Slack and Radiotopia, forever

How the podcast giant is using Slack for a large fundraising campaign

Ah, podcasts. We love them. Our #podcasts channel is proof, featuring regular updates of the latest and greatest episodes from some of our favorite shows — whether it’s discussing the latest Serial twist, Helen Zaltzman’s etymological capers on The Allusionist, or the most recent case cracked on The Mystery Show. These stories edify us, they comfort us, and sometimes they even make us spontaneously snort-laugh in public.

We were honored to hear that PRX (the Public Radio Exchange) is using Slack to coordinate their 2015 fall fundraiser for Radiotopia — a collective of the best story-driven podcasts on the planet founded by PRX in partnership with Roman Mars in early 2014.

“Radiotopia really prides itself on championing independent, entrepreneurial podcast producers; giving them a lot of creative license over their own content and production,” says Gina James, Manager of Development and Operations at PRX, “That’s not very common.”

Last fall, Radiotopia hosted their first crowdfunding campaign, earning an astounding $620,412 from over 20,000 donors and breaking the record for most funded radio/podcast project in Kickstarter history. Thanks to this overwhelming support, they were able to more than double their lineup.

This year, they’ve got their sights set even higher. With only a month to top last year’s fundraising success, Gina James needed to find a way to coordinate campaign promotions and logistics across Radiotopia’s thirteen shows and their teams — a task made more challenging by the fact that they’re spread out across time zones. As it turned out, some producers and their teams were already using Slack. Together, they decided to make “the big communication commitment” to use Slack as their pledge drive hub.


“Slack really has transformed our whole team.”

— Gina James, Manager of Development and Operations at PRX


Let’s take a look at how Radiotopia set up their Slack team to manage their fall fundraising campaign:

  • In #radiotopia-talks, show producers regularly convene with PRX staff to get updates on campaign progress, including donor counts and the amount of funds raised so far. This information is vital as it’s often used by producers and their teams in their campaign promotions, both on-air and online.
  • New episodes from each show get automatically pulled into the #radiotopia-drops channel via RSS (which you can also finagle using the handy /feed command). This way, the community of producers can hear each other’s fundraising pitches and discuss their varying approaches and scripting choices.
  • Unsurprisingly, the channel watched most keenly is the #radiotopia-donors channel, where individual donations are tracked in real-time. Seeing these minute by minute does wonders for fueling team motivation and maintaining campaign momentum.

During our conversation, James recalls a particularly fond moment when a fifteen thousand dollar donation popped up in the donors channel: “I literally thought Slack was going to break because nearly everyone saw it at the exact same time and all these channels started lighting up. Before, we would never have been able to see individual contributions like this.”

She also notes how the increase in fluidity and frequency of communications across teams has inspired an even more subtle shift in how everyone works together. Public channels and conversations keep everyone informed, so decisions are made faster. Open conversations help team members build rapport with one another, despite their geographic constraints. As a result, teams are much more nimble and responsive overall.

Funds raised through these pledge drives support the network’s growth and contribute to the production of more scintillating audio stories. In the past, these contributions have also helped Radiotopia advance the industry more broadly as, according to Marketing Director Maggie Taylor, more shows mean more opportunities to increase the number of podcasts hosted and produced by women.

In 2016, they hope to use part of the proceeds from this year’s drive toward forming a committee where donors can evaluate new content and provide input on what shows to launch next.

We can’t wait to see them in the #podcasts channel.

If you haven’t yet tuned in to Radiotopia’s podcasts, we highly recommend you check them out and even consider supporting them.


Full Disclosure: The team at Slack has pledged to match donations (up to $75,000) if Radiotopia meet their funding goals. We really hope they do.

Slack is the collaboration hub, where the right people are always in the loop and key information is always at their fingertips. Teamwork in Slack happens in channels — searchable conversations that keep work organized and teams better connected.