March 1, 2007

Open Source's Shiny New MacArthur Grant

Open Source's Shiny New MacArthur Grant

Our MacArthur grant letter

The best letters start like this.

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, in all its wisdom, has seen fit to award us $250,000 “in support of the innovative use of internet-based tools in the production of a daily public radio program.”

This is very good news.

It means that we can start an aggressive campaign to improve the creaky, duct-taped infrastructure of the site. It means we can continue to pay Greta for the work she does with our community, and Greta is worth every penny. More important, the letter we got in the mail this week — the best parts are reproduced above — serves as a nice confirmation of what we’re doing.

I spent a lot of time at the Integrated Media Conference in Boston last week answering questions from public radio people about what we do. MacArthur has decided to support us for the same reason; we’re developing tools at Open Source that are going to be useful in the future to a lot of people. People in public radio, people in public television, people tiptoeing toward that fantastic beast we’re beginning to call “public media.”

So expect a lot of development activity in the next two or three months. If you care about the structure of the community, by all means keep letting us know what improvements you’re looking for.

And thank you. Thank you, to the more than 4,000 of you registered on the site; who show up on the comment threads every night; who take the time to pitch us the show ideas we’ve been getting better and better about producing; and who care enough to email me (brendan radioopensource org) with suggestions on how to make the site better. You are our story. You are the success we pointed to when we went to MacArthur for support.

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  • Lumière

    Congrats !

    I would like to see a recommendation feature – individual posts recommended by readers would allow new visitors to read those posts first to save time.

    Also, posts might have an indicator set by the writer as ‘off topic’, making those posts easier to skip over.

    Again, congratulations !

  • katemcshane

    I’m so happy to hear this. You guys must be so excited. And you’re right –Greta is worth EVERY penny. I was just standing in a long line at the post office and a woman began to talk to me about how terrible it is to listen to most newscasts. I told her to listen to you guys. She said, Oh Christopher Lydon — he’s great!!

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  • DrDan


  • mynocturama

    Terrific news. Will the money be distributed among community members too? 😉

    Congratulations – this is seriously great news for us, your listeners.

  • Hooray for y’all.

    It means that we can start an aggressive campaign to improve the creaky, duct-taped infrastructure of the site. I

    Being the nerd that I am .. I’m interested in that infrastructure. What’s the glue and duct tape that you’ve got now? Standard open source tools? Some nifty hackery? Inquiring minds would like to know.

  • Sutter

    That’s fantastic news. Congratulations!

  • OliverCranglesParrot

    Congratulations. Great news. Of course, the first order of business is to plan a vacation/retreat and recharge the engines. Seriously, please make sure not to burn out. Perhaps a retreat in Crawford in August clearing brush or something? And get Greta a pay raise or some awesome psychic dollars or something!

  • nother

    Most of my letters start out with Dear Mr. Zevgetis, have you sent us the money yet.

    The end product of ROS is like the Visa commercial – priceless. Even so, It’s nice to see all of your hard work appreciated with some much needed greenbacks.

    I missed the first party (on vacation), so I’m hoping there will be a little left over for another little shin-dig.

    congrats and lol

  • Far out!

  • hutchowen


    We were angered/nervous down here in NYC when you got booted off WNYC. But hopefully this will help in a big way.

    In the meantime, I am sending emails to get Open Source back on WNYC. You all can too, here:

  • Potter

    This is wonderful but even without the grant, just last night I was saying aloud (as I wondered about the finances) that I felt that you were finally very solid now. There are so many great dedicated intelligent commenters and comments that I no longer feel I needed to keep the place warm, to help hold it up. It’s a great feeling to be part of the “we” that did it. Thank you so much for sharing, for your welcome, for your generosity.

  • Yay! Congratulations!

  • seenthat

    Congratulations! May this be the first of many solid renewable financial resources!

    May I ask how the money will be allocated? Are there restrictions on its use? Must it be used exclusively on the website? Or can it be used to defray production costs?

    Does this help keep ROS on-the-air?

  • galoot

    That’s fantastic news – congratulations from across the pond in the UK.

  • hurley

    What wonderful news to wake up to. Complimenti!

  • Wow! Everyone there at opensource deserves this–I think another party is in order! Congratulations and keep up the great work.

  • Im so proud of us.

  • candreola

    Congrats to all!

    I don’t post much, but I listen much, and read much and you folks deserve much kudos.

  • stereolab

    Congrats to everyone at Open Source and the community – it’s called having a vision and being recognized and supported for your dedication. After listening to Seymour Hersh this week, it becomes more important than ever to keep this dialogue alive and planting the seeds of political change in this country. Please keep pushing the envelope and asking the tough questions. thanks, Walt

  • Tom B

    Ditto all above… Glad to hear you guys are FINALLY getting some recognition… if it weren’t for ROS I wouldn’t be spending hour after hour in Second Life. (Oops, wasn’t supposed to say that!) —-

    By the way, now that you are RICH …. It may be heresy for a RADIO-anchored website, but it would be very cool to see you move from .jpg still pics to .wmv moving clips (thinking Windows Movie Maker for production and YouTube for storage/access). Or you could embed videos in this quasi-blog. I’m imagining a pan of of your coffee-cup strewn console (noooo…) , vintage footage of coal being stripmined in West Viginia (maybe?), or a .wmv slide show of Chinese cityscapes (yes!). But what do I know, he he he….

  • Bobo

    Congrats! This is great news. …and people say no one cares about quality reporting nowadays.

  • Your bucket has got the soup!

  • mjbogdanov

    Very fine news indeed! I cannot think of a better, more relevant place to put Genius money. So often trailblazers clear the path for others success. This time your integrity and inventiveness get the nod. BRAVO!

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  • Christina Crowder

    Outside of your broadcast zone and so very happy to find you on the web. Open Source is one of the few radio shows I’ve heard that successfully combines listener comments with intelligent analysis. The mediated posting system produces really good questions to be addressed during the show and I like the dialog that develops in the ‘warming up’ period. So a big cheer from a grateful listener.

  • Congratulations guys!!! I’ve been listening to a lot of shows on my ipod when walking to and from my office at Hong Kong U. Really great stuff lately. Grant much deserved! Tell Bracken he is the best 😉

  • Sir Otto

    I’m worried. WNYC dropped the show and I think XM also dropped it. Marketplace was on at 7ET yesterday on XM 133. Is there need to worry? A quarter mil is not a lot of money. I forgot to mention UMass also pulling out. Will the show survive?

  • Are we starting to take suggestions on how to spend the money on replacing the duct tape with shiny chrome?

    If so, I had an idea this morning about tagging all of the show pitches. That way, we can take a look as similar pitches, dust them off, and see if some of the pieces fit. In that manner, pitch threads should be a different section all together from the normal show centered conversation, maybe in a Since Sliced Bread type idea box?

  • momos

    Sir Otto – WNYC dropped the show because they are the home station of Fair Game, a new show syndicated by PRI, which they broadcast in the previous OS time slot. Clearly they have in interest in the success of that show and are trying to give it a boost. It’s probably less a comment on OS than on their own ambitions.

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