PRX Announces More Project Catapult

An innovative podcast training program for public media stations

PRX CEO Kerri Hoffman announcing the funding at PMDMC July 11 alongside CPB, We Live Here and Out of the Blocks

PRX is excited to announce new funding for two additional rounds of Project Catapult, the innovative podcast training project for public media stations, made possible by a $1.5 million grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

PRX established Project Catapult to help public radio stations advance existing podcasts or launch new ones. We believe these podcasts can help stations reach new audiences and engage with and reflect their communities. Stations bear considerable risk in the rapidly evolving podcast environment: even the best intentions around new talent and topics can fail if marketing, promotion, staff expectations and sponsorship efforts are not mastered.

Project Catapult addresses these challenges head-on with its 20-week training program in which teams develop new skills, including digital content development, editorial support, team development, audience engagement and monetization. PRX will provide technical training in key areas where broadcast and podcast strategies diverge. At the end of the curriculum, each station, in co-production with PRX, will launch a new podcast or relaunch an existing one.

Through an open application process, PRX and CPB, with input from outside experts, will select the ten stations in two clusters of five teams. We are hoping to specifically recruit stations based in rural areas, the South and Western parts of the United States. The first training cohort will start in November 2018. The next likely in fall 2019. Training will take place at PRX’s Podcast Garage in Boston and on-location at each station. Participating teams will begin the training in November.

PRX is also hiring two staff positions to manage the program, a Catapult Project Manager and a Project Coordinator. The Coordinator will report to the Project Manager and both positions will be responsible for training and managing all the program details. These positions will be based in Boston. Ideal candidates for the Catapult Project Manager will have experience training audio production teams, managing big projects end-to end, developing podcasts and working with public radio stations — plus extra points for familiarity with design thinking. Ideal candidates for the Catapult Coordinator will be flexible problem solvers who take pleasure in setting up processes and managing lots of details with good humor, all while holding on to big picture goals.

The Project Catapult curriculum is based on PRX’s experiences with Matter — a media accelerator started in 2012 by PRX with funding from KQED and The Knight Foundation. The key objectives of our training program are to identify and develop new talent in the system and build capacity at a station level for innovation, particularly around fundraising and sponsorship, technology and creating audience-centered content that serves a station’s community. PRX will take the interdisciplinary teams through a process of rapid content development and feedback or “creative sprints.” That will be followed by a piloting process that involves additional supportive and critical feedback.

In the first round of Project Catapult in 2017, PRX worked with podcast production teams from seven public radio stations — Inflection Point KALW San Francisco; Us & Them West Virginia Public Broadcasting; We Live Here St. Louis Public Radio; ¿Qué Pasa, Midwest? WNIN Evansville, Indiana; Out of the Blocks WYPR Baltimore; Versify Nashville Public Radio; and Second Wave KUOW Seattle. The first round participants reported that Project Catapult elevated the systematic and cultural approach to their station’s digital future. The cohort’s support of one another, and its network of like-minded producers, was a key element of the program’s success.

The application process for the next five Project Catapult teams opens today. To learn more read our FAQ and sign up for one of our two webinars (Tuesday, August 7, 2018 at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT and Monday, August 27 at 4 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. PT). To apply to the program, visit https://catapult.prx.org/.

A third round of Project Catapult will begin in late Spring 2019 with a new application period to be announced in early spring 2019.

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