The Moth gets Remixed

mothlogo We’re so excited to now offer stories from The Moth Podcast on Remix Radio. If you’re new to The Moth, it’s a storytelling organization that hosts live events where seasoned veterans and newbies alike tell a “true” story live on stage without notes. From The Moth mission statement:

“The Moth is dedicated to promoting the art of storytelling. We celebrate the ability of stories to honor the diversity and commonality of human experience, and to satisfy a vital human need for connection. We do so by helping our storytellers to shape their stories and to share them with the community at large. One goal of The Moth is to present the finest storytellers among established and emerging writers, performers and artists; another is to encourage storytelling among populations whose stories often go unheard.”

PRX is also distributing the brand new The Moth Radio Hour, so if you dig the podcast and all the stories you hear on Remix, call up your local public radio station and ask that they play the hour long public radio version! Your local radio listening community will thank you.

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, 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.

Michigan moved by The Moth

This is a big week for The Moth Radio Hour as the PRX crew decamps to Cleveland, OH for the annual Public Radio Program Directors (PRPD) conference. The PRPD is a touchstone event every year for PRX, it’s where we first debuted back in September 2003 when it was just Steve Schultze and myself (with tons of help from SRG and Jay Allison/Atlantic Public Media) running the show and staffing the booth.

This year we’ll have over a dozen people in the entourage including The Moth staff and storytellers, gearing up for the main event this Wednesday night when The Moth takes the stage at the City Club for an exclusive evening for PRPD attendees.

The pilot series has been getting rave reviews from stations and listeners around the country, and has already been picked up by 170 stations – many of whom are starting to ask for more.

Here’s a sampling of the feedback, in a nice press release from Michigan Radio about taking the unusual step (for public radio at least) of running an encore performance of the series right out of the gate.

[UPDATE] Vermont chimes in with similar sentiments. Bring it on!

What’s next? We’re working with our partners The Moth and producer Jay Allison on the 2010 series, aiming at a minimum for “10 in 2010.” But if this level of response and demand continues we’ll just aim higher!

The Moth Radio Hour returns to Michigan Radio

ANN ARBOR–Due to overwhelming interest, Michigan Radio is presenting an encore performance of the special 5-part series The Moth Radio Hour, next week at 10 pm. This live storytelling show, which recently aired on Michigan Radio Saturdays throughout August, received an unprecedented response from listeners.

The Moth Radio Hour, based on the New York phenomenon The Moth, features true stories told live on stage without scripts, notes, props, or accompaniment. Each Moth Radio Hour mixes humorous, heartbreaking, and poignant tales…all told with honesty, bravery, and wit.

Michigan Radio listeners reacted to these engaging stories with comments like these:

“Wow! More, more, more!! I was so moved in many different ways by the stories I heard on your program yesterday.”

“Love, love, love The Moth! Can we have it all the time, not just through Labor Day?”

“The Moth Radio Hour is the best thing on Michigan Radio! It is refreshing, edgy, hip and full of substance. Please keep it up!”

“There was an episode of the Moth Radio Hour a few weeks back that included the story of a comedian who told the story of his appearances on the Tonight Show as his daughter was battling and died of cancer. What a story! It has stayed with me for weeks and I want others to hear it.”

Curious? Tune in to Michigan Radio at 10 pm Sept. 14-18 to hear what the buzz is about!

For more information on The Moth Radio Hour, which is produced by Atlantic Public Media and distributed by the Public Radio Exchange, visit

Michigan Radio is the state’s most listened-to public radio service,
attracting over 500,000 listeners each week across the southern half of
Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Michigan Radio broadcasts at 91.7 FM in
southeastern Michigan, 91.1 FM in Flint, and 104.1 FM in western Michigan.