Introducing the WGBH App

WGBH iPhone appLatest in our growing collection of mobile apps is WGBH, News and Culture for iPhone. This app brings all of the Boston public media station’s offerings from across TV, radio, and web into one elegant experience.

  • Listen live to WGBH radio, their classical, Celtic, and jazz streams, plus WCAI from The Cape and Islands
  • Watch episodes from TV programs including Beat the Press, Basic Black, and High School Quiz Show
  • Get radio and TV programming schedules so you know when to tune in, or catch past episodes in the app itself
  • Read the latest local, national, and world news
  • View recipes from top chefs and other food-related articles
  • See a calendar of upcoming events
  • And much more.

Actually, let’s elaborate on the “more”. There’s Assignments, inviting you to tell WGBH’s newsroom what’s news in your town. With Benefits, WGBH members can browse and redeem local discounts using a virtual member card generated in the app (you have to use it to believe how nifty it is).

Of course, to use those amazing features you’ll have to tear yourself away from WGBH’s wonderful content, from radio mainstays like The Takeaway, The World, and Fresh Air to TV hits like Frontline, NOVA, and American Experience.

Get WGBH, News and Culture for your iPhone now.

The WGBH app is a customized version of the PRX station app codebase, which enables us to streamline development time and costs while giving stations apps that represent their unique identities. We’ve got more iPhone — and Android — station apps on the way. Maybe yours, too? Contact us to learn more.

PRX wins two Communicator Awards

Great news! PRX submitted the This American Life App to the Communicator Awards last fall, and it was recently announced that the app won an Award of Excellence (the highest honor) in Mobile Apps – Music/Audio. We also won an Award of Distinction for the WBUR App in Mobile Apps – News.

Congrats to our team and to the amazing folks we worked with at TAL and WBUR!

“With thousands of entries received from across the US and around the world, the Communicator Awards is the largest and most competitive awards program honoring the creative excellence for communications professionals…

“The Communicator Awards are judged and overseen by the International Academy of the Visual Arts (IAVA), a 550+ member organization of leading professionals from various disciplines of the visual arts dedicated to embracing progress and the evolving nature of traditional and interactive media.”

Sounds good to us!

Story Exchange and new models for local news

The latest report from the FCC on The Information Needs of Local Communities paints a grim picture about the state of local news.

Local TV news is pretty thin and getting thinner. And while there is some praise for the ambition of local public radio, the report makes clear that resources don’t match the vision.

PRX, with the help of the Knight News Challenge, is stepping in to do its part to change the situation.

We have partnered with, a real pioneer in the area of crowd funding, and Louisville Public Media, to launch Story Exchange.

This modest idea shows some early promise:

What if local public radio stations with loyal news audiences were able to pitch ambitious story and project ideas directly to listeners? Say a station wanted to propose a documentary, or a series about a pollution issue; maybe a special and a talk show about an area of education reform.

But, money was the barrier: Not enough staff to fill in on a long project, no money for a researcher to do necessary leg work, or simply no staff reporter capable of doing the production?

Story Exchange helps solve the problem. Here’s how:

  • The station creates a series of story pitches and makes them directly to the audience. And each pitch has a modest price attached to complete the assignment.
  • Those pitches appear on the station website, and they get promoted on air, in emails to listeners and on the local talk show.
  • The station website is a doorway for listeners to pledge micro-amounts ($5, $10 at a time, for example).
  • Once the goal is reached, the money goes to the station.
  • And, the station completes the project and makes it available on the web.

Who benefits?

  • Listeners do – the ones who showed interest in that area of coverage get to directly support and hear the impact of their commitment.
  • The station does – it gets the nominal additional resources to do something it might otherwise not be able to accomplish
  • The community does – communities of interest act individually to show their support for a KEY station activity. If the journalism is good, everyone benefits.
  • And this sometimes ethereal notion of engagement becomes tangible.

Does it work?

Yes. PRX watched for some time and saw that freelance print reporters and some small public stations were able to raise money for local reporting.

We figured, let’s turn loose the power of stations as centers of local journalism and give listeners the incentives to easily make a difference by supporting stories and issues they cared about.

Station editors and managers are always in control of the pitches and which stories are completed. Best of all, the donors are identified and their contributions small enough that no one person has the power to influence coverage.

And, it IS working in our first test market of Louisville.

Within a few days of posting the pitch for coverage about the health risks of coal dust exposure, enough listeners pledged a total of $250 to get that series completed.

There are more pitches out there from Louisville Public Media on a bridge controversy, school management problems and more.

PRX is looking for more stations that want to engage in this experiment.

What’s it take?

  • A commitment by the station to local programming and promotion.
  • An engaged audience.
  • A strong news department with fresh ideas.
  • A willingness to talk about the pitches, how the process works, and why this project is important for local journalism.


Contact John Barth at john – at – prx – dot – org and we can help you get started.

Remix is on WREM 88.7FM

Today Public Radio Remix — our 24/7 stream of audio awesomeness — went live on WREM 88.1FM in Canton, NY. WREM is a brand new acquisition of North Country Public Radio, owned and operated by St. Lawrence University. Take a look at their spiffy Remix webpage, which has current and upcoming playlists, links to each story, a feed of the Public Radio Remix blog, and more.

WREM joins KPBZ in Spokane, WA as our second terrestrial station carrying Public Radio Remix.

We want to thank North Country Public Radio Program Director Jackie Sauter, Chief Engineer Bob Sauter and General Manager Ellen Rocco for making this launch as easy as pie. We’re thrilled!

Mobile App Picks from the PRXperts

We’re pretty into our phones over here at PRX. And that’s as it should be, I suppose, as many of us spend our days conceiving, coding and promoting mobile apps for public radio.

A couple months ago Radio Diaries producer Joe Richman — equipped with his first-ever iPhone — asked me what PRX’s favorite apps are. I put the question to my colleagues, and return with the following list of our favorite mobile apps.

First, meet our team of mobile app enthusiasts:

Matt John Robert Rekha Jake Chris Farski Kerri Roman Jones

Our big list of favorite apps:

App Recommended by Description Device
Ad Hoc Helper App Matt The Ad Hoc Helper allows developers to create a special version of their apps that can be run on anyone’s iPhone outside of the normal AppStore channels. iPhone
Amazon Kindle John Kindle books on your phone including thousands of free books. Android Robert iPhone
Android API Browser
Chris Not amazing as an app, but the first android app on the market written 100% in Ruby. Android
AnyStop Robert Real-time MBTA bus schedules. Android
Audible John “This free app features the most comprehensive audiobook experience ever, including Wi-Fi delivery of your library.” Android
Beluga & GroupMe
Farski Group texting, even with feature phones. Maybe the best thing ever. 
Bloom Jake, Robert “Part instrument, part composition and part artwork, Bloom’s innovative controls allow anyone to create elaborate patterns and unique melodies by simply tapping the screen.” iPhone
Boston Bus Map
Robert Real-time MBTA bus schedules. Android
Camera (on the device) Matt, Kerri
Catch The Bus Matt, Rekha
More GPS-driven MBTA bus schedules.

I love/Hate this one. – Matt

I feel the same way about it on Android – Rekha
iPhone, Android
Chirp! for iPhone
Rekha Look up birds from any region and play their songs. John (hubby) and I use it to freak out birds from other regions.
Clock/Stopwatch (on the device) Robert
Congress for Android
Chris Indispensable. One reason to be on Android. – Chris

Track elected officials’ activities, read the latest bills and laws…
Cut The Rope Robert A game that’s easy to start and hard to finish. iPhone
doubleTwist AirSync
Chris Keep your music synced without ever plugging in. Android
Dropbox Farski Instant Cloud for photos and files.
Epicurious Rekha, Kerri Great recipes, and it generates a shopping list for you.
Enjoy Sudoku
Robert Has the best Sudoku hint system. iPhone
FIP for iPhone
Rekha Amazing Paris radio station – every song is a winner.
Facebook Kerri, Rekha Socializing without all that nasty human interaction.
iPhone, Android
Flash Player 10.2
Chris Browse the whole web. Android
FlightView John Real time flight info.
Genius Scan
Jake, Kerri Genius Scan turns your iPhone into a pocket scanner, enabling you to quickly scan documents on the go and email the scans as JPEG or PDF. iPhone
Roman Space shooter game.
Gigstar – Music Guide
Chris There *are* shows you don’t know you’re missing. Android
Google Latitude
Farski Share your location with friends.
Google Maps (on the device) Kerri, Chris, Rekha The BEST google maps experience ever is the one on Android. Same  deal for GMail. – Chris

I don’t know, I think Google Maps are more usable on iPhone, strangely. – Rekha
iPhone, Android
Google Voice
Farski Phone service with cheap international rates, and helps organize your calls and texts.
Jones Take photos with an analog feel.
Huffington Post
Rekha As much for the decent UI as for the content. Not a lot of great news apps on Android yet.
IMDB Kerri Movie information.
Inception Jake Also from RJDJ, this app plays music based on the ambiet information it receives through the phone’s mic.
Robert Great for finding good Netflix instant streaming movies. iPhone
Itsy Bitsy Spider
Jake “Award-winning Childrens’ app.”
KCRW Radio John Live stream and on demand.
Library Books
Robert Alerts when your books are due. iPhone
Farski Free turn-by-turn navigation and driving directions. iPhone
Jake “Melodica is a revolutionary music application that mixes lights and sounds in a unique way, allowing anyone to compose music intuitively creating amazing visual effects just with the tips of your fingers.” iPhone
Mobile Mouse Matt Remote trackpad.
Mobile Safari (on the device) Matt, Robert iPhone
MotionX GPS
Farski Tracks your path and gives you a bunch of extra data. Great for cycling.
Farski Explore space through videos, images and more.
NPR News for Android NPR News for iPhone
John, Kerri Android, iPhone
NPR Music
Farski, Kerri First listens, interviews with artists, and good lists and mixes iPhone
NYTimes John, Kerri
Netflix Matt, Robert, Kerri, Farski Instantly watch TV shows & movies streaming from Netflix. iPhone
Notes (on the device) Robert iPhone
Osmos Jake, Robert “Asteroids meets a lava-lamp.” iPhone
Pandora Matt, Robert, Kerri, Jones, Farski Personalized radio streams.
Papa Sangre Jake A video game without the video.
Public Radio Player for iPhone
Rekha From PRX! Find your favorite public radio stations and shows, streaming and On-Demand.
RDIO Chris, Robert Mounds of music for $10/month. – Robert Android
RJDJ Roman, Robert Reactive music, the next step in the evolution of music. I did a story about it a couple years back. – Roman iPhone
Remodium Farski Allows you to remotely access Adium on your Mac. iPhone
Shazam Kerri Discover new music through your friends.
Robert Read lyrics while using Pandora or RDIO. Android
Soundcloud Jones Record, listen and share your sounds on the go. iPhone
Speedtest Matt Measure the network speed of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. iPhone
Square Up Matt Reads credit cards.
SynchStep Robert Automatically finds music to match your pace. iPhone
TestFlight Matt Beta testing on the fly.
The Weather Channel
Robert The weather!
This American Life Kerri, Robert Developed by yours truly!
Tiny Wings Roman, Farski Move over angry birds.
Trace Robert Free, and my 8 year old son enjoys it. iPhone
Twitter Matt, Kerri, Rekha iPhone, Android
Unblock Me
Jake A puzzle-ey block game.
WeatherBug John Get the weather.
WhiteNoise Matt Ambient sounds for sleeping.
Yelp Jones, Rekha Restaurant and other business reviews. Monocle on the iPhone is pretty cool.
iPhone, Android

Enabling This American Life’s Mobile Takeover

Beloved public radio show This American Life just blew through another milestone in its plan for mobile domination.

This American Life for iPadAnnouncing the This American Life app for iPad!

Our PRX tech team developed it, we had a lot of fun doing it. Just like we had when we built their iPhone and Android apps.

The iPad app has everything the other apps have, and more, including:

  • Save up to THREE episodes for offline listening
  • Play and share individual stories, not just entire episodes
  • Not sure where to put your eyes while listening? Put ’em on the Twitter feed of all TAL mentions
  • A comic strip about the show. But of course!

This American Life’s blog has screenshots to whet your appetite.

Get Your Car Talk Fix on iTunes

Car Talk You finish listening to Car Talk’s latest podcast episodes in, like, no time. Then what? you ask.

Well, visit the wider world of Car Talk on iTunes and delightedly partake in the wealth of episodes before you. What’s 99 cents when presented with such joy, such entertainment? These albums make great pick-me-up gifts for someone who hasn’t laughed — or snort-laughed — in a while.

In the latest chapter of PRX’s life as a record label for iTunes, we’re proud to have the privilege of delivering Car Talk to iTunes in the form of:

* weekly episodes
* 50 Classics everyone loves
* several compilations of great stuff, too

Car Talk albums on iTunes: When the podcast simply isn’t enough.

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

REMIX Radio: It’s Terrestrial!

After 16 months streaming on XM, REMIX Radio — PRX’s remix of amazing stories, cool podcasts and more — is now broadcasting on real-live radio-radio, from the brand new KPBZ 90.3 in Spokane, WA. Thanks KPBZ!

We received such great feedback from our XM listeners that our tech team and the good folks at Backbone Radio couldn’t help themselves but pull on their white coats, get out their test tubes and clone that friendly beast.  Now you can hear REMIX on terrestrial radio, on XM, online and on your iPhone and iPod too.

REMIX Radio is curated and hosted by Remixer-in-Chief Roman Mars, and streams 24/7. Hear what folks are saying!

Bravo. Only been on for a couple of days and don’t want to be without it. Bits on Mandela, border crossings, street dogs, mass hysteria… where have you been all my life? -Ralleuc, KPBZ listener

I was about to throw out my XM radio until you guys came along.  PRX is amazing, I love it.  -Richard, XM 136 listener

This is great. I recently moved to Spokane and…. I’m so excited to hear what you guys have to offer. I’ve been listening for a half-hour and have already heard a Bob Dylan song I’ve never heard and learned something new about Ben Franklin. THANK YOU! -Agille, KPBZ listener

I LOVE your channel.  It is the only one I really listen to and love on XM. Today, you had a piece from The Moth from 2006 around 1:45pm EST.  What a compelling man!  I had an appointment and had to leave the broadcast midway.  I simply cannot bear to not know the ending to the story!!! … Thanks, many blessings and thank you for the many amazing stories and pieces. -Karen, XM 136 listener

Amazing Stuff! -Purav, XM 136 listener

You should join in the fun!