Public Radio International (PRI) is a Minneapolis-based American public radio organization, with locations in Boston, New York, London and Beijing. 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.
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 (FM) in Boston, and WNYC in New York City.
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. 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. 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, Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Electronic Media/Radio, George M. Foster Peabody Award, Golden Reel Award and the Gabriel Award.
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.
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.
PRI was founded in 1983 as American Public Radio as an alternative to NPR for public radio program distribution. 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.
Recent program launches and firsts
In January 2007, PRI launched Fair Game, "the strange love child between the 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. 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.
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.
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 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."
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! 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. On March 21, 2014, the company announced the agreement to distribute This American Life would end July 1, 2014.
Public radio, PRI, NPR
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.
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. 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 Earth—public 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.
Broadcast and audio programs include:
- America Abroad: host, Ray Suarez, from America Abroad Media
- Afropop Worldwide: host, Georges Collinet, from World Music Productions
- Ask Dr. Science: host, Dan Coffey; from Duck's Breath Mystery Theater
- As It Happens (from CBC Radio One in Canada)
- BBC Mundo from the BBC
- Bob Edwards Weekend: host, Bob Edwards; compiled from the XM Satellite Radio program The Bob Edwards Show
- Capitol News Connection with PRI: host, Melinda Wittstock; from Pundit Productions
- Classical 24 from PRI and American Public Media
- Day 6: host Brent Bambury from CBC Radio One
- Echoes: host, John Diliberto;
- Fair Game: host, Faith Salie; a PRI production
- Here and Now: host, Robin Young; from WBUR
- Innovation Hub: host, Kara Miller; from WGBH
- Jazz After Hours: host, Jim Wilke from KPLU
- Living on Earth: host, Steve Curwood
- Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?: host, Michael Feldman; from Wisconsin Public Radio
- Music from Chautauqua: host, Ed Simone; from WNED-FM
- National Native News: host, Antonia Gonzales; from Koahnic Broadcast Corporation
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra: host, Jim Cunningham; from WQED-FM
- Q: from CBC Radio One
- RadioWest: host, Doug Fabrizio; from KUER-FM
- The Record Shelf: host, Jim Svejda; from USC Radio
- Riverwalk Jazz: hosts: David Holt and Jim Cullum; from Pacific Vista Productions and Texas Public Radio
- Science Friday; host, Ira Flatow
- Selected Shorts: host, Isaiah Sheffer ; from Symphony Space
- Sound & Spirit: host, Ellen Kushner; from WGBH Boston and PRI
- Bullseye: host, Jesse Thorn; from MaximumFun.org
- Sounds Eclectic: host, Nic Harcourt; from KCRW
- Spoleto Chamber Music Series: host, Charles Wadsworth; from the South Carolina Educational Radio Network
- Studio 360: host, Kurt Andersen; from PRI and WNYC
- The Takeaway: host, John Hockenberry; from PRI and WNYC
- To the Best of Our Knowledge: host, Jim Fleming; from Wisconsin Public Radio
- To the Point: host, Warren Olney; from KCRW and PRI
- The World: host, Lisa Mullins from PRI, BBC World Service, and WGBH
- World Have Your Say: hosts, Ros Atkins, Rabiya Limbada, Peter Dobbie; from BBC World Service
- Wiretap: host, Jonathan Goldstein; from CBC Radio One
- Zorba Paster On Your Health: host, Zorba Paster, M.D., and Tom Clark; from the Wisconsin Public Radio
- Numerous special series, including Crossing East
In the last year, PRI has also begun to provide video clips and content.