Radio Diaries turns to Kickstarter to boost podcast, productions

By Sean Meehan

Joe RIchman

Richman (Photo: David Gilkey, NPR)

The production company Radio Diaries, whose stories often appear on This American Life and NPR’s newsmagazines, is aiming to raise $40,000 in a Kickstarter campaign to fund new pieces and an expansion of its podcast.

The campaign began May 28 and runs until June 27. As of noon June 3, the campaign has raised $19,280.

Radio Diaries has turned to Kickstarter to diversify its fundraising methods, said Executive Producer Joe Richman. “We, like a lot of other small independent production companies are scrappy, and we’ve made it work with whatever money comes through the door and always will,” he said. “But the funding model has changed so much in recent years, now it’s more important and a lot more sustainable and smarter to have a lot of different sources so no one piece threatens our ability to keep moving on.”

Richman hopes that one way to increase revenue is to take Radio Diaries content directly to listeners via podcasting. The podcast taps into a dedicated audience that is actively seeking out their content, which Richman sees as equally important to contributing content to more popular news radio programs.

“For me, the most important thing about being on NPR is to have the kinds of stories we do next to the news, in front of the news audience,” he said. “On the other hand, it’s really nice to have an audience who is actively choosing you and who you can communicate with. Both are important to us.”

Having a dedicated audience seeking out its content allows Radio Diaries to reach its fans more directly, which it hopes to take advantage of via Kickstarter.

“What sealed the deal wasn’t really the money, it was the chance to feel like we’re breaking out on our own,” Richman said. “Also that direct communication to say ‘If you like what we do, will you support us?’ is important.”

Radio Diaries segments will continue airing on NPR shows, but Richman hopes the Kickstarter campaign and expanded podcast will help establish the series as an independent entity, much as This American Life has done. “The way things are changing, we now see ourselves as own entity, our own brand,” Richman said.

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