Public Radio International

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Public Radio International
TypePublic radio network
CountryUnited States
SloganHear a different voice
HeadquartersMinneapolis, Minnesota
Broadcast area
ParentWGBH Educational Foundation
Key people
  • Peter Darrow (Chairman)
  • Alisa Miller (President and CEO)
Launch date
1983 (41 years ago) (1983)
Former names
American Public Radio
Official website

Public Radio International (PRI) is an American public radio organization. Headquartered in Minneapolis, PRI is a media content creator and also distributes programs from many sources, competing with National Public Radio, American Public Media and the Public Radio Exchange to provide programming to public radio stations.[1]

PRI is the "managing partner" of American Public Radio, which provides satellite radio programing via Sirius XM Radio. APR is composed of PRI, Chicago Public Radio, WGBH in Boston, and WNYC in New York City.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

In the United States, PRI exclusively distributes well-known programming to public radio stations. Among its programs is the award-winning global news program The World, which PRI co-produces with the BBC and WGBH Boston. Programs on PRI—sometimes mis-attributed to National Public Radio—are produced by a variety of organizations, including PRI in the United States and other countries.[3] PRI, along with NPR and American Public Media, is one of the largest program producers and distributors of public radio programming in the United States. PRI offers over 280 hours of programming each week to stations and listeners.[3] According to their website, the mission of Public Radio International is to "serve audiences as a distinctive content source for information, insights and cultural experiences essential to living in our diverse, interconnected world."

Approximately 900 radio station affiliates and other audio venues broadcast, stream and download PRI programs. According to the 2012 Arbitron ratings, 8.7 million people listened to PRI programming each week.

PRI's programs have won numerous awards for quality and innovation, including the DuPont-Columbia Award,[4] Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Electronic Media/Radio,[5] George M. Foster Peabody Award,[6] Golden Reel Award[7] and the Gabriel Award.[8]

PRI programs are distributed through North America on satellite radio. PRI had its own 24-hour channel on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 136, which was discontinued in September 2006. As a response, XM Radio added more PRI programming to its own public radio channel, XM Public Radio. PRI pursues its satellite radio strategy in concert with other public radio stations. In 2002, PRI formed American Public Radio, in partnership with Chicago Public Radio, in order to better pursue strategies within the satellite radio realm. Not long after, WGBH Boston joined the partnership. WNYC New York joined about a year later.[9]

PRI programming receives funding from station fees, corporate underwriting, and individual and corporate grants. Less than 2% of the overall operating budget comes from United States government agencies.[citation needed]

History[edit | edit source]

PRI was founded in 1983 as American Public Radio as an alternative to NPR for public radio program distribution.[3] Four stations established American Public Radio as a syndicate: the Minnesota Public Radio network, WGBH in Boston, WNYC in New York City, and KUSC in Los Angeles. The corporation changed its name to Public Radio International in 1994 to reflect its growing interest and involvement in international audio publishing, as typified by its many collaborations with the BBC.

In the mid-1990s, PRI began to expand its purpose by producing programming in addition to distributing programming. This evolution in the company began with PRI's The World, a co-production among PRI, the BBC World Service, and WGBH. This daily global news program was one of the first news-oriented co-productions of the BBC World Service anywhere.

In 2012, the organization was purchased by WGBH.[10]

Recent program launches and firsts[edit | edit source]

In January 2007, PRI launched Fair Game, "the strange love child between The Daily Show and Morning Edition." The program aims to experiment with web and audio programming hybrids and reach out to younger listeners. Fair Game uses humor as a lens to put the day's events in perspective, and features stand-up comedian (and Rhodes scholar) Faith Salie.[11] On May 30, 2008, PRI ceased the broadcast component of the program and apparently has a web-only version of the program in the works.[12]

Also in January 2007, PRI announced its acquisition of WireTap from the CBC for distribution in the United States. According to PRI's press release, WireTap is a weekly program of intimate and often hilarious telephone conversations between celebrated writer Jonathan Goldstein, and people with real or imagined stories to tell.[13]

In March 2007, PRI announced its intention to co-produce a new morning program, involving WNYC New York, WGBH Boston, the BBC World Service, and New York Times Radio. The goals of the program are to provide choice in public radio mornings and to foster the growth of public radio audiences. This program launched nationally in April 2008. PRI began developing this idea more than five years ago and began cultivating partners not long after.

In June 2007, the company announced another distribution partnership, this time with The Sound of Young America, featuring Jesse Thorn.

In September, PRI and Symphony Space of New York City announced that PRI would become the national distribution partner of Selected Shorts, which had previously been distributed by National Public Radio. The press release said, "The best public radio features compelling storytelling. Selected Shorts is an excellent example of how the human voice can engage listeners and take them to another place... PRI looks forward to partnering with Selected Shorts to chart an exciting new future for this kind of storytelling in public media."[14]

In January 2008, PRI and WNYC announced that the name of their new morning drive news program is The Takeaway with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji. This program's editorial partners include The BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Radio Boston. The program successfully launched April 28, and full national launch is expected June/July 2008.

On May 1, 2008, PRI was the first major public media outlet to use digital cinema; and one of the first mass media companies overall. PRI conceived and spearheaded This American Life Live![15] in partnership with Ira Glass and WBEZ Chicago. This American Life Live! was presented exclusively in select theatres by National CineMedia's (NCM) Fathom, in partnership with BY Experience and Chicago Public Radio, and in association with Public Radio International.[16] On March 21, 2014, the company announced the agreement to distribute This American Life would end July 1, 2014.[17]

Public radio, PRI, NPR[edit | edit source]

Public radio is a generic term for non-commercial radio stations or programming that are covered under the Public Broadcasting Act. Public radio organizations receive funding from corporate sponsors, public (e.g., Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and private foundation grants as well as donations and gifts from individuals. The mix of revenue differs by station, network and/or producer. PRI, NPR and American Public Media are the largest providers of public radio programming in the United States. They compete with each other for slots on public radio stations and the attention of listeners. Each has distinct missions and emphases in programming—PRI is focused on global journalism, providing diverse voices, and arts and cultural perspectives. Any given public radio station may be simultaneously both an NPR member and an affiliate of PRI and APM. PRI is a not-for-profit organization that has an independent governing board with an independent board of directors. NPR is a membership organization; its board is composed of public radio stations which run for seats on the board.

PRI is a younger organization than NPR, and focuses on pushing the sound of public radio forward through innovative programming strategies and leading media in its areas of focus—global news and cultural perspectives. (NPR was founded in 1970 and PRI in 1983.) Many PRI shows draw a younger overall audience than shows produced by NPR. PRI's stated purpose is to offer a wider range of voices than NPR programs.[18]

In recent years, there have been changes among distributors of numerous programs. Some programs that were formerly distributed by PRI, such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and American Routes, along with the BBC World Service, are now distributed by American Public Media.[19] APM was formed by Minnesota Public Radio to distribute programs it owned and produced, thereby moving distribution from PRI to APM.

In addition, PRI distributed World Cafe for many years, but in 2005, the show's distribution was switched to NPR. At the same time, PRI has also picked up the distribution of programs originally distributed by NPR, including Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?, and, in 2006, Living on Earthpublic radio's leading news and information program focused on the environment. In September 2007, PRI became the national distributor of Selected Shorts which was previously distributed by NPR. In January 2014, PRI became the national distributor of Science Friday, also previously distributed by NPR.

Programming[edit | edit source]

Broadcast and audio programs include:

Video[edit | edit source]

In the last year, PRI has also begun to provide video clips and content.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Clemetson, Lynette (August 30, 2004). "All Things Considered, NPR's Growing Clout Alarms Member Stations". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15. For years stations have sought to diversify their programming options. Public Radio International, which was also created by stations and has become NPR's primary competitor, markets and distributes programs produced by local stations, like ... Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know, a weekly entertainment show produced by Wisconsin Public Radio. 
  2. "Public Radio International - PRI Fact Sheet". PRI. 2010-04-15. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 "PRI Fact Sheet". Public Radio International. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  4. "PRI's The World Wins Prestigious 2006 duPont-Columbia Award" (Press release). Public Radio International. 15 December 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  5. "PRI's 'The World' wins multiple awards, celebrates 10th year" (Press release). Public Radio International. 4 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  6. Peabody Awards for Public Radio International, accessed September 2014.
  7. "Golden Reel Awards - 2004 Winners". National Federation of Community Broadcasters. 2004. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  8. "Gabriel Awards". Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  9. "PRI and Chicago Public Radio Form New Programming Partnership" (Press release). Public Radio International. 2 April 2002. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  10. Ben Sisario (July 27, 2012). "Boston's WGBH Buys Public Radio International". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  11. Stuart Miller (3 June 2007). "Loosey-Goosey Voice On, Yeah, Public Radio". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  12. Jensen, Elizabeth (2008-05-26). "Arts, Briefly - Radio's 'Fair Game' to Be Canceled - Brief". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  13. "'WireTap' is newest innovative launch on Public Radio International" (Press release). Public Radio International. 18 December 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  14. "PRI to partner with 'Selected Shorts' for national distribution" (Press release). Public Radio International. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  15. "Popcorn available with this Ira Glass show, 2008". 2008-04-07. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  16. "This American Life - Live!". April 4, 2008. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  17. "Public Radio International Dropping 'This American Life'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  18. McGrath, Charles (2008-02-17). "Is PBS Still Necessary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  19. "American Public Media Acquires National Distribution of American Routes, Public Radio's Weekly Exploration of American Music : American Public Media is now second in weekly audience size to NPR. (Arbitron Nationwide, Spring 2007)" (Press release). American Public Media. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 

External links[edit | edit source]