Ira Glass On Radio, Diversity, And His Dog
Ira Glass has been making radio for decades, but he’s always looking for a way to make it better. He’s the creator and host of This American Life and is considered a public radio leader and innovator. Glass brings his thoughts on broadcasting, where it’s been and where it’s going, to the Carolina Theater this weekend. In a conversation with WFDD’s Emily McCord, he says the show, Reinventing Radio, is what his career has been all about.
"This American Life, when we went on the air 20 years ago, it was a conscious attempt to reinvent what public radio was doing. Partly in just the style of the show, the kinds of narration we do, the type of stories we do, the structure of the stories," says Glass. "They're built around characters and plot and scenes way more than most traditional broadcast news journalism."
Glass has long been outspoken about making public media more innovative and diverse. And he says the innovation is happening. But because the skills needed to be a great producer are so specialized, he says creating diversity on the air is sometimes a struggle.
“And so there’s a problem at the very front end, getting people in and training them and recruiting them, and finding people who aren’t necessarily public radio listeners and making them great reporters and producers and editors.”
Glass says he could never have imagined the success the show has had, nor how talented his team could be. When he started the show in 1995, he says he only knew that he liked the idea of putting together something different…much like the way a child thinks about building with Legos.
“That really was my feeling when I started making the show, and I didn’t understand that at some point it would stop being mine, and it would become kind of an “ours” sort of thing, in a way that’s just been really lovely. And it’s made the show so much better than I could have done by myself.”
And for those who are curious about how his dog, Piney, is faring, there's good news–he's alive and well, much to surprise of both Glass and his wife. They still, however, can't have people over for dinner.