Radiotopia Podcast Network Raises $1 Million From Knight Foundation
May 13, 2015 at 12:29 PM (PT)
CAMBRIDGE, MA-based audio distribution company PRX has landed a $1 million grant from the KNIGHT FOUNDATION for its fledgling podcast network, RADIOTOPIA, according to a report in BETABOSTON.COM.
RADIOTOPIA has taken a page out of the public radio playbook when it comes to podcasting. PRX built its digital distribution network as an alternative to the satellite-based systems used to beam programming to NPR stations around the country. Last year, PRX won the right to distribute NPR's premiere show, “This American Life.”
Since launching in FEBRUARY 2014 with a $200,000 grant from KNIGHT, RADIOTOPIA's 11 podcasts are now seeing more than 7 million downloads per month, according to PRX.
PRX chief executive JAKE SHAPIRO blogged that the $1 million grant would be used to help RADIOTOPIA offer more technical and business services to podcasters and finance a “pilot fund” that will help launch new programs and support new podcast providers. “We have no shortage of ideas,” SHAPIRO said in an interview. “We’re getting pitched a lot already.”
RADIOTOPIA can now afford to hire an executive producer “to provide editorial vision and leadership.”
“We thought that in this heightened moment of excitement and interest and growth in podcasting that this job could be a magnet for really accomplished, creative editorial types from other adjacent creative fields that might make sense,” he said.
By combining a number of podcasts under one network, PRX can centralize sponsorships, distribution, and other back-office work, and financially support individual shows after taking a portion to pay for its services.
RADIOTOPIA is financed through advertiser support, grant funding, and audience contributions -- the same model that has supported NPR through member pledge drives. Last NOVEMBER, RADIOTOPIA raised more than $600,000 in a crowdfunding campaign, and hopes to use its digital platforms to encourage more listener contributions, offering a hopeful model for public radio.
ROMAN MARS, the producer of RADIOTOPIA’s flagship podcast “99% Invisible,” told NIEMAN JOURNALIST LAB: "The key component that can’t be ignored is that we have an audience that is primed to give through decades of public radio asks.”