Ira Glass, along with his radio program ‘This American Life’, is forgoing public radio and choosing to distribute his show on his own.
But the big impact is financial. Gone are a distributor’s financial guarantees, which in the case of “This American Life,” reached seven figures. Instead, Mr. Glass will now be responsible for the show’s marketing and distribution, as well as for finding corporate sponsors. It’s the equivalent of Radiohead’s releasing its own album “In Rainbows,” or Louis C. K.’s selling his own stand-up special — except all the time, for every show. It’s the kind of move that can signal radical changes in the public radio firmament, with National Public Radio and other distributors wondering who, if anyone, may follow suit, and whether Mr. Glass will return if he fails.
For listeners, there will be no difference. If anyone on radio has the audience to pull this off it would be Glass. And, hey, if he fails, public radio will happily agree to distribute again.