If you don’t know his work already, Ira Glass is the host and producer of This American Life, the best radio show ever. I arrived late to the TAL party. I discovered it about five years ago when I signed up for Audible.com but once I found it I went through the archive page on their website and gobbled up as many episodes as I could.
The TAL formula is honest, interesting, unusual stories that also provide some sort of deeper truth. Glass, like his broadcasting hero Howard Stern, created the show he wanted to hear and stripped away a lot of the phoniness that is rampant on the radio. Well, everywhere, really.
Glass has obviously thought a lot about what he does and why it works. I found this article called ‘Mo Better Radio a few years ago and it really got me thinking about it, too…and personally inspired me to get producing stuff.
In our lives in this country, it is hard to maintain a kind of empathy. Because we are so various as a nation, it’s hard to remember to feel for people around us who are so separated. And it’s not the only mission of journalism, or the mission of radio, or the mission of public radio, just to tell us the facts and and to analyze the day’s news.
It’s also, I would say, the mission of public broadcasting to tell us stories that help us empathize and help us feel less crazy and less separate. And just, you know, go straight to your heart.
If you’re an filmmaker, podcaster, video blogger, writer – seriously, please watch the next four videos as soon as your busy schedule allows. Glass is so heartfelt and he’s so right. He plays embarrassing tapes of himself, he explains why a lot of creative people fail for a long time…watch the videos and for extra credit, here’s a post from the amazing blog Presentation Zen about this series with summaries and additional ideas.
But it could have been different. It could have been Doctor Glass.
Here’s a good interview where Ira talks about the genesis of the show, both on radio and tv. Glass also talks about TAL’s production company, indie legend Christine Vachon’s Killer Films, the weird specificity of NPR’s Terry Gross and the fever dream that is a busy schedule and a new puppy.
Here’s Ira on David Letterman, talking about how his encounterchicken activist Karen Davis made him become vegetarian. It’s funny. I still like to eat chicken, though, and my wife wants to own a bunch someday.
This American Life became a tv show on PThis American Life tv show. Pay special attention to the photography especially – the gorgeous work of D.P. Adam Beckman and his crew. (Here’s the link to Beckman’s demo reel , with including the best acting performance I’ve ever seen by actor / healer Steven Seagal)
Finally, here’s something tangential I found from a Christian pastor named Josh Harris who was featured on This American Life. I’m not a Christian so I don’t agree with Harris on a lot but I found it interesting and entertaining in a ‘hip sermon’ sort of way. It will probably make some people nuts. I think the general theme of ‘stay true to your beliefs and don’t worry about other people’s opinions’ is a good message, though.