WBUR goes even more mobile (with our help)

WBUR iPhone app splash pageWBUR, the powerhouse Boston public radio station, has been mobile for a while, thanks to broadcast, internet streaming, and a great mobile website.

There was more to be done, however, and we’ve done it: We’re proud to announce the launch of the WBUR app for iPhone and iPod, developed by PRX. The app is free. Get it now.

This app has many things going for it, and we list most of them here. There’s the live stream of WBUR’s excellent programming, top-of-the-hour news and weather, a program schedule, and access to past episodes.

But both WBUR and PRX wanted to push the limits of what a public radio mobile app could be. The result are some important new features we hope to see in other station apps in the future: Support, On Assignment, and Benefits.

You may have gathered that we’re passionate about channeling donations from iPhone users to the stations they listen to. It’s not easy, since Apple prohibits direct donations from iPhone apps, but our team got real close with just two buttons: “Call Now to Pledge” and “Remind Me Later”. The former requires the phone number of someone on WBUR’s development staff. The latter doesn’t need anything except the listener’s own email address, since they’re just emailing themselves a reminder with a link to WBUR’s pledge form. We can’t wait to see the impact of these two little buttons.

Call and Remind pledge buttons
Don't they look so inviting and tappable?

On Assignment
This feature brings public radio and its (iPhone toting) audience closer together, letting editors create assignments that anyone with the app can fulfill. A breaking news event is happening in your region? Put out an assignment asking for text, audio, or photos from the scene. Use PRX’s On Assignment curation tool to manage the submissions, then work them into your on-air or online coverage.

Here’s yet another groundbreaker for public radio. The WBUR app provides a list of underwriters offering discounts and other treats to WBUR listeners. Then it maps them. Then it lets you generate a Virtual Member Card right in the app that you can show to the participating business for instant gratification. Anyone involved with station membership and underwriting knows just how amazing this is.

These innovations, and the overall app, could not have been achieved without a true sense of partnership, collaboration, and vision among both WBUR and our own PRX team. We are also grateful to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for support that gave us the ability to explore, experiment, and refine. We look forward to hearing what you think!

PRX presents at Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s East Coast Conference

So it turns out student broadcasters want more storytelling, more science, fresher voices, and more straight-up spellbinding radio on their college stations.

Say what?

I headed over to Simmons College on Saturday for this year’s Intercollegiate Broadcasting System’s (IBS) East Coast Conference, where I chatted with the students and faculty who run college radio stations across the east coast.  At the PRX session we listened to some favorites like The Moth, Radiolab, and Snap Judgment.  Folks wanted to know one thing: “How do I get this stuff on my station?”

The truth is, it’s easy.   PRX station memberships are calculated from a station’s Total Station Revenue, which means nobody pays more than they can afford.  And PRX even has a special deal for LP stations that’s such a bargain it makes full-power stations jealous.  All you have to do is let us know you’re interested.

Simmons student and conference coordinator Deirdre Yee had this to say about PRX after the conference:

“I knew there was tons of other great radio being made independent of the massive NPR, but I had no idea how to find it. . . .  It is a wonderful thing that I can listen to Two Minute Film Noir from [ZBS] in New York, they get a chance to maybe sell their content, and I would never ever have heard of them without PRX.”

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).