn’t deal in ideas, it deals in the experience of ideas.” – John Ciardi, in his interview with Studs Terkel.

The News by Wendy Xu via WFMT and the Poetry Foundation
We repeat a process of hoping our bodies
to the future though for now mine
eats cucumbers in bed. I had a dream
about a crystal blue pool.
I felt stupid when I saw the ocean.

The Gift
Imagination is the seed of empathy – a centrally important function – and both the gift and burden of the writer, argues Kwame Dawes in The Gift from WBEZ.

What is Poetry?
One of my all-time favorite pieces on PRX is this Carl Sandburg remix produced by Barrett Golding called “What is Poetry?”

State of the Re:Union Poetry Month Special
Host Al Letson tells his personal stories of how poetry influenced his life and features some incredible slam poets from around the country.

Woodberry Poetry Room Recordings
The Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard contains a landmark collection of poetry readings that have taken place at Harvard. You can listen online to many of them. Here are a few of my favorites:


  • Steve Roggenbuck’s “Make Something Beautiful Before You Are Dead.” Start at 10:24.
  • Steve Roggenbuck from LUMA Foundation on Vimeo.

  • Allen Ginsberg’s “Father Death Blues.”


Got a favorite poem recording, poetry radio program or podcast I’ve missed? Let us know in the comments.

PRX Raises $7M for Earkat



PRX Launches Earkat, Raises $7M for Live Audio Streaming App

Cambridge, MA (April 1, 2015) – PRX, the Public Radio Exchange has just launched a new live audio streaming app called Earkat. Playing off the success of Meerkat and Twitter’s Periscope, they have launched the app which is quickly climbing the iTunes charts.

“We’re in the golden age of audio. Live audio streaming is the next logical step to further democratize shareable audio,” said PRX Chief Content Officer John Barth.

With $7 million dollars of funding at launch, Earkat is making waves in the tech and podcasting world.

“We only have to solve half the problem that Meerkat had with video, so we only need half as much money,” says PRX CEO Jake Shapiro.

Earkat is currently available on the iTunes Store.

Zeitfunk Award Ceremony

We have come together today to celebrate the winners of the annual Zeitfunk Awards, bestowed upon the winning-est producers and stations from across These winners made it to the top in each of our 13 categories. Check out all of the winners here.

We want to also give a shout out to Hindenburg Systems who have generously offered each winning producer and station a copy of either Journalist Pro or Broadcaster. Thanks, Hindy!

PRX Remix's Erica Lantz and PRX Community Manager Audrey Mardavich celebrate Zeitfunk
PRX Remix’s Erica Lantz and PRX Community Manager Audrey Mardavich celebrate the ‘funk. Image credit: Chris Kalafarski

Our Producers and stations have worked very hard for this honor and we wanted to give them the opportunity to accept their award and say a little something to the audience.

Congrats again to all of our winners! Now, take a listen to the speeches.

Clay Ryder, Most Licensed Debut Producer

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KALW, Most Licensed Station by PRX Remix


Mighty Writers, Most Licensed Debut Group


David Schulman, Most Licensed Producer by PRX Remix

Collecting Carriage Gets a Whole Lot Easier

Stations, starting today, you might notice a change when you license a piece on PRX. We are now requiring carriage information for each program that you purchase. This has been a highly requested feature on and we’re excited to finally launch it.

The details:
On the buy page, you can choose the first day and the time that you will air the program and add any additional airings. If you’re not sure yet when you will air it, you can choose “I don’t know” and fill that info in later. You will also be prompted to update your contact info so that we know who to follow up with about carriage information.

Producers spend a lot of time tracking down carriage info and we wanted to make that process smoother for everyone. By working together, producers can help you promote the work you’re airing on your station.

Below is a screenshot of what the purchase page looks like now. Contact us at if you have any questions at all.


Radiotopia by the Numbers

A year ago this month, PRX launched Radiotopia. It has been a year full of incredible growth and lessons learned for all of our shows as well as for the network itself.

In terms of measuring success, we know that not all metrics are equal – some metrics we measure over different periods of time while other metrics are episode specific. We also always monitor things that are less quantifiable like actions our listeners take, fan love, and also fan disappointment.

Here’s a look at some of the numbers we pay attention to:

  • $620,412 raised through our Kickstarter campaign, (248% of the goal)
  • 21,818 backers of the Kickstarter campaign
  • 54% of the money raised through Kickstarter was in donations under $50
  • Our aggregate monthly downloads in January 2014 (right before launch) were 936,928
  • We added three new shows in January 2015 and topped 5,781,240 monthly downloads/streams. We also added a fourth show this month.
  • The most significant growth for one of our shows was 545%
  • There were $34,884 in donations outside of the Kickstarter campaign
  • There were 29 unique sponsors supporting Radiotopia
  • 150+ “best of” podcast articles mentioned Radiotopia shows
  • We launched Radiotopia with 7 shows (now 11)
  • 5 out of 11 Radiotopia shows are produced and hosted by women
  • We are proud of our 14 hard-working PRX staff members (10 FT, 2 PT, 2 long term contracts), each of whom devotes some of their time to supporting Radiotopia.
  • 100% of Radiotopia shows are owned by the producers
Image via Shutterstock.
Image via Shutterstock.

Numbers aside, we also pay attention to another metric…the love:

  • “They transport me to another place.”
  • “The only good thing to ever come out of Spotify ads is my discovery of @radiotopiafm”
  • “They cover a wide scope of topics and ideas. I have enjoyed everyone one of them and look forward to listening to them all”

Image via Shutterstock.
Image via Shutterstock.

All feedback is welcome – we pay attention to the less-than-love too:

  • “I hope this hideous trend in self-indulgent, precious cuteness runs it€™s course soon so I can enjoy the great stories and information underneath all the silliness”
  • “Oh my god what the fuck is Radiotopia, wait I don’t care”

At the end of the day, regardless of the love, the hate, the lists and the downloads, our mission is to bring great content to more and more listeners. Onward!