NPR to stock new mobile app by aiding stations on back end

NPR is preparing member stations to provide local news for the network’s new mobile app, slated for release by summer. NPR content chief Kinsey Wilson discussed and previewed the app Feb. 24 for station execs attending the Public Media Summit in Washington, D.C. It builds on the Infinite Player, an NPR platform released for bigger-screened devices in 2011, moving it to a mobile interface and adding local station content to NPR’s own programming. Summit attendees heard an NPR newscast item about the Winter Olympics segue into a segment from San Francisco’s KQED about a labor dispute. The audio included a plea for donations to KQED.

‘If we can imagine it, why don’t we do it?’

It was raining in Baltimore Sept. 23 when independent producer Jay Allison delivered his “benediction,” the traditional closing speech of the Public Radio Program Directors annual conference. The bleary, conferenced-out audience listened closely. Allison, who learned the nonfiction radio craft when NPR was a startup and went on to start up a few radio institutions himself, reminded attendees why perseverance matters. They gave Allison a standing ovation before dispersing under the dark sky.

Jad Abumrad speaking at PRPD Sept. 2011

Pubradio ‘dancing at the edge of change’

There’s some heavy-duty soul-searching going on in public radio. The Public Radio Program Directors conference, Sept. 20–23 in Baltimore, sidelined its usual celebrations of pubradio’s audience growth and its journalistic ascendency. Instead, participants grappled with big questions about challenges ahead and wondered aloud about how to move forward after a year of political calamity at NPR. Progress reports about ongoing reforms were freighted with a new urgency: giving exposure to innovative new programs, raising stations’ ambitions for local reporting, opening the field to more diverse voices and listeners.