‘This American Life’ takes center stage
December 1, 2011
Ira Glass, host of National Public Radio’s (NPR) “This American Life” will take stage at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Grass Valley Saturday, presented by The Center for the Arts in cooperation with Capitol Public Radio.
The creator of the public radio show This American Life talks about his program and how it’s put together: what makes a compelling story, where they find the amazing stories for their show, how he and his staff are trying to push broadcast journalism to do things it doesn’t usually do.
As part of this, Glass mixes stories from the show, live on-stage, combining his narration with pre-taped quotes and music, recreating the sound of the show as the audience watches. And he plays funny and memorable moments from the show, and talks about what was behind their creation.
Glass is the host and producer of This American Life. The show had its premiere on Chicago’s public radio station WBEZ in late 1995 and is now heard on more than 500 public radio stations each week by over 1.8 million listeners. Most weeks, the podcast of the program is the most popular podcast in America.
Glass began his career as an intern at NPR’s network headquarters in Washington, DC in 1978, at the age of 19. Over the years, he worked on nearly every NPR network news program and held virtually every production job in NPR’s Washington headquarters. He has been a tape cutter, newscast writer, desk assistant, editor, and producer. He has filled in as host of “Talk of the Nation” and “Weekend All Things Considered.”
Under Glass’s editorial direction, This American Life has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including several Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards.
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The American Journalism Review declared that the show is “at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.”
It has won critical acclaim and attracted continuous national media attention over the years. In 2001, Time magazine named Glass “Best Radio Host in America.” In 2009, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting awarded Glass the Edward R. Murrow Award for outstanding contributions to public radio.
In 2007, Riverhead Books published The New Kings of Non-Fiction, a collection of narrative nonfiction essays chosen by Ira Glass. A feature film, Unaccompanied Minors, based on a story from the radio show was released by Warner Brothers in December 2006. The show has put out its own comic book, three greatest hits compilations, DVDs of live shows and other events, a “radio decoder” toy, temporary tattoos and a paint-by-numbers set.
The television adaptation of This American Life premiered March 2007 on Showtime to great critical acclaim and in 2008 won two Emmy awards (Outstanding Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming) and in 2009 the show won another Emmy (Best Editing for Nonfiction Programming). In 2010 Glass contributed to Reality Radio: Telling True Stories in Sound, an anthology about documentary radio published by the University of North Carolina Press.