Jared Benedict honored This American Life’s request, but urges them to reconsider:

Altering future contracts, and making the episodes freely available for downloading/timeshifting is feasable (NPR has done it.) Doing so would increase listenership. An increased listenership would mean TAL gets more money from advertisers underwriters, which can then be used to compensaate story contributors. Everyone wins.

Right on.

A comment on the editorial inspired by the TAL story. In addition to making donations to NPR over the years I’ve supported TAL directly by attending two live tapings of the show, each of which required a ticket purchase. I bought merchandise at both of these as well. Bottom line, there’s more than one way to pay the bills. Podcasting, particularly the stuff we’re cooking up over at PodShow, opens up new possibilities, too.

BoingBoing picked up the This American Life story. I don’t share the knee jerk reaction they and others seem to be having, but I do think the story highlights a question that podcasting presents for public radio: Which will win, the “public” or the “radio”? If public radio is truly public, shows like TAL will have to adapt to allow the public to use the content in ways that work for them. This is not an unreasonable request, considering that public radio is largely funded by charitable donations from foundations, non-invested corporations and listeners. I’ve personally contributed hundreds if not thousands of dollars to NPR over the years, and I can’t count how many times I’ve been reminded that “you put the public in public radio”. If that’s true, there should be more working together, more quid pro quo. If public radio is truly public and not just radio, it will need to do more to embrace, not fight, evolving communications technology.

Jon Udell received a takedown request from This American Life. It sounds like, policywise, TAL wants to host non-downloadable streams (see “Why you can’t download our MP3 files” on this page) but didn’t realize that m3u playlists leave the door open for downloading. I wonder why they abandoned their Real Audio streams? Side note, TAL figures into my early work on podcasting. But rather than try to force-fit the show into something it wasn’t, I simply found other programs to listen to.