Ira Glass Harnesses the Podcasting Boom

By Richard Horgan Comment

IraGlassNoPics_FeaturedIn 2014, Ira Glass decided to move This American Life away from a partnership with Public Radio International (PRI) in favor of independent distribution. In 2015, he split with longtime producer Chicago Public Media. So how’s that all worked out? Extremely well, per Glass’ conversation with Baltimore Sun reporter Mary Carole McCauley ahead of a speaking engagement tonight at Goucher College:

Instead of floundering, This American Life became even more profitable. The show now is on firmer financial footing than it has been in the previous two decades.

“That really wasn’t such a risky move,” Glass said. “We left thinking we could do as well or better ourselves, and we were right.”

“We can do a level of intensive investigation and reporting once a month now, that in the early years of the show we could only do once a year. For instance, we sent three reporters for five months to document life at a Chicago high school where 29 current and recent students were shot.”

Glass goes on to suggest that his operation sits in a “very unusual corner of journalism,” one that is powered by the current podcasting boom and allows his team to fully experiment with “side projects” like Serial. He tells McCauley that another unnamed podcast will be launched later this year.

Tonight’s sold-out event is being presented by NPR affiliate WYPR 88.1 FM and sponsored, with a wink, by Eye Candy Opticianry. Glass received an honorary degree from Goucher College in 2012. Meanwhile, Don’t Think Twice, the second film Glass has produced with pal Mike Birbiglia, premieres tonight at SXSW.

Previously on FishbowlNY:
Ira Glass Brings His Dance Show Back to Michigan

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