WBUR’s BizLab will work with public radio stations on revenue experiments

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BizLab, an innovation lab at Boston’s WBUR, has received a grant from CPB to help six public radio stations test new revenue strategies.

CPB announced Monday that it is providing $750,000 for the initiative. Participating stations will perform short tests of their concepts, yielding data to “inform their near-term strategic investments” that will be shared with the public radio system, according to a press release. Stations will work with BizLab for six months.

“This investment is critical for developing innovative and sustainable models of support that strengthen and grow public radio,” said WBUR General Manager Charlie Kravetz in a press release. “BizLab will help WBUR and other stations uncover new avenues for revenue generation, distinct from traditional approaches including on-air drives, direct mail and telemarketing.”

BizLab is now accepting applications for the program. It will announce participating stations in the fall and begin working with them in January.

WBUR started BizLab in 2015 to test its own revenue ideas on its audience. This year it conducted two experiments. One tested whether WBUR’s audience would purchase station-branded merchandise. An experiment with a merchandise shop brought in about $8,000 in sales, but a BizLab fellow concluded that a merchandise store would not be a “significant source of revenue for WBUR.”

In another experiment, BizLab tested earning income by selling books through Amazon’s referral program, which gives a cut of revenue to participants..

The lab also hired Joan DiMicco as its new executive director this year. DiMicco previously worked for Forrester Research as VP of digital customer experience.

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