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CPB Doles Out $1.5M and $200K Grants to Promote Diversity in Podcasting

New York Public Radio and PRX both received new funding for podcast development programs

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting demonstrated financial support for increasing podcast diversity at this week’s Public Media Development and Marketing Conference in Chicago.

The CPB awarded a $200,000 grant to New York Public Radio for its Women’s Voices Initiative and Werk It: A Women’s Podcasting Festival; and the organization also granted PRX $1.5 million to fund a second round of podcasting development project Project Catapult.

The Werk It festival launched in 2015 in New York and was billed as the podcasting industry’s first event for women. The 2017 event was held in Los Angeles and attended by more than 600 women from 14 countries (including the US). The 2018 edition of the festival will be held in New York, and in 2019 it will return to LA.

This year’s Werk It will offer attendees the chance to build podcasting skills, network with other podcasters, sit in on live tapings of women-hosted podcasts and pitch ideas to a jury of producers as part of a Podcast Accelerator. The winner of the accelerator will be invited to develop a pilot in conjunction with WNYC Studios.

With CPB support, NYPR launched the Women’s Voices initiative in 2014 to increase the number of women hosting audio programs in public media. The organization developed and distributed new podcasts hosted by women — “Death, Sex + Money,” “Note to Self” and “The Longest Shortest Time.”

Quoted in the announcement, New York Public Radio President/CEO Laura Walker saluted CPB for partnering in its efforts “to make sure women reach parity in all aspects of podcasting.”

According to the announcement, New York Public Radio includes WNYC, WQXR, WNYC Studios, Gothamist, The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space and New Jersey Public Radio.

“PRX through Project Catapult, with CPB funding, is helping stations take their storytelling talent, utilize technology and engage new audiences. This new CPB grant will build on public media’s podcasting successes and increase the numbers of participating stations,” said CPB President/CEO Pat Harrison.

[PRX Puts Podcasting in its Catapult]

Seven public media stations participated in the inaugural Project Catapult, which consisted of a five-month podcast-centric curriculum that began with a boot camp at the PRX Podcast Garage in Boston. It culminated in the launch of podcasts such as WYPR(FM) Baltimore’s “Out of the Blocks,” which won a 2018 Murrow Award from the Radio Television Digital News Association.

Now with the CPB funding supporting travel, training and production costs, Project Catapult’s second round will focus on helping rural, southern and western public radio stations learn to podcast effectively.

Applications for the two cohorts of five stations are expected to open in August 2018 and March 2019. Interested stations should submit podcast ideas and demonstrate management support for the program. With input from CPB and a panel, PRX will select the winning stations. Selected participants will cultivate networking across the participating stations and offer three years of distribution and support for the podcasts developed as a result of the program.