With the holidays and the year’s end upon us, many of us think about donating to charity. Many of us have iPhones, and iTunes accounts that already have our credit card info. Since we also like things to be easy, it seems obvious we should be able to give money to deserving nonprofits through our iPhones.
PRX’s Public Radio Player iPhone app is a great example of what such a change could mean. The app has had over 2 million unique downloads. Nearly 500 noncommercial stations across the U.S. have a page in the app. Imagine if each page had a Donate button that, with two or three taps, let you send money to the station.
Many of you have asked us how to donate to your favorite Player stations. Now there’s a petition so you can ask Apple to change its no-donations policy.
Landing an established public radio series is a new feat for PRX, but one that it’s been building toward intentionally, according to Jake Shapiro, executive director. “This is an example of us radiating out in a couple of directions at once.” PRX operates its web platform as a wide-open marketplace for audio programming, but is adding a new tier of exclusive national offerings for public radio distribution. “We’ve started to grow and understand where we can have an impact,” he said. “We think the programs we’re working on help expand the sound and reach of public radio.”
PRX is a lead partner in the newly announced Public Media Platform project — to build a digital distribution network enabling public media content to flow more easily among networks, stations, producers, and beyond. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting is funding the pilot phase over the next six months, bringing together the major national public media networks: American Public Media, NPR, PBS, Public Radio International and, yours truly, PRX.
The project kicked off yesterday, when NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller announced it at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference. Wired does a good job of explaining the project here.
Here’s Jake’s official statement about the Public Media Platform:
PRX is an open distribution network that connects thousands of producers and stations to broadcast, Internet and mobile opportunities. We are excited to collaborate on the development of the Public Media Platform and share our expertise in creating innovative technology to expand the range of voices and stories reaching the public.
(What he’s really saying is: Yes. It’s about time.)
The primary role of the lead partners is as content providers, but PRX also brings deep expertise in technology, issues of rights and revenues for content distribution, and experience in sustaining an open platform that showcases new voices and incentivizes participation by content providers and presenters. We’ll also help focus on the issues that affect PRX’s membership — a diverse mix of over 2,500 independent producers and local stations.
It’s worth nothing that this is not the first time public media has proposed the creation of a shared backend distribution system. A few years ago, Jake was part of the Digital Distribution Consortium — a business planning and design project that laid much of the groundwork for today’s discussions.
The Public Media Platform project is currently a six-month planning and proof-of-concept phase, and PRX, along with our partners and the advisory group, will be communicating frequently about our progress on this important initiative.
The full press release, issued jointly by all the partners, follows:
AMERICAN PUBLIC MEDIA, NPR, PBS, PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL (PRI), AND PUBLIC RADIO EXCHANGE (PRX) PARTNER TO CREATE A SHARED DIGITAL CONTENT PLATFORM
MOST COMPREHENSIVE PUBLIC MEDIA DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY EFFORT, TO DATE
Washington, DC; June 14, 2010 — Public radio and television have kicked off an ambitious effort to develop a digital distribution network that will allow public broadcasters and web producers to combine, create, share and distribute their news and cultural content.
The effort is being spearheaded by five national producers: American Public Media, NPR, PBS, Public Radio International (PRI) and the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). It was announced today by NPR President and CEO Vivian Schiller at the Wired Business Conference on behalf of the partners.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) has provided nearly $1 million over the next six months to create development plans and a working prototype of what the partners are calling the Public Media Platform (PMP). NPR is administering the grant that will fund the planning phase. Fully developed, the PMP will serve as a powerful technology backbone enabling today’s non-compatible systems to connect, allowing for unprecedented access and flow of content.
The goal is to develop a broad digital network that will invite and support innovative uses of public media content, and match – or exceed – the impact of public radio and television today. Currently 37 million people listen to public radio stations every week, experiencing a seamless mix of local, national and international news, and music largely neglected by commercial radio. Public TV educates, entertains and informs over 118 million viewers every month.
The PMP will allow public media producers – and potentially others outside public media – to combine their content in a shared platform and make it available for a wide variety of public uses, from news sites to educational curricula.
At the core of the PMP is an open Application Programming Interface (API) that will simplify the task of sharing, combining and distributing news and educational content to member organizations and the general public. It will be available to established organizations such as the five public media partners, as well as public radio and TV stations, independent producers, and non-traditional, mission-focused content creators and developers who see value in aligning their efforts with public broadcasting. Ultimately, it will fuel the delivery of more quality news and programming that engages and informs communities. Some of the uses of the PMP include mobile apps, third party sites (from major news aggregators to niche websites), blogs, mash-ups, and widgets.
The PMP is bringing a group of innovative advisors to the table to offer their ideas and expertise on how to best serve audiences, communities and users of the PMP. An Advisory Council will meet regularly over the next six months alongside the PMP leadership team.
The Council, with more members to be named soon, consists of leaders from public radio and television and mission driven technology and journalism organizations: Document Cloud, iTVs, KPBS, KQED, Louisville Public Media, Mashery, Miro, National Black Programming Consortium, North Country Public Radio, the Station Resource Group, and WGBH.
About the PMP Partners
The PMP partners bring a distinctive and complementary set of assets to this endeavor and a track record in digital innovation and collaboration. When they are linked together, they will achieve a critical mass of compelling content that will inform and enrich the lives of more people in more ways.
American Public Media is the nation’s second-largest producer of public radio programs, reaching 16 million listeners each week with mainstays such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and Speaking of Faith. As the parent organization of Minnesota Public Radio, Southern California Public Radio and Classical South Florida, American Public Media brings station management leadership and experience in launching ground-breaking projects such as the Public Insight Network and the Public Radio Tuner.
CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.
NPR is public radio’s largest producer, an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 880 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures. NPR was among the first media organizations to launch a comprehensive API (application program interface) which powers NPR.org and other public radio sites, an innovation that has made the rapid development of NPR and public radio applications possible.
PBS with its nearly 360 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 118 million people through television and nearly 21 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. PBS has extensive experience in digital platforms, including its successful video players for general audience and children’s content, as well as well as apps for iPhone, iPad and other projects.
PRI brings a successful track record of leading and managing complex, multi-partner projects and experience creating and distributing innovative content; PRI was also the founder of Public Interactive, now under NPR’s management, a provider of digital tools and technology to move than 300 public media stations.
PRX is public media’s digital network, pioneering new paths in content and technology, and serving as the largest aggregator of independent and station-produced content in public media.
As with Part I there is a lot to chew on, some excellent insights into how PRX works, and where it needs improvement. The article is hugely helpful in gathering and distilling opinions about PRX from stations and producers.
Barrett gets into the nitty gritty of explaining PRX points, the comparative costs and benefits of distributing via PRX and PRSS, and some direct testimony from our users:
Producer Nancy Solomon recently posted her first piece on PRX: “The interface works great; I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. Their help desk was super helpful and easy to get a hold of. I like the way the page looks; I like the way it’s laid out and the flexibility the format gives you to put both segments and whole pieces up. I was also amazed and pleased at how accessible John Barth was to talk about how best to promote the show.”
We’re proud that PRX has paid out over $1 million in royalties to producers since 2004, and we’re constantly increasing distribution and revenue opportunities across PRX services, but also recognize that this does not (yet) help commission or acquire original work at a time when other sources of funding for independents are hard to come by.
PRX is working on an idea called Story Market (now in the running for the Knight News Challenge) that could be one creative approach, along the lines of another site we admire called Spot.Us.
When Public Radio Exchange (PRX) developed the free Public Radio Player for the iPhone, the nonprofit hoped for 500,000 downloads. It now has 2.5 million. “I’m very happy with that number,” says PRX executive director Jake Shapiro.
He should be. The PRX dev team has already cranked out two great iPhone apps, one for public radio in general and one for the popular show This American Life in particular. Both apps have positioned public radio as a major force when it comes to on-demand mobile applications.
The piece gets into the dynamics of public radio’s transition to digital:
As content becomes portable, stations have to rethink their “unique value propostion as local institutions” and rething their role as mere broadcasters of other people’s work. Tools like the Public Radio Player won’t help small stations that don’t do original material, but they can be a boon to those that do. The player exposes schedules, it allows local stations to stand out by doing local programming, and it allows those looking for such things to find them in a way that was difficult before.
The topic was “Public Media: from broadcast to broadband” and we managed to cover a lot of territory and start a good discussion in the 90 minutes or so we had at our disposal. Considering that there are not infrequent multi-day convenings and conferences on these issues it was quite an exercise to boil it down to some essentials.
Ellen is working with the Ford Foundation (of which PRX is a grantee) to help shape a research and policy agenda on public media, and PRX itself is in the thick of things as a player in the field effecting change through our services and projects.
This past weekend, public media enthusiasts, developers, and staffers from around the country met in Washington, D.C. for the first Public Media Camp. I was there on behalf of the Public Radio Exchange (PRX.org), where I produce EconomyStory.org, one of several new projects that fits neatly into public media’s latest forays online.
While I’m willing to admit here that I went to yearbook camp and computer camp as a kid, this one might take the cake as far as camps that don’t include S’mores and Kumbaya go.