Radiotopia Fall Fundraiser 2016: We Did it Again!

We recently wrapped up our Radiotopia 2016 fall fundraiser, and were blown away by the love and support from our fans, both old and new. With every drive, we gain new and important insights into the podcast fundraising universe and our dedicated fanbase. We’re always keen to learn how to best engage with listeners, make a genuine appeal, and secure the funds our shows need to keep creating quality, independent content.

Our fans: Whether they’ve been with us since the beginning, or just started listening…they’re the best.

This campaign taught us just how dedicated, generous and committed our fans truly are. A whopping 80% of our recurring 2015 donors stayed on as part of our active donor community this year. We aimed to steward existing relationships while encouraging steadfast donors to expose friends, partners, siblings and co-workers to the quality craft producing within Radiotopia. It worked!
challenge-coin-collage

As a surprise, we rewarded active sustaining members with our second challenge coin, this time Radiotopia themed.

Interestingly, of the 6,300 donors who contributed to this campaign, 64% had never before donated to Radiotopia.

Partnerships: Work together to drive donations.

Last year, we began a tradition of bringing our sponsors into the fundraiser to help provide donor challenges. These partners have become important tools that generate fan excitement and showcase our important corporate sponsors.

This year, Podster Magazine—a digital magazine dedicated to podcasts—jump-started the fundraiser by offering to chip in $10,000 if we hit 1,000 donors in the first two days. When we missed our goal by a few hours, our fans sprang into action and helped us ultimately secure the challenge funds from Podster (by the way, you can still get a free subscription). A big thank you to Podster!

A few days later, our friends at FreshBooks—who offer cloud-based accounting software for small businesses—issued another key challenge: a $40,000 donation if we snagged another 5,000 donors by the end of the campaign. This helped energize our fans to spread the word to friends and family, allowing us to soar beyond that goal to finish with over 6,000 donors. Thanks again to FreshBooks!

Producer rewards: Engaging, unique and original premiums.

This year, our producers offered up their time and talent to create exclusive, custom reward items that were incredibly popular with donors. Some rewards showcased their creative talents, like the curated mixtape from Song Exploder’s Hrishikesh Hirway (which quickly sold out), and the custom recording from Criminal’s Phoebe Judge.

Others gave lucky fans the opportunity to engage on more a producer-collagepersonal level. These included a VIP Dinner with the Kitchen Sisters, one-on-one phone calls with Megan Tan from Millennial, a virtual documentary viewing with team Mortified, a museum tour with Nate DiMeo of The Memory Palace… oh, and a wedding ceremony officiated by Helen Zaltzman of The Allusionist. Overall, we found the personalized gifts were a great way to way to drive excitement and, sometimes, laughter.

Benefit without the reward: The choice of no gift.

A whopping 40% of donors opted for no reward at all. Despite the long-time association of public media with t-shirts and tote bags, nearly half of our donors opted to support us directly. This ultimately allows our independent producers to keep more of the funds and for Radiotopia to save on fulfillment expenses and benefit more directly from the campaign’s success.

The result: The reach of Radiotopia’s message is impressive (if we do say so ourselves).

  • We surpassed our original goal of 5,000 donations by over 1,000 people
  • 64% of donors were brand new to our community
    • The industry average is 20% new donors for any fundraising drive
  • 80% of our sustaining members from last year maintained their monthly commitments
  • 12% of donors who has previously cancelled their recurring donations came back in 2016
  • We had donors from all 50 states and 73 countries/territoriesradiotopia-donors-by-country

Inside the Podcast Studio with The Truth

This month for Inside the Podcast Studio, we go behind the scenes of The Truth podcast with host Jonathan Mitchell to celebrate the show’s new season launch. Read about how Jonathan and his team captures authentic sound, his celebrity encounters, and learn more about the audio fiction landscape.

On the Podcast

Tell us about how The Truth came to be
the_truthI started The Truth in 2009, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Back in the late 80’s/early 90’s, I studied music composition at the University of Illinois. I took an experimental electronic music class and loved everything about it, especially editing tape and manipulating real-world sounds. Around the same time, I remember seeing “Sex Lies and Videotape” and being blown away—it made artful, thoughtful filmmaking seem so accessible and possible. Not long after that, I saw a book by the director Steven Soderbergh, a journal he kept while filming. I read it cover to cover twice. I loved it so much. It made me deeply want to make a film, but I didn’t have access to film equipment. But because of my music classes, I did have access to a recording studio, and I thought it would be interesting to make a film without pictures. I went to graduate school at Mills College, and my thesis was essentially a radio drama.  

After graduating I worked in public radio for many years, and I always held onto the dream of making a radio show that would allow me to explore my interest in dramatic storytelling. Around 2009, I had an opportunity to pitch this idea to American Public Media, who gave me a little bit of money to make a pilot (which became our story Moon Graffiti). While spending a couple years trying to make that happen, I pitched a fiction story to This American Life, they said yes, so I started a podcast so that they would have a place to send listeners. After that piece aired, we had an audience big enough to justify continuing to produce the show, and about a year-and-a-half later, we joined the Radiotopia podcast network.

Tell us about your show and what makes it unique? Why are you so passionate about your subject matter?
I think fictional storytelling in audio is an under-developed field, there are just so many things that can be done with it. And it feels like we are only taking advantage of a very small part of an area that has boundless potential. I want to see what The Truth can do in this space, and hopefully inspire others to do the same. My lifelong goal is to help create a world where making audio drama is something normal and valued in mainstream culture. I would like to see people abandon the notion that audio drama is inherently old-fashioned or from bygone era of broadcasting. I would like people to see it for the relevant, contemporary, and highly versatile medium that it is.

The Truth podcast
Recording session for “Good Meeting”

Where do you find story ideas for the show?
We have a weekly writers meeting, where we pitch ideas and read each other’s scripts and offer feedback for episodes of The Truth. We can find story ideas anywhere. We tend to look for speculative fiction ideas, where there is one element that couldn’t happen in the real world.

Tell us more about what we can expect from your new season.  
Expect the unexpected! The Truth is like a Christmas stocking: you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s always entertaining and fun. This fall we are planning to post a new story twice a month.  

How do you find actors? Any stories about famous people you’ve had on the show?
A lot of stories for The Truth are made with performers from Magnet Theater, an improv theatre and school in New York. Beyond that, we just think about who we know and who might be best based on the character.

The Truth Podcast
Rachel Dratch with Karl Rove in the background

For example, Rachel Dratch was in “Santa for President”. She had worked previously with the writer of that story, Mario Correa, on a play he wrote, so that’s why we thought of her. We ultimately base who we cast on the needs of the story. When we were recording with Rachel, she was playing a political consultant, and in the very next studio just 10 feet away on the other side of the glass was Karl Rove, recording an interview for another show. That was pretty surreal.

Your Songonauts series is so unique. Can you give us the backstory?
I got an email from co-creator Jonathan Mann saying he had an idea for a series, asking if I’d be willing to talk with him about it and give him feedback. Jonathan Mann has been writing a song a day for the past 7 years (you can hear them all on his website) and he’s a brilliant songwriter. He’s full of enthusiasm, and has a knack for writing a very catchy melody with a fun, positive vibe. So we met for lunch, he told me the idea and I thought it sounded really creative and unusual. It was very different from what we usually do, but it sounded like a fun challenge. I thought it would allow me to use more of my music background on The Truth.  ezgif-2662252328

On the Space

The Truth podcast
Jonathan in the field

Where do you literally record or do your work? Can you walk us through that space?
It depends on the story.  Sometimes we’ll record in my apartment, or outside, or if the story takes place in a car… then we’ll record in a car. Sometimes we’ll record in a studio if it makes more sense for the story, like the Songonauts series. I edit each story at home. I have a little editing studio in my apartment and I use Pro Tools to edit the audio. I have lots of cool plug-ins, my favorites are Omnisphere and Altiverb. I’m hoping the companies that make those plugins will read this and ask me for an endorsement or something, because I could go on and on about how much I love them.

The Truth podcast
Jonathan’s desk

Do you have a thinking or reflection space– somewhere you go outside the studio to gather creative inspiration?
I work best at my desk, where I put together the show.

What type of equipment do you use for recording your show?
I usually use a Shure VP88 stereo mic, which records in MS format. I often supplement that with AKG 414s. I just bought a Roland 4-channel recorder that I record to.

What soundproofing techniques do you use for narration?
I just record in my office. It’s pretty quiet in here, but then I put it through a denoiser made by Izotope. (Another plug for a plug-in maker! They rock!)

On Podcasting

What can the podcast medium achieve that other media forms like broadcasts cannot?
Podcasting has made it possible for anyone to distribute their work all over the world at a very low cost. That’s revolutionary. Podcasting is a very accessible way to get our work out to a large audience. And in podcasting, fictional audio storytelling and other lesser-known or niche formats have the opportunity to build an audience because they’re available to the entire planet at once. What podcasts offer us is the opportunity to prove that there’s an audience for what we do.

The Truth podcast
Jonathan recording

What do you think makes a great podcast host? Tell us more about what makes you unique.  
I’m the guy who makes the thing you like, but I’m not the thing itself. Like Rod Serling or Alfred Hitchcock or Colonel Sanders. Each episode is me sharing this new thing we made, and hopefully you will like it. Sometimes you won’t, and that’s ok, because next time! We’re really good at this!

How do you envision the future of the podcasting landscape? 
Hopefully it will stay accessible to anyone and not devolve into a typical media landscape with three big companies who rule us all. I would like it to be completely normal and common for there to be audio drama, and I hope all of it will be amazing.

Radiotopia Welcomes The West Wing Weekly

Radiotopia is excited to announce a new addition to its podcast lineup: The West Wing Weekly. Co-hosted by Hrishikesh Hirway (of Song Exploder) and acclaimed actor Joshua Malina, The West Wing Weekly is an episode-by-episode discussion of the beloved serial political TV drama, The West Wing. Launched earlier this year, The West Wing Weekly podcast quickly built a vibrant and active fanbase as it covered season one of the television show, and is on the verge of tackling season two.

The West Wing Weekly

Bringing on The West Wing Weekly is an exciting development for Radiotopia. The decision is in keeping with our mission and support the best independent and entrepreneurial-driven talent in podcasting, and uphold top quality content across our shows. It also allows us to explore a new content direction, and evolve as a network. We’re thrilled to collaborate with Hrishi on this project alongside his other Radiotopia show, Song Exploder.

The West Wing Weekly does so much more than just recap and discuss a television show. The hosts cross into the real world quite often, to find a deeper understanding of the issues that come up on The West Wing. The podcast uses interviews to explore issues covered on the TV episodes (such as gun control or veterans’ health) framed in our current political landscape. Hirway and Malina have had segments interviewing Matthew Shepard’s friend, and now Executive Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, about hate crimes in the wake of the Orlando massacre. They’ve interviewed a Rabbi about Talmudic interpretation and how it relates to actors interpreting the text of a script. They’ve even talked with an economics writer about the census.

The Podcast So Far

Guests have included:
West Wing stars: Richard Schiff, Dulé Hill, Janel Maloney
Plus Tim Matheson, Kathleen York, Liza Weil and recurring actors William Duffy and Peter James Smith (Ed and Larry), Melissa Fitzgerald (Carol), Bill O’Brien (Kenny)
Crew: Costume designer Lyn Paolo, Music supervisor Ann Kline, writer/producer Eli Attie
Real life DC figures: Press Secretary Jay Carney, Senator Chris Coons, Senator Bob Casey, Clinton advisor Ron Klain, Gary Indiana’s mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, former DNC CEO Amy Dacey, and the Under Secretary of the Army Patrick Murphy.

Season two will kick off on September 28th with a double episode, plus special guests Tommy Schlamme (series director/exec producer) and Bradley Whitford (Josh Lyman). The double episode podcast premiere mirrors the season two television premiere, which also featured two episodes.

Criminal in the Classroom

IMG_1782Steve Riccio (L) and his forensics students

Steve Riccio is a teacher at Oriskany Junior-Senior High School in Oriskany, New York, near Utica. This past school year, he used both individual episodes of Radiotopia’s Criminal and the first season of This American Life’s Serial in his forensics class for juniors and seniors. I talked with Steve about how he used the shows, and his advice for other teachers hoping to make use of podcasts in the classroom. Here are excerpts from a recorded interview:

Genevieve Sponsler: Let’s start with an overview of what you did.

Steve Riccio: We listened to an episode [of Serial in class] every Monday, and I had the students write up a little summary: what was new in the episode [compared with] the previous week, specifically trying to address forensic evidence. There was a heck of a lot of forensics discussed, and specific things the case missed. I tried to have the kids focus on the forensics side. Some weeks were better than others: when the show talked about phone calls, for example, there wasn’t a lot of forensic evidence, like physical evidence you would find at a crime scene. Every week we listened to another episode, which was cool because it kept the kids on their toes. They enjoyed it.

GS: Did some of them try to skip ahead and listen at home?

SR: There was one girl who, after the second week, had listened to the whole thing.

GS: That’s great they were so into it.

SR: Yeah! With Criminal, I would listen to [episodes], write up short summaries, and turn them into questions for exams. We also listened to an episode in class as part of an exam. I have two students who are looking to go into science, one definitely criminal justice and possibly forensics. Another student is thinking of biology, but possibly forensics as avenue. Both are female. To have two young ladies who have said hey, I want to do science, and possibly forensics, is pretty cool.

GS: I agree. Since Serial and Criminal both have excellent women hosts, I wonder if that inspired the students. It’s interesting for them to listen to, I imagine.

SR: Absolutely. I think it subliminally makes a huge impact. I think there are a lot of little tiny things that we don’t really recognize that have a on significant impact on our culture and the way students think. When you told me you wanted to chat about [podcasts in the classroom], I asked my students: what do you think? What did you like? What did you dislike? What should we do differently next year?

They said they really liked listening to the podcasts. One student said she didn’t like writing summaries every time [we listened to Serial]. She said she’d rather have a project on it. Which made me think: Is there some way I can design a project around this? I might be able to work with one of our history teachers, who does a government class, to perhaps host a debate examining the legal aspects of the show. A couple kids said that instead of listening to an episode of Serial every Monday, they would’ve rather listened every day for a couple of weeks. I’m wondering if I can do that as a real short unit. I could also have the students listen at home and come in the next day for an activity or a discussion. That way we’re not actually using class time to listen to it but they’re listening on their own.

GS: Having them listen at home sounds good, but it’s a tough choice because listening to audio together and watching people’s reactions is a unique and bonding experience.

SR: It’s funny that you mention that because I know exactly what you’re talking about. When we would listen to [Serial] together as a group, I knew what was coming since I’d listened ahead of time, but I’d watch the students’ reactions at the end and they would say, “No! What happened?!”

GS: If you knew another teacher in a different school who was interested in using podcasts in the classroom, what advice would you give?

SR: It’s a good way to engage students, and a different style of learning. A lot of times students will hear teachers talk, but they’ve never listened to just straight audio. It’s a really beautiful thing, because they’re bombarded by images all day, every day on their phones. [With podcasts] they’re taking a step back, listening and coming up with images in their own heads, and stimulating a creative part of their brains they don’t often use because they don’t have to. Take a chance — I did and I think it went pretty well. It wasn’t part of our curriculum, but it parallels the curriculum pretty well for forensics. It was a really good change of pace for the kids.

Ed. note from Genevieve: I’ll check back in with Steve in the fall to see how his new class is going. He has 20 kids signed up for fall, instead of the nine he had this past year! (Some were missing from the photo above.)

The Memory Palace Joins Radiotopia. (June Is A Great Month.)

memory palace logo

In The Memory Palace, Nate DiMeo breathes new life into little-known corners of history with his finely crafted, minimalist storytelling. He’s been doing this since before most of you even knew what a podcast was.

Many of us here at PRX and Radiotopia are longtime fans of Nate’s show. Radio Diaries just featured their favorite Memory Palace episode.

So we are especially delighted to welcome The Memory Palace to Radiotopia! Today is the launch of the summer season, with “tales of love, heat, and outdoor adventure, the perfect soundtrack for road trips or the beach.” You can subscribe here.

First Song Exploder, and now The Memory Palace… Here in Radiotopia, we’re calling it the June of our dreams.

Now we are thirteen wonderful, varied, and compelling radio shows, banded together to take our craft even further.

99% Invisible
Theory of Everything
Love + Radio
Criminal
Mortified
Strangers
Fugitive Waves
Radio Diaries
The Truth
The Heart
The Allusionist
Song Exploder
The Memory Palace

PRESS RELEASE
THE MEMORY PALACE, THE PODCAST THAT SPINS LITTLE-KNOWN BITS OF HISTORY INTO AMAZING TALES, JOINS PRX’S RADIOTOPIA

Premieres on Radiotopia on June 22nd with 10-episode season of summer-themed stories,
followed by 3-city live tour to Seattle, Portland, and Los Angeles

Cambridge, MA (June 22, 2015) – The Memory Palace, the popular, long-running podcast featuring bite-sized, gorgeously produced stories about little-known events and people from the corners of history, today becomes the latest series to join Radiotopia, the podcast network from PRX.

The longtime labor of love from Nate DiMeo, the award-winning public radio producer (Marketplace, NPR), Thurber Prize finalist, and television writer (Parks and Recreation, Astronaut Wives Club), The Memory Palace launches with its first-ever themed season – 10 episodes for the summertime—tales of love, heat, and outdoor adventure, the perfect soundtrack for road trips or the beach.

DiMeo will also take his brand of short, surprising stories from the past – sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hysterical, often a bit of both – on the road, with a brand-new live performance of storytelling, music, and short films, before live audiences in Seattle (The Vera Project, 8/6), Portland (Mississippi Studios, 8/7) and Los Angeles (The Masonic Temple at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 9/11).

The Memory Palace was an early entrant to the podcasting world, launching its first episode in 2008. The show has built a large following among fans of great storytelling, expert sound design, and little-known stories from history. The Memory Palace also appears as a segment on NPR’s Weekend Edition.

The addition of The Memory Palace to Radiotopia caps a string of high-profile acquisitions for Radiotopia, including Song Exploder and The Mortified Podcast. It also comes on the heels of a $1 million investment from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, enabling the network to continue its expansion with new programs that push the boundaries of storytelling. Radiotopia features five shows among the Top 50 most popular podcasts in the country, including flagship program 99% Invisible, The Memory Palace, Criminal, Song Exploder and The Mortified Podcast.

Radiotopia was launched in February 2014 by PRX, the award-winning public media company, and has quickly become the leader in today’s audio storytelling renaissance by helping independent podcast producers develop sustainable business models and find new ways to engage audiences.

“The Memory Palace’s quirky, fascinating, and well-crafted stories are a natural fit for Radiotopia,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “We are thrilled to bring Nate’s work to an even broader audience.”

Another inventive way The Memory Palace will use live events to connect modern listeners to the past is in an unprecedented gallery-based collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art in the fall of 2015. DiMeo will unveil an episode commissioned by the Museum, accompanied by a live performance of the episode at the Met. Additional details will be announced at a later date.

“The Memory Palace uses artistic elements to bring history to life, giving it a place in people’s busy lives,” said DiMeo. “Our episodes are meant to be played on repeat, because they’re so short – like songs. With our new season, you might be surprised to discover your new summer jam is…a podcast.”

Radiotopia will soon announce the hiring of an executive producer to provide leadership and promote collaboration across and beyond the network. It will also establish a new pilot fund to identify and nurture diverse emerging producers and hosts. PRX has a track record of introducing innovative new programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment and Michael Ian Black’s How to Be Amazing to millions of listeners across broadcast and digital platforms.

# # #

About PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering tens of thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, State of the Re:Union, Snap Judgment, and How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX was created through a collaboration of the Station Resource Group and Atlantic Public Media, and receives support from public radio stations and producers, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and Knight Foundation.

Song Exploder Joins Radiotopia

songexploder-1400pxA huge welcome to Song Exploder, the newest member of Radiotopia! Song Exploder is a brilliant, complex show with a simple concept: Musicians take apart a song, and piece by piece, tell the story of how it was made.

Host and producer Hrishikesh Hirway is himself a musician; a songwriter, composer, and remixer. Taking apart songs to remix them led him to create Song Exploder. Hrishikesh is also a graphic designer, and his design sensibility permeates his work. In fact, Song Exploder is featured in this week’s episode of everyone’s favorite design show, 99% Invisible, diving into the score and sound design of TV’s “Hannibal”.

Out today: Emmy-nominated composer Ramin Djawadi takes apart the main title theme to the hit HBO show “Game of Thrones.” Subscribe now.

PRESS RELEASE
For information, interviews, photos contact:
Patrick Kowalczyk, patrick@pkpr.com
Scott Piro, scott@pkpr.com
PKPR, 212.627.8098

SONG EXPLODER, THE PODCAST WHERE MUSICIANS BREAK DOWN THEIR SONGS NOTE BY NOTE, JOINS RADIOTOPIA

Premieres June 11th with Game of Thrones Theme Composer, Ramin Djawadi

Cambridge, MA (June 11, 2015) – Song Exploder, the addictive podcast where artists like Spoon, My Morning Jacket, and The National take apart their songs piece by piece to tell the story of how they were made, debuts on June 11th as the latest series to join Radiotopia, the acclaimed podcasting network from PRX.

Launching with a breakdown of the earworm Game of Thrones theme by its composer, Ramin Djawadi, Song Exploder is the brainchild of Hrishikesh Hirway, a songwriter, composer and remixer. In his remix work, Hirway was often surprised by sounds hidden within other artists’ songs, discovered only after he’d broken the track down into its raw components. Realizing that song origin stories could fascinate more than just music fans, Hirway founded Song Exploder to let artists show exactly how their songs were made, detailing their process of turning ideas into music. Regardless of one’s musical knowledge, Song Exploder will open people’s ears and inspire them to create. Listeners will never listen to a song the same way after it’s been exploded.

The addition of Song Exploder to Radiotopia comes on the heels of a $1 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, enabling the podcast network to continue its expansion with new programs that push the boundaries of storytelling. Radiotopia features four shows among the Top 40 most popular podcasts in the country, including flagship program 99% Invisible, plus Criminal, Love + Radio and Radio Diaries.

Radiotopia was launched in February 2014 by PRX, the award-winning public media company, and has quickly become the leader in today’s audio storytelling renaissance by helping independent podcast producers develop sustainable business models and find new ways to engage audiences.

Song Exploder fits right in with PRX’s storytelling ethos, opening up another subject to audiences and showing its universality,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “We’re delighted our Radiotopia network will bring the personal experiences of today’s most relevant musicians to an even wider audience.”

“Radiotopia has curated a set of shows that I have been inspired and influenced by, and I’m honored to be included among them,” said Hirway.

Radiotopia will soon announce the hiring of an executive producer to provide leadership and promote collaboration across and beyond the network. It will also establish a new pilot fund to identify and nurture diverse emerging producers and hosts. PRX has a track record of introducing innovative new programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment and Michael Ian Black’s How to Be Amazing to millions of listeners across broadcast and digital platforms.

# # #

ABOUT PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering tens of thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, Snap Judgment, and How to Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX was created through a collaboration of the Station Resource Group and Atlantic Public Media, and receives support from public radio stations and producers, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and Knight Foundation.

PRX and Radiotopia Stories Come to Spotify

spotify_logo_rgb_greenGreat stories thoughtfully curated for a potential audience of 60 million. It makes perfect sense, right? Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, is expanding to include podcasts, and PRX is proud to be a launch partner.

We were in the audience at last week’s announcement event when Spotify’s VP of User Experience and Design pointed to a big screen with the 99% Invisible logo and exclaimed, “I love that show!”

Ridiculously early the next morning, PRX CEO Jake Shapiro appeared on Bloomberg TV to talk about the power of podcasting in clear business terms: “It is a revenue producer.”

This partnership is part of a PRX strategy that we’ve been pursuing since the early days of digital audio distribution. Aggregation services like iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and, of course, Spotify are used by millions of people. By building distribution relationships with these services, PRX is bringing public radio to new audiences, and reaching existing audiences on the platforms they use regularly.

Spotify’s new version rolls out over the next several weeks. Once you get it, head straight to the Storytellers section to see all of Radiotopia and The Moth. You can listen to other PRX shows – Reveal, Transistor, and How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black (launching tomorrow!) on the app, too. And more to come!

Knight Supports Radiotopia With $1M

Radiotopia has been a huge success by any measure. To name a few: In just over one year, we’ve grown to 7.5 million monthly downloads across our 11 shows. Our Kickstarter campaign drew record-breaking numbers of backers and funding. Most importantly, our producers are making some of the best radio out there.

Knight Foundation saw the potential, and now they see our momentum. We are proud to announce that Radiotopia will receive $1 million in funding from Knight over the next two years. This is an important recognition of how far this brainchild of Roman Mars and PRX has come, while giving us the opportunity to grow and strengthen the network in so many ways. Read more from PRX CEO Jake Shapiro on the Knight Foundation blog.

PRESS RELEASE
Contact
Patrick Kowalczyk, 212-627-8098, PKPR, patrick@pkpr.com
Scott Piro, 212-627-8098, PKPR, scott@pkpr.com
Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2646, media@knightfoundation.org

Radiotopia Podcast Network Expansion Will Help Independent Public Media Producers Develop A Sustainable Business Model With $1 Million From Knight Foundation

Cambridge, Mass. – May 12, 2015 – To help independent audio producers develop new ways to engage audiences, develop models for success and support new talent in public media, podcast network Radiotopia from PRX will expand with $1 million from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Knight support will enable PRX to provide more resources to Radiotopia’s producers, helping them to experiment with new business models. To this end, PRX will provide more production and logistical support to Radiotopia’s producers, increase operational capacity, market its shows to an even wider audience and double down on promising paths to sustainability. PRX will also hire an executive producer to provide leadership and promote collaboration across and beyond the network. Additionally, Knight support will establish a new pilot fund to identify and nurture diverse emerging producers and hosts.

“Radiotopia is at the epicenter of an expanding galaxy of audio stories and mobile distribution,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “Knight’s investment accelerates our path to reach new listeners, strengthen these shows, and establish a new model for public radio beyond broadcast.”

“PRX has grown Radiotopia to 7.5 million monthly downloads in just over a year by focusing on quality storytelling and programming, but also an innovative approach to distribution and revenue generation,” said Chris Barr, Knight Foundation director for media innovation. “Their experiences can help establish a means for independent producers to become more sustainable and draw in new funding.”

PRX, the award-winning public media company, launched Radiotopia in February 2014 with $200,000 in support from Knight Foundation, in partnership with Roman Mars, known as an innovator for independent podcasts including his hit show “99% Invisible.” Radiotopia has quickly become the leader in today’s audio storytelling renaissance by helping rising talent in the podcasting world grow their audiences, earn revenue and create the best work of their careers.

Last November, Radiotopia became the most-funded radio/podcast project in Kickstarter history, raising over $620,000 from over 21,808 backers, surpassing its original goal of $250,000. The Kickstarter enabled Radiotopia to add four new shows: “The Mortified Podcast,” “Criminal,” “The Heart” and “The Allusionist.” They joined Radiotopia’s roster of envelope-pushing podcasts, including anchor program “99% Invisible” by Roman Mars, “Radio Diaries,” “Theory of Everything,” “Strangers,” “Fugitive Waves,” “The Truth” and “Love + Radio.”

“Our main goal with this expansion is to provide structure and support for the Radiotopia producers and pilot new programs to increase the scope and diversity of public radio podcasts,” said Mars. “I can’t wait to hear what’s created in the years to come. This is only the beginning.”

Along with announcing the search for Radiotopia’s first executive producer, Radiotopia plans to announce new shows, initiatives and partnerships in the coming months.

For more information on Radiotopia visit radiotopia.fm.

About PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering tens of thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, State of the Re:Union, Snap Judgment, and WTF with Marc Maron. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX was created through a collaboration of the Station Resource Group and Atlantic Public Media, and receives support from public radio stations and producers, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and Knight Foundation.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. knightfoundation.org

About Roman Mars
Roman Mars is the host and creator of 99% Invisible, a short radio show about design and architecture. With over 40 million downloads, the 99% Invisible podcast is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. Fast Company named him one of their 100 Most Creative People in 2013. He was a TED main stage speaker in 2015. His crowd funding campaigns have raised over $1.16 million, making him the highest-funded journalist in Kickstarter history. He is also a co-founder of Radiotopia, a collective of ground-breaking story-driven podcasts.

The Birth of Rice-A-Roni and the Power of Podcasts

This week, as people observe the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the Fugitive Waves podcast published a story about Rice-A-Roni. The genocide and the ubiquitous rice mix are linked in an unexpected way: A young couple rent a room from an old Armenian woman. The older woman, Pailadzou Captanian, teaches her young, pregnant tenant how to cook, and shares her personal stories of the Armenian tragedy – stories that she published in a book decades earlier. From these kitchen sessions comes a delicious pilaf that eventually becomes Rice-A-Roni.


Read more and view photos.

Nikki Silva of The Kitchen Sisters, which produces Fugitive Waves, shared some thoughts about the piece:

“The Birth of Rice-A-Roni” was originally a shorter piece for NPR’s Morning Edition. It absolutely killed us that we couldn’t include more than a quick mention of Mrs. Captanian and her rare eyewitness account. I’ve been sitting here listening back to the tapes and crying – because of the stories, but also because it’s taken us so long to get them out there. So, finally, we’re able to include extended interviews with the librarian in Germany who translated the book, and with Mrs. Captanian’s grandson, and can begin to piece together the story of this woman’s experiences and accomplishments.

Hooray for podcasts!

Hooray, indeed. Listen to the episode, and subscribe to Fugitive Waves. Listen to all the Radiotopia shows at Radiotopia.fm.

Welcome, Mortified!
Now, We Are Eleven.

It’s been a year since PRX launched Radiotopia, our collective of amazing, digital-first storytelling shows. Then, we were seven.

Now, we are eleven. We are thrilled to welcome the brand-new Mortified Podcast to Radiotopia (press release below). They join The Heart, Criminal, and The Allusionist as the newest members of our podcast family. These shows broaden our range of styles and stories while sharing the special qualities – describable and not – that make all of our shows Radiotopia shows.

MortifiedThe Mortified Podcast is a storytelling series where adults share the embarrassing things they created as kids — diaries, letters, lyrics & beyond — in front of total strangers. PS: It totally likes you. Hosted by David Nadelberg and Neil Katcher and produced by Gina Delvac and Pierce Purselley.

 

The Heart is a radio show about the triumphs and the terrors of intimacy, the bliss and banality of being in love and the wild diversity of the human heart. Produced by Kaitlin Prest and Mitra Kaboli.

 

Criminal is a new take on true crime, with stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. Hosted by Phoebe Judge and produced by Lauren Spohrer.

 

The Allusionist scratches the surface of why we say the things we say. English is a big messy mutt of a language, formed by military invasion after military invasion, plus countless tiny idiosyncratic decisions made by its users along the way. Hosted and produced by Helen Zaltzman.

 

Special thanks to our Kickstarter backers who gave us the love and funding to spread our wings in many ways, including this very important one.


PRESS RELEASE

For information, interviews, photos contact:
Patrick Kowalczyk, patrick@pkpr.com
Scott Piro, scott@pkpr.com
PKPR, 212.627.8098

MORTIFIED’S HEARTBREAKING AND HILARIOUS STORIES

LEAP INTO THE PODCASTING UNIVERSE AS LATEST SHOW FROM PRX’S RADIOTOPIA

The weekly Mortified Podcast debuts on February 9th

Cambridge, MA (February 9, 2015) – Mortified, the cultural phenomenon that has inspired thousands of adults to share awkward writings from their youth, will bring its unique blend of hilarious and heartbreaking stories to headphones everywhere when it debuts on February 9th as the latest series from Radiotopia, the acclaimed podcasting collective from PRX.

Ripped from the pages of real life, The Mortified Podcast features adults on stage sharing awkward and embarrassing artifacts of their youth in front of total strangers, from teenage diaries to pretentious college poetry to middle school love letters. Hosted by Mortified’s founder David Nadelberg and artist director Neil Katcher, each episode features one performance from the vast audio archives of the Mortified stage shows, which have been performed throughout the US for over the past thirteen years.

Last November, Radiotopia became the most funded radio/podcast project in Kickstarter history, raising over $620,000 from over 21,808 backers, far surpassing its original goal of $250,000. The Kickstarter enabled Radiotopia to launch The Mortified Podcast, and add three new shows: Criminal, The Heart, and The Allusionist. They join Radiotopia’s roster of envelope-pushing podcasts, including anchor program 99% Invisible, Radio Diaries, Theory of Everything, Strangers, Fugitive Waves, The Truth, and Love+Radio.

Radiotopia was launched in February 2014 by PRX, the award-winning public media company, and has quickly become the leader in today’s audio storytelling renaissance by helping the best and the brightest in the podcasting world grow their audiences and create the best work of their careers.

Mortified has long been one of the bravest and funniest live shows in the storytelling field, with an utterly unique premise that celebrates the universality of humiliation,” said Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX. “We’re thrilled to bring this addictive and infinitely relatable series to a mass audience through our Radiotopia network.”

“For years, Neil and I have wanted to do a Mortified podcast,” said Nadelberg. “We finally found the perfect home for that at Radiotopia, who not only understand the power of the medium, but who truly get storytelling. We are honored to have Mortified join their lineup of innovative audio series.”

Mortified began in the late 1990s, when Nadelberg unearthed an awkward love letter and began sharing it with friends. The project has since sifted through thousands of otherwise forgotten notebooks, photos, and envelopes. Participants have ranged from professional comics, actors, and singers to architects, ad execs, salesmen, and other amateurs, all in the noble pursuit of personal redemption through public humiliation.

The show has since been featured on This American Life, All Things Considered, Talk of the Nation, and other public radio mainstays. In addition to its new podcast, Mortified has produced live events, books, a documentary (Mortified Nation), and an interview series for Sundance TV (The Mortified Sessions).

The Radiotopia network roster will expand as PRX enlists new producers and programs that push the boundaries of storytelling and adopt a wide digital distribution model. PRX has a track record of introducing innovative new programs such as The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment and PRX Remix to millions of listeners across broadcast and digital, Shapiro said.

About PRX
PRX is an award-winning nonprofit public media company, harnessing innovative technology to bring compelling stories to millions of people. PRX.org operates public radio’s largest distribution marketplace, offering thousands of audio stories for broadcast and digital use, including This American Life, The Moth Radio Hour, Sound Opinions, Reveal, Snap Judgment, and the Radiotopia podcast network. PRX Remix is PRX’s 24/7 channel featuring the best independent radio stories and new voices. PRX is also the leading mobile app developer for public media, with apps such as Public Radio Player, This American Life, and PRX Remix. PRX was created through a collaboration of the Station Resource Group and Atlantic Public Media, and receives support from public radio stations and producers, The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wyncote Foundation, and Knight Foundation.

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