Just back from a "networking event" at Harvard Startups with the rather ambitious title "Entrepreneurship, Disruptive Technologies and the Future of Public Media: How Participatory Digital Culture is Driving New Business Models and Changing Media As We Know It." I had expected a serious presentation, and it turned out to be a stand-up-and-shout in a hallway.
But the speaker, Jake Shapiro, turned out to be interesting. He is Executive Director of the Public Radio Exchange, an exchange for public radio programming. Public Radio is, according to Bill Bryson, the most underfunded enterprise in the USA – but it is what I listen to whenever I can. PRX is essentially a storage house for radio programs that are created by independent producers (often local radio stations) and is made available for other radio stations to access and broadcast. PRX handles licensing and provides an infrastructure for storage and distribution.
Jake turned out to have a background as a musician with an Internet bent – with the band Two Ton Shoe. He told of how he personally had experienced the Long Tail, when a record producer called them and wanted to license their music for sale – in Korea. They went there and were rock stars for a week, with sold-out concerts and radio performances.
Public broadcasting has an interesting role in the "dot-org" bubble, as Jake referred to the current enthusiasm for distibuted content creation and distribution. Freed from commercials and thin on money, it both needs to and can innovate with new models for distribution.
I’ll see, eventually – the network in the office I am writing this from apparently does not like RealAudio streams, so I wasn’t able to check out the radio programs. But it just may happen that I decide to produce a little broadcast myself one day, and this could be a great place to post it. Eventually.