The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation announces grant award to WRTI

The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (DDFC), the largest national funder of jazz, has announced grant awards to Philly’s own WRTI and Jazz Philadelphia.

WRTI will receive a grant of up to $275,000, spread over three years, to provide general operating support and funds for innovation, and promote investment in the future of public jazz radio in Philadelphia. This grant is part of a larger initiative by DDFC called the Jazz Media Lab, a newly launched public media collective comprising five nonprofit jazz radio stations. This cooperative venture seeks to strengthen jazz radio’s engagement with artists and diverse audiences, as well as to bolster local jazz ecosystems—a goal shared by Jazz Philadelphia.

“It’s gratifying to see that a major national funder is investing in jazz in Philadelphia. We’re working hard right now individually and collectively to innovate, create new business models, and build capacity for entrepreneurial thinking that will allow us to thrive in the future,” says Gerald Veasley, president of Jazz Philadelphia. 

Executive Director Heather Shayne Blakeslee adds that, “Making visible and amplifying the work of the community will go a long way toward our success. We’re grateful that both our grant from Doris Duke as well as one from the Independence Media Foundation is allowing us to bolster media coverage of jazz by co-developing our Hometown Heroes program with WRTI, and building a bench of jazz writers through our community news program. We’re excited to launch our new website during Jazz Appreciation Month, where these contemporary stories as well as our jazz history will be prominently featured.” 

WRTI will be joined by a myriad of other stations in this initiative to foster collaboration between public radio peers: KMHD in Portland, OR; KNKX in Tacoma/Seattle, WA; KUVO in Denver, CO, and WBGO in Newark, NJ. Additionally, in the Media Lab’s second year, WRTI will be eligible to receive a supplemental grant of $50,000 for a project exploring the program’s themes of engaging next-generation artists and audiences and maximizing the use of new media platforms. Beyond monetary support, the DDCF provides all members of the Jazz Media Lab with professional development and industry networking resources.

“In the short run this grant allows WRTI to pursue some immediate projects that showcase our power to tell compelling stories and produce new content from some of our community’s most compelling jazz artists,” said WRTI general manager Bill Johnson in an organizational press release. “In the long run, it allows us to engage in a sustained effort of improving, not just delivering, WRTI’s local service to our community.”

Johnson went on to say that he was excited to participate with WRTI’s colleagues around the country. “Now’s the time for WRTI to join our friends to address challenges, develop best practices, and create strategies to build a jazz media system that works for everyone.”

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