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How a ‘Tiny’ Radio Show Raises Over $147,000 on Kickstarter

The crew of the radio show and podcast 99% Invisible doesn’t compare to that of Morning Edition, This American Life, or most popular public radio strongholds. It’s only two people (and even that’s a recent addition.) But with the support of its distributor Public Radio Exchange, and numerous design-curious fans, it may be paving a new model for audio content that fits the purpose of public radio.

With four days to go in its fundraising campaign, the “tiny radio show about design, architecture and the 99 percent invisible activity that shapes our world” has raised over $147,000 through close to 5,000 supporters on Kickstarter, shattering its original goal of only $42,000.

(Notably, the number also already marks it as 1 of only 208 successfully funded projects on Kickstarter to raise over $100,000.)

If funds continue to flow in, the show’s host and producer Roman Mars will be able to do much, including bringing on former intern Sam Greenspan to help produce a strong third season.

This should catch the attention of both content creators and fundraisers. What began as a short one-minute segment on a KALW show is organically growing into a stellar success story of digital storytelling worth examining. So how’d it happen? Read more

Get Your Stories Featured on This American Life

ThisAmericanLife.jpgI’m sure you’re a great writer, but did you ever consider radio?

It doesn’t matter if you don’t have experience in the AM-FM field. This American life, the weekly public radio show that reaches more than 500 stations nationwide and is home to Ira Glass, wants your story. But none of that generic “my first marathon” stuff — think funny, dramatic, or surprising when pitching.

“The show started as a place where writers and performers could broadcast their stories and a place for journalism that wasn’t following the big news,” says founding producer Nancy Updike. ”After 9/11, we started doing more journalism, including sometimes tackling whatever was in the news in a given week. That shift wasn’t a conscious decision; it just worked out that way as people on staff followed their interests.”

And get this: 60 percent of the show’s content is freelance generated. Find out where to direct your perfect pitch here.



Multi-Platform Journalism: An Interview with Dominick Brady

Dominick BradyFor journalists, the opportunities for diversifying your craft are increasing at a rapid pace. Multi-platform journalism is the name of the game, and no one knows this better than Atlanta-based journalist Dominick Brady. I recently had a chance to talk with Dominick about what he does, his perspective on journalism, and his future projects.

Maurice Cherry: Tell our 10,000 Words audience a little about what you do.

Dominick Brady: I’m an independent multi-platform journalist based in Atlanta, Georgia. Traffic reporting for Clear Channel radio is my day job but I also freelance quite a bit. My freelance work has focused primarily on arts and entertainment. I’ve worked in Internet radio as a features contributor for East Village Radio, an audio documentary series producer for Brooklyn Radio, as a blogger and audio features producer for CentricTV; a video features producer, blogger and contributing writer for Atlanta’s Creative Loafing and a features contributor for The Smoking Section. My passion is radio journalism. I’m a member of the Association of Independents in Radio, but I’ve found myself returning to writing for print and the web for the bulk of my freelance work.

MC: How do you think the current digital landscape affects how journalism and reporting works?

DB: I think it’s an exciting time. There are now more formats and mash-up possibilities available in the journalist’s tool box. I’m really interested in data visualization, data reporting and how they can Read more

Applications Open for ONA MJ Bear Fellowships

Online News AssociationThe Online News Association, an organization dedicated to journalism innovation online, is currently accepting applications for their 2011 MJ Bear Fellowship Program for early-career digital journalists. The fellowship is named in honor of ONA founding board member Mary Jane “MJ” Bear, whose career included roles at Microsoft’s MSN portals, MSN International, NPR, and American University.

According to ONA, the MJ Bear Fellowships will help identify and celebrate young digital journalists working independently or for a company or organization who have demonstrated that they deserve support for their efforts and/or vision, either through professional experimentation, research, or other projects. This is the inaugural year for the fellowships, and the search committee will select three journalists (two in the US or Canada or one internationally). Selected fellows will receive a personal ONA mentor for six months, a full year’s membership with ONA, and registration, travel, accomodations and recognition at the 2011 Online News Association Conference & Awards Banquet (ONA11) in Boston, Sept. 22-24.

Eligible journalists must be age 23-30 (as of Sept. 22, 2011), fluent in English, and must not be full-time students. The deadline to apply for the MJ Bear Fellowship is Monday, May 30, 2011, 11:59 p.m. ET. For more information about the MJ Bear Fellowships, please visit the Fellowship’s website.

Fellows will be announced in July 2011.

5 Ways to broadcast live on the web (and why you should do it)

1. UStream

UStream is one of the web’s most popular tools for broadcasting live video directly to the web. You can use your computer’s webcam or hook up a digital video camera to your computer for more professional quality video. UStream also includes a live chat feature so viewers can discuss the broadcast as it as happens.

California Watch recently used the tool to conduct a live chat with director Robert Rosenthal, the results of which are embedded below (unintentionally hilarious hijinks precede the actual chat).


2. Qik

Qik makes it pretty easy to broadcast live from internet-enabled phone. A quick sign-up process gives you your own unique web address where viewers can watch your streaming video. The previously mentioned UStream also has mobile applications for the iPhone and Android for broadcasting live from your handheld device.


3. Tinychat

If you just want to set up something quickly and less formal between a few people, check out Tinychat, a tool for creating simple video chat rooms. The tool can access your computer’s webcam and can also create a chat synced with your Twitter account.

Other options for broadcasting live video include Livestream and


4. CoverItLive

CoverItLive is the tool of choice for many news media and livebloggers who want to share updates in Can also post images, audio, and video to the chat. One of CoverItLive’s most significant features is the ability of the moderator to regulate which comments from participants appear in the live chat or to allow all comments to appear as they are posted. The free tool has a bunch of features that you can read about here.

Below is a screenshot of Entertainment Weekly’s liveblog of the 2010 Grammy Awards.


5. Blog Talk Radio

Are you constantly told you have a great radio voice? Are you the next great NPR host but can’t get your foot in the door? Blog Talk Radio may be the site for you. The free online tool allows anyone to set up their own call-in radio show that is broadcast live on the web and can be archived like a podcast. BTR is used by both upstart radio hosts and mainstream media.

Now that you know about the tools, why should you invest time in live broadcasts? For one online broadcasts allow the web audience into an event or proceeding that may not otherwise be able to see in person. Instead of having a journalist or blogger recount the detail of the event after it has happened, the audience can experience it for themselves.

The aforementioned tools also allow content producers to have a conversation around the broadcast. The various chat tools bundled with the broadcasting tools allow observers to discuss the events as they are happening and possibly provide feedback to the subjects of the broadcasts.

There are many different reasons to conduct a live online broadcast, so use your imagination to formulate a way to incorporate them into your work. For more on liveblogging or how to post text updates during a live event, check out’s “Complete Guide to Liveblogging.”

Also on 10,000 Words:

Beyond Twitterfeed: Innovative uses of Twitter in the newsroom
3 Ways journalism classes are making education more interactive