Ever hear a memorable public-radio story segment that you’ve wanted to share on your personal website beyond a simple hypertext link? That’s possible now, with NPR making more than 800,000 pieces of audio content—nearly its entire digitized archive—embeddable on other websites, from news segments on Morning Edition to interviews on Fresh Air to playlists from NPR Music.
While the development is a boon to public-radio junkies who want to beef up their Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me! blogs, it also gives the radio network an opportunity to make its content as ubiquitous on the internet as, say, the John Oliver rants that plaster news sites every Monday morning.
“We have a lot of great audio,” says Patrick Cooper, NPR’s director of web and engagement. “Part of our public media mission is to have people sharing our storytelling.”
NPR has been putting its audio content online for many years, but until now, embedding was offered only sporadically. Making almost everything available is another notch in the organization’s transition from mostly broadcast to mostly digital, a trend Cooper does not dispute. Its newest programs, like Invisibilia or the TED Radio Hour, tend to be born as podcasts before they ever hit terrestrial airwaves. “For a show to be able to catch on, it first needs to be able to travel,” he says. “In the past that’s always been over the airwaves.”
Cooper says it was not tough to sell the top brass on doing the same for the back catalog, even if that means seeing NPR content under someone else’s banner. The embed tool’s analytics will show NPR’s bosses how far their programs are being spread around the internet, and its interface offers many routes back to NPR.org.
“We want users to take action like playing the story, but if they’re interested in reading more, to drive them to the site,” says Scott Stroud, one of the designers who spent two months building the embed function. The design, Stroud says, is meant to help users “understand the voice and the source.”
There are some programming exceptions to the embed tool, though, including live streams and certain NPR Music content that cannot be shared because of song rights. But for the most part, any memorable NPR story—like a delightful 2008 Weekend All Things Considered story about a Spokane, Wash. loan officer who rescued a flock of ducklings from a ten-foot ledge—is available: