PRX’s Project Catapult introduces five new podcasts
Public radio station teams from around the U.S. debuted podcasts during an evening of storytelling and performance
In 2016, PRX launched Project Catapult: a 20-week training program and accelerator helping public radio stations across the country create and nurture new podcasts, touching on content development, distribution, marketing and monetization. At its core, Project Catapult is grounded in our belief that podcasts and the people behind them have the power to help stations build innovative programming, bring in new talent and reach new audiences. Our first Catapult cohort, which includes the recent Edward R. Murrow Award-winning Out of the Blocks from WYPR-Baltimore, is a shining example.
Fast forward to this week. Our second cohort just wrapped up their Catapult training–another 20-week sprint of in-person training and Creative Reviews at the PRX Podcast Garage, weekly check-ins with our training team, and production work–by presenting their new must-listen podcasts live to listeners and fans at the Oberon-American Repertory Theater in Cambridge, MA. The evening featured live music, multimedia previews of the shows and speciality cocktails–“Rose,” “Thorn” and “Bud”–inspired by our system for giving feedback. (Those who have joined us for Creative Reviews will get the joke!)
We kicked off the evening with Colorado Public Radio’s On Something. Hosted and reported by Ann Marie Awad, this podcast tackles the pros and cons of marijuana legalization across the country from the perspective of the state that did it first. Awad, with help from producer Brad Turner, gave the audience an engaging explainer on the history of America’s shifting attitudes toward pot. Following that, WFYI-Indianapolis/Side Effects Public Media reporters Araceli Gómez-Aldana and Jake Harper presented Sick, which tells a gripping narrative of an Indiana fertility doctor who misled dozens of patients to a disturbing end, turning the Hippocratic Oath on its head.
Then, guiding the Oberon Theater audience through movement, sound and tempo, educator and performer Jecorey Arthur introduced The Music Box from WUOL-Louisville Public Media. At a time when music education resources are dwindling, The Music Box puts a music teacher in the pockets of elementary school instructors and parents everywhere. Say it with us: “Tempo is the speed of the beat!”
After an intermission, KUER-Salt Lake City religion reporter Lee Hale engaged in some Mormon missionary cosplay to introduce Preach, a podcast featuring ordinary people navigating their faith and spiritual identity with candid, intimate conversations and a little playful irreverence. Hale brought the crowd through his own personal journey, from former door-to-door missionary, to existential crisis, eventually finding a middle ground and learning to live with life’s unanswerable questions.
To close the evening, WABE-Atlanta’s podcast Bottom of the Map broke down the significance of the legendary Freaknik festival that came to life in Atlanta in the early 1990s. Hosted by music journalist Christina Lee and Dr. Regina N. Bradley, the podcast celebrates the cultural and political significance of Southern hip-hop.
This showcase would not have been the same without Julio Ricardo Varela of Futuro Media’s In the Thick, who hosted the spirited evening. And, huge thanks to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), whose support makes Project Catapult possible.
Project Catapult is designed to empower reporters and storytellers to reach new audiences while making public media stronger. We can’t wait to keep listening to the podcasts our five teams created, which will all be available to listeners this year.
The next application window for Project Catapult will open June 3. Stay tuned!