MacArthur Awards for Creative & Effective Institutions

Public Radio Exchange

Cambridge, Massachusetts | 2008 Award Recipient

Reinventing Public Media for a Digital Age

The digital revolution has radically changed how information is produced and consumed. Public media, with limited funds, must find ways to meet the challenge of the new and engage effectively with contemporary discourse.

Public Radio Exchange (PRX) is equipping public broadcasting for this era of rapid change. It gathers and distributes original programming, uses technological innovation to speed transactions and expand choices, and is leading public radio to become more interactive and participatory.

PRX is operated by the Station Resource Group (SRG) – an alliance of 40 leading public radio organizations focused on strategy, policy, and national initiatives. PRX was launched in 2002 as a collaboration of SRG and Atlantic Public Media, an innovative public radio production and training organization whose work also includes Transom.org.

The core of PRX’s operation is to provide independently-produced audio programming to public radio stations for broadcast and online use. It has built and maintains a growing catalogue of more than 20,000 nonfiction audio pieces – the largest selection in existence. Using a simple interactive Web platform created by PRX, stations may sample, purchase, and download for broadcasting pieces that range from short commentaries to in-depth documentaries.

Almost 1,000 independent audio producers have sold (licensing rights to) their work through PRX, earning more than $650,000. PRX has created public radio’s first podcasting application and other custom tools for stations. And it has spurred the world of public broadcasting to develop new models for doing business.

To identify and nurture new talent, PRX ran an online national contest sponsored by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Public Radio Talent Quest, in 2007. More than 1,400 entries were submitted and three finalists selected; each of them is now developing a pilot program for public radio. At least one of the pilots will be produced by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

PRX has more than 44,000 registered users, including radio professionals, amateur producers, and members of the general public who listen and respond to the audio pieces in the catalogue. Together, these members have written 7,000 reviews, making it the most extensive collection of writing about public broadcasting.

PRX is taking public radio in new and stimulating directions, giving a larger dimension to one of America’s most important intellectual resources.

PRX will use their $500,000 grant to establish a cash reserve fund, a content venture fund, and to develop new technologies.

 

Grantee Profile: Learn more about Public Radio Exchange

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