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The survival of public radio and independent, not-for-profit journalism hinges on uncovering new models of financial support.

Media and content consumers have endless choices. We can access news and entertainment anywhere and anytime using apps, websites, social media, smart home speakers and more. As people move from live radio to on demand listening, public radio still relies on on-air pledge drives as a primary funding vehicle.

WBUR created BizLab to ensure our thriving future in the midst of rapid change. BizLab will spend three years developing and testing ideas that change the way we think about funding and innovation for public radio in order to uncover new and creative business models that sustain independent journalism. This is a massive undertaking, requiring new technology, new partnerships and creative experimentation.


Operating like a lean startup, BizLab will uncover new models of support for WBUR in the digital age and share what we learn with the public radio system. Here are some of the ways BizLab executes its work:

  • We balance experimentation that explores how to raise funds from platforms our audience is already using with tests that pilot products or services that could become entirely new business ventures for public radio.
  • We work closely with colleagues across WBUR as we conduct experiments using cycles of rapid innovation and testing. Experiments that don’t demonstrate fundraising potential are stopped, while successful pilots are built upon.
  • We have assembled a group of public radio stations across the country that are equally committed to fundraising innovation. Each of us will test new models of support and implement the most promising strategies at our stations. This is an opportunity to incubate more ideas, share successes and failures and test exciting new possibilities in different markets.

As Boston’s premier NPR news station, WBUR is in a unique position to ensure the success of this project. There is no other effort within public media like ours. This is the best opportunity for breakthrough ideas to sustain excellence in journalism for generations to come.


The BizLab Fund is an innovation fund, designed to fuel a group of creative disruptors. These individuals are innovators who will enable community support for public radio in radically new ways.

BizLab is an audacious endeavor that can only succeed with the strategic investments of supporters who share a focus on excellence in journalism through experimentation, innovation and leadership.

We are seeking to raise $5 million to power BizLab for 3 more years.