A New Chapter for Generation PRX

Evolution of the GPRX Logo

Evolution of the GPRX Logo

In 9 years of leading Generation PRX, I’ve watched this network grow from a handful of committed youth radio groups to something more closely resembling a movement. And though I’ll be leaving PRX to pursue a career in health at the end of the month, I’m so excited to see what comes next for the youth radio field.

We’ve come a long way! Thanks to dedicated youth radio producers, teachers, and stations, diverse stories from young producers are reaching millions of listeners. From 26 youth radio stories, the PRX catalogue now hosts over 2,400 pieces from 60 youth radio groups. Audiences are hearing young people report on topics ranging from politics to heartbreak, but they’re also hearing something else: young people’s capacity, vision, and insight.

GPRX’s Youth Editorial Board has proved to be a vital network of peer feedback, and our hour-long specials on topics as wide-ranging as immigration, parenting and the environment have created a new model of programming. This work demonstrates what I think of as the hallmark of youth-produced radio: the transformative power of both making and listening to stories.

But this isn’t goodbye! I’ll be staying on in some new capacities to help shepherd this important work forward, and we’ve got excellent partners that support new voices:

  • At PRX, we’ll continue to feature youth-produced radio on the website, newsletters and social media. And PRX Remix – our 24-hour satellite and broadcast stream – is always looking for great content from new producers. If you have work or news to share please let our editors know. We’re also planning to offer webinars to help youth radio groups build capacity in areas like fundraising, peer feedback and distribution. Details to follow.
  • Transom has recently launched online workshops (now in testing) to help new producers hone skills in a free, distance-learning format. From history, to interviewing, to equipment – keep your eye on this one.
  • HowSound podcast, from venerable radio teacher Rob Rosenthal, is an incredible tool for understanding how great radio gets made. Subscribe in iTunes.
  • Start planning now to go to Third Coast Festival, the best producer meet up in radioland. TCF is a chance to build skills, connect with new and veteran producers, and (of course!) show off your dance moves.
  • AIR – the Association of Independents in Radio – offers both student-discount memberships and mentorship programs that help individual producers focus on a particular skill and audio piece. Their New Voices scholarships help minority producers attend Third Coast. Contact Erin Mishkin (erin[at]airmedia[dot]org) to learn more.

I’m so proud of what the Generation PRX network has created, and excited to hear what comes next. I remain as inspired by young people’s stories  – and the producers, teachers and stations who bring them to the world – as I was ten years ago. The future is bright!



AIR “unpacks” PRX Part II

On assignment for our colleagues over at the Association of Independents in Radio, Barrett Golding has posted Part II of his deep dive into public radio distribution, focusing mostly on PRX with a dollop of PRSS/ContentDepot for good measure.

As with Part I there is a lot to chew on, some excellent insights into how PRX works, and where it needs improvement. The article is hugely helpful in gathering and distilling opinions about PRX from stations and producers.

Click here to download a PDF of the combined Parts I and II.

There are a few items that merit further comment and context from PRX, so here are some notes: Continue reading AIR “unpacks” PRX Part II

“Distro Dancing” AIRblast on PRX

PRX producer extraordinaire Barrett Golding takes a long look at PRX and PRSS Content Depot’s distribution services for producers in the most recent AIRblast newsletter.

Barrett gets into the nitty gritty of explaining PRX points, the comparative costs and benefits of distributing via PRX and PRSS, and some direct testimony from our users:

Producer Nancy Solomon recently posted her first piece on PRX: “The interface works great; I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was. Their help desk was super helpful and easy to get a hold of. I like the way the page looks; I like the way it’s laid out and the flexibility the format gives you to put both segments and whole pieces up. I was also amazed and pleased at how accessible John Barth was to talk about how best to promote the show.”

Well said! The article also points out that PRX and Content Depot don’t solve the deeper issues of funding for indie production in public radio – something AIR is trying to address through projects like MQ2 and other efforts.

We’re proud that PRX has paid out over $1 million in royalties to producers since 2004, and we’re constantly increasing distribution and revenue opportunities across PRX services, but also recognize that this does not (yet) help commission or acquire original work at a time when other sources of funding for independents are hard to come by.

PRX is working on an idea called Story Market (now in the running for the Knight News Challenge) that could be one creative approach, along the lines of another site we admire called Spot.Us.

Stay tuned! Meantime, check out Barrett’s piece in AIRblast.

PRX at PRPD 2009


We’re just back from the Public Radio Program Directors conference in Cleveland, OH, where PRX was a whirlwind of activity. John Barth is on the PRPD Board of Directors and moderated several panels, and I also joined a panel on Mobile Technology and Public Radio. It was terrific to see so many independent producers in attendance, a credit to PRPD’s partnership with the Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) and the participation of the Third Coast International Audio Festival, which announced its Awards here this year. PRX works closely with both AIR and Third Coast so it was extra fun to have our friends in the mix at every turn.
PRX booth

Also in the house in a big way were PRX Talent Quest winners Al Letson and Glynn Washington, fresh off a year of pilot development for Al’s State of the Re:Union and Glynn’s Snap Judgment shows funded by CPB. Al gave the conference-ending “benediction” with his unique flourish of poetry, art and generous spirit. He blew the place away. This is the third year we’ve had Al and Glynn in our midst and public radio is starting to wake up to the overdue realization that these guys – along with remarkably talented producers in AIR’s MQ2 project – are exactly where the future needs to be.

If you haven’t yet checked out MQ2 head over to the website where much of the work is being featured – exceptional multimedia and radio production. I particularly was struck by Lu Olkowski’s “InVerse” project that Al highlighted during his speech. Check out a sample here, watch it full screen with the volume up.

For us, and by all accounts for many others at PRPD, the highpoint of the entire week was The Moth event at the City Club of Cleveland on Wednesday night.

We recorded the show for future inclusion in a Moth Radio Hour episode. Tom Shillue was the host for this event and did a fantastic and funny job, and the storytellers were Ed Gavigan, Elna Baker, and “DMC” of the legendary Run DMC. Below are my introductory comments to give some context for the project and PRX’s role in it.

Tom Shillue at The Moth at PRPD 2009 Cleveland
Tom Shillue at The Moth at PRPD 2009 Cleveland

Thank you Dave and WCPN/IdeaStream, thank you WKSU, and also a big thanks to Arthur Cohen, PRPD, and the City Club of Cleveland. This is the oldest continuous free speech forum in the country!

Please also join me in thanking everyone at PRX, the stations and producers who provided feedback, The Moth, Atlantic Public Media, and Izzi Smith, and especially our own Kerri Hoffman for all the hard work that’s gone into tonight and this project.

Our partners on this venture are The Moth – a truly remarkable group lead by Executive Director Lea Thau and Artistic Director Catherine Burns who are here tonight. The Moth is a nonprofit based in New York that got its start over a dozen years ago and does important community outreach work in addition to the performances they are known for.

And our other partner is Jay Allison, whom you all know well. Jay’s work in co-founding PRX, starting Transom.org, and most recently producing This I Believe all point to the tremendous potential that he, and we, see in The Moth joining forces with public radio. Jay’s Open Studios Project, funded by CPB, has helped seed the production of this series.

This is a special night.

We may be in the waking moments of creating public radio’s next big hit.

This is the PRPD so you can expect a bit of hyperbole from the likes of me, but actually I mean it.

PRX works with literally thousands of producers, and tens of thousands of hours of programs.

But beyond distribution, we’ve always made it our mission to help showcase the best new voices and talent, the most innovative ideas, projects, and people who will help expand the reach and meaning of public media.

Once in a while something extraordinary emerges, and I feel it’s a kind of collective responsibility for all of us to help nurture it into existence.

Without question, The Moth is a phenomenon.

It is a living breathing experience that is already touching audiences on stages in communities across the country, through millions of podcast downloads, and, as of this past month, on over 170 public radio stations and counting.

The Moth speaks directly and powerfully to the public radio audience, but we are also bringing The Moth audience – and it’s a big and new and interesting one – to public radio.

This pilot series of 5 radio hours presented by PRX and produced by Jay Allison is creating a huge groundswell of response from listeners everywhere.

Some stations are already starting to re-air the series, and audiences are asking for more.

And there is more – lots more coming in 2010 – because it all starts with true stories told, on a stage like this, in dozens of performances a year.

Starting in New York, and then Los Angeles, and now with local productions in partnership with stations in Wisconsin, Pittsburg, Georgia, Detroit, Boston, Chicago, and more to come – creating a unique opportunity for participation and engagement.

I don’t need to wax poetic about the connection between compelling storytelling and public radio’s core values.

That’s best left to someone like PRX Talent Quest Winner Al Letson at his Benediction on Friday at 11:15 in Grand Ballroom A!! (Got your back Al!)

But this is why we are here. This is why The Moth Radio Hour is taking flight. And this is why we wanted to make sure you had the chance to experience The Moth live, in person here tonight.

Enjoy the show, come visit us at the PRX booth tomorrow. And thank you.