Blank on Blank

Public radio programs raise funds directly using Kickstarter, GigaOM writer sees trouble for local affliates

Monday, July 23, 2012 - 11:30am

99% Invisible on KickstarterIf you're a regular RAIN reader, you're probably familiar by now with crowdsource funding web service Kickstarter. We highlighted several radio services taking advantage of Kickstarter in April (here) and then later wrote about the online-only Q101's Kickstarter campaign to bring back the Jamboree music festival (here).

Now GigaOM pens an article explaining how Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services could "change public radio forever." Kickstarter could replace the "recurring nightmare" that are pledge drives, GigaOM writes. In fact, several radio programs are already doing this.

GigaOM points to Blank on Blank (a show that "resurfaces 'lost interviews'") and design show 99% Invisible -- both distributed by Public Radio Exchange (PRX) -- as examples. Blank on Blank recently raised $11,337 on Kickstarter. 99% Invisible's Season 3 Kickstarter campaign has raised more than $100,000 as of publication, with 18 days left.

"The potential Kickstarter has for shows like 99% Invisible and Blank on Blank is indeed exciting, because it gives the audience a new way to support them at a much earlier stage," writes GigaOM.

Wired writes, "Because it’s cheaper for local radio stations to play national content than to produce original programming, the projects that get funded are hour-long, weekly, high-production value shows... But the growth of the Internet as a distribution channel is beginning to level the playing field."

Said PRX CEO Jake Shapiro: “It’s a new way to bootstrap new programs, new voices."

"I guarantee that independent public media will never be the same," 99% Invisible producer Roman Mars writes.

Blank on Blank"Mars’s success may end up opening the floodgates for other independent radio producers eying Kickstarter as a funding source," comments Wired.

Both shows are also great examples of how radio programs can innovate on platforms other than the radio dial. Blank on Blank hopes to turn their interviews into animated YouTube videos, while 99% Invisible has created products "so cool, you’d want them even if you weren’t a fan of the show" to raise money on Kickstarter.

GigaOM ponders if this burgeoning trend may spell trouble for public radio local affiliates. "Crowdfunding threatens to further circumvent the local affiliates and their pledge drives — and the effect could be dramatic. What if listeners stopped giving to their local stations and instead just spent all their money to directly fund producers via Kickstarter?"

“They have to rethink their relationship with their audiences,” said PRX's Shapiro.

You can find GigaOM's coverage here and Wired's article on 99% Invisible here. You can also find 99% Invisible's on-going Kickstarter campaign here.

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