Feeling the Love from iPhone Users

Here at PRX, we’re all about spreading public radio far and wide. Well, we really did it this time.

This release went out this morning:

With 1.5 Million Downloads, Public Radio Feels the Love From iPhone Users
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Just 17 weeks after launch, the Public Radio Tuner application for the iPhone has been downloaded more than 1.5 million times. Thanks to the iPhone community’s enthusiasm, the Tuner cracked the top 10 free music apps soon after launch, and has been the top free app on all of iTunes.

Learn more at http://www.publicradiotuner.org.

The Public Radio Tuner comes from a unique collaboration of major public radio organizations:

  • American Public Media (APM)
  • National Public Radio (NPR)
  • Public Radio Exchange (PRX)
  • Public Interactive (PI)
  • Public Radio International (PRI)

The project is led by Public Radio Exchange (http://www.prx.org) and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

“The Public Radio Tuner has clearly struck a chord with iPhone users,” says PRX Executive Director Jake Shapiro. “The app is expanding the audience for local public radio stations and national programs, and is a great example of a successful collaboration and innovation in public media.”

For the Public Radio Tuner project, CPB and the collaborators have brought together the collective talents and resources of the public radio system to reach existing listeners on a state-of-the-art platform while attracting new listeners, too.

Stations across the United States value their presence in the app. “The Public Radio Tuner helps us expand our reach into areas of Georgia that aren’t covered by our airwaves. It fits into GPB’s overall goal of expanding its reach through new technologies.” — Susanna Capelouto, News Director, Georgia Public Broadcasting

The Public Radio Tuner allows anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch to listen to more than 300 U.S. station streams. It has the features iPhone users expect from any “tuner” application — search, a favorites list, and fast loading times. What sets this Tuner apart is a listening experience custom-made for public radio’s high-quality, diverse content. Listeners can hear their stations’ broadcasts of their favorite shows, from “This American Life” to “Morning Edition”, along with local news and music. With over 800 public and community radio stations in the United States, new streams are added all the time.

Coming up in June 2009: The Public Radio Player, with a program guide, enhanced search, and on-demand content. Additional mobile platforms, such as Google’s Android, RIM’s BlackBerry, and the Palm Pre, are under consideration.

Learn more at http://www.publicradiotuner.org.

We’ve Got iTunes Surrounded

Parenting Tips By Kids

There’s lots of PRXness on iTunes.

You can peruse the entire list of albums here.

We encourage the PRX community and beyond to spread the word. Rate and review the albums, post the links and the cover art to your blogs and social networks, and gift an album to someone deserving (Mom?).

As a service to producers, PRX sends select audio pieces to iTunes (and we’re exploring sending to other stores like Amazon, eMusic, etc.). We call this the PRX Paid Download Service, and it’s one of the outside purchasers (non-station purchasers) on PRX. If you have audio on PRX.org, you can opt in to the PRX Paid Download Service in advance by going to My PRX and clicking “Outside Purchaser Preferences”. Or just wait until we send you an opt-in request for a particular piece. Learn more in our FAQ.

The goal of the PRX Paid Download Service is to help public radio producers find new sources of revenue and exposure. Online music stores present an obviously intriguing opportunity. There’s not much spoken word audio for sale in these stores at the moment, and what’s there is pretty low profile. By acquainting ourselves with various ways to get public radio content on iTunes, we’re learning what works best and getting ready to open that spoken word door wider.

If you have any questions or want me to know about some good audio for an album, feel free to message me via the site.

Public Radio + iPhone = Public Radio Tuner

Here at PRX, we like to keep an eye on technology developments. Well, the success of the iPhone nearly blinded us with its obviousness… public radio needed to be there! We wanted it there in the broadest way possible, so we assembled a group of public radio leaders and got a grant from CPB. In an improbably short time, we are proud to unveil the first fruits of that collaboration: the Public Radio Tuner. Learn more and leave feedback at the project blog. Here’s what we’re saying about it:

Public Radio + iPhone = Public Radio Tuner

A collaboration of APM, NPR, PI, PRI, and PRX

The Tuner in context

Public radio on the iPhone? Of course! We’re pleased to announce the launch of a new version of the Public Radio Tuner, an iPhone app with a sleek new look and state-of-the-art engineering. Version 1.1 made it into the iTunes Store earlier this week, and is continuing the Tuner’s record of success. Since the app’s initial launch, tens of thousands of people have downloaded it and over 200 stations have added their streams. Best of all, we’re getting overwhelmingly positive feedback, once again demonstrating how much people enjoy and rely on public radio and are eager for us to reach them in new ways.

A new collaboration for a new media platform

The January update came out of a unique collaboration between American Public Media (APM), National Public Radio (NPR), Public Interactive (PI), Public Radio Exchange (PRX), and Public Radio International (PRI). The project is conceived and led by PRX and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. APM, which created the original Tuner, provided the code to the colloboration’s technology team so new features could be added quickly and the existing user base could be maintained. This latest update is the first of several updates funded by the CPB grant. More releases will take place throughout the spring of 2009.

CPB and the collaborators see this project as a way to encourage communication and knowledge sharing in order to harness the collective expertise, talents, and resources of the public radio system. We believe the Public Radio Tuner is an important way to keep pace with our technologically evolving listener base and bring public radio to a whole new set of people. Simply put, our listeners want us wherever they go. A recent study tells us that they have the mobile tools to find us — we just have to be there when they look.

Not just any application, a *public radio* application

The Public Radio Tuner essentially allows anyone with an iPhone or iPod Touch to listen to streams from stations across the country. It has the features iPhone users expect from any “tuner” application — search, a favorites list, and fast loading times. What sets this Tuner apart is how the collaborators’ experience and their direct relationships with stations can create a listening experience custom-made for public radio’s high-quality, diverse content. What does this mean for the listener?

* The ability to search by call letters, frequency, city, region, or format
* The ability to click once to see all stations near the current location
* An ever-expanding menu of content with more streams added all the time

Future plans will make the Tuner even more of an on-demand listening tool, with features such as a “What’s On Now” list of programs, searchable program audio, and more.

Not already part of the Public Radio Tuner? Sign up!

People already using the app are asking for their local stations’ streams. (If you have iTunes, check out the reviews here.) It’s not too late to submit your stream for inclusion in the Tuner. We’re continually adding stations.

See if your station is in the Public Radio Tuner appĀ»

Submit your station’s streamĀ»

Station support services (where you submit and maintain your stream information) are in the process of moving from American Public Media over to Public Interactive. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, visit the Public Radio Tuner page on www.apmstations.org if you have stream-related questions (you can create a login if you don’t have one already). Please visit the project Web site and blog at www.publicradiotuner.com to stay up to date on the project and contribute your ideas for future versions of the app.

Tell everyone about it

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one’s around to broadcast it… Promotion is the key to success. Tell your listeners on air, on your Web site, in your Web streams and podcasts. Your involvement powers the Tuner. We’ll be posting promotional materials and ideas soon at www.publicradiotuner.com; in the meantime, you can get them from the APM stations site.

The Public Radio Tuner project collaborators

Greetings From A New PRXer

The rumors are true: PRX now has the best Director of Projects + Partnerships it’s ever had!

Hi everyone, I’m Rekha Murthy, PRX’s first Director of Projects + Partnerships. I’ve worked in public radio, Web, and mobile media for the past 12 years. My public radio career began with an internship at WFCR in Amherst, MA (thanks guys!). In 1998, NPR brought me to Washington DC to be a writer and editor for their Online division. Then, from 2000 to 2003, I was a producer for “All Things Considered”. I’ve since freelanced for “On Point”, “Day to Day”, and “The World”, and I helped design and teach a radio documentary course for MIT undergrads.

Before, after, and sometimes during my public radio life, I have been a user experience designer (aka information architect) as well. I’ve worked for Web and mobile startups and consulted on my own. Past clients include France Telecom R+D, Bank of America, IEEE, and BarnesandNoble.com.

It used to feel like I was jumping between two different worlds, but now I know that good things come from crossing media. MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program, where I got my Masters, affirmed this belief. While there, I designed a multimedia walking tour of Paris for handheld devices. I also spent a lot of time (read: thesis) analyzing how people use the streetscape for everyday communication.

I enjoy radio documentaries while I’m cooking and knitting, and first-person narratives when I’m at the gym. I surf the Web a lot, tracking fads and trends and guessing which ones will endure. I blog occasionally, too.

As for PRX, I like to think about it in terms of movement. Producers and stations use the framework we provide to keep public radio pieces moving, bringing greater exposure and revenue to an ever-growing pool of content.

Much of that movement has been in radio broadcast. But now we’re also thinking beyond broadcast, to a myriad of rapidly evolving ways to distribute and consume audio. These include satellite radio, HD radio, mobile devices and, of course, the Web. At PRX, we believe public radio has a major role to play in this dynamic media world.

That’s where I come in. As Director of Projects + Partnerships, I’m here to move your content further. With your input, I’ll evaluate which platforms are worthwhile, and what kinds of content work best on each. I’ve already helped send dozens of albums to iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, Napster, and Rhapsody, where people are paying to download public radio content to their own players.

PRX on iTunes
Actual iTunes placement of a real album from PRX.org. Click for context.

I’m a firm believer that old and new can co-exist in mutually supportive ways. Broadcast radio will be around for a long time. But the content it airs can go all sorts of places, reaching new people. A digital presence might lure people back to their radio dials. Or it might develop a following in a new medium. Maybe some followers will become producers themselves, bringing a fresh perspective to the field.

All this movement can be overwhelming, but we at PRX see it as an opportunity, and we want to make it easier to navigate. I am looking forward to getting to know you all, and hearing your thoughts on how to keep your work moving in this exciting media world. Feel free to message me from my profile on PRX.org.