Ira Glass on Storytelling


Ira Glass picked up a microphone instead of a stethescope and his mom, like millions of other radio listeners, is certainly glad he did. From the weird and wacky to the serious and sad, we speak with the America public radio host about his stellar ability to tell a story.

Host of This American Life, Ira Glass

For listeners to This American Life, host Ira Glass is a superstar.

Millions listen to his weekly public radio program and download his podcasts. Since the show first hit the airwaves in 1995, he's won almost every major U.S. broadcasting honour, including a Peabody Award for excellence in journalism.

Each week, the show picks a different theme and breaks it into acts. We aired a taste from Act One from What Doesn't Kill You.

One of the hallmarks of the show is its intimate portraits of American lives. Ira Glass is a self-effacing host. He says it took him longer than anyone he knows to become good at what he does. And, as he said when accepting the Edward R Morrow award three years ago, not all his listeners love to hear him talk.

Here are a few examples Ira points out in his speech with some listener feedback on his hosting abilities:

"Dear Ira, Have you ever listened to your own voice? If you would slow your speech down and enunciate, I might be able to understand your speech. I feel I am listening to the future lyrics of a grunge band in Seattle when I hear your shows".

This American Life listener

To add to this point ... April writes:

"I listen to This American Life on WQED Pittsburgh every chance I get, each time it's the most engaging and most fascinating program I've ever heard ... BUT Ira Glass is virtually unintelligible. He sounds as if he is reading copy as fast as possible to himself only. He mumbles. Please Ira - You are a radio personality. Please don't be too proud to seek some coaching and enunciation".

April , This American Life listener

Ira Glass did some fine enunciating when we spoke with him last October.

Do you listen to This American Life? Have thoughts you want to share on this discussion? Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And you can always write to us at PO Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6. And if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

Last Word - Pope Shenouda III

We've been talking today about Coptic Christians, a minority that's always wary of its position in Egyptian society. Tolerance for the Copts runs hot and cold, but one man who knew the full range was the former Coptic Pope, Shenouda III. He died last year, but led the church for four decades. He oversaw the development of large Coptic communities overseas -- and there are now estimated to be about 50 thousand Coptic Christians in this country. He struggled to get his neighbours to treat the Copts like fellow citizens. Today's Last word goes to Pope Shenouda the Third.

"When you speak about Islamic revival, we can speak also about Christian revival in Egypt. We don't accept minority in such a meaning claiming for political rights or for foreign help ... no. We are Egyptians, a part of Egypt of the same nation, we don't accept to be distinguished from other Egyptians".

Pope Shenouda III

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