BOSTON – Boston public media station WGBH, the producer of such marquee PBS shows as “Nova” and “Frontline,” has acquired Minneapolis-based Public Radio International, the companies said Thursday.
Financial details of the acquisition will not be released, both companies said. The deal may result in a small number of jobs being eliminated at PRI, which currently has about 45 employees, said Julia Yager, vice president of brand management and marketing strategy at PRI.
WGBH does not expect to cut jobs, said Jeanne Hopkins, vice president of communications.
PRI, the national content producer, network and service provider for public radio, is now an affiliated company of WGBH but will continue to operate independently as a tax-exempt nonprofit in Minneapolis.
“Joining forces with WGBH will benefit every group PRI serves, including stations, talent, producers and the public. PRI will increase its production of inspiring content, and represent a broader diversity of voices by increasing our investment in our marketing and distribution activities,” said Alisa Miller, President and CEO of PRI.
Jon Abbott, president and CEO of WGBH, said, “We are pleased to be part of PRI’s future success and its future impact on public media and the nation.”
WGBH Radio programming is heard across New England. The company is also the largest content producer for PBS television, with shows also including “Masterpiece” and “American Experience,” and it has won numerous Emmy and Peabody awards.
PRI’s reach includes more than 900 radio stations nationwide and digital platforms internationally. Among its best-known efforts is “This American Life.”
The two organizations have been partners for the past 16 years, co-producing “The World,” a daily international news program, and exchanging content between “The World” and the documentary programs “Nova” and “Frontline,” Hopkins said. The two started talking months ago about joining forces.
“Looking at the way media is changing and that we really work across platforms – TV, radio, web and mobile – and really all the ways people access content, we think strengthening organizations that produce and provide content will be good for the audiences,” Hopkins said.
“Particularly as public media, we see it as extending our mission and our service as public service media,” she said.
The two organizations believe that by combining their individual strengths, they can eventually provide more content choices for viewers and listeners, Yager said.
“With WBGH as a large national producer of television content and PRI as a producer of radio content – both of our organizations have digital experience and aspirations – and to be able to bring that all together we feel makes for a very strong position in this changing environment,” she said.
“One of the things we’re quite interested in as a nonprofit is being able to fulfill our mission and serve the public regardless of what the media landscape brings,” she said.
Bob Zelnick, a former ABC News reporter who also worked at National Public Radio, said the acquisition makes sense with the cutbacks and downsizing many radio and television stations have faced in recent years.
“The more resources that are at their disposal, the more complete their news programming will be,” said Zelnick, now a journalism professor at Boston University.