Friday roundup: WUGA cuts local programming; channel sharing is “feasible”

• WUGA-TV in Athens, Ga., is cutting all local programming from its schedule and eliminating six staff members as of June 30, the University of Georgia announced Thursday. The changes come as a result of a study requested by Jere Morehead, president of UGA, the station's licensee. The study determined that the cost of ramping up local programming and student involvement for the station "was just too great relative to the cost of the operation," according to the release. WUGA will switch to carrying the PBS World Channel full-time beginning July 1. The move will save the university about $565,000 annually, the release said. Continue Reading

Ira Glass responds to charges that he’s trying to censor risqué podcast

As one of the most popular podcasts of all time, Public Radio International's This American Life has had to deal with its fair share of imitators and parodies over the years, and many other podcasts have appropriated the "This American..." moniker to draw attention to their own audio. On Feb. 5, SF Weekly spotlighted one such effort that was reportedly getting heat from Glass and his attorneys over trademark violation: This American Whore, a podcast covering sex workers' issues, created in November 2012 by Siouxsie Q, a San Francisco sex worker. Siouxsie Q first tweeted on Feb. Continue Reading

Ira Glass developing new scripted series about transgender man with Sundance Channel

This American Life host and public radio superstar Ira Glass continues his foray into scripted entertainment, as a producer of a new television series in development at the Sundance Channel. The project, billed as T, will follow Terrence, a transgender man who has recently undergone sex reassignment surgery, and the story will be split between his present life as a male and former life as a female college student named Thora. Fellow TAL producer Alissa Shipp will also produce T.

Glass ventured into the world of independent film this summer with Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk With Me, which he co-wrote and produced. The film, which had a budget of $1 million, has grossed more than $2.2 million in theaters to date, making it a financial success. This is also not the first time Glass has dealt with a commercial TV station. Continue Reading

Ira Glass on his nervous pitch to monologist Mike Daisey

Current's Feb. 27 story on This American Life's recent breakthroughs with enterprise reporting describes the inspiration behind "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," the story on Apple factories in China that was later retracted. Glass tells Current that after seeing Daisey's monologue last October, he was already “editing the radio version in my head” as he left the theater. “I thought [Daisey] was doing something remarkable,” said Glass, “which is taking a fact that we all already know — that these devices we love are made in China in conditions that are probably not so wonderful, and he makes us feel something about it.”

Glass invited Daisey to lunch, and he recalls feeling nervous when they met Nov. 16. Continue Reading

Adapting Daisey’s staged monologue for radio: less shouting, more intimacy

Update: On March 16, This American Life retracted "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," its Jan. 6 broadcast that adapted monologist Mike Daisey's story about working conditions in Chinese gadget factories. Read more. Crunching a two-hour stage monologue into a 39-minute radio piece was a huge challenge for Ira Glass, e.p. and host of This American Life. Glass decided to adapt The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs after seeing monologist Mike Daisey perform the show that skewers Apple and Jobs for the harsh working conditions in factories where adored Apple products are assembled. Continue Reading

Ira Glass

Glass & Co.: Emboldened to tell hard-news stories

Update: On March 16, This American Life retracted "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," its Jan. 6 broadcast that adapted monologist Mike Daisey's story about working conditions in Chinese gadget factories. Read more. For 16 years, public radio host Ira Glass has charmed listeners with offbeat, quirky stories that captivated minds and won awards. Lately, he’s also been kicking butt, taking names and making a difference. It’s not quite that aggressive. Continue Reading