NPR and Six Member Stations Embark on Future-of-Radio Listening Strategy
NPR Deepens Coverage of Education; Global Health and Development;
and ‘Code Switch,’ Covering Race, Ethnicity and Culture
“Beyond ‘driveway moments’: Reinventing radio at NPR by Marie Gilot,” on Knight Blog
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (Dec. 16, 2013) – Four leading foundations and three individual philanthropists are supporting a significant expansion of NPR’s ability to deliver in-depth coverage of news and culture and reimagine the public radio experience for digital listening. The grants, totaling $17 million, will both deepen and extend NPR’s coverage of key issues – education, global health and development, and race, ethnicity and culture – and fund NPR and six Member Stations – KPCC, KQED, MPR, WBUR, WHYY and WNYC – in the creation of a seamless local-national listening platform, helping deliver the work of NPR and stations to tens of millions of Americans everywhere they want it, in words, images and sound.
This work is receiving generous support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Wallace Foundation and Ford Foundation, and individual contributions from Paul Haaga, acting President & CEO of NPR, and Heather Haaga; William Poorvu, former Vice Chair of the NPR Foundation and Trustee emeritus, and Lia Poorvu; and Howard Stevenson, former Chair of the NPR Board and NPR Foundation Trustee, and Fredericka Stevenson – each investing in specific elements of the journalism and innovation strategy. In total, the foundations and individuals are contributing nearly $17 million to NPR over the next two years. These gifts will serve as a catalyst for additional resources being sought by NPR and Member Stations.
“This support will allow NPR to build transformative platforms that secure the future of public media journalism, and represents a powerful vote of confidence for that vision,” said Kinsey Wilson, NPR’s Chief Content Officer who leads its news, programming, music and digital teams. “We’ll be able to dive deep into issues that are at the center of people’s lives, and drive tremendous innovation in how we engage people with those issues.”
“NPR is responding to the increased demand by audiences for flexibility in consuming content seamlessly across various digital platforms,” said Michael Maness, Knight Foundation VP/Journalism and Media Innovation. “The platform will allow listeners to engage in new ways with NPR and its member station partners, making the quality journalism that is so important in a democracy more accessible, especially for a new generation.”
Over the past few years, the growth in NPR’s audience on digital platforms has climbed, significantly extending the organization’s weekly on-air reach of tens of millions of listeners. As more people seek NPR’s journalism in more places, NPR is adapting both its platforms and its newsgathering models to take advantage of that shift. Building on the success of efforts like Code Switch, the news unit covering race, ethnicity and culture, and Planet Money, reporting on the global economy, NPR is developing multidisciplinary teams to produce distinctive, in-depth coverage of key beats. These teams bring together reporters, editors, bloggers and visual journalists to tell stories audiences can hear, read and see. Code Switch, which launched in April 2013 with funding from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, has successfully boosted NPR’s reach to new audiences in its first six months. Support from the Ford Foundation will enable NPR to continue building on the work of Code Switch itself.
NPR will also bring this approach to two expanded areas of coverage, one focusing on education and supported by The Wallace Foundation and the Gates Foundation, and the other covering global health and economic development, with support from Gates. These subjects are at the root of some of the world’s most significant challenges for the future, crossing local, state and national borders. NPR will drive the national dialogue on education through impactful storytelling around such key issues as Common Core, higher education and the arts in education. Global health and development coverage will engage an international audience, looking at these subjects through the lens of science, innovation and people. The unique strengths of NPR and its Member Stations position the public radio system to approach these topics in a way that no other news network can, with its local footprint in communities across the U.S. and 34 bureaus across the country and world. NPR expects to launch its expanded education and global health and development reporting in spring 2014.
Alongside these expansions in news, NPR and six Member Stations are collaborating to build a cohesive listening experience for news, arts and culture, transforming public radio for the next generation. Listeners will be able to move seamlessly among clock radios, Internet-enabled cars, tablets, smartphones and other mobile devices, never missing a local or national story of interest, and connecting with others to discover new voices and find amazing stories. Listeners will explore, shape and share what they hear. The Knight and Gates foundations, together with Paul and Heather Haaga, William and Lia Poorvu, and Howard and Fredericka Stevenson, are behind this ambitious effort. The majority of the Knight Foundation’s gift is comprised of matching grants to the six stations: KPCC Southern California Public Radio; KQED Public Radio San Francisco; Minnesota Public Radio (MPR); WBUR Boston; WHYY Philadelphia; and WNYC New York.
Today, NPR and Member Stations reach a weekly audience of 35 million people on radio and tens of millions monthly online and on mobile. These grants will enable the public radio network to serve that audience better than ever before, while also pursuing new audiences with an increasingly diverse racial, geographic and ideological profile.