[Review] There was a time when Ira Glass believed that he single-handedly developed a successful type of storytelling for radio, one that continues to drive his popular NPR show This American Life. Glass felt very proud of himself until, during a trip back home, he realized his method mirrored that of his gregarious rabbi. Much to his horror, a friend pointed out that not only the rabbi's sermon but pretty much every sermon ever written followed the same "action, action, action, deep thought" narrative arc that Glass infused into public radio's "driveway moments." Boy was his face red!
Glass shared this anecdote yesterday during a special KUER-sponsored afternoon appearance at Kingsbury Hall where, in addition to revealing self-deprecating facts about his professional and personal life ("marriage is like a courtroom"), he gave the enraptured audience an inside look into radio magic. Armed with three hefty gizmos responsible for sound bytes, music (including the soundtrack to Errol Morris' Fast, Cheap and Out of Control) and, I think, his own microphone transmission, he broke down previously aired stories to detail the art of storytelling. Hint: Subtlety and heart are key. Glass also lamented the decline of broadcast journalism. "Everyone is so serious!" he said, adding that fellow NPR personality Sarah Vowell once remarked, "Every time you watch 60 Minutes you learn about one thing that will kill you."
I was too tongue-tied and caffeinated to introduce myself to Glass during the pre-show backstage meet-and-greet, but if I could tell him now how much I enjoyed his informative, entertaining performance I would do it in a confident, though not at all too serious, fashion.
Now, please download each and every This American Life podcast and/or plan to purchase the Showtime-produced television version of the radio show at Borders in January (not sure why they got the hook up) and other retailers next spring.
For those who are already fans, what's your favorite episode and why? (Jamie Gadette)