July 26, 2012

Public Radio International | Current.org
WGBH, the largest producer of PBS programs, has expanded its public radio footprint with the acquisition of Public Radio International, the distributor of public radio programs such as “This American Life” and “The Takeaway.”

Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Current.org reports that PRI ran a deficit of $2 million in 2011, but PRI’s Jonathan Kealing reports that other factors were behind the deal:

Officials at PRI said this acquisition wasn’t born out of short-term financial necessity, but rather with hopes for achieving more impact and an eye on future funding challenges. [PRI CEO Alisa] Miller said in looking at predictions for federal funding and the generally tepid economic recovery, it’s likely that non-profits will face challenges securing sufficient funding. This puts the organization in a better position in that competitive environment, she said.

WGBH is much larger than PRI, which has less than 10 percent of WGBH’s employes and 15 percent of its revenue.

[PRI] quickly realized, Miller said, that while sometimes it could see specific opportunities to do that long before anyone else, it wasn’t always able to execute them in a timely manner because the organization just wasn’t large enough.

“If there was anything missing from PRI, it was the ability to scale quickly,” she said. “This is an environment where you need to not only be able to move quickly, but also, when you find success, you need to be able to feed it and nurture it.”

Miller said the two organizations will try to look for “efficiencies” but wouldn’t say whether that means positions will be eliminated, Kealing reports.

Related: Why are so many popular public radio programs so old? (Chicago Tribune) | Glass: ‘Car Talk’ reruns will stifle innovation at NPR (Poynter)

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Steve Myers was the managing editor of Poynter.org until August 2012, when he became the deputy managing editor and senior staff writer for The Lens,…
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