Saturday, April 21, 2012

17 Years in 5 months

      Ira Glass is the host of the popular radio show This American Life on NPR. I sit at a desk for 9 hours a day at my job. I do repetitive tasks with spreadsheets and if you haven’t fallen asleep just reading that, you can imagine that I get very bored. I’ve gotten sucked into the world of podcasts and got hooked on This American Life. So hooked in fact that I paid for their iPhone app that holds every radio show from 1995 to the present. At the end of 2012, that will be around 884 shows. Within the next month, I will finish the last 2 years (1997-1995.) That will be just over 830 shows.
      Because I listen to about 7 hours of TAL a day, I’ve gotten to know a lot about the regular contributors to the show. Specifically, I’ve gotten to know a lot about the host, Ira Glass. Part of that is because he shares a lot about himself on the show, but I also google him several times a week. I can’t help it. I’m obsessed with him. He’s one of the best interviewers I’ve ever heard. He makes everything interesting. He conveys a genuine sense of care to anyone he talks to and he always wants to know more. I think that’s what intrigues me the most. I feel like he’s already very intelligent and yet every show he’s eager to share with his listeners the newest nuggets of information he’s gathered. He has a strange voice, he wears huge glasses, and has the dorkiest laugh. He also uses the same script for every show. Every show starts the same. “From WBEZ Chicago, it’s This American Life, I’m Ira Glass. Each week we choose a topic or theme and bring you a variety of stories about that theme. Our show this week, (title). Over the course of the next hour we will explore this topic using ________ acts. Act One, (title.) Act Two, (title.) and Act Three (title.) Our first story is by, (contributor.)  Act One, (title.) Here is, (contributor.) ”  Trust me. I’ve listened to the show over 700 times. I love the consistency. I love everything about the way the show is put together week after week. It’s pure gold.
      I started with 2012 and worked backwards. It has been hilarious to listen to the de-evolution of technology. I remember listening to a show from 1998 and in Ira’s closing statements he says, “If you’d like to purchase a cassette tape of this broadcast you can write us at WBEZ....” I cracked up in my cubical. Cassette tapes?! People were WRITING the show to purchase a CASSETTE tape?
      Another funny moment from this last week, Ira interviewed a woman about email. They were going back and forth about AOL and that little, “You’ve Got Mail” person. I was dying laughing. This lady was so overjoyed.
      I’d encourage you to give TAL a shot. I think you just might fall in love with Ira Glass too.

Favorite Episodes (in no particular order):
#454: Mr. Daisy and the Apple Factory  (follow up with #460: Retraction)
#449: Middle School
#111: Adventures in the Simple Life
#109: Notes on Camp
#90: Telephone
#370: Ruining it for the Rest of Us
#393: Infidelity (Act II, especially)

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