When Chicago Public Radio decided it should try to reach a younger audience, it didn't do it by fitting a hipper program into its lineup. Instead, it went with a hipper medium'and created Vocalo.org last summer. A social networking Web site, Vocalo lets registered users upload audio, video, photos, and text. The material is filtered by one of 15 CPR producers, then becomes accessible online, with some audio clips aired on CPR's WBEW-FM 89.5 station in Chesterton, Ind. CPR, which has $2 million in funding for the project, plans to amp up the experiment soon. The site is being upgraded to allow users to put up various media in one single post. The radio signal will also be strengthened to reach up to 2 million listeners. "It's very unlike anything you hear on mainstream public radio," says Torey Malatia, CPR's general manager. "We are in a position to be successful if we just let this thing find an audience on its own." Vocalo will do without one public radio mainstay, though: pledge drives.
—Oscar Raymundo (posted on March 19, 2008)