This article is from the Public Radio FAQ, by Rich Kulawiec firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
I think APR became PRI because it was beginning to be
distributed internationally. PRI is an alternate network to NPR
that is carried by some NPR stations. Marketplace, Garrison
Keilor's show are PRI shows- not NPR. I think APR was
originally formed when Keilor couldn't get backing from NPR.
PRI now produces a number of programs.
American Public Radio has changed it's name to Public Radio
International. This is a competitive organization to NPR. In
the past they only distributed programming to affiliates for
re-broadcast; they recently announced that they will begin
producing programs as well. NPR has always produced and
Rich Dean's comments:
A separate division of NPR (actually a separate company) manages the
public radio satellite system. NPR does not own the satellite and
must rent time like everyone else...
[which includes PRI. In other words, NPR and PRI programming
might wind up passing through the same transponders, but both
of them have to rent the time.]
During the late 70s and early 80s, Minnesota Public Radio wanted
NPR to carry _A Prairie Home Companion_ nationally. NPR was cool
to the idea; and MPR and the public radio stations of 3 states
adjoining Minnesota formed American Public Radio.
The names NPR and APR were sufficiently alike that most people assume
that the two were either the same, or they did not bother to
distinguish between the abbreviations and the organizations
During the summer of 1994, APR finally decided to adopt the name
Public Radio International. The "official" reason was that APR
was starting to distribute BBC and CBC programs in the US, and
was also distribution US programs to other countries, hence the
"American" in its name is not very appropriate. Most people
think that the "real" reason was to distance their name from NPR
as much as possible.
APR/PRI does not produce programs on its own; it distributes
programs produced by other public radio stations and uses the NPR
satellite network for its feed. WYK is one such program---
produced by Wisconsin Public Radio and distributed by PRI.
Of course, everyone knows that on WYK PRI should be known as the
International House of Radio (... whose employees are lucky to be
working at all, let alone tying up the office phones trying to
play the quiz ...).
For the contemporary historians among us, the history of NPR is
fairly well documented in many books and articles. The evolution
of APR/PRI is less well documented.
In any case, interested readers should check out the CPB and NPR
Web pages for more information:
Public Radio International has a web site at
with program descriptions, carriage lists, a bit of history of
the network, etc.
As well as WPR's own web site:
The CPB comment line is 1-800-CPB-2190 (1-800-272-2190).
Pacifica Radio is another independent network, not a part of NPR.
There are different levels of affiliation with Pacifica; there
seem to be about half a dozen or so fully-affiliated stations
around the country. You can find Pacifica on the web
And you can find all of the Pacifica stations at
where the <call letters>" are KPFA, KPFK, KPFT, WBAI, and WPFW.
Some of those stations have their own web sites; for example,
WBAI is found at: http://www.wbai.org, or at 99.5 FM if you
happen to be in New York. KPFT is at 90.1 FM is in Houston, Texas.