PRX Builds Two New Podcast Content Roles

Public media organization PRX announced that Julie Shapiro and Audrey Mardavich will serve in newly-created strategic roles on the company’s content team. Shapiro will serve as Vice President of Editorial at PRX and Radiotopia and will also continue as Executive Producer of the acclaimed podcast Ear Hustle. Mardavich will serve as Senior Director of Content of the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX.

Shapiro and Mardavich will help to guide, develop, and envision new partnerships and original content, support vital ongoing programming, and collaborate with creators across the PRX and Radiotopia podcast portfolios. Shapiro and Mardavich report to Jason Saldanha, Chief of Business Development and Content at PRX.

“As the podcast industry accelerates, Julie will now bring her incredible experience, creativity, and creator-conscious mindset to podcasts and strategic partnerships across PRX’s growing portfolio, and will continue to guide Radiotopia as the network evolves,” said Saldanha. “In addition, since the network’s inception, Audrey’s dedication to Radiotopia’s mission, content, and creators have been without comparison. We’re excited to drive a path forward in audio together that champions independent creators and their work.”

As Vice President of Editorial at PRX and Radiotopia, Shapiro will continue to steer the creative direction and growth of Radiotopia, a podcast network of extraordinary, artist-owned podcasts. In addition, Shapiro will now also help to shepherd large-scale content partnerships throughout PRX. Further, Shapiro will continue to work hand-in-hand with the Ear Hustle team as Executive Producer. Shapiro was named Executive Producer of Radiotopia in 2015 following the launch of the network. Created in 2017 and part of Radiotopia, Ear Hustle is made inside and outside of San Quentin State Prison, sharing daily realities of life there. Shapiro and the Ear Hustle team have received recognition from the Peabody Awards, the duPont-Columbia Awards, and the Pulitzer Prizes, while the podcast has been downloaded more than 55.5 million times. For more than a decade, Shapiro served as Artistic Director of the Third Coast International Audio Festival. She has also served as Executive Producer at ABC Radio National in Australia.

As Senior Director of Content for Radiotopia, Mardavich will oversee the strategic planning, operations, and management of the network, including new launches and ongoing series. Mardavich will work closely with producers and across teams at PRX to achieve production, audience, and revenue goals. Mardavich has held multiple roles at Radiotopia and PRX since 2011, ranging from Director of Special Projects to Radiotopia’s Network Director, helping to drive projects such as the opening of the PRX Podcast Garage in Boston in 2016 and Radiotopia’s live tours on the east and west coasts. Mardavich has also served as a Boston storySLAM producer for “The Moth” and at the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.

Both Shapiro and Mardavich will continue to serve as executive producers for Radiotopia Presents, a podcast feed and home for new limited series from independent creators in which producers retain 100% ownership and creative control of their intellectual property while receiving financial, production, distribution, and marketing support. The debut series from Radiotopia Presents, Blind Guy Travels, premiered at the 2021 Tribeca Festival in New York.

“I’m looking forward to supporting PRX’s expanding content ambitions, to identifying new partners and projects, and to breaking new ground creatively by paving the way for more impactful and transformative storytelling,” said Julie Shapiro, Vice President of Editorial at PRX and Radiotopia. “It’s an honor and pleasure to build on the work I’ve done with PRX through Radiotopia and Ear Hustle, and to continue onward working alongside the network and the show, too. Both have big plans in store.”

“It’s a joy to work closely with Radiotopia’s hosts and producers, and to provide a space where creators are valued and their dream projects can thrive,” said Audrey Mardavich, Senior Director of Content of the Radiotopia podcast network from PRX. “As a fierce advocate for independent producers, I look forward to helping lead Radiotopia forward in an ever-changing podcast landscape.”

The Allusionist has Left Radiotopia Network

Helen Zaltzman, creator and host of The Allusionist, announced on her website that the podcast is leaving the Radiotopia network. For full details about why Helen Zaltzman made that decision, I recommend that you read her blog post about it.

PRX is the company that runs Radiotopia. Helen Zatlzman did not work for PRX. She only worked for Radiotopia. However, it came to her attention that PRX was accused of engaging in institutional racism against a former employee. The employee was not the only Black woman had been mistreated by some of the people who worked for PRX.

Again, Helen Zaltzman did not work for PRX. She worked for Radiotopia. Here is a small piece of her blog post where she comments about that:

I have, however been part of Radiotopia, a network with a mostly white line-up. I never had the power to change that line-up, but tried to use the powers I did have: over the years, I have raised this fact repeatedly, recommended existing shows or potential showmakers to approach, questioned the excuses given for why the line-up stayed very white – small capacity and limited resources and insufficient money were frequently cited. So I offered money. And now, in case it makes more space and resources available, I’m removing myself.

This is not the end of The Allusionist podcast. Helen Zaltzman is going to continue the show, which she has always made by herself with 100% ownership and editorial control. There are no staff who will lose their employment as a result of this change.

The financial side is where she could use some help. She has a link to her Patreon in her blog post about The Allusionist leaving Radiotopia. Helen Zaltzman stresses that donations to her Patreon are optional, and urges people not to donate if times are tight for them. The Allusionist will continue to be available with “as few obstacles for you listeners as possible”.

The Heart Podcast Returns to Radiotopia

Radiotopia descibes The Heart as: a podcast about intimacy and humanity. It’s comprised of a community of writers, radio makers, and artists who make personal documentary work about bodies, love, power dynamics and all of the invisible things in the air between Humans. The Heart is from Radiotopia and Mermaid Palace.

Mermaid Palace describes itself as follows:

We are an audio company. We are an art company.

We make audio facts and audio fictions (a.k.a. Podcasts). We make performances and experiences. We make films and one day we will make television.

Founded and directed by Kaitlin Prest in community with her friends and colleagues.

On the Mermaid Palace, you can find some additional information about The Heart. It is a Peabody nominated podcast and longstanding feminist platform for highly crafted narrative work about bodies, gender, love, and power.

The show as created by Kaitlin Prest, with Mitra Kaboli in 2014, and went out of production at the end of 2017. On January 15th, 2020, the show is coming back with a new creative team and a new commitment to radical, feminist, artmaking.

Neiman Lab reported that Kaitlin Prest is the creator of The Heart. She is Canadian, and known for her work around the contours of intimacy. The Shadows is her big fiction project for the Canadian Broadcasting System.

Radiotopia Launched Ear Hustle Podcast

In November of 2016, Radiotopia announced the winner of Podquest.  They narrowed it down to ten finalists, and then declared Ear Hustle to be the winner. Recently, Radiotopia launched the first episode of Ear Hustle.

Ear Hustle is the newest show from Radiotopia. The podcast brings you stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it.

Ear Hustle is a partnership between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, who are currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison; and Nigel Poor, a Bay Area artist. The team works in San Quentin’s media lab to produce stories that are sometimes difficult, often funny, always honest, offering a nuanced view of people living within the American prison system.

The first episode of Ear Hustle was released on June 14, 2017.  It is titled “Cellies”. A “cellie” is a person that a prisoner shares a cell with. The episode describes the 4’x9′ cell and what it contains, and provides stories about negotiating space and relationships in such close quarters.

Part of the About Page for Ear Hustle says: “All of Ear Hustle’s episodes are reviewed and approved by an official at San Quentin prior to release. Due to the unique nature of our production, we do not respond to outside requests or pitches for material. We also do not comment on any inmate activity (beyond episodes) or relay messages to anyone inside the facility.”

To celebrate the launch of Ear Hustle, all of the Radiotopia podcasts will produce episodes around a common theme: Doing Time. You can check the the full list of episodes that fit this theme from each of the Radiotopia podcasts, and listen to as many as you want to.

Radiotopia Revealed Podquest Winner

Radiotopia Podquest logoEarlier this year, Radiotopia launched Podquest, which was an open call for new podcast ideas. They wanted to diversify their network and reach new audiences. After sifting through the entries, the semifinalists, and the finalists, Radiotopia has revealed the winner of the Podquest contest.

When Radiotopia launched Podquest, they received submissions from 1,537 people from 54 countries. Topics included “everything under the sun”. Those submissions were narrowed down by Radiotopia executive producer Julie Shapiro, who led a committee of 11 PRX staff and Radiotopia producers. A total of 99 Radiotopia donors reviewed the top 50 entries.

In June, the entries were narrowed down to a total of 10 semifinalists (called the PQ10). From those ten, four finalists were selected.

The winner of Radiotopia’s Podquest is Ear Hustle.  The podcast is a collaboration between Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, who are currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, and Nigel Poor, a collaborator and artist living on the outside.

Ear Hustle unveils the hidden stories of life inside the prison, told and produced from the perspective of those who live it. The show includes stories of both the good and the bad.

Radiotopia will pick up the first 10-episode season of Ear Hustle and it will debut later in 2017. Ear Hustle will use the proceeds from their prize to create their show, and to significantly upgrade the equipment at the San Quentin media lab (where the podcast is recorded).

Podquest Reveals Ten Semifinalists

Radiotopia Podquest logoEarlier this year, Podquest called for story-driven podcast ideas. They were looking for Radiotopia’s next podcast. Radiotopia is from PRX and is a curated network of extraordinary story-driven shows. Podquest recently revealed their ten semifinalists.

Podquest says that it had 1,537 people respond to their call for story-driven podcast ideas. Ten of those people’s ideas have been selected as semifinalists (which Podquest is calling PQ10). A total of three will be chosen as finalists.

The PQ10 are:

* Dear & Sincerely – by Genevieve Kersten. “Unemployed, depressed, and living in her parent’s basement, Genevieve decides to ask the smartest person she knows for advice, herself.”

* Do Over – by Kelly Jones, Chioke l’Anson and Claire Tacon. “Do Over is the real fake story of how your life could have turned out if you’d just done that one thing differently.”

* Ear Hustle – by Earlonne Woods, Antwan Williams, and Nigel Poor. “Ear Hustle brings you the hidden stories of life inside prison, told and produced from the perspective of those who live it.”

* Meat – by Jonathan Zenti. “Meat is a podcast about our bodies and the lives we live because of them.”

* Reflected Message – by Jon Tjhia. “Perched at the edges of music and radio storytelling, Reflected Message is like an update of ‘folk’ – pop-sized experiments with voices, memory, repetition, and the everyday.”

* The Difference Between – by Jerico Saria and Hadrian Santos. “The Difference Between dives into the world of “information dopplegängers” – the stuff you always confuse for that other thing – to find out what makes them truly unique”.

* The Stoop – by Lelia Day and Hana Baba. “The Stoop is a space where race, identity, fun, funk, and journalism come together in a tightly produced podcast that will go deep into issues about black identity that aren’t always openly discussed.”

* Third Culture – by Naima Sakande. “Third Culture celebrates those who are from everywhere and belong nowhere, unearthing stories of juggled identities”.

* This Isn’t Working – by Susie Cagle. “This Isn’t Working is a show about “making a living” in the U.S. in an age of corporate domination, industrial transition, and general labor wierdness.”

* Villian-ish – by Vivian Le. “Villian-ish is a show about gaining perspectives on dubious figures that we’ve been taught to revile, and exploring the hidden details we may have never considered.”

Each of the PQ10 semifinalists will receive $300, office hours with Radiotopia producers, free Hindenburg editing software and a year-long membership with the media talent network AIR. The three finalists will be announced July 6-8 at Podcast Movement 2016 in Chicago.

Podquest is Calling for Story-Driven Podcast Ideas

Radiotopia Podquest logoDo you have a great idea for a podcast that tells a story? There is a contest going on that you may want to enter. Podquest has an open call-out for story-driven podcasts. They started accepting pitches on March 17, 2016, and will continue to accept them through April 17, 2016.

Podquest is looking for Radiotopia’s next podcast. Radiotopia, from PRX, is a curated network of extraordinary, story-driven shows. Radiotopia empowers independent producers to do their best work, grow audiences and increase revenue. At its core, Radiotopia cultivates community – for both listeners and makers alike.

Podquest is looking for diverse talent, new voices, and sustainable ideas that clearly align with Radiotopia’s mission. They seek podcasts that will help take Radiotopia in new directions and that will attract new listeners. They are not looking for shows that have unstructured conversations, live storytelling, or ideas that overlap with shows that are already on Radiotopia.

Ten semi-finalists will win $300 each, offices hours with Radiotopia producers, free Hindenburg editing software, and a year-long membership with the media talent network AIR. Three finalists will be chosen and supported ($10,000 each) in the production of three pilot episodes over the course of four months. At the end of that period, Radiotopia will invite one finalist to join the network in 2017.

The ten semi-finalists will be announced June 1, 2016, at The three finalists will be announced July 6-8 at Podcast Movement 2016 in Chicago. The winner will be announced in November at Third Coast Conference in Chicago.

Be sure to check out the post at Radiotopia to find out more details about this contest. You have nothing to lose by entering. Part of the details state that you 100% own your idea, and are welcome to pursue your show on your own, if you are not chosen as as finalist.