PRX Welcomes Four Creative Teams to the PRX Big Questions Project, A Podcast Development Program At the Intersection of Scientific, Philosophical, and Spiritual Life
Participants will receive $35,000 in funding and will work with PRX Productions to produce new original podcast series ranging across topics including uplifting historically-minimized people of faith, Christian pop music, human well-being in relation to technology, and motherhood. The PRX Big Questions Project is Supported by the John Templeton Foundation
Public media organization PRX today announced the selected participants for the PRX Big Questions Project, a new podcast development program for individuals, thinkers, and storytellers at the intersection of scientific, philosophical, and spiritual life.
The aim of the PRX Big Questions Project is to help listeners gain a deeper understanding of how issues such as spirituality, character, ethics, and humility connect to their daily lives. Participants in the program will be guided through the podcast piloting process, working directly with PRX Productions, the award-winning team specializing in high-quality audio production and storytelling. PRX will also work closely with creators to develop a production plan that includes $35,000 in funding to produce up to two seasons of their new podcast, technology and distribution resources, including free access to the Dovetail from PRX publishing platform, mentorship sessions on topics such as sponsorship and development, and marketing resources.
Participants and projects under development in the PRX Big Questions Project include:
- Anna DeShawn and Esther Ikoro (Chicago, Illinois) — DeShawn and Ikoro will create a new series about spirituality and religion from the perspective of people of faith who have been historically minimized. A Chicago-born social entrepreneur, DeShawn is the founder of E3 Radio — an online radio station bringing audiences queer music and news — and is also the founder of the podcast production company The Qube. A comedic writer and producer, Ikoro hails from the South Side of Chicago and is the creator of the “See You Outside’ YouTube channel, highlighting the amazing creatures and phenomena of Earth.
- Andrew Gill and Leah Payne (Chicago, Illinois and Portland, Oregon) — Gill and Payne will create a narrative podcast examining how the billion dollar Christian pop music industry has impacted American culture both subtly and overtly, from the 1960s to today. Gill currently serves as Senior Producer for the beloved public radio program “Sound Opinions,” and previously hosted the “Strange Brews” beer podcast from WBEZ Chicago. An associate professor of American religious history at Portland Seminary, Payne is the author of a 2024 book on contemporary Christian music from Oxford University Press. Payne’s analysis of religion and pop culture has appeared in “The Washington Post,” NBC News, Religion News Service, and elsewhere.
- Rev. Annanda Barclay and Dr. Keisha E. McKenzie (Oakland, California and New York, New York) — Barclay and McKenzie will develop a podcast exploring our well-being in relationship to technology and automation in today’s Information Age. The show will consider the moral impact of technological advancements, and will aim to inspire curiosity in innovation while nurturing human flourishing. As a queer ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church and a Chaplain Fellow at Stanford University, focused on moral distress and injury in STEM , Barclay is also Co-Chair of the religious reparations nonprofit Center for Jubilee Practice. McKenzie currently serves as Senior Vice President for Programs at Auburn Seminary in New York, a multifaith center catalyzing leaders of faith and moral courage.
- Julia Rose Metzger-Traber and Natasha Haverty (Purceville, Virginia and Dummerston, Vermont) — Metzger-Traber and Haverty will create a show diving into the complex and multifaceted topic of motherhood, exploring it through personal interviews, reported stories, mythology, ecology, and more. Metzger-Traber a conflict transformation practitioner and performance artist. An independent journalist, Haverty’s work on civil rights and justice topics has appeared on NPR, New Hampshire Public Radio, “Reveal” from the Center for Investigative Reporting, the HBO documentary “Who Killed Garrett Phillips?” and in “The New York Times.”
“This is an exciting initiative. At PRX, we aim to continue to open up podcasting to new voices while empowering creators,” said Jason Saldanha, Chief of Business Development and Content at PRX. “Thank you to the John Templeton Foundation for support and to Courtney Fleurantin, the project manager for this initiative. We’re looking forward to working with such talented, ambitious audio creators who are tackling meaningful topics.”
In addition to the PRX Big Questions Project, podcast training and development programs from include the Google Podcasts creator program for global creators, the Ready to Learn Podcast Accelerator in partnership with PBS KIDS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the PRX Journalism Podcast Accelerator in partnership with the Knight Foundation, and the Africa Podcast Lab.
The PRX Big Questions Project is supported by the John Templeton Foundation. In addition, with the support of the John Templeton Foundation, PRX produces and distributes “How God Works” a podcast from pioneering Northeastern University psychology professor and author David DeSteno, exploring the intersections of religion and science.
Submissions for the PRX Big Questions Project were reviewed by accomplished media and podcast professionals, as well professionals in the humanities, including: “The World” public radio program’s executive producer Dan Lothian, “CBS Sunday Morning” correspondent David Pogue, public theologian and “The Confessional” podcast host Nadia Bolz-Weber, “New York Times” senior story editor James Ryerson, philosopher Michael Rota, “NOVA Now” podcast host Dr. Alok Patel, and multiple staff members from PRX, including CEO Kerri Hoffman, Chief Development Officer Janetta Stringfellow, Director of Training Stephanie Kuo, Senior Director of Content Audrey Mardavich, Chief Technology Officer Andrew Kuklewicz, and Chief of Business Development & Content Jason Saldanha.
For more about PRX, visit PRX.org.
PRX is a non-profit public media company specializing in audio journalism and storytelling. PRX serves independent producers and organizations by helping them connect to their most engaged, supportive audiences. One of the world’s leading podcast publishers, PRX works in partnership with TED, PBS, the Smithsonian, Futuro Media, GBH, Religion of Sports, and more. PRX is also home to Radiotopia, known as one of the most creative and successful podcast networks. In addition, PRX distributes trusted public radio programming to hundreds of stations nationwide, including “The World,” “The Moth Radio Hour,” “This American Life,” “Snap Judgment,” “Reveal,” “The Takeaway,” and “Latino USA.” PRX programs have been recognized by the Peabody Awards, the duPont-Columbia Awards, the IDA Documentary Awards, and the Pulitzer Prizes. In 2022, Futuro Media and PRX won a Pulitzer Prize.