It’s estimated that roughly 70% of all corporate mergers fail, according to Harvard Business Review. Non-profit mergers are harder to evaluate because they don’t happen as often, but one thing’s for sure in either case — they are a bit chaotic and high voltage. Yet, when strong leaders come together with a collaborative mindset and are inspired to reach a common goal, the result is a vessel for fresh perspectives and true innovation.
PRI and PRX merged to create a new, scaled, open, and connected public media designed for the next generation of engaged listeners. Our priority in year one was to build a foundation that will allow us to deliver on this vision. We celebrate this anniversary with amazing new talent, an evolving culture, essential partnerships, and a defined mission.
Here’s how far we’ve come in 12 months.
Talent and Culture
All organizations run on talent. A wide range of skills and expertise are always needed, but sparkle — that special somethin’ somethin’ — happens when a good match is made. Our evolution has meant that we’ve added a number of dynamic individuals to our already strong core team. From content to engagement to training, we’ve created new initiatives and leadership positions. We hired a cohort of creative, mission-driven, curious and ambitious go-getters.
Our aim is to be nimble, open, and aware of where we add value. When we fall short of this intention, we prioritize resiliency. Mostly, we support groups of all sizes inside and outside of our organization. And we do so as a team — we win, and lose, together.
At this critical juncture, we need to be a force of innovation and change. The success of our business rests in the strength of our partnerships. PRX continues to partner with independent producers, media companies, and public radio stations who are visionary, take risks and are dedicated to creative and meaningful media. Some distinctive accomplishments from the last year we’re particularly proud of include:
- Receiving the distinguished Columbia DuPont Award for Reveal’s investigative reporting; as well as snagging two Peabody’s and becoming a Pulitzer finalist
- Growing listenership for The Takeaway by 7% within one year of Tanzina Vega taking the mic — tackling pressing issues like the Mueller report, the opioid crisis, and the ongoing situation in Puerto Rico
- Nearing 550 live MOTH shows from all around the world — bringing people together through important stories
- Reporting from Saudi Arabia, Antarctica, Brazil, and Russia with cutting-edge global stories from The World
- Winning multiple Webby awards for the amazing creativity in Radiotopia
- Investing significantly in our distinct podcast technology stack
- Training international podcast teams with support from The Corporation for Public Broadcasting and Google
- Hosting over 125 events at the PRX Podcast Garage Boston, expanding our local community partnerships
- Celebrating the civic conversations grounded in wholeness and imagination created by On Being, a media and public life initiative
- Watching Earlonne Woods of Ear Hustle attend the prom he missed many years ago
All of this is grounded in our mission:
To lead changes that expand public media as a trusted source of knowledge, information, and inspiration for all.
But what does that mean?
Lead changes— We challenge ourselves to be a driver of innovation that consistently opens public media to new programs, ideas and technologies.
Expand public media— We state our belief that public media is not limited to a network of formal institutions, but encompasses many people and organizations working to create media in the public interest.
a trusted source of knowledge, information, and inspiration — We stand behind high quality, impactful content, with an emphasis on journalism, storytelling and cultural commentary.
for all— We perpetually work to expand our audience, with a special focus on younger and more representative listeners.
The Near Future
We’re expanding our community podcast studios anchored at the PRX Podcast Garage Boston, starting with Washington, D.C. We’re scaling our training through the creation of multilingual videos and online courses. We’ve begun the build-out in our office HQ with a production studio in preparation for the launch of a new production unit. We’re doubling down on our investment in our internal capacity for change with a focus on culture: talent retention, diversity education, awareness training, and professional development to support our growing staff.
So, What Does Long-term Success Look Like?
Public media has consistently struggled with a conundrum at the heart of its mission: how to serve everyone, the entire public, in a highly diverse country. Many remain skeptical of public media’s ability to speak to the realities of such great range. Similarly, many media institutions have fallen short in their attempt to create real change from within. As commercial interests continue to reshape podcasting, it’s easy to imagine the field contracting and echoing the sameness that can zap transformative potential.
Since we merged with PRI one year ago, we have more than doubled our staff, board, and budget. We dramatically expanded our program portfolio and have reimagined the internal production of a global daily news show. Although success looks different today than it did even five years ago, we maintain the resolve to continue to create media in the public’s interest.
We know there is significant work ahead. We are dedicated to opening up multiple paths for independent producers to experiment, grow and create great work that connects with audiences in ways that shift the dominant narrative. Success is not the next hit show, but rather an ecosystem in which abundant talent, aligned with the enduring values of public media, is shaping, changing and inspiring a public conversation.