An updated look at the salaries of Ira Glass, other public radio awesomeness

by Andy Boyle.


More than two years ago I wrote a post about the salaries of some of the big names in American public radio, which I recently noticed still gets about 50 to 100 page views a day. So I thought it only fair that I attempt to find some new information and see where things are today.

As some back story, it appeared many public radio personalities I found in IRS 990 forms (which require non-profits to list at least their top five paid employees) took cuts during the same time our economy was having issues. “This American Life” host and general awesome public media dude Ira Glass took about a 26 percent paycut from the 2007-2008 year to the 2008-2009 year, going from $216,000 to $159,371.

In my original post, I only included salaries and not total compensation for most public radio hosts, and as I’m unable to access the original IRS 990 forms via guidestar.org, I can’t do a realistic comparison of their full compensation, so I won’t even try. But I thought it would still be neat to have an updated look at how well some of the best journalists in the nation get compensated.

Here’s how his and other “This American Life” employees salaries recently stacked up:

  • Ira Glass, host and producer of “This American Life.” 2009-2010: $171,224, base salary of $127,871. 2010-2011: $170,190, base salary of $148,782.
  • Alex Blumberg, producer of “This American Life,” cohost of the Planet Money podcast. 2009-2010: $154,801, base salary of $123,220. 2010-2011: $201,734, base salary of $134,400.
  • Julie Snyder, senior producer of “This American Life.” 2009-2010: Not listed. 2010-2011: $156,153, base salary of $146,175.

As for NPR, here’s how it shakes out compared to the figures I last found:

  • Steve Inskeep, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition.” 2009-2010: $361, 093, base salary of $319,370. 2010-2011: $373,097, base salary of $334,560.
  • Renee Montagne, co-host of NPR’s “Morning Edition.” 2009-2010: $357,037, base salary of $328,117. 2010-2011: $369,552, base salary of  $321,919.
  • Michele Norris, former co-host of “All Things Considered.” 2009-2010: $298,360, base salary of $264,9009. No 2010-2011 numbers listed.
  • Robert Siegel, cohost of “All Things Considered.” 2009-2010: $362,687, with a base salary of $309,479. 2010-2011: $375,652, with a base salary of $321,860.

And here’s one more:

  • Terry Gross, host of WHYY’s “Fresh Air.” 2009-2010: $254,933, base salary of $233,483. 2010-2011: $256,611, base salary of $233,483.

Couldn’t find Kai Ryssdal’s salary in updated 990s for American Public Media.

So, here’s your general mind-blowing takeaway: Great talent costs money. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Also, many of the organizations listed showed much more than the required five top salaries, thus adding an extra layer of transparency that isn’t required by law.

Update July 26, 2013

After hearing about the resignation of Torey Malatia, the CEO Chicago Public Media, which is the parent company of WBEZ-FM and runs “This American Life,”, I thought I’d list his salary, too.

  • Torey Malatia, cohost of “All Things Considered.” 2008-2009: $217,691, with a base salary of $195,559. 2009-2010: $201,717, with a base salary of $190,180. 2010-2011: $207,276, with a base salary of $195,754.

Follow me on Twitter. Image via Claire Asher.