October 1, 2009
Danielle Deabler, NPR



October 1, 2009; Washington, DC – NPR today announced the creation of the new Technology Research Center (TRC) that will operate under the auspices of the Public Radio Satellite System (PRSS). The TRC combines the satellite transmission expertise of the PRSS with the technical innovation of NPR Labs and will begin operation today.

The TRC will provide broadcast technology research, consulting, and testing capabilities for members of the public radio community, including NPR member stations, NPR, other networks, and producers of public radio content and shows. The TRC also plans to market its consulting services to commercial customers. Revenues from those efforts will be used to support distribution of content to public radio stations.

The new TRC, located at NPR’s Washington, D.C., headquarters, will build upon the work of NPR Labs, which has been a leader in the advancement of broadcast radio technology. Since 2005, NPR Labs has identified, developed, evaluated, and advanced the application of innovative technologies to support NPR and NPR’s member stations. It has been involved in projects ranging from multicasting on new HD Radio channels to public service spectrum initiatives, as well as creating accessible public radio services for those with visual or hearing impairments.

NPR Labs will become a self-sustaining unit that will continue to provide system representation and technical expertise on regulatory and legislative issues important to the station and public radio system. It will also focus on grant-funded work and expand its scope to include fee-based consulting services to public radio stations, industry partners, and commercial clients.

The TRC will serve clients by offering fee-based consulting services, including projects that address advanced broadcast coverage, listener assessment, and developmental broadcast technology.

Mike Starling, who serves as the vice president, chief technology officer, and executive director of NPR Labs, will head the new TRC. The entire NPR Labs team of engineers and technologists will join the new group.

“The development of the new Technology Research Center provides public radio with a tremendous resource that will help develop new ways to serve the more than 32 million listeners who tune in to public radio programming weekly,” said Vivian Schiller, NPR President and CEO.

“NPR Labs has focused its efforts on NPR and NPR member stations. Now, the new Technology Research Center will be able to expand that effort to serve the entire Public Radio Satellite System,” said Pete Loewenstein, vice president, NPR Distribution. “Having industry-leading experts like Mike Starling and his team on board provides critical technology insight and support and bolsters the development of public radio and broadcasting technology.”

“We are delighted to join the PRSS and NPR Distribution,” said Mike Starling. “This new Technology Research Center will enable me and my team to expand the type and number of projects and services we offer and provide additional research and development bandwidth to the broadcasting industry.”

Starling has served at commercial and public radio stations in both management and engineering positions throughout his career, including at WKYY-AM in Amherst, Virginia, NPR member station KPBS-FM, San Diego (1980-1989) before joining NPR as director of technical operations. Starling, a lawyer and amateur radio operator KB4TM, is a Board member and Chair of the Radio Subcommittee of the North American Broadcasters Association, and founder of the Association of Public Radio Engineers. He is a recipient of the International Association of Audio Information Services C. Stanley Potter award; Radio World’s Engineer of the Year 2005 and recipient of Radio Ink's "Most Admired Engineers in Radio" (2005, 2006, 2009). He teaches Media and Film Law & Regulation at Towson University.

About the PRSS
Each year, nearly 400,000 hours of news, music, and specialized audience programming are distributed to more than 800 public radio stations throughout the United States via the Public Radio Satellite System® (PRSS). This mission-critical service is operated and managed by the Distribution Division of National Public Radio®, Inc. (NPR). Originally built in 1979 with funds provided by Congress through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the PRSS operates the ContentDepot®, a proprietary system that enables public radio stations and producers select, send, acquire, and automate programming, program-related metadata and emergency communications.

About NPR
NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life. In collaboration with more than 880 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public - one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.