State of the Re:Union with Al Letson, from PRX and NPR

State of the Re:Union
State of the Re:Union

Apropos of today’s State of the Union speech from the President, and Apple’s “Slate of the Union” introducing the unfortunately named iPad…

We’re thrilled to be working with Al on his “SOTRU” project. Ever since we heard Al’s first 2-minute entry in the Public Radio Quest a few years back we’ve been big believers in his talent and vision here at PRX. We knew to expect great things from Al, and when the Corporation for Public Broadcasting decided to back his new venture with gusto in 2010, we made sure to jump in and lend a hand.

We are also trying out a new partnership with our friends at NPR, resulting in a co-distribution arrangement that will also enable Al to appear on some NPR programs in addition to distributing his show to PRX and NPR member stations. This is kind of how NPR works with some “presenting” stations like WBUR (“On Point”) or WHYY (“Fresh Air”).

Make sure to check out Al’s work on PRX now, and check back for more episodes coming soon. Al and his ninja team in Jacksonville have also revamped the SOTRU website.

Below is the announcement that just went out to public radio stations from our main man on the station marketing front, Izzi Smith:

New for Spring – State of the Re:Union with Al Letson

Fresh Stories on Building and Rebuilding Communities

PRX and NPR are excited to announce the spring season of State of the Re:Union with Al Letson.  With generous support from CPB, Public Radio Talent Quest winner Al Letson is producing 5 all-new shows this spring.  State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) is presented by PRX and co-distributed by PRX and NPR.

There’s so much talk about “community” that sometimes we lose perspective on the real stories of the people working to make homes, lives, and neighborhoods across the country.  In State of the Re:Union, Al Letson is traveling the country to find those stories, and tell them with grace, perspective, and deep curiosity.

Where much of today’s news and media outlets highlight the divisions and conflicts that separate us, SOTRU explores the resonating themes, stories, challenges and cultural components that create communities across the country and celebrate the commonality that links us as a people.

Letson brings his formidable stage and poetry slam skills to the mic in each State of the Re:Union episode.  Not since Radiolab have you heard music, rhythm, and pacing used to deepen the story.  During the Talent Quest, PRX talked about the value of “hostiness.”

There will be 5, all new hours of State of the Re:Union this spring.  Preview audio will be available on March 1, and broadcast rights open April 30, 2010.  The programs are available free to all PRX and NPR member stations.  Here’s a preview of some of the stories in the spring season:

Greensburg, Kansas –

On one night in May of 2007, a tornado wiped Greensburg, Kansas, off the map. The town’s residents have decided to not only resurrect the town, but to rebuild in a true spirit of renewal. State of the Re:Union examines the profound devastation and the rigors and rewards of this innovative rebirth.

Brooklyn, NY –

State of the Re:Union visits New York City’s most populated borough to examine how this diverse collection of communities handles the friction of change, the pull of tradition, and discovers that special something that makes this neighborhood so celebrated.

Timber Town –

Back in the timber industry’s heyday, small mill towns in Oregon were thriving. Business was booming. Then in the early 1990s, the saws stopped. The mills shut down and their economies crumbled. State of the Re:Union surveys how a town, that has lost its identity, reinvents itself.

A fall season of six State of the Re:Union programs will be available in September 2010.

Free PRX memberships for ex-NPR staff and others

Public radio has started to bear its share of the turbulent economic times, with recent layoffs and budget cuts at NPR and a number of stations.

Public radio never has much margin to begin with, so any cuts tend to hit hard, and talented people find themselves let loose at a tough moment.

PRX would like to offer any recently unemployed staff member from a public radio network or station a free one-year PRX producer membership with full privileges, as our small way of helping out.

With PRX 3.0, producer accounts now have unlimited audio storage and expanded professional profiles for networking and freelance opportunities.

So if you are one of the NPR, APM, or other network or station staff that was recently let go, we invite you to sign up for an individual producer account now, and then contact PRX (email membership) and we’ll upgrade it to a paid membership.