Crain's Boston: Public Radio Exchange opens Boston's first 'podcast garage'
The parking lot of a former Jiffy Lube may sound like an inauspicious setting for an opening, but that's where Boston's growing cadre of audio engineers, podcast enthusiasts and public media producers gathered Wednesday night to celebrate the debut of the city's first community audio studio and training facility. Harvard Square-based Public Radio Exchange (PRX), a national nonprofit distribution network for public radio shows from This American Life to 99% Invisible, unveiled The Podcast Garage under sunny skies. A kind of co-working space and community center for for audio-oriented creative types, the podcast garage is the latest face of the Harvard \"Zone 3" initiative to revitalize Allston's Western Avenue corridor. And PRX hopes it'll do the same for local audio producers, who can book studio space by the hour and attend regular seminars and events at the 267 Western Ave. space. Housed in an old mechanic's shop rehabbed by design firm GraffitoSP, the garage boasts recording equipment not typically available to indie producers, who might be cultivating a podcast out of their home office or a makeshift studio in the basement or a closet. In Boston, that's more people than you might think. \"For producers who don't have or can't afford equipment of their own, it may serve as the only practical access to high-quality audio," said Daniel A. Gross, an independent audio producer who often works with PRX. Gross also helps organize the Sonic Soirée, a regular meet-up for audio types in the Boston area. \"For me, the studios basically give me an alternative to recording audio in my bedroom," he said. "I'll probably use it a few times a year to record narration and interviews." Studio space at the garage starts at $60 per hour, without an engineer. Freelance engineers are booked at their own rates through PRX. There's no shortage of talent in Boston. The city is home to two NPR member stations, WGBH and WBUR, as well as distributors and industry groups like the Association of Independents in Radio. But despite its outsized presence on the public media landscape nationwide, Boston has only recently begun cultivating a local community for people interested in audio production. Chiquita Paschal, program manager at PRX, says that's why The Podcast Garage is designed to be as flexible as its clients. "PRX isn't just one product," she said. In addition to producing and distributing shows, they're also a social network for producers, listeners and public radio stations. "So this fits right into that." So far, Paschal said, there's been \"an overwhelming response" from the garage's Allston neighbors and from prospective clients. To capitalize on that momentum, they're kicking off a monthly live event with PRX Remix host Josh Schwartz. Classes, get-togethers and pop-up events will follow, but Paschal said how the space is ultimately used is up to the local audio community. \"The ethos of this space is really just bringing together lots of talent, ideas and resources in one place," she said, \"so that people can have what they need to tell great stories."
August 08, 2016
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