PRX teams with Center for Investigative Reporting on Reveal series

By Ben Mook

Public Radio Exchange is adding a new weekly show to its development slate —  Reveal, a joint production with the Center for Investigative Reporting.

The hourlong series will be hosted by Al Letson of State of the Re:Union and feature investigative stories generated by CIR. The partners plan to develop relationships with other investigative organizations and news stations to bring in additional reporting.

Reveal is scheduled to hit the air next year, so PRX and CIR are producing a pilot to be distributed to stations next week. Details about the reporting to be presented in the first show are under wraps, but CIR and PRX officials described it as an original national investigative piece dealing with veterans’ issues.

Based in Berkeley, Calif., CIR produces about 200 enterprise reporting stories each year on criminal justice, money and politics, government oversight and the environment. CIR is a longtime collaborator with PBS’s Frontline and, more recently, Independent Lens. It also partners with commercial news operations, including the Washington Post and U.S. News & World Report.

The partnership has been in the works since July, when PRX’s John Barth and CIR’s Joaquin Alvarado agreed that the opportunity to showcase investigative reporting on public radio was wide open.

“We both came to the same realization that there is a gap around consistent investigative journalism in public radio,” said Barth, PRX managing director. “We said, ‘The time is right to explore if there’s anything there or not.’”

Alvarado, a former digital executive for CPB and American Public Media who now directs strategy and partnerships at CIR, said the collaboration with PRX was a natural fit for both organizations.

“We are multi-platform already,” Alvarado said. “But the chance to work with PRX brings together two organizations with a lot of momentum. I feel like we’re really poised, with this relationship with PRX, to take things to a new level.”

They worked rapidly to pull all the pieces together and announce the show during the Public Radio Program Directors Association conference in Atlanta.

When PRX and CIR shared their plan with station-based programmers prior to PRPD, the initial response was enthusiastic, said Jake Shapiro, PRX executive director.

“We felt that there was really a hole in the public radio schedule for an investigative voice,” Shapiro said. “This show creates a reliable, creative platform for some of the most important stories being told.”

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