PRX announces spinoff company for new mobile listening platform

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Public Radio Exchange announced Thursday that it’s forming RadioPublic, a new company that will develop a mobile platform for on-demand podcasts and audio streams.

PRX founder Jake Shapiro will step down as c.e.o. to lead the new venture. Longtime PRX exec and Chief Operating Officer Kerri Hoffman will replace Shapiro.

RadioPublic will introduce apps for iOS and Android later this year. Shapiro declined to share details about the platform’s features but said he expects to roll out testable versions for media this summer.

Initially, the apps will offer shows and programming distributed by PRX, such as The Moth Radio Hour, Reveal, Radiotopia podcasts such as 99% Invisible and its Remix stream. They will also include content previously unavailable in podcast form, like documentaries that PRX has distributed, Shapiro said. RadioPublic will suggest stories to users based on their interest in similar content.

Jake and Kerri

Shapiro and Hoffman (Photo: PRX)

After starting with PRX’s signature shows, RadioPublic will offer other content. “Ultimately, it’ll be a really broad tent,” Shapiro said.

As listeners continue to move away from consuming audio on broadcast platforms and become more fully engaged with podcasts and mobile devices, it became clear that PRX needed to create a new company to accommodate the trend, Shapiro said.

“It’s so essential that public radio manage that last mile of interaction with listeners,” Shapiro said.

Investors in RadioPublic include American Public Media; The New York Times; McClatchy; the Knight Foundation Enterprise Fund; Matter Ventures, itself founded as a PRX spinoff; venture-capital investors UP2398, Homebrew and Project 11 Ventures; and Graham Holdings, the parent company of Slate, Foreign Policy and the podcast network Panoply. Shapiro declined to disclose how much investors have contributed.

RadioPublic is a public benefit corporation, allowing it to function as a mission-driven for-profit company with access to capital, Shapiro said.

RadioPublic’s focus on audience engagement piqued the interest of McClatchy, said Andrew Pergam, head of video for the print and online publisher. McClatchy also produces podcasts and is learning how to best engage with local and regional communities, Pergam said.

McClatchy’s relationship with RadioPublic is a strategic partnership, Pergam said: “We’re not just investing, but working together on content.” The company has not yet decided which podcasts it will deliver on RadioPublic’s platforms, he said.

One way RadioPublic’s platform could enhance the listening experience is by helping podcast consumers keep track of topics they hear about and want to explore further, said Bob Mason, managing director of Project 11 Ventures.

“The technology can have a lot of intelligence about the listening experience … and keep [listeners] engaged with the content for a longer period of time,” Mason said.

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  • emacee1701

    Oh, great! Another “captive” podcast client allowing listeners to access podcasts from one producer-distributor. If it’s like the others, it is not as well designed and does not offer the features of “independent” podcast clients. How many listeners want to be locked in? Or have to clutter up the mobile device with who-knows-how-many of these apps in order to heard the podcasts they choose? So far, podcasters have generously cross-promoted each other. I suppose with captive apps, that will stop – just as NPR has ordered no more mentions of podcasts on terrestrial radio.