On July 1, “This American Life” became independent, leaving its distributor of 17 years, Public Radio International, or PRI.
That change is partly technical. The program is no longer delivered to local stations through public radio’s satellite system, but instead over the Internet through the online platform PRX, the Public Radio Exchange.
But the big impact is financial. Gone are a distributor’s financial guarantees, which in the case of “This American Life,” reached seven figures. Instead, Mr. Glass will now be responsible for the show’s marketing and distribution, as well as for finding corporate sponsors. It’s the equivalent of Radiohead’s releasing its own album “In Rainbows,” or Louis C. K.’s selling his own stand-up special — except all the time, for every show. It’s the kind of move that can signal radical changes in the public radio firmament, with National Public Radio and other distributors wondering who, if anyone, may follow suit, and whether Mr. Glass will return if he fails.