MINNEAPOLIS — Public Radio International (PRI) announces that the 2005 PRI Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship has been presented to Vinnie Curren and Roger LaMay (bios below) for their joint success in establishing triple-A station WXPN/Philadelphia as an essential cultural resource in that community. Curren helped found WXPN and orchestrate its growth during a time when few public stations embraced the triple-A format. Curren left for CPB, and LaMay took up the mantle, completing a major initiative Curren had begun and catapulting WXPN and its new sister organization, World Cafe Live, to the forefront of Philadelphia's cultural landscape. Established to honor and encourage the forms of creativity and risk-taking that are critical to public radio's future, the PRI Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was presented this year at ceremonies held during the Public Radio Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C.
PRI President and CEO Steve Salyer says, "Public service and audience were built powerfully in public radio by the concentration of stations on three very distinct formats. We are proud to honor Vinnie and Roger whose entrepreneurial drive helped grow their triple-A station into a vital community resource, one whose public service includes extensive arts and cultural outreach. Vinnie and Roger's work can serve as a model of innovation and entrepreneurship for all of public radio."
In accepting the honor, Curren and LaMay acknowledged the many WXPN staff members who supported and sustained an environment in which innovation and creativity could thrive. As a CPB staff member, Curren was presented with a PRI Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship plaque. As a WXPN staff member, LaMay was presented with the traditional award, an antique radio emblematic of public radio's entrepreneurial history and a check for $1,000.
Established in 1994, the PRI Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship recognizes an individual in public radio whose creativity, drive, and willingness to take risks embody the entrepreneurial spirit. Candidates are nominated by individuals throughout the industry.
Previous PRI Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship winners are:
2004 — Gerald Slavet, Executive Producer, "From the Top®"
2003 — Torey Malatia, President and General Manager, Chicago Public Radio®
2002 — Laura Walker, President and CEO, WNYC, New York Public Radio®
2001 — Neil Best, General Manager, KUNC/Greeley
2000 — Ira Glass, Host/Producer, "This American Life"
1999 — Doug Eichten, President, The Development Exchange Inc.
1998 — Jim Russell, Sr. Vice President and General Manager, Marketplace Productions
1997 — David Giovannoni, President, Audience Research Analysis
1996 — Max Wycisk, President, Colorado Public Broadcasting
1995 — Kit Jensen, General Manager, WCPN/Cleveland
About Public Radio International®
PRI is public radio's leading source for innovative programming and audio content. The Minneapolis-based network provides over 400 hours of programming each week, content that is broadcast and streamed online by its 731 public radio station affiliates nationwide, who reach 31 million listeners each week. PRI is the managing partner of the satellite radio company American Public Radio, LLC, established with Chicago Public Radio® and WGBH Radio Boston. PRI's cultural programming is available via XM Public Radio. Its news and information programming is available via Sirius Satellite Radio.
PRI is known for driving innovation in public radio through partnerships with stations, independent producers, and other organizations, and for working collaboratively to pool resources and share risk, cultivate new talent, and bring diverse voices and perspectives to the public airwaves. Its best known offerings include "The Tavis Smiley Show," produced by Smiley Radio Properties Inc.; "Marketplace®," produced by American Public Media™ in association with the University of Southern California; "This American Life," produced by Chicago Public Radio®; PRI's "The World," a co-production of BBC World Service, PRI, and WGBH Radio Boston; "Michael Feldman's Whad'Ya Know?®," produced by Wisconsin Public Radio; PRI's "From the Top®," produced by From the Top in association with WGBH Radio Boston and New England Conservatory of Music; and PRI's "Studio 360 with Kurt Andersen," produced by PRI and WNYC, New York Public Radio®; as well as 24-hour program services — "Classical 24®," produced by American Public Media™; and BBC World Service, produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation. For more information on PRI and its programs, visit the PRI website at www.pri.org.
Vinnie Curren Biography
Vincent Curren, an accomplished broadcast executive with more than 20 years' experience, mostly at the senior management level in public radio, was named CPB's senior vice president, radio in November 2002.
Curren oversees the Corporation's radio operations, including the Public Radio Public Service Competitive Funds, which supports new strands of national programming and helps stations increase their public service. He also is responsible for policy development around public radio's use of new technologies to better serve its listeners, and for CPB's Radio Community Service Grant program.
Curren is the former general manager of WXPN in Philadelphia, the non-commercial station of the year for six consecutive years, which he joined in 1987. He served as assistant manager for programming and operations (through 1991), assistant station manager for business affairs (through 1994), and assistant station manager for development (through 1996), and was general manager since 1996. WXPN offers a diverse mix of contemporary music styles and original programming, including "World Cafe®," which is heard on some 150 public radio stations nationwide.
Curren's innovations at WXPN include creation of a CD-of-the-Month Club and the "Live at the World Cafe" sampler discs, which together raise more than $500,000 annually. He dramatically increased listener support while decreasing time spent on on-air fundraising. He directed the launch of Kids Corner, an award-winning mix of music and talk for children, and was deeply involved in the creation of "World Cafe®."
Until joining CPB, Curren chaired the Station Resource Group, of which he has been a board member since 1998. He was vice chairman of the Development Exchange, where he'd been a board member since 1996 and former treasurer, 1998 – 2001. From 1981 until 1986, he was a member of the Broadband Telecommunications Regulatory Board, which advised the elected Common Council of Madison, WI, on cable television regulation matters.
Curren graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1972, and received a master's in organizational dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000.
Roger LaMay Biography
A 20+ year broadcast veteran, Roger LaMay joined WXPN in January 2003 and is responsible for the overall operations of the station including fundraising, programming, and marketing. LaMay's recent triumph is the completed construction of the station's new state-of-the-art studio and headquarters that opened in October 2004. LaMay championed the Campaign for WXPN to raise the more than $4 million required for the project.
LaMay previously served as general manager and news director of Fox's WTXF TV in Philadelphia where he created the award winning "The Ten O'Clock News." While at Fox, he served as a WXPN policy board member for five years and supported the station's external initiatives, including its annual Singer Songwriter Weekend. He has also personally supported WXPN as a member and is deeply dedicated to public radio. LaMay is committed to carrying on the WXPN tradition of showcasing musical diversity and programming excellence.
LaMay is involved in numerous community and cultural activities, including serving on the boards of the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, the Philadelphia Film Festival, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, The Arden Theater, and The Clay Studio (past president). He was president of the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and a national trustee. He currently serves on the national board of directors of the Development Exchange Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the strengthening of the financial health of public radios stations across the country.
LaMay holds an MS in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BA in English from Skidmore College. He is a resident of Philadelphia.