NY Public Radio receives record-setting grant, most of it for digital

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WNYC, flagship station of New York Public Radio, announced that NYPR received a $10-million grant from the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, a past major supporter. The grant is announced as the largest-ever gift to a single public station. New York Public Radio is comprised of WNYC (AM and FM), all-classical WQXR-FM, and New Jersey Public Radio (which contains four broadcast outlets).

Most of the money is targeted to development of online products and mobile apps, with the remainder going to WNYC’s Manhattan performance space.

“The grant, which totals $10 million in all, includes $8 million for creating and maintaining updated online platforms and customized applications in order to engage worldwide audiences on a range of digital devices.  An additional $2 million in grant funds will be dedicated to preserving accessible ticket pricing at The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, which opened in 2008 with an initial $6 million grant from the Foundation.”

In the same announcement (as if the blockbuster funding news weren’t enough), WNYC released its updated mobile app, a free service which includes a program recommendation engine and program downloads for offline and time-shifted listening. In fact, there is much more description of the app in today’s hybrid press release than of the financial grant. NYPR seems to be positioning the new app as an example of in-house innovation and product development that the grant will support going forward.

The Jerome L. Greene Foundation has been instrumental in the growth and influence of New York Public Radio. A $5-million grant in 2008 opened The Greene Space in downtown New York, which offers concerts at affordable prices. (The Greene Space was the site of RAIN Summit NYC last month.) Another five-million dollars enabled NYPR to acquire WQXR-FM from previous owner The New York Times, preserving all-classical programming in New York’s airwaves.

The $10-million aligns with NYPR’s Digital Task Force, a governing body which plans strategies for offline and on-demand listening to the radio group’s programs. The emphasis and funding on the digital side is geared to audience development and program exposure, especially in the youth demographics which might not be attached to terrestrial signals. Laura Walker, President and CEO of NYPR, said the grant “ensures that our content reaches audiences in ways that are meaningful and relevant.”

Brad Hill