Pubcatcher Overview for Stations

  • What is Pubcatcher?
    Pubcatcher is a streamlined podcast “receiver” geared towards public radio listeners and distributed by stations. Each Public Radio Exchange (PRX) member station has the opportunity to distribute a customized version to its listeners - “WXYZ Pubcatcher” - that comes pre-filled with the station’s podcast feed, feeds it has chosen as favorites, and a complete directory of other public radio feeds from around the system.

    Pubcatcher is designed to fit the particular needs of public radio, but also to invite listeners into the broader world of new content emerging every day through the Public Radio Exchange, other public radio stations, and beyond.

  • Why Pubcatcher?
    Podcasting has taken off and created significant interest around the public radio system, and stations and producers are starting to get involved. Listeners look to stations as the source of high-quality public affairs and cultural programming, and there is a great opportunity for stations to introduce this new technology and new content by offering a carefully selected introduction of feeds in a customized application.

  • Who is behind Pubcatcher?
    The Public Radio Exchange (PRX), is taking the lead in developing the project. PRX is working with the open-source developers of iPodder on the application itself, and consulting with stations, producers, and other public media organizations to make sure the best ideas are surfaced and incorporated.

  • Does it cost anything?
    PRX offers customized Pubcatchers for free to stations with PRX membership, and stations can in turn offer it for free to listeners. Currently all the podcast feeds available are for free, but some providers are exploring ways to offer paid subscription tiers or premium content.

  • What are the benefits for my station?
    Offer your listeners on-demand iPod-ready public radio content without building new web capacities; reach early podcasting adopters; extend your programming shelf space and sensibility by choosing to highlight other podcast feeds in pubcatcher.

  • Can we make any money with Pubcatcher?
    That’s the $64k question, of course. We are looking at paid-tiers of feeds with authentication that could allow a station, for example, to offer certain premium content to members who have donated to the station. On a more basic level the Pubcatcher has a station banner/image that can link to a pledge page and can be updated to coincide with pledge drives or other station campaigns. Stations can also drop in automated audio messages that prompt for pledges or other notifications.

  • My station doesn’t produce a podcast, can we still participate?
    Yes. You can still offer a customized Pubcatcher to your listeners and choose your favorite feeds to display at the top.

  • Can listeners choose other podcasts to subscribe to besides the one recommended in the directory?
    Yes. Listeners can add any feeds they want, and can choose not to subscribe to any of the pubradio feeds offered in the directories, including your station’s.

  • Are the feeds listed in the directory automatically subscribed by default when the listener downloads the application?
    No, we don’t recommend forcing audio to download by default although ultimately the station can decide as part of the set-up process. We think including one or two automatic audio messages is a good idea, such as a “welcome to WXYZ podcasting, here’s how it works, and here’s a sample show”.

  • How do we tell our listeners about podcasting?
    Stations like WNYC and WGBH and KCRW are setting a good example by creating online, and perhaps more importantly, on-air promotions explaining podcasting and pointing listeners to a page that gets them started. There has been a lot of buzz and mainstream media coverage about podcasting, and a surprising number listeners are picking it up.

  • When is Pubcatcher going to be ready?

  • Now that iTunes will offer podcasting why do we need Pubcatcher?
    It’s big news that iTunes has incorporated podcasting, and it will raise awareness and interest across the board. While stations can include their feeds in the iTunes podcasting directory, there are thousands of feeds available, and Apple will determines which ones to promote and feature. Pubcatcher gives stations a “walled garden” that keeps the station identity front a center, and offers listeners a more manageable list of choices that are consistent with the station’s editorial role. Pubcatcher syncs with iTunes and will also work for those who aren’t iTunes users.

  • How do I find out more and get started?

  • Is there some kind of a contract between my station and PRX?
    All we have are a few simple Terms of Use.

Project Elements:

  • A simple tool for listeners to automatically obtain and manage digital public service media feeds on their computers and portable audio devices.
  • A service for public broadcasting stations and others to offer on their websites through which listeners can directly download content or subscribe to one or more syndicated public service content feeds.
  • A curatorial/editorial process that selects and organizes the content flow.
  • A system that collects, stores, and manages public service content – from archival work to up-to-the-minute journalism, performance, and commentary – that will feed into this system.
  • Some of these elements are already in place; others need to be created or adapted for this integrated system.

Pubcatcher Features:

  • Station-chosen default subscriptions
  • Station-maintained “podcast directory” (can contain station-produced and station “picked” podcasts)
  • Branding: Station logo, “WXYZ Pubcatcher” etc.
  • Customizable linked banner for promotions, donations, etc.
  • Simple web interface for maintaining station “podcast directory” and linked banner
  • Simple web interface for listeners who do not yet have the client but wish to listen to podcasts manually through their web browser
  • Possible feature: password-protected “member-only” feeds

Pubcatcher is a project of Public Radio Exchange. Software based on iPodder.