Ira Glass narrates his way from radio to television.When he first started out, Ira Glass was a good tape cutter and a bad reporter, so he spent a significant chunk of his life planted in an editing booth-a perfect place, as it turns out, to invent an entirely new style of radio. As he listened to raw tape, Glass, 47, noticed his attention being drawn to one specific pattern in all the interviews he was editing. "Somebody would be telling a real story and then periodically they'd sort of jump out of the action and say, ‘Here's some thought I have about this.'" It hooked him every time. "And I was like, well, what if you started to game that?"The result, the Peabody Award-winning radio show This American Life-still a revolution in its 12th year-has been widely credited with helping to mold the modern, conversational sound of public broadcasting. It's an eclectic program. Glass hosts each week, but the contributors vary, and the stories are only ever tangentially related. There is no set style-you may hear monologue, fiction, or interviews-though the signature pieces are a uniquely reflective kind of reportage, an amalgam of documentary, essay, and short story.Because the form and content are so diverse, the TAL aesthetic can be difficult to describe. Glass' account is as good as any: "There are characters and a plot and thingshappen and people have feelings about them and, you know, fade to black." But these characters are rarely names you'll recognize. Instead, you find yourself empathizing with people whom, under normal circumstances, you'd probably discount. It's a pleasantly humbling feeling, and it's exactly what Glass intends. "Our mission is a mission of understanding," he says. "Our ministry is a ministry of love."
|There are characters and a plot and things happen and people have feelings about them and, you know, fade to black.|
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