Grants, donations to NPR support expanded reporting, app for personalized listening

NPR has lined up $17 million in grants and individual gifts to expand two beat-reporting units and to complete development of an app designed to provide a personalized, location-based listening experience of content from NPR and local stations. Most of the funding, about $10 million, supports development of the app, which NPR has referred to internally as Project Carbon. Slated for release by April 2014, the app will enable listeners to hear, read and watch public radio content across digital platforms, providing an experience similar to what Pandora or Spotify offer for music. The app is designed to customize the content it delivers by using geolocation, gathering feedback and tracking when and for how long users listen. Though the app will launch initially for smartphones, NPR plans to expand its capabilities to serve “as many platforms as needed,” said Kinsey Wilson, chief content officer.