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Public Radio International

Public Radio International (PRI) is an American public radio organization. Headquartered in Minneapolis, PRI is a producer and distributor of multi-platform storytelling and award-winning journalism. PRI’s content reaches more than 20 million people each month, through over 850 public radio stations in the U.S. and, and millions more through podcasts and online. 

Public Radio International
Formerly called
American Public Radio
Public radio network
Founded 1983
Headquarters Minneapolis, Minnesota
Area served
United States
Key people
  • Marguerite Hoffman (Chairman)
  • Alisa Miller (President and CEO)
Parent WGBH Educational Foundation

PRI competes with National Public Radio, American Public Media and the Public Radio Exchange to provide programming to public radio stations.[1]



In the United States, PRI exclusively distributes well-known programming to public radio stations. Among its programs is the award-winning global news program The World, which PRI co-produces with the BBC and WGBH Boston. Programs on PRI—sometimes mis-attributed to National Public Radio—are produced by a variety of organizations, including PRI in the United States and other countries.[2] PRI, along with NPR and American Public Media, is one of the largest program producers and distributors of public radio programming in the United States. PRI offers over 280 hours of programming each week to stations and listeners.[2] According to their website, the mission of Public Radio International is to "serve audiences as a distinctive content source for information, insights and cultural experiences essential to living in our diverse, interconnected world."

Approximately 850 radio station affiliates and other audio venues broadcast, stream and download PRI programs. According to the 2017 Nielsen Audio[3] ratings, 8.1 million people listened to PRI programming each week.

PRI's programs have won numerous awards for quality and innovation, including the DuPont-Columbia Award,[4] Scripps Howard Award for Excellence in Electronic Media/Radio,[5] George M. Foster Peabody Award,[6] Golden Reel Award[7] and Gabriel Award.[8]

PRI programming receives funding from station fees, corporate underwriting, and individual and corporate grants. Less than 2% of the overall operating budget comes from United States government agencies.[citation needed]


PRI was founded in 1983 as American Public Radio as an alternative to NPR for public radio program distribution.[2] Five stations established American Public Radio as a syndicate: the Minnesota Public Radio network, KQED/San Francisco, WCPE/Cincinnati, and KUSC in Los Angeles. The corporation changed its name to Public Radio International in 1994 to reflect its growing interest and involvement in international audio publishing, as typified by its many collaborations with the BBC.

In the mid-1990s, PRI began to expand its purpose by producing programming in addition to distributing programming. This evolution in the company began with PRI's The World, a co-production among PRI, the BBC World Service, and WGBH. This daily global news program was one of the first news-oriented co-productions of the BBC World Service anywhere.

In 2012, the organization became an affiliated company of WGBH.[9]

Recent program launches and firstsEdit

In 1995: PRI launches Classical 24®, public radio’s first 24-hour classical music service, as a co-production with Minnesota Public Radio.

In 1996: PRI’s The World premieres, presenting issues and events through a global lens to American audiences. Co-produced by PRI with BBC World Service and WGBH Radio Boston, it was the first daily news co-production ever undertaken by the BBC. 

In 2001: PRI’s Studio 360 launches

In September, PRI and Symphony Space of New York City announced that PRI would become the national distribution partner of Selected Shorts, which had previously been distributed by National Public Radio. The press release said, "The best public radio features compelling storytelling. Selected Shorts is an excellent example of how the human voice can engage listeners and take them to another place... PRI looks forward to partnering with Selected Shorts to chart an exciting new future for this kind of storytelling in public media."[10]

In January 2008, PRI and WNYC announced that the name of their new morning drive news program is The Takeaway with John Hockenberry and Adaora Udoji. This program's editorial partners include The BBC World Service, The New York Times, and WGBH Radio Boston. The program successfully launched April 28, and full national launch is expected June/July 2008.

On May 1, 2008, PRI was the first major public media outlet to use digital cinema; and one of the first mass media companies overall. PRI conceived and spearheaded This American Life Live![11] in partnership with Ira Glass and WBEZ Chicago. This American Life Live! was presented exclusively in select theatres by National CineMedia's (NCM) Fathom, in partnership with BY Experience and Chicago Public Radio, and in association with Public Radio International.[12]

In 2012: PRI is acquired by WGBH.

On March 21, 2014, the company announced the agreement to distribute This American Life would end July 1, 2014.[13]

In 2017: PRI launches its Engagement Lab

Public radio, PRI, NPREdit

Public radio is a generic term for non-commercial radio stations or programming that are covered under the Public Broadcasting Act. Public radio organizations receive funding from corporate sponsors, public (e.g., Corporation for Public Broadcasting) and private foundation grants as well as donations and gifts from individuals. The mix of revenue differs by station, network and/or producer. PRI, NPR and American Public Media are the largest providers of public radio programming in the United States. They compete with each other for slots on public radio stations and the attention of listeners. Each has distinct missions and emphases in programming—PRI is focused on global journalism, providing diverse voices, and arts and cultural perspectives. Any given public radio station may be simultaneously both an NPR member and an affiliate of PRI and APM. PRI is a not-for-profit organization that has an independent governing board with an independent board of directors. NPR is a membership organization; its board is composed of public radio stations which run for seats on the board.

PRI is a younger organization than NPR, and focuses on pushing the sound of public radio forward through innovative programming strategies and leading media in its areas of focus—global news and cultural perspectives. (NPR was founded in 1970 and PRI in 1983.) Many PRI shows draw a younger overall audience than shows produced by NPR. PRI's stated purpose is to offer a wider range of voices than NPR programs.[14]

In recent years, there have been changes among distributors of numerous programs. Some programs that were formerly distributed by PRI, such as A Prairie Home Companion, Marketplace, and American Routes, along with the BBC World Service, are now distributed by American Public Media.[15] APM was formed by Minnesota Public Radio to distribute programs it owned and produced, thereby moving distribution from PRI to APM.

In addition, PRI distributed World Cafe for many years, but in 2005, the show's distribution was switched to NPR. At the same time, PRI has also picked up the distribution of programs originally distributed by NPR, including Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?, and, in 2006, Living on Earthpublic radio's leading news and information program focused on the environment. In September 2007, PRI became the national distributor of Selected Shorts which was previously distributed by NPR. In January 2014, PRI became the national distributor of Science Friday, also previously distributed by NPR.


Broadcast and audio programs include:

• Afropop Worldwide Experience the rich, musical sounds of Africa, the Caribbean, and the Americas in a lively blend of music, interviews, and stories. Hosted by: Georges Collinet

• America Abroad An hour-long audio journey deep inside an international news story. Hosted by: Madeleine Brand

• As It Happens From conversations with news makers to up-close and personal accounts of the unusual and unexpected, this program brings you the stories behind the stories of the day. Hosted by: Carol Off Jeff Douglas

• Boston Calling Explore the myriad and unexpected ways that the world influences the United States. Hosted by: Marco Werman

• Day 6 A lively news magazine show that brings you a fresh and surprising take on the week. Think of the show as your weekly news cocktail, shaken and stirred. Hosted by: Brent Bambury

• Echoes Escape into a modern soundscape of evocative, ground-breaking music that crosses cultures, traditions, and musical boundaries. Hosted by: John Diliberto

• GlobalPost GlobalPost provides original international reporting rooted in integrity, accuracy, independence and powerful storytelling.

• Innovation Hub Exploring the future of education, medicine, the economy, and more with today's most creative thinkers. Hosted by: Kara Miller

• Jazz After Hours Wind down on the weekends over some mellow contemporary and classical jazz vibes with host Jeff Hanley. Hosted by: Jeff Hanley

• LBJ's War A president bound for greatness. A ruinous Vietnam war. How did Lyndon Johnson lose his way? Hosted by: David Brown

• Live Wire A weekly one-hour variety show that combines the excitement of a live show and the reach of a radio broadcast to entertain, inspire, and inform listeners. Hosted by: Luke Burbank

• Living on Earth Keep your finger on the pulse of the issues affecting the planet we call home. Hosted by: Steve Curwood

• On Story On Story features the creative minds behind inconic film and television projects including: True Detective, Freaks and Geeks, There Will Be Blood, Fargo, Ghostbusters, and The Graduate. Hosted by: Barbara Morgan

• Otherhood What would the news sound like if media were diverse? Listen to what you're missing -- with Otherhood, a PRI podcast created and hosted by Rupa Shenoy. Hosted by: Rupa Shenoy

• Out in the Open An adventurous and wide-ranging weekly show about the nitty-gritty of real life

• Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Enjoy a lively, exciting performance each week from the comfort of your living room. Hosted by: Jim Cunningham

• Podcast Playlist A curated mix of the best stories from the podcast world, all tied to a weekly theme.

• PRI's The World A program that crosses borders and time zones to bring home the stories that matter. Hosted by: Marco Werman

• q from the CBC Each day, q covers entertainment, pop culture, and high arts with forays into the most provocative and compelling cultural trends.

• Selected Shorts Get lost in the moment as some of the most talented actors from the stage, screen, and television bring short stories to life.

• Studio 360 Public radio's smart and surprising guide to what's happening in pop culture and the arts. Hosted by: Kurt Andersen

• The Record Shelf Host Jim Svejda brings listeners imaginative, thematic classical programming. Hosted by: Jim Svejda

• The Science of Happiness Research-based tips for a meaningful life. A co-production with the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley. Hosted by: Dacher Keltner

• The Takeaway The Takeaway leads a daily conversation on air and online with a national audience around the news and issues that matter most. Hosted by: Tanzina Vega

• The World in Words A podcast about languages and the people who speak them. Hosted by: Patrick Cox

• Things That Go Boom A podcast about the ins, outs, and whathaveyous of what keeps us safe. Hosted by: Laicie Heeley

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Clemetson, Lynette (August 30, 2004). "All Things Considered, NPR's Growing Clout Alarms Member Stations". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-12-15. For years stations have sought to diversify their programming options. Public Radio International, which was also created by stations and has become NPR's primary competitor, markets and distributes programs produced by local stations, like ... Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know, a weekly entertainment show produced by Wisconsin Public Radio. 
  2. ^ a b c "PRI Fact Sheet". Public Radio International. Retrieved 2014-05-27. 
  3. ^ Nielsen Audio Nationwide-Act 1 Systems, DMA Persons 12+ based on stations' broadcast schedule
  4. ^ "PRI's The World Wins Prestigious 2006 duPont-Columbia Award" (Press release). Public Radio International. 15 December 2005. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  5. ^ "PRI's 'The World' wins multiple awards, celebrates 10th year" (Press release). Public Radio International. 4 April 2006. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  6. ^ Peabody Awards for Public Radio International, accessed September 2014.
  7. ^ "Golden Reel Awards - 2004 Winners". National Federation of Community Broadcasters. 2004. Archived from the original on 2010-04-17. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  8. ^ "Gabriel Awards". Retrieved 2013-10-12. 
  9. ^ Ben Sisario (July 27, 2012). "Boston's WGBH Buys Public Radio International". The New York Times. Retrieved August 7, 2012. 
  10. ^ "PRI to partner with 'Selected Shorts' for national distribution" (Press release). Public Radio International. 14 September 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 
  11. ^ "Popcorn available with this Ira Glass show, 2008". 2008-04-07. Archived from the original on 2011-06-17. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  12. ^ "This American Life - Live!". April 4, 2008. Archived from the original on June 13, 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-26. 
  13. ^ "Public Radio International Dropping 'This American Life'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 21 March 2014. 
  14. ^ McGrath, Charles (2008-02-17). "Is PBS Still Necessary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  15. ^ "American Public Media Acquires National Distribution of American Routes, Public Radio's Weekly Exploration of American Music : American Public Media is now second in weekly audience size to NPR. (Arbitron Nationwide, Spring 2007)" (Press release). American Public Media. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-22. 

External linksEdit