The Moth Receives MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions

This is fantastic news, hot off the presses (full details below). Our friends and partners at The Moth are recipients of the prestigious “genius” award for nonprofits – The MacArthur Award for Creative & Effective Institutions. This is a transformative grant, will help fuel The Moth’s remarkable expansion and the breakout success of The Moth Radio Hour. PRX has some personal experience with this having also been a recipient of this award in 2008, and we can’t wait to see what this leads to for The Moth.  

Congratulations!   –  Jake


For information, interviews, photos contact:

Patrick Kowalczyk,

Jenny Chang,

PKPR, 212.627.8098





$750,000 grant will enable The Moth to expand Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour into weekly series and preserve its 15-year video and audio archive of live storytelling


New York, NY – The Moth, the non-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling, today announced that it has received a $750,000 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions that will allow it to expand its Peabody Award-winning Moth Radio Hour into a weekly series, as well as preserve its vast video and audio archive of live storytelling events from the past 15 years.

Presented by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the award recognizes The Moth’s role in promoting live storytelling to an international audience and “documenting our common humanity.”

Founded in 1997, The Moth ( will celebrate its fifteenth anniversary this year. Since the first Moth evening in founder George Dawes Green’s living room in New York City, The Moth has presented more than three thousand stories, told live and without notes, by people from all walks of life to standing-room-only crowds worldwide.  Moth shows are renowned for the great range of human experience they showcase. Since each story is true and every voice authentic, the shows dance between documentary and theater, creating a unique, intimate, and often enlightening experience for the audience.

According to executive director Joan Firestone, the award will be used to increase the number of episodes of The Moth Radio Hour from ten each year to a weekly series beginning in January 2013. The MacArthur Foundation’s early support of The Moth Radio Hour contributed to its meteoric growth. Launched in 2009, the show is recognized as one of the most successful launches in public radio history, with more than 250 stations now airing the program. Presented by PRX (, The Public Radio Exchange, The Moth Radio Hour is produced by Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media and by Catherine Burns, The Moth’s artistic director.

The award will also be used to preserve The Moth’s 15-year video and audio archive, protecting live stories of hundreds of storytellers from Malcolm Gladwell, Annie Proulx, and Al Sharpton to an astronaut, a pickpocket, and a hot-dog eating champion. In 2011 alone, more than 15,000 minutes of stories were recorded.

“Receiving the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions is an incredible honor for The Moth and a testament to the power of live storytelling,” said Joan Firestone, executive director of The Moth. “As The Moth celebrates its fifteenth anniversary, this award will enable us to take the organization to an exciting next level, reaching an even wider audience through our radio show, while preserving our vast archives for future generations.”

“From Chicago to Kampala, these extraordinary organizations demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness,” said MacArthur President Robert Gallucci. “They provide new ways to address old problems.  They generate provocative ideas and they reframe well-worn debates.  And their impact is altogether disproportionate to their size.”

The Moth is one of only 15 organizations from six countries to be recognized today with the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions. The MacArthur Foundation does not seek or accept nominations for these awards. To qualify, organizations must demonstrate exceptional creativity and effectiveness; have reached a critical or strategic point in their development; show strong leadership and stable financial management; have previously received MacArthur support; and engage in work central to one of MacArthur’s core programs.



The Moth is not-for-profit organization dedicated to the art and craft of storytelling. The Moth has presented more than three thousand stories, told live and without notes, by people from all walks of life to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. The Moth features simple, old-fashioned storytelling on thoroughly modern themes by wildly divergent raconteurs who develop and shape their stories with The Moth’s directors.

The Moth conducts six ongoing programs – The Moth Mainstage, which tours nationally; The Moth StorySLAM program, which conducts open-mic story competitions around the country; The MothSHOP Community  Education Program, which brings storytelling workshops free of charge to underserved adults and high school students; The Moth Podcast, which is downloaded over a million times a month; The MothSHOP Corporate Program, which offers corporate storytelling solutions; and The Moth Radio Hour, which is, produced by The Moth and Jay Allison of Atlantic Public Media and presented by PRX, The Public Radio Exchange. The Moth Radio Hour airs on 250 public radio stations across the country.

The Moth’s executive staff are: Joan D. Firestone, Executive Director; Catherine Burns, Artistic Director; Sarah Austin Jenness, Producing Director; and the pro-active Board of Directors is represented by Anne Maffei, Chair.


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A Webby for the This American Life App!

Webby Award WinnerThe This American Life app for iPhone, developed by us, just won a Webby Award! The Webbys describe themselves as “the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet, including websites, interactive advertising & media, online film and video, and mobile & apps.”

See what all the fuss is about: Get the award-winning app here. This American Life’s also on Android and iPad. We love working with the TAL team, and extend a big congrats to them.

(It’s a good season for Webbys:, our website, is an official honoree this year in the Radio/Podcasts category.)

The Moth Radio Hour Gets a Peabody!

Many of you have told us how wonderful The Moth Radio Hour is. How moving, engaging, and thought-provoking. We believed you, and it made us feel good. But we have to admit it feels REALLY good to get a Peabody award.

The Moth Radio Hour is one of those satisfying collaborations where creative people come together — The Moth, Atlantic Public Media, and PRX — and make something that people want to hear. (Funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the MacArthur Foundation helps, too.) We are grateful to the hundreds of stations who have aired the program since its 2007 debut, and to the countless listeners who clamor for more.

The icing on the cake is that we get to keep great company: 18 of the 39 Peabodys this year went to public media groups. Congrats to all!

Want to know what all the fuss is about? Go listen!

Watch this blog for a formal press release, coming soon.

Sound Opinions Takes First Place!

It turns out USA Today’s Whitney Matheson has an awfully good ear for great radio. Last week she rated Sound Opinions as her #1 favorite music podcast. Thanks Whitney!

We’d like to congratulate All Songs Considered who came in 2nd, and our pubradio friends at KEXP and WNYC, also in the top ten. And a clink to Chicago Public Radio, Sound Opinions hosts Jim DeRegatis and Greg Kot, and producers Robin Linn and Jason Saldanha!

Check out Sound Opinions on PRX, subscribe to the podcast, then please! Tell your local station all about it.

Please Ask Apple to Allow Donations

***Update 12/14: Well over 6000 signatures and counting. Is yours on there?***

***Update 12/9: In yesterday’s New York Times, PRX CEO Jake Shapiro gets interviewed on this issue: Donations Ban on iPhone Apps Irritates Nonprofits. Petition signatures are nearing 2000 – add yours!***

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.

But Apple prohibits this. Nonprofits can’t ask for donations in their apps, and any purchase transaction through iTunes gives Apple a 30% cut. In June, Jake Shapiro, our CEO, called on Apple to change this no-donation policy.

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.

For a brief time, PayPal found a way around this rule, and made nonprofit donations possible through its PayPal Mobile for iPhone app. Soon after, Apple asked PayPal to remove the donation feature, which they did. In “Why Does Apple Make Donation Apps So Hard?” Gizmodo provides a good review of the situation.

Beth Kanter posted about this on her blog about nonprofits and technology. We’re glad she’s on the case. Especially if she’s going to keep making these wacky graphics!

Lets Send Steve Jobs A Message About iphone app Donations
Flickr: cambodia4kidsorg

Apple vs. PC
Flickr: cambodia4kidsorg

Sound Opinions move to PRX; Current takes a look

Sound Opinions in Current

Current takes a look at Sound Opinions move from American Public Media to PRX. The switchover is about to take place on July 1, and we are all ready to rock!

The article picks up on PRX’s content strategy:

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.”

Public Media Platform, Phase One, Kicks Off

click to enlarge

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:



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 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,, 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.

For a PMP concept graphic –
Potential uses of PMP:

PRX Executive Director takes on Apple’s no-donation policy

As the developer of the Public Radio Player and This American Life iPhone apps, PRX wishes there were easier ways to channel support back to the stations and programs whose content powers the apps.

Say you like an episode of TAL and want to support them — you’d click a simple donate button and be on your way. Right now, Apple’s no-donation policy makes that impossible.

PRX’s Executive Director Jake Shapiro takes on this policy in a guest editorial for Ars Technica: Apple’s no-donation policy for apps is a cop-out.

Here is the full post:
Continue reading PRX Executive Director takes on Apple’s no-donation policy

We’re an Official Webby Honoree

Webby logo The Webby Awards are kind of like the Oscars of the Internet. We didn’t get one. That’s ok, though, because we were named an Official Honoree in the Radio/Podcasts category.

It’s hard to count the number of websites in existence, but those who have the moxie to try tell us there are a lot. So we’re feeling pretty good about being one of the nine Honorees, along with The Guardian, Scientific American, and IFC.

AIR “unpacks” PRX Part II

On assignment for our colleagues over at the Association of Independents in Radio, Barrett Golding has posted Part II of his deep dive into public radio distribution, focusing mostly on PRX with a dollop of PRSS/ContentDepot for good measure.

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.

Click here to download a PDF of the combined Parts I and II.

There are a few items that merit further comment and context from PRX, so here are some notes: Continue reading AIR “unpacks” PRX Part II