If you know of Ira Glass, you would have been there. If you don’t you really should. He presents and produces the very much loved radio show This American Life. This weekly hour-long program investigates and tells us stories from real people, and has gained an ardent cultish following, thanks to the conveniences of downloadable podcasts. There are few Americans as adored as Glass and his famously non-commanding yet effectively therapeutic voice. Friends I knew who attended were of the emotional status of a smitten schoolgirl.
At Reinventing Radio – An Evening with Ira Glass last night, he shares with the audience his formula for good storytelling – particularly over the radio. It wasn’t so much the ‘secret to success’ type lecture that you might expect though. It was a couple of hours watching the mannerisms of a man that we have all been listening to via our earphones as we ride in lengthy tram rides or fall asleep to in our beds at night.
Ira began speaking to the audience in darkness, to ease the transition from radioland to live stage, lit only by the glow from his ipad. On his crotch, of all places. When, after a lenghty few introductory segements, the stage lights came on, he is revealed (though his ‘secret’ identity can easily be found by a fan via Google Images.) Sometimes I feel the show, and the programs, in general, are slightly over-produced- the very filmic background scores, the overdramatisation of pressing buttons on the Ipad, the shutting of eyes as he recounts certain moments. But these are small details. I will still be listening in. As I know I will be hooked on these stories like a good old fashioned bedtime story.