PRX Announces: Project Catapult

PRX is excited to announce Project Catapult, an innovative podcast training project with public media stations, made possible by a $1 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Five stations will be selected to participate in a 20-week curriculum to develop new skills, which will include digital content development, cultivating diverse talent, audience engagement and monetization. PRX will provide technical training in key areas where broadcast and podcast strategies diverge. The training will take place at the PRX’s Podcast Garage in Boston and on-location at each station. At the end of the curriculum, each station, in co-production with PRX, will launch a new podcast.

The curriculum will be based on our positive experiences with Matter—a media accelerator started in 2012 by PRX with funding from KQED and The Knight Foundation. A key component of our training program is to apply an iterative process to show development in collaboration with the stations. PRX will take stations through a process of rapid content development and feedback or “creative sprints.” That is followed by a piloting process that involves additional supportive but critical feedback.

Public media is poised for this moment and many stations are ready to advance podcasts from their ‘shiny stage’ to a new, relevant and sustainable part of their content offering. Stations are already centers of solid audio production, yet podcast success remains elusive—the intimate storytelling styles, hosting and distribution options and monetization options can differ from the familiar broadcast know-how.

Stations bear considerable risk in the current podcast environment. Even the best intentions around new talent and topics can fail if marketing, promotion, staff expectations and sponsorship efforts are not mastered.

Project Catapult will address these challenges head-on. Through an open RFP process, PRX and CPB will select the five stations with input from an expert panel. 

Our focus will be on:
Sustainable Ideas: An important objective of the curriculum is to establish support from the executive team. The bootcamp will focus on 2-3 station leaders, with at least one having responsibility for revenue. Creating sustainable shows is critical to the success of the training. PRX will be sharing expertise about sponsorships and fundraising from surveys, donor data, and other industry trends.

Identification and cultivation of talent. Finding talent requires a willingness to experiment and test ideas. Balancing openness with quality while creating the right incentives to foster talent is essential.

Support and skills training. While the barrier to entry in the podcast space is relatively low, today’s content creators have to have skills far beyond 
storytelling. While many may have personality and good hosting skills, we see particular gaps in technical/production quality and knowledge, promotion, feedback, audience focus and listening metrics and monetization know-how.

Industry linkages and community. PRX will develop a process to listen and guide this conversation with a small group of engaged, committed stations and industry teachers and leaders.

To learn more and to apply to the program, visit The application process opens today. Participating station teams will begin work in January 2017.