Thanks to the 10,500+ of you who make this show possible. We received the extra $20,000 grant from MailChimp because of an incredible surge of support on Thursday. I’ve long since run out of clever ways to express my gratitude. I have new empathy for the greeting card writers of the world.
If you’ve been following along, you’ll notice a pattern in the stretch goals of this campaign: fixing what's broken in the public radio system. Don't get me wrong-- I do this work because I love it, and it has been my privilege to be an independent radio producer for more than a dozen years. I am extremely lucky that I get to do this for a living.
However, there are things about the public radio system that need to change. One by one, our stretch goals have been addressing these issues. You’ve proven that the audience will reward innovation. You’ve provided health care stipends to our contract workers. You’ve ended the endless internship. It has been amazing to watch these goals get shattered so quickly, because I always knew that the right audience would consider these things to be important.
The time has come to replicate this across public radio. We’re creating Radiotopia.
For a couple years, I’ve been scheming with PRX to create a collective of exceptional radio shows that will push the boundaries of public radio. Modeled after 99% Invisible, we want to provide support for a select group of creator-driven, high-quality, entrepreneurial programs that will establish a path to success for the most talented audio producers. We call it Radiotopia.*
The most common question I’m asked, by far, is “What other podcasts do you listen to?” There are great ones out there and I want more. The hardest part of creating a new show is getting started and then getting enough audience and support to move into regular production. We want to provide a platform where the best producers can find an audience and flourish. That has always been my ultimate goal, and it’s time to get it done.
So here's the plan: pledges collected up to the $350,000 mark will go towards rounding out the 99pi 2014 budget: relocation money for our next hire, raising freelance rates, creating an experimental fund for us to try things that we haven't thought of yet, and also buying some new equipment (Avery is using Sam's computer from college and most of our gear is older than my boys).
Anything pledged beyond that threshold--$350,000--will go toward establishing a seed fund for programs in PRX’s Radiotopia.
Creating this support network helps 99% Invisible achieve long-term sustainability, and everyone will benefit from more great radio in the world. I kept thinking that an ecosystem of other 99% Invisibles would spring up after our initial success, and a few have, but not nearly enough. And the few programs out there are in constant risk of going away without a network to support them. So, let’s build it ourselves.
*The term “radiotopia” came from Julie Shapiro when she was at the Third Coast International Audio Festival. Many of the most creative, independent producers of public radio get together every year at the Third Coast Conference to find our community and explore our craft. Julie called this gathering and all the great plans we had for audio storytelling “radiotopia.” It’s a place where everything is radio and everything is really good.