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Spurning Suitors, ‘This American Life’ Opts for Self-Distribution

30 May 2014

From The New York Times:

Five suitors came calling, including satellite radio company SiriusXM, but in the end public radio’s “This American Life” decided to go it alone. The popular weekly program is notifying stations on Wednesday that it will distribute the show itself beginning in July when its distribution contract with Public Radio International ends.

. . . .

In a letter sent to stations Wednesday, Ira Glass, the host and executive producer, disclosed that SiriusXM “asked how much money it would take to get us to quit public radio completely, to abandon terrestrial radio the way Howard Stern did, and play exclusively on Sirius-XM. So flattering! But of course, no chance of that happening.”

. . . .

Suitors, he said, also felt the show was undercharging the more than 580 stations that carry it, but Mr. Glass said the price would not change.

After weighing the options, Mr. Glass said, “It seemed like at this point in our show’s development there was nothing a distributor could do for us that we couldn’t do for ourselves.” Self-distribution, he added, will give the show more control over its arrangements and possibly allow it to raise and keep more money from sponsors.

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to Erik for the tip.


8 Comments to “Spurning Suitors, ‘This American Life’ Opts for Self-Distribution”

  1. Indie Production. 🙂

  2. “This American Life”–along with Radio Lab, Fresh Air, All things Considered, Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me! and Prairie Home Companion–are why I listen to public radio. I already listen to some shows streaming online that I used to listen to on radio stations. Quality will have its followers.

  3. Ahhh. Long-time TAL fan. Very glad to hear they’ll be distributing independently.

    • Wife and I love, love, LOVE Ira Glass and TAL. We sit around during the summer and play Mario Kart or Dr. Mario on the Wii while listening to all of the past episodes we’ve missed.

  4. Going to Public Radio and Community Radio conferences over the years… most listeners would NOT believe the arrogance of some of NPR and some of the ‘personalities’ of larger community radio stations. There’s something that happens somehow to some who are ‘on the waves’– they feel annointed, not realizing– does this sound familiar? — that content is king; that they are not the sale, their content and the workers who make content, are the point.

    Ira Glass has remained a good soul, and I wish him well. NPR has been squeezing affiliate stations for years with HUGE increases in $$$$$ to carry their programming. The smaller community stations, say on the Navajo reservation, in the small towns across America cannot afford to pay for Terry Gross, etc. So they remain with content produced homey-like, which has a usefulness for informing the community, and an extreme charm of its own.

    But the very idea that NPR is ‘helping’ every community to receive its signal and its content, is not true. They are carnivores for selling content at outrageous prices now. NPR is all about forcing money to fall like water from capturing and selling the content providers.

    NPR is also in a world of hurt given many of their ‘content providers’ are aging. The Car Talk guys who are a wonderful two human beings, no conceit in them, not even a little… are much older now. There is no replacement. There is no replacement for Ira either. Ted talks aint going to do it, they are often perhaps just by the fact of whatever, increasingly banal.

    • I lost enthusiasm for NPR when they lobbied (hard) against the FCC’s proposed LPFM (low power FM) community radio. That service was intended to be operated by small community groups, featuring types of programming that are not available on the big stations.

      Sound familiar?

  5. Tony, I agree with you. The low power stations were SO low power, for crying out loud, that broadcast reach was 2 to 10 miles or thereabouts, wasnt it? I mean like, ‘walking distance’ from the mic. The bullies who tried to prevent those stations which could carry good or ill or nil, was quite something. I dont want innovative content especially useful for goodness’ sake, to be shut down by anyone. Clear Channel iz de debbil also.

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