Refreshing an iconic radio archive

  • Case Bringing a piece of audio history to life
  • Show more info
  • Client WHYY and Fresh Air
  • Industry Media & Entertainment
  • Capabilities Business Design

    Design Research

For more than 40 years, the renowned radio show “Fresh Air with Terry Gross” has engaged audiences around the world. The program is aired on more than 650 NPR stations and is one of the internet’s most listened-to podcasts. All told, the Peabody-winning Terry Gross has interviewed over 13,000 subjects, creating a vast collection with untold archival possibilities.


Fresh Air came to Designit with a unique challenge: In such a competitive media arena, how can you develop something new based on a rich cultural touchstone that will provide a sustainable source of revenue for WHYY? The show wanted to maintain Fresh Air’s philanthropic mission as a public media asset, keeping the archives accessible for everyone, but also find new ways to bring a deeper value to “super fans,” as well as reach new listeners.


To tackle this challenge, we spoke with listeners, as well as the creators of other popular podcasts and podcasting platforms. At the same time, we built financial models to assess the size of different opportunities, then deployed a survey to pressure test our new concepts. We identified a handful of potential solutions, including leveraging third-party touch points and the creation of additional products centered around the archive. Finally, we defined features of the website that could serve as an access point for the full archive.

Designit was the perfect partner for WHYY as we explored possible new products around the Fresh Air Archive. The team’s experience with product development, user research, and business design meant that they were able to address all aspects of the product puzzle. They delivered valuable insights and immediate action items on time and within budget. The cherry on top: the team was absolutely a delight to work with! Gabriel Coan, Vice President of Digital Strategies and Services, WHYY


Our concepts provided a strategy for reaching new listeners through their search habits, while ensuring that current listeners could easily access, download, and share episodes and playlists. Meanwhile, new products based on the archives will ensure that the archives remain relevant and the Fresh Air legacy be assured for years to come. 

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