The Chronicle of Philanthropy
September 30, 2004
Web Site Offers Vast Radio-Program Collection
After its first year, the nonprofit PRX Public Radio Exchange has received a clear signal that its idea of linking radio programs with stations in search of content is working. Some 1,000 digital radio stories have been licensed through the site for broadcast on public radio stations.
The Cambridge, Mass., organization’s Web site allows independent radio producers and radio stations to post stories and programs that they want to make available to other public radio stations.
Among the stories featured on the site are a series of reports on the most-contested states in this presidential election, from “The Economist”; a one-hour documentary on night-shift workers produced by WFUV in New York; and a Public Radio International special about the legendary country-music singer Hank Williams.
“A lot of the initial work that’s appearing on PRX is work that was created for another first use”, says Jake Shapiro, the organization’s executive director. “A lot of our purpose is in extending the shelf life of valuable work that previously had only one shot and then often fell off the radar screen.”
But PRX has also helped some independent producers get on the radio for the first time. Mr. Shapiro hopes that the service will help fresh, new voices break into public radio.
“PRX comes at an interesting time for public radio” syas Mr. Shapiro. Digital technology is making it easier than ever to produce radio programming, he says, and public radio has become a very popular and prominent source of information. But because of public radio’s stature, he says, “risk-taking sometimes falters.”
More than 200 public radio stations, 350 independent producers and 75 production groups have joined PRX. Membership fees for producers and production groups are based on the amount of programming they want to post on the site, while fees for stations are based on their annual budgets and the amount of programming they want to license. Individuals can join for free to listen to the pieces and write reviews.
The organization has added a new feature to the site: fund-raising segements that other broadcasters can use or review to help them generate ideas.