This American Life opts for self-distribution, with PRX as pipeline to stations

By Ben Mook

The producers of public radio’s This American Life will take over distribution of their show starting July 1, using Public Radio Exchange to deliver the program to stations.

TAL and Public Radio International, its distributor of 17 years, announced in March that they would part ways effective July 1. Under the agreement announced Wednesday, Chicago Public Media and Ira Glass will handle distribution and underwriting, while Marge Ostroushko will be responsible for marketing and station relations. Ostroushko handled those duties before PRI picked up the show in 1997.

“We’re excited and proud to be partners now with PRX,” Glass said in a statement. “They’ve been a huge innovative force in public radio, inventing technologies and projects to get people on the air who’d have a much harder time without them. They’re mission­-driven, they’re super-capable and apparently they’re pretty good with computers.”

Stations will be able to access the show through PRX’s Internet-based distribution platform, an alternative to the Public Radio Satellite System, which now carries TAL. Under the deal, stations will pay carriage fees to PRX, which will pass on a share of the payments to the show’s producers.

“We are huge fans of This American Life and are thrilled to support their move to self­‐distribution on our platform,” Jake Shapiro, CEO of PRX, said in a statement. “We’ve had the privilege of working closely with Ira and team to develop This American Life’s successful mobile apps, and are honored to expand our partnership to the flagship broadcast.”

PRX’s addition of This American Life to its offerings will increase the number of client stations it serves, according to Jake Shapiro, PRX’s CEO. With the recent addition of programming from Chicago’s WFMT to its portfolio of shows such as The Moth and Sound Opinions, PRX is nearing a client base that encompasses all stations in the system, Shapiro wrote in an email.

Glass and CPM plan to keep carriage rates for stations unchanged, and unlike PRI, PRX charges no affiliation fees. For some stations, “that could be a significant savings,” Shapiro wrote.

Current Digital Editor Mike Janssen contributed to this article.
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