NEH awards $2 million to pubmedia projects

Seven public media projects got a boost July 21 with the announcement of grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, which included almost $2 million for pubcasters. The largest grants, each for $600,000, will support documentaries from WGBH in Boston and Firelight Media in New York. WGBH will use the grant for a two-hour American Experience episode, “Into the Amazon: The Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition.” The documentary, produced by American Experience Executive Producer Mark Samels, covers a 1913 expedition to an unmapped territory of the Amazon led by Theodore Roosevelt and Brazilian colonel Candido Rondon. Firelight Media, whose documentaries frequently air on PBS, will use the grant to fund Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Firelight founder and filmmaker Stanley Nelson is leading the project to produce the two-hour documentary. Continue Reading

This American Life departure highlights competitive challenge for pubradio satellite system

The expanding portfolio of Public Radio Exchange, the Internet-based distribution platform, has prompted some public radio insiders to question whether NPR’s Public Radio Satellite System can adapt to stiffer competition for business from content producers. The latest program to move to PRX is the widely carried This American Life, whose producers announced May 28 that they would take over distribution of the show and rely on PRX to deliver weekly editions to stations. TAL will split from distributor Public Radio International July 1, ending a 17-year relationship. That announcement came on the heels of a May 7 decision by Chicago’s WFMT to move its 200 weekly hours of music and spoken-word programming to PRX. Other producers have told Steve Robinson, WFMT executive v.p., that they may be interested in following suit. Continue Reading

Radio Diaries turns to Kickstarter to boost podcast, productions

The production company Radio Diaries, whose stories often appear on This American Life and NPR's newsmagazines, is aiming to raise $40,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to fund new pieces and an expansion of its podcast. The campaign began May 28 and runs until June 27. As of noon June 3, the campaign has raised $19,280. Radio Diaries has turned to Kickstarter to diversify its fundraising methods, said Executive Producer Joe Richman. “We, like a lot of other small independent production companies are scrappy, and we’ve made it work with whatever money comes through the door and always will,” he said. Continue Reading

This American Life opts for self-distribution, with PRX as pipeline to stations

The producers of public radio's This American Life will take over distribution of their show starting July 1, using Public Radio Exchange to deliver the program to stations. TAL and Public Radio International, its distributor of 17 years, announced in March that they would part ways effective July 1. Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Chicago Public Media and Ira Glass will handle distribution and underwriting, while Marge Ostroushko will be responsible for marketing and station relations. Ostroushko handled those duties before PRI picked up the show in 1997. “We’re excited and proud to be partners now with PRX,” Glass said in a statement. Continue Reading