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?

prxheadphonesprxnxt

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.

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.