Welcome Alex Braunstein!

When I was a little girl, I had a restaurant. It was a playset in my parent’s kitchen, tucked in the corner by a table. Everything about it was plastic and kid-sized. When friends came over, I would take their order, return to my plastic stovetop, and serve them plastic fried eggs. No one complained inside my restaurant, even though they technically never ate anything. Every time I cleared their small, shiny plates, I felt immense pride at feeding my loved ones. Imagination is a skill I never want to lose. That’s why I’m so excited to join PRX as the Community Manager of the Podcast Garage.


I’m a documentary artist who creates and facilitates stories with audio, photography, video, writing, and my own two ears. Over the last few years, I’ve produced stories on my own and at my home NPR station, Rhode Island Public Radio. Working at Brown University, I created a space for storytelling and social change and ran workshops, events, and an editorial team of students. I’ve also collaborated with friends, producers, and musicians on community storytelling projects like a performance of live audio stories spanning birth to death, and a public “living room” for storytelling on a sidewalk in downtown Providence. Sometimes, I just walk around my neighborhood and talk to strangers.

Listening is an act of imagination. That’s why I love audio. When we hear a story, we open up our other senses. We lose the ability to judge the look of things. We form memories out of what happens inside of us. I feel so lucky to be a part of the PRX community, which brings those moments to millions of people.

Until you and I get to meet, here are three other things about me*:

  1. I’ve stealth-camped all over RI and MA.
  2. I can recite the entire pilot’s alphabet.
  3. I have a pet turtle.
Imagination on full blast. Playing dress-up with my older brother, Simon.
Imagination on full blast. Playing dress-up with my older brother, Simon.

*Only two of them are true.

I’ll be spending most of my days at the Podcast Garage. If you haven’t stopped by yet, please do anytime. Or email me at alex.braunstein@prx.org. I’ll make you my finest plastic fried egg.

What is PRX NXT?

Originally posted on Generation PRX.

At PRX HQ, we’ve been talking about how to improve PRX in a number of ways, including some exciting changes to profile pages, audio and, ultimately, listening. It’s a project we’re calling PRX NXT. We asked Director of Project Management Matt MacDonald, who heads up the project, to break it down.

GPRX: Take it from the top: What is PRX NXT?

Matt MacDonald, developer smarty man

Matt: PRX NXT is a significant refresh and update to the PRX.org website, improving the publishing process and creating brand new piece and producer profile pages with a focus on increasing listening.

GPRX: What are the biggest changes producers will notice as it rolls out?

Matt: Producers will notice that piece pages will be updated to make it much easier for people to listen to their stories and share their work. We know that visitors to PRX often first experience a producers work via a piece page, that essentially a piece page is a homepage for PRX and the producer. With that in mind we’re focusing on designing that page to encourage more listening. Right now when you visit a PRX piece page it is very much geared toward the marketplace, producers selling pieces and stations buying pieces. The most visible change will probably be how much we’re improving the listening experience.

GPRX: How will these changes help producers get audio work out in the world?


Matt: I’d say the most important change that we’re making relates to the listening experience. PRX.org has always been an open and transparent marketplace and the listener community has just sort of come along for the ride. With PRX NXT we are creating a world-class listening destination for professional audio and storytelling producers. We want to make sure that when a producer points someone to their PRX piece or producer profile that they get a great listening experience.

GPRX: Anything else we should know?

Matt: We’d love to hear what producers at all stages of their career and experience level need to improve their work and build audience. Whether you are looking to become a professional producer or a skilled hobbyist, we want to make sure that PRX is the home for your audio stories.

Have an opinion? Fill out the PRX Producer Survey.

Matter Announces First Class of Startups

We’re thrilled to announce the first class of Matter startups. Six ventures have been chosen to work together, elbow to elbow in Matters space in San Francisco, CA. The six teams were selected because of their potential to leverage scalable entrepreneurship to create a more informed, connected, and empowered society.

Read more about the selected teams and their members.

What the media’s saying about Matter One:

Also, GigaOM, Nieman Lab, and Current.

Bullied Takes Off

Way back in the fall of 2010, when we first started talking to the Generation PRX network about creating an hour-long youth special on bullying, we knew we were on to something.

Over the past several years, GPRX has collaborated with stations (KUOW, WBEZ, NHPR) and youth producers to tackle issues ranging from immigration, to parenting, to Black masculinity.  The shows – which bring a uniquely youth perspective to topics that young people experience first hand – have been PRX hits.

But this time?  We’ve been bowled over by pick up both on and off the radio.

GPRX's Jones Franzel talks "Bullied" on FoxNews.com

So far, Bullied: Teen Stories from Generation PRX has been licensed by 16 different stations.  It’s been spotlighted on the Third Coast Festival library, written about on FoxNews.com and GPRX Director Jones Franzel was interviewed on Jonathan Hunts’ show on FoxNews.com (true story!)

Bullied: Teen Stories from Generation PRX was funded by the Motorola Mobility Foundation and comes from (awesome, amazing) producer Catie Talarski, Connecticut Public Radio and PRX.  You’ll find the back story to how this ambitious special came together as well as individual posts from featured youth radio groups on generationprx.org.   We’re so proud of the work the whole team did, and gratified that the show is finding audiences far and wide.

“Public Media: From Broadcast to Broadband” discussion at Berkman Center

On Tuesday Ellen Goodman and I presented at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University as part of the Center’s weekly luncheon series.

The topic was “Public Media: from broadcast to broadband” and we managed to cover a lot of territory and start a good discussion in the 90 minutes or so we had at our disposal. Considering that there are not infrequent multi-day convenings and conferences on these issues it was quite an exercise to boil it down to some essentials.

Ellen is working with the Ford Foundation (of which PRX is a grantee) to help shape a research and policy agenda on public media, and PRX itself is in the thick of things as a player in the field effecting change through our services and projects.

The video is embedded here (downloadable and non-YouTube versions here), and below that I’ve posted the slides from the presentation.

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.

Who says public radio doesn’t pay?

David Green of Third Grade Audio recently wrote to share news of windfall profits this quarter. Thanks to a KVMR license of “Questions for Martin Luther King, Jr.” his third grade producers found themselves in the black with earnings of $1.20. And being a fair and kind boss, David distributed the profits equally among all contributors: one nickel each.

Below, Chicago-area Third Graders from North Shore Country Day School – creators of such PRX classics as “Loose Tooth” and “Stuffed Animals 3” – pose with their profits.

We should add that David is not only kind, but fastidious. He wrote, “So, for accuracy’s sake, each of my students will get 4.3¢, or one Czech Koruna, which is worth that much at current exchange rates. Since I can’t get my hands on any Koruny, my co-teacher, Amy Kenyon, and I have each generously added 10¢ of our own to the pot, thus bringing payment for each third grader up to a nickel.” Isn’t it great when management cuts you a deal?

Distribution as Promotion – Rekha on Growing the Audience

PRX’s Rekha Murthy was recently invited to add her thoughts to the Station Resource Group’s (SRG) collection of short essays on how to “widen the use and deepen the value of public radio’s service.”   SRG is putting the finishing touches on Grow the Audience – an important and much-anticipated research initiative funded by CPB. You can read more about the full project and download more of the preliminary reports and essays here.

Download the PDF of Rekha’s essay, excerpted here.

Distribution as Promotion
Setting public radio objects in motion

by Rekha Murthy
Public Radio Exchange (PRX)

Six years ago, I left NPR to work with Web and mobile media. Now I’m back in public
radio, with Public Radio Exchange, and I think of that time away as a really long aircheck.
I’m no longer the listener I used to produce for at All Things Considered: terrestrial
broadcast is only a fraction of a listening experience that has become fragmented and
dynamic. I stream station and show feeds from across the country, catching Morning
Edition on KCRW when I oversleep on a snowy morning, and sticking around for sunny
weather reports and Morning Becomes Eclectic. My browser’s bookmarks include On the
Media, Studio 360, This American Life, and All Songs Considered. I download podcasts like
World Cafe, alt.NPR, and The World Technology Podcast. I tend to listen to All Things
Considered by scanning the online rundowns and streaming only what grabs my interest.
Even when I do use my radio receiver, I’ll then go to the Web to email a good story or
episode to friends and post the link on a social bookmarking site. The Web is where I find
new listening, too.

This experience of fragmentation and recombination forms the basis of how I think about
growing the public radio audience.

Break Public Radio Down to Build It Back Up
Public radio is often talked about as a single entity. In some ways – such as mission and
standards – it is, and we should continue to raise public awareness at the entity level.
However, there’s another kind of outreach that has great potential in today’s fragmented
media landscape, one that wields public radio objects, not just categories or entities.   …

Read the rest of the essay here (PDF download).

Greetings From A New PRXer

The rumors are true: PRX now has the best Director of Projects + Partnerships it’s ever had!

Hi everyone, I’m Rekha Murthy, PRX’s first Director of Projects + Partnerships. I’ve worked in public radio, Web, and mobile media for the past 12 years. My public radio career began with an internship at WFCR in Amherst, MA (thanks guys!). In 1998, NPR brought me to Washington DC to be a writer and editor for their Online division. Then, from 2000 to 2003, I was a producer for “All Things Considered”. I’ve since freelanced for “On Point”, “Day to Day”, and “The World”, and I helped design and teach a radio documentary course for MIT undergrads.

Before, after, and sometimes during my public radio life, I have been a user experience designer (aka information architect) as well. I’ve worked for Web and mobile startups and consulted on my own. Past clients include France Telecom R+D, Bank of America, IEEE, and BarnesandNoble.com.

It used to feel like I was jumping between two different worlds, but now I know that good things come from crossing media. MIT’s Comparative Media Studies program, where I got my Masters, affirmed this belief. While there, I designed a multimedia walking tour of Paris for handheld devices. I also spent a lot of time (read: thesis) analyzing how people use the streetscape for everyday communication.

I enjoy radio documentaries while I’m cooking and knitting, and first-person narratives when I’m at the gym. I surf the Web a lot, tracking fads and trends and guessing which ones will endure. I blog occasionally, too.

As for PRX, I like to think about it in terms of movement. Producers and stations use the framework we provide to keep public radio pieces moving, bringing greater exposure and revenue to an ever-growing pool of content.

Much of that movement has been in radio broadcast. But now we’re also thinking beyond broadcast, to a myriad of rapidly evolving ways to distribute and consume audio. These include satellite radio, HD radio, mobile devices and, of course, the Web. At PRX, we believe public radio has a major role to play in this dynamic media world.

That’s where I come in. As Director of Projects + Partnerships, I’m here to move your content further. With your input, I’ll evaluate which platforms are worthwhile, and what kinds of content work best on each. I’ve already helped send dozens of albums to iTunes, eMusic, Amazon, Napster, and Rhapsody, where people are paying to download public radio content to their own players.

PRX on iTunes
Actual iTunes placement of a real album from PRX.org. Click for context.

I’m a firm believer that old and new can co-exist in mutually supportive ways. Broadcast radio will be around for a long time. But the content it airs can go all sorts of places, reaching new people. A digital presence might lure people back to their radio dials. Or it might develop a following in a new medium. Maybe some followers will become producers themselves, bringing a fresh perspective to the field.

All this movement can be overwhelming, but we at PRX see it as an opportunity, and we want to make it easier to navigate. I am looking forward to getting to know you all, and hearing your thoughts on how to keep your work moving in this exciting media world. Feel free to message me from my profile on PRX.org.

PRX presentation on station online strategies

Over the summer PRX assessed the current state of public radio stations’ online strategies as part of a presentation for the annual Station Resource Group retreat (in spectacular Sedona AZ).

We did about 10 interviews with station managers and directors (enabled by freeconferencecall.com’s MP3 recordings and castingwords.com, transcripts to be posted soon), a short self-assessment survey, and hired an outside auditor to review SRG member websites across a number of criteria.

We also worked with Quentin Hope – a long-time PRX advisor and collaborator on our original business plan – to develop the beginnings of a sophisticated strategy mapping tool that helps a station think through high-level goal setting as well as specific task evaluation. You can see the mapping starting on page 54.

Stations have decided that the web is central to their future and critical to their public service mission, but they are still searching for ways to translate high-level aspirations into workable strategies and implementation.

(PRX continues to consult with stations about these and other pressing issues, and welcomes inquiries from stations or others interested in our perspective and experience).