Studio 360 Gets a New Partner in Slate

As PRI's co-partnership with WNYC on Studio 360 ends, a new one begins

Since its creation in 2000, the Kurt Andersen-hosted culture and arts program Studio 360 has been a joint partnership between Public Radio International and WNYC in New York. PRI owns the program, and when WNYC turned its focus toward developing its own shows, a search was on for a new partner.

“WNYC decided to step away from being a co-producer, and it’s within PRI’s approach to production that we look for partners to produce with,” Julia Yager, PRI’s senior vice president, marketing, sales and distribution, tells Fishbowl. “Because we recognize that we don’t know everything, and particularly in a world that as quickly evolving as podcasting, it’s helpful to have a partner who can help us anticipate and learn.”

A search for a new partner led PRI to find those qualities in Slate, its newly announced partner for Studio 360. As part of the partnership, Studio 360 staff will move to Slate HQ in Brooklyn, where staff members will work with Slate’s team on all aspects–production, distribution, promotion–of the radio show and podcast.

“With this next partnership, what we’re looking towards is to lean on Slate and their expertise in producing podcasts, glean their knowledge in what’s made their podcasts successful, and see how that might marry up to what we’re doing with Studio 360 to create something new,” says Yager.

In the early going there will be an open-ended discovery phase, for the program in general and the podcast in the particular, to figure out how best to “help it realize its full potential,” as PRI chief content officer Melinda Ward described in the release.

PRI’s own efforts in that arena have been focused in part on creating content that works for both podcast and radio. Some of those successes have included the American Icons series and Extra Credit series, which ask listeners to share work created for specific challenges, like the 30-second horror movie submissions judged by late filmmaker Wes Craven, or the doodle contest judged by cartoonist and Fun Home creator Alison Bechdel.

Yager hopes the partnership will inspire more avenues for exploration. “I think what we want is to come together with them and explore, to see what makes the most sense,” she says.

An auspicious omen is the fact that PRI’s new partner has a fan in Andersen, who “has worked closely with members of their staff, including their founder, for a long time,” according to Yager. “When creative minds get together there’s no telling what might happen, but I think we see an opportunity there for Kurt, with his connections, to build on the creative enterprise.”

While Studio 360’s partnership with WNYC comes to an end, its presence on the station will not. “WNYC has been very proud to be the show’s home base for nearly two decades, and listeners will continue to hear Kurt and the show on WNYC in New York,” said WNYC chief content officer Dean Cappello in a statement. It will continue there, as well as on the over 200+ public radio stations across the country that carry the program.