Funding Content Not Programs
I can't speak to the budgets of these projects, I haven't seen them. But the overall model of funding and audience service is a good one.
Story Corps and This I Believe feed public radio with high quality content that reaches millions of listeners with a single broadcast thanks to the already built-in audience of the NPR News magazines.
The nature of the stories, including their length, makes them well-suited for distribution over the air, on the web, in podcasts, and in print. Lessons learned from This American Life's foray into television could help Story Corps and This I Believe develop video components.
Both projects can enhance a station's community outreach through local implementation. Story Corps coming to town is a big deal. WRNI's This I Believe Rhode Island is an excellent example of how to take the national concept and produce it locally.
It seems counter-intuitive that millions of dollars are better spent on 5 minute stories than on 1-hour or 2-hour programs. But perhaps the best way to succeed in the new media marketplace is to stop thinking about programs and start trying to find the next Story Corps or This I Believe.