Al and Glynn are unstoppable

Two of public radio’s newest shows, State of the Re:Union and Snap Judgment, have been busy expanding their multimedia empires. Broadcast carriage on hundreds of stations, online video, live performance, audience participation… these folks deserve a shout out.

Current describes how the crew at Snap Judgment — led by host/EP Glynn Washington and co-EP Mark Ristich — work non-stop:

Jake and Glynn
PRX’s Jake Shapiro & Snap’s
Glynn Washington

“We kind of just go-go-go all the time,” says Mark Ristich, co-executive producer with Glynn Washington, a Talent Quest winner who is host and creator of the series. “We’re going to try to keep the content as fresh as possible, because we’ll lose people if we don’t.”

The small production team is busy creating 26 weekly radio episodes and a series of live storytelling performances, the first of which was recorded in June at San Francisco’s Brava Theater. The performances will be adapted for radio and television programs.

Meanwhile, host/EP Al Letson, EP Ian DeSousa, and team over at State of the Re:Union keep finding and making new tools for engagement and support. There’s the My Community in One Picture series of listener submissions. There’s also a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund a video documentary to accompany SOTRU’s Austin, Texas radio piece. (The campaign ends in three days, on August 21… tell your friends!)

Both shows are co-distributed by PRX and NPR. We’re really proud of what they’ve accomplished and continue to achieve… and we’ll be sure to keep bragging about them.

SOTRU’s Al Letson & the PRX crew

Great new features on the This American Life iPhone app

Here at PRX and there at This American Life, we listened to people’s feedback about the This American Life iPhone app. Generally, it’s been great, and we thank you for that. Naturally, there were requests, some of them ardent. Now, they are a reality:

  • Multitask: Listen while you do other things on your device, like check email and surf the web
  • Multitask without an internet connection: Save an episode for offline listening so you’re *never* bored.
  • Stay organized: Mark as “Heard” the episodes you’ve, um, heard

(I’m sensing a trend… efficiency. Doesn’t anyone ever just listen anymore?)

Ira Glass talks about the new features in more depth here:

Get the app (if you already have it, download the update from the iTunes App Store.)

This American Life new features

WBUR goes even more mobile (with our help)

WBUR iPhone app splash pageWBUR, the powerhouse Boston public radio station, has been mobile for a while, thanks to broadcast, internet streaming, and a great mobile website.

There was more to be done, however, and we’ve done it: We’re proud to announce the launch of the WBUR app for iPhone and iPod, developed by PRX. The app is free. Get it now.

This app has many things going for it, and we list most of them here. There’s the live stream of WBUR’s excellent programming, top-of-the-hour news and weather, a program schedule, and access to past episodes.

But both WBUR and PRX wanted to push the limits of what a public radio mobile app could be. The result are some important new features we hope to see in other station apps in the future: Support, On Assignment, and Benefits.

You may have gathered that we’re passionate about channeling donations from iPhone users to the stations they listen to. It’s not easy, since Apple prohibits direct donations from iPhone apps, but our team got real close with just two buttons: “Call Now to Pledge” and “Remind Me Later”. The former requires the phone number of someone on WBUR’s development staff. The latter doesn’t need anything except the listener’s own email address, since they’re just emailing themselves a reminder with a link to WBUR’s pledge form. We can’t wait to see the impact of these two little buttons.

Call and Remind pledge buttons
Don't they look so inviting and tappable?

On Assignment
This feature brings public radio and its (iPhone toting) audience closer together, letting editors create assignments that anyone with the app can fulfill. A breaking news event is happening in your region? Put out an assignment asking for text, audio, or photos from the scene. Use PRX’s On Assignment curation tool to manage the submissions, then work them into your on-air or online coverage.

Here’s yet another groundbreaker for public radio. The WBUR app provides a list of underwriters offering discounts and other treats to WBUR listeners. Then it maps them. Then it lets you generate a Virtual Member Card right in the app that you can show to the participating business for instant gratification. Anyone involved with station membership and underwriting knows just how amazing this is.

These innovations, and the overall app, could not have been achieved without a true sense of partnership, collaboration, and vision among both WBUR and our own PRX team. We are also grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for support that gave us the ability to explore, experiment, and refine. We look forward to hearing what you think!

WBUR iPhone App Preview: May 25

WBUR-app-previewAnother week, another mobile milestone here at PRX: The WBUR iPhone app we’ve been working on is ready for a sneak peek.

Please join WBUR and PRX tomorrow, May 25, at 12pm ET for an online preview. Everyone’s welcome, and bring your questions and comments!

Make no mistake, the screens you’ll see are more than just a pretty face: The app is nearly finished. It’s due out in mid-June, and we think it’s going to make you wish you lived in the Boston area.

We hope this app enables more public radio stations across the country to build their own (here’s a list of existing pubradio apps). In that spirit, we’ll be open sourcing the code. To learn more about the vision for the app, read this blog post.

The Public Radio Player, Today and Beyond

Maybe it was the fresh promise of Spring and new ideas. Maybe it was a slow day for public media. Or, maybe this list in our webinar invite hooked people in:

  • Pledging and donations opportunities from station pages
  • A pilot program for local station ads
  • Preview of a new PRX tool, called Billboard, to help stations manage their presence in the app
  • A Web version
  • Plans for an Android app (yes, you read that right)
  • Tune in for a preview of the WBUR iPhone app, too.

Whatever the reason, yesterday’s webinar about the Public Radio Player iPhone app drew the public media crowds, resulting in lots of questions and comments and more fans to our Facebook page (always important).

Here it is.

PRX is Hiring!

Does your techie geekdom overlap with your nerdy love of public radio?

Do you listen to Terry Gross while you code?

PRX is hiring a Digital Arts Service Corps member to develop and maintain the website for PRX's Public Radio Player iPhone application. This individual will work full-time for one year at our offices in Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, and will receive a stipend and benefits through the Transmission Project and AmeriCorps VISTA.

Get the details and apply online!

About you:

The ideal service member would be extremely familiar with web technology. Experience with software applications for mobile devices is a plus. Demonstrated effective use of social media tools is also a key skill. PRX is a fast-paced environment, and the Corps member will need to be adaptable, able to manage multiple tasks, and good at communicating about timelines and priorities. The Corps member should have a a commitment to the vision and mission of public media.

Continue reading PRX is Hiring!

When You’re Not Sure What to Listen to Next

Farmer's Market

Image by Houstonian

There is so much great radio happening in the world. Just ask the people who visit We have a variety of ways to help stations, producers, and everyone find what they’ll like, including playlists by our editors and members, a seriously advanced search, and a Pieces page with features like “Most Listened To”.

We’ll never stop thinking of new ways to help you filter PRX’s vast library. But just as we made some real headway there, we launched a new challenge: the Public Radio Player. This iPhone/iPod app has thousands of station and program streams from across public radio and community radio. Sorry.

Fortunately, a few tools in the app, like the Favorites list, help people zero in on something good. Plus, we regularly highlight great stuff on the Player’s blog. Take, for instance, intern Firuzeh Shokooh Valle’s lovely post about why she enjoys Radio Arte’s stream so much.

In fact, several of us like to weigh in occasionally with our recommendations:

Whether or not you have the Player, keep an eye on for ideas for great radio listening.

Crisis Coverage by Public Media: FluPortal’s Final Report

For the past seven months, has helped public radio FluPortal logo and television stations cover the H1N1 pandemic by providing technology and editorial resources. The project, which was funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and led by PRX with collaboration from NPR, ends March 31.

As the swine flu pandemic waned in the United States, the FluPortal team broadened our focus. We started to think about how the public media system should be covering other kinds of crises, too, from natural disasters and terrorist attacks to future public health issues.

Our final report, “Crisis Coverage by Public Media: A Review of FluPortal and Recommendations for the Future”  brings together most of what we’ve learned over the course of the project. We’re highlighting parts of the report on the FluPortal blog.

The National Center for Media Engagement (NCME) has agreed to continue hosting as an archive site. They will not be adding new material, but will keep the site live to allow us continued access to the many resources and perspectives assembled during this major public health crisis.

We are grateful to project partner NPR and many others in the public media and public health communities for their contributions to the project, which we hope has laid the groundwork for collaborative public media responses to future crises.

New, improved Public Radio Player now live in iTunes

Here’s what we’re sending around the public radio system today:

The Public Radio Player iPhone app: Nearly 500 live station streams. One thousand on-demand programs. Downloaded millions of times.

And now new funding, new features, new opportunities.

We’re excited to announce that CPB has renewed support for the next phase of the Public Radio Player. PRX is leading the project and continues to work with Public Interactive as a source of station schedule data and on-demand programs from the NPR API.

As you may know, the Public Radio Player came out of a CPB-funded collaboration of APM, NPR, PRI, and PI, led by PRX. That first grant ended last summer, but the Player lives on with thousands of new users downloading the app every day.

Version 2.1 has just gone live in the iTunes Store, and we’re starting work on version 3.0 coming in June.

Get the app here:

For version 2.1, we’ve rewritten the code from scratch to greatly improve performance. PublicRadioPlayerAlarmClockWe’ve also added top-requested features – a sleep timer, wake-up alarm, and the ability to manage Favorites. We’ve improved the On Demand program player, and integrated Safari so users can browse station websites from within the app.

Version 2.1 will also include national banner ads on top-level pages, but not on station or program pages. CPB has encouraged us to find ways to sustain the project beyond grant support so this is our first foray into mobile advertising. We are working to make it possible for stations to sell local ads on their own Player pages. You can see a pilot of this on WBUR’s Player page now.

Version 3.0 will have additional enhancements and a broader rollout of local station ad support. While we continue to investigate ways to support donations, membership, and pledging, this is a complex issue due to Apple’s no-donation policy as well as stations’ own systems. Local ads could be a significant revenue opportunity for stations with local underwriters interested in the mobile audience.

No iPhone or iPod Touch but full of curiosity? Watch this demo video of an earlier version.

Over the next few months, we will be reaching out to the public radio community for Player feedback and ideas.

There are several ways to stay up to date with the project and share questions and comments:


Jake Shapiro and the Public Radio Player team @ PRX

Russell Johnson wants you to buy his album

Russell Johnson is a world traveler, a radio and TV producer, and a PRX member. We recently sent his album, “Gone Astray: Russell Johnson’s Curious Travel Emporium” to iTunes. Once it was up in the iTunes Store, Russell didn’t just sit back and relax. He put out this press release:

World Traveler Shares His Tales on “Gone Astray: Russell Johnson’s Curious Travel Emporium” Spoken Word Album on iTunes and CD

Russell Johnson, a.k.a. The Connected Traveler tells 15 of his favorite travel stories for enjoyment anytime anywhere

MILL VALLEY, CA – Gone AstrayFebruary 17, 2010 – World traveler Russell Johnson sees a story in everything he does everywhere he goes.  Johnson for the past 25 years has captured the quirky, profound and breathtaking through sounds, music and interviews he has recorded in more than 58 countries around the world.

Now, in a new iTunes album and CD, he takes listeners on 15 audio adventures: slipping and sliding through a bat cave in Borneo, to the local dump where he disposes of tacky souvenirs in a pit he affectionately named “Brad”, and to meet a game poacher turned conservationist in Costa Rica.  “Gone Astray, Russell Johnson’s Curious Travel Emporium,” is available for $5.99 on iTunes, distributed by Public Radio Exchange, and on CD for $9.95 at

Johnson invites listeners to immerse themselves in strange music and sounds as he becomes the unsuspecting guest at a tribal wedding in China, and taste an economy class burger as he ruminates on the origins of American cheese while flying over the USA.  Lonely Planet calls Johnson’s writing and photography “Armchair travel at its best” referring to his web site, where his stories, images and video from around the world appear.

About Russell Johnson

Johnson is a veteran public and commercial radio and TV journalist and has traveled the world on assignments for organizations such as the United Nations, Asian Development Bank, and international companies such as American Express that are vested in tourism and sustainability.  Throughout his personal and professional travels he has been capturing the spirit of people and places in audio and video interwoven with personal insight and humor.

For more information please see where a full track is available: “Descent into the Borneo Underground: Cave Crawling in Sarawak.”  “Gone Astray – Russell Johnson’s Curious Travel Emporium” is distributed by Public Radio Exchange, and is available on the iTunes Store or on CD.

Editors please note: please send an email to for a complete review copy of “Gone Astray”.


Pat Meier Associates PR
415.717.9677 (mobile)

Sure, it helps to have your wife as your PR agent, but promotion isn’t just for PR agents any more. Our members work hard to make the productions that grace, and we encourage everyone to put energy into promoting them, too. Many of you already are, and for those seeking inspiration, we encourage you to follow Russell’s example, and check out PRX’s Guide to Promoting Your Work to the Outside World as well.