I present to you a dramatic recreation of events from two weeks ago, when Ira Glass decided to cease distributing This American Life via Public Radio International. Playing the role of Mr. Glass will be Alan Rickman, and playing the role of Public Radio International will be a table containing a cup of tea and some stationery.
Now, This American Life isn't going away or anything. They're too damn good and too damn huge to do that. They could be grabbed up off the waiver wire by another distributor, or they could self-distribute; either way, after July 1st, they will no longer be carried by PRI, a network servicing almost 900 radio affiliates around the country with shows including The World, Wiretap, Bullseye, and Q.
But who can pick up these pieces? Who can comfort PRI in their time of need? Who could possibly begin to fill that hole in PRI's heart, to be a beacon of softly glowing hope as the darkness is pressing in around them?
After roughly a decade of toiling in public radio's decoupaged trenches, making slow-but-steady progress gathering new listeners and securing new markets with each passing year, Live Wire! Radio finally got called up to the big leagues, debuting their blend of interviews, sketch comedy, literary readings, and live music on PRI's schedule July 1st.
Said effortlessly charming host Luke Burbank:
Portland has so much wisdom to share with the rest of the country: Can a baby pull off an ironic mustache? What's the best flannel to wear in the rain? Why is that bicyclist so mad? And now, thanks to our partnership with PRI, we finally can. By the way, it's ‘yes’ ‘none’ and ‘because, earth-killer’.
And with that collection of lazy Portland stereotypes as a shot across the bow, Live Wire! announces their arrival on the national stage. Luckily, that's just a hastily tossed off quote from an industry press release, and not at all indicative of the show's actual quality*: Over the course of a decade, Live Wire! has become a well-oiled entertainment machine, thanks to head writer Courtenay Hameister; producers Jason Rouse, Jim Brunberg, and Robyn Tenenbaum; music director Ralph Huntley; the vocal talents of poet Scott Poole, Laura Faye Smith, and sketch comedy veterans Sean McGrath and Andrew Harris, among others.
*Conflict of Interest Alert: I once guested on an episode of Live Wire, and Courtenay Hameister has appeared multiple times on my own podcasts.