A public media powerhouse and a group of new investors and partners join forces to help RadioPublic transform podcasting
Just over a year ago we launched the first RadioPublic iOS and Android applications — the initial step toward our vision of creating a universal podcast platform to “help listeners discover, engage with, and reward creators of podcasts.”
Today, in the first of several updates to come, we are excited to announce a new group of investors, partners and advisors, led by a strategic investment by the pioneering public media company WGBH.
Boston-based Companyon Capital has also joined as an investor, bringing sophisticated business modeling and analysis to our group with its Companyon platform team.
Additional individual investors include Andrew Mason (founder and former CEO of Groupon), and George Overholser (founder Third Sector Capital Partners). Together with our founding partner PRX and our first investors (Project 11, The New York Times, Graham Holdings, UP2398, American Public Media, McClatchy, Homebrew, Knight Foundation, and Matter Ventures), we have an incredible group of mission-aligned and strategically-minded backers of our Public Benefit Corporation.
Ben Godley, Chief Operating Officer and President of WGBH Business Services, who joins the RadioPublic board as an observer, says: “WGBH is committed to finding innovative models that benefit audiences and stations, helping public media successfully address the evolving media landscape and fulfill our public service mission in new ways. RadioPublic is at the vanguard of radio’s transformation into a mobile, on-demand future, and we are proud partners in helping take it to scale.”
WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Arthur, and more than a dozen other prime-time, lifestyle, and children’s series. WGBH also is a major supplier of programming for public radio through its affiliation with Public Radio International (PRI), and podcasting through its recently announced partnership with PRX.
One of WGBH’s signature initiatives is the Contributor Development Partnership (CDP), a national data reference file of 20 million public media contributors and a suite of fundraising services that WGBH manages on behalf of more than 200 public TV and radio stations across the country. Led by Godley, CDP is inventing new approaches to data-driven giving, which aligns with RadioPublic’s strategy of helping publishers identify and engage their most loyal listeners through Affinity Promotions. Our most recent test of this strategy helped surface new contributors to Radiotopia’s crowdfunding campaign —a successful case study of the listening experience as a path to direct support.
To date we have raised $2.8 million in seed financing for RadioPublic to take our vision for a more open, networked, and generative podcast ecosystem from theory to reality. Just one year into the journey we have a thriving community of listeners already numbering in the hundreds of thousands and logging millions hours of listening on RadioPublic, a stellar team of 12 building, designing, curating, and supporting our platform, and a rapidly expanding set of podcast publishers partnering with us to grow and engage their audiences.
Over this past year we’ve started laying the groundwork with a new set of tools — our podcast librarian, podcast playlists, gateway episodes, embed players, Affinity Promotions. These are initial building blocks as we unlock podcasting’s latent link economy. By joining forces with WGBH we will help public media enlist passionate podcast listeners to discover, support and sustain journalism and educational content so vital to our society.
Podcasting and public radio are forever intertwined, from the moment tech pioneer Dave Winer and host Chris Lydon first enclosed an MP3 in an RSS feed in 2003 at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society. RadioPublic PBC is born out of this shared DNA — forging a connection between public radio’s civic purpose and podcasting’s networked potential.
Boston is one of the world’s top entrepreneurial ecosystems, and hub of the podcasting and public media universe — home to RadioPublic, WGBH, WBUR, PRX, The Podcast Garage, the Association of Independents in Radio, and a growing galaxy of independent and institutional podcasters of all kinds.
It’s also a small town, and we enjoy the serendipitous fact that RadioPublic is headquartered at the Harvard LaunchLab at 114 Western Ave in Allston — the longtime home of WGBH before its move down the street to Brighton, not far from PRX’s Podcast Garage at 267 Western. The proximity effect in action.