Ira Glass Explains Why 'Serial' Became Popular So Much Faster Than 'This American Life'

"It's easier to get people to listen to a podcast right now, I think, than it is to get people to listen to a new show on the radio, for sure."

With “Serial” fans anxiously awaiting information on the third season of the acclaimed podcast, “This American Life” host and executive producer Ira Glass reminisced with HuffPost about the initial success of the series. 

Glass, who spoke with host Alyona Minkovski alongside Mike Birbiglia to discuss their new comedy “Don’t Think Twice,” explained that it took his radio show four years to garner a million listeners per episode. “Serial,” on the other hand which Glass also works on, reached the same benchmark in just four weeks when it began in 2014, he said.

“It’s so different because you don’t have to work through the middle man of the radio stations and get people to listen at a certain time,” Glass said. “And just people who like podcasts now are looking for podcasts that they might like. It’s kind of like a growing market and people feel like, ‘Oh, I kind of like this. Tell me another.’”

But even without the extra steps of having to navigate radio politics, those working on “Serial” still didn’t anticipate it becoming the runaway success that it did.  

“We were really surprised, like all of us who work on ‘Serial,’ that it became that popular,” Glass said. He explained that the show’s host Sarah Koenig and producer, Julie Snyder, first approached it thinking, “Well, no one’s going to hear this, so let’s just do whatever we want.”

Watch the full conversation with Ira Glass and Mike Birbiglia below.  



People Are Trying To Listen To Serial So Can You Kindly STFU?