Approximately 800 radio station affiliates and other audio venues broadcast, stream and download PRI programs. According to the 2002 Arbitron ratings, 15.2 million people listened to PRI programming each week.
PRI's programs have won numerous awards for quality and innovation, including the DuPont-Columbia Award, Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Electronic Media/Radio, George M. Foster Peabody Award, , Golden Reel Award and the Gabriel Award.
PRI programs are distributed through North America on satellite radio. PRI had its own 24-hour channel on Sirius Satellite Radio channel 136, which was discontinued in September 2006. As a response, XM Radio added more PRI programming to its own public radio channel, XM Public Radio. PRI pursues its satellite radio strategy in concert with other public radio stations. In 2002, PRI formed American Public Radio, in partnership with Chicago Public Radio, in order to better pursue strategies within the satellite radio realm. Not long after, WGBH Boston joined the partnership. WNYC New York joined about a year later.
PRI programs are also available via podcast from iTunes, PRI program sites, and at Public Radio International PRI's podcasts consistently rate in the iTunes top 100, including This American Life, Selected Shorts, The World's Technology Podcast, the Sound of Young America and Studio 360. PRI was one of the first radio podcasters in the United States, when its program The World launched its popular technology podcast on February 11, 2005, hosted by Clark Boyd. For more, see History of Podcasting.
PRI programming receives funding from station fees, corporate underwriting, and individual and corporate grants. Less than 2% of the overall operating budget comes from United States government agencies.
PRI recognizes as its core principles:
In the mid 1990s, PRI began producing programming in addition to distributing programming. This important evolution in the company began with PRI's The World, a co-production between PRI, the BBC World Service, and WGBH Boston. This daily global news program was one of the first news-oriented co-productions of the BBC World Service anywhere. The launch of the weekend program, Studio 360, a co-production between PRI and WNYC New York (featuring Kurt Andersen), followed in early 2001. Studio 360 strives to "get inside the creative mind" each week as it surveys the best in film, arts, design, entertainment, and culture.
In January 2007, PRI launched Fair Game, "the strange love child between the Daily Show and Morning Edition." The program aims to experiment with web and audio programming hybrids and reach out to younger listeners. Fair Game uses humor as a lens to put the days events in perspective, and features stand-up comedian (and Rhodes scholar) Faith Salie. On May 30th, 2008, PRI ceased the broadcast component of the program and apparently has a web-only version of the program in the works.
Also in January 2007, PRI announced its acquisition of WireTap from the CBC for distribution in the United States. According to PRI's press release, WireTap is a weekly program of intimate and often hilarious telephone conversations between celebrated writer Jonathan Goldstein, and people with real or imagined stories to tell.
In March 2007, PRI announced its intention to co-produce a new morning program, involving WNYC New York, WGBH Boston, the BBC World Service, and the New York Times Radio. The goals of the program are to provide choice in public radio mornings and to foster the growth of public radio audiences. This program launched nationally in April 2008. PRI began developing this idea more than five years ago and began cultivating partners not long-after.
In June 2007, the company announced another distribution partnership, this time with The Sound of Young America, featuring Jesse Thorn. The press release stated, "The Sound of Young America is an irreverent weekly arts and entertainment interview program, described by its creator as 'a public radio show about things that are awesome.'
In September, PRI and Symphony Space of New York City announced that PRI would become the national distribution partner of Selected Shorts, which had previously been distributed by National Public Radio. The press release said, "The best public radio features compelling storytelling. Selected Shorts is an excellent example of how the human voice can engage listeners and take them to another place... PRI looks forward to partnering with Selected Shorts to chart an exciting new future for this kind of storytelling in public media.
In January 2008, PRI and WNYC announced that the name of their new morning drive news program is The Takeaway with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji. This program's editorial partners include The BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Radio Boston. The program successfully launched April 28, and full national launch is expected June/July 2008.
On May 1, 2008, PRI was the first major public media outlet to use digital cinema; and one of the first mass media companies overall. PRI conceived and spearheaded This American Life Live! in partnership with Ira Glass and WBEZ Chicago. This American Life Live! is presented exclusively in select theatres by National CineMedia's (NCM) Fathom, in partnership with BY Experience and Chicago Public Radio, and in association with Public Radio International.
PRI is a younger organization than NPR, and focuses on pushing the sound of public radio forward through innovative programming strategies. (NPR was founded in 1970 and PRI in 1983.) Many PRI shows draw a younger overall audience than shows produced by NPR. PRI's stated purpose is to offer a wider range of voices than NPR programs.
In recent years, there have been changes among distributors of numerous programs. Some programs that were formerly distributed by PRI, such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and American Routes are now distributed by American Public Media. APM was formed by Minnesota Public Radio to distribute programs it owned and produced, thereby moving distribution from PRI to APM.
In addition, PRI distributed World Cafe for many years, but in 2005, the show's distribution was switched to NPR. At the same time, PRI has also picked up the distribution of programs originally distributed by NPR, including Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?, and, in 2006, Living on Earth - public radio's leading news and information program focused on the environment. In September 2007, PRI became the national distributor Selected Shorts which was previously distributed by NPR.
Public Radio International[R] receives $1.6 million to support global health and development reporting, online engagement initiatives.
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