Ira Glass Negotiates Full Ownership of Famed NPR Show ‘This American Life’

REUTERS/Douglas A Barnes/Showtime/Handout
REUTERS/Douglas A Barnes/Showtime/Handout
Chicago, IL

After twenty years on the air, Ira Glass has negotiated full ownership of his long-running PBS radio show, “This American Life” and its podcast spinoff “Serial.”

Chicago media reporter Robert Feder reported that Glass has negotiated full ownership of the show with Chicago Public Media (CPM), the parent company of WBEZ, a Chicago PBS and public radio station. In exchange for the rights to his program, WBEZ will share in the profits going forward and will grab a percentage of the money from underwriting, station carriage fees, and listener donations.

The show’s 22 full-time employees will now become Ira Glass’s employees effective immediately.

“At this point I wanted the freedom to be able to make some things without WBEZ,” Glass said last week. “I say that with no complaint about WBEZ. It’s worked great. But I’ve been doing this for 20 years, and I just want to be in a position to decide what I want to do, and not have to clear it with the board or anybody else. I feel that I’m experienced enough that I should get that freedom.”

Goli Sheikholeslami, CPM’s president and chief executive officer, told the media that Glass deserved this new agreement.

“After 20 years, Ira decided he wants to be his own boss,” Sheikholeslami said. “And I felt that that was something he had earned. So I think the structure we’ve come up with gives Ira the freedom to do things on his own. We want to be supportive of him because he’s been such a great part of the station. He continues to produce ‘This American Life’ for the public radio system, and we continue to benefit financially from the arrangement.”

For the last 18 years, the show has been distributed by Public Radio International, but last year it became independent through an agreement with the Internet-based Public Radio Exchange.

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