Ira Glass Spoke On Radio's Storytelling Power

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

When the lights dimmed in the Tivoli Theatre, fans who packed the event hall craned their necks to catch a glimpse of Ira Glass, host of National Public Radio show, “This American Life.” They were greeted only by a glow of his iPad mini as Mr. Glass walked the stage in the dark in an effort to illustrate the power of radio. Mr. Glass was in Chattanooga to speak at George T. Hunter Lecture Series.

For Mr. Glass, the power of radio can be summed up in the intimacy it provides for the listener.

“Without the distraction of someone’s face, the words go right inside me. There’s an intimacy to just hearing someone’s voice,” he said. 

Mr. Glass, who began his radio career at 19-years-old, prefers to take a different approach to journalism on his show.

“Broadcast journalism typically separates the serious and funny, and that can be unnecessary. At our show, we want to embrace the fun. We want to embrace entertainment as our mission and not be ashamed of it,” he said. 

“The job of journalism isn’t just to tell us what’s new, but what is. Traditional broadcast journalism leaves out the surprises, joys, and humors of everyday life. If you leave those moments out, it makes the world more boring, sadder and darker. At ‘This American Life,’ we want to try to find those moments of surprise,” he continued.

Mr. Glass relies on a method of storytelling that assists listeners in focusing on the more human elements of the story rather than just the facts. Throughout his talk, he played clips of interviews with ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances he had featured on the show—a woman caught in a tornado, a teenage victim of a shark attack, a school principal dealing with gun violence.

“To keep people listening, you have to have narrative suspense. There has to be a question in the air. We start with the plot because it pulls people into the dream of it,” he said. 

Mr. Glass, who studied semiotics in college, has researched what makes a good story.

“We use a structure similar to a sermon. We start with the action and then insert a brief idea on what is happening. It’s anecdotes followed by an explanation,” he said.

Highway Safety Office To Announce Traffic Safety Initiative For Thanksgiving Holiday

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) will join the Governor’s Highway Safety Office and leaders from organizations that serve local law enforcement officers to announce a statewide traffic safety initiative during the Thanksgiving holiday on Monday morning.  The announcement will be made in the gym of the THP ... (click for more)

Santa Is Available For Pictures At Bradley Square Mall

Santa has arrived at Bradley Square Mall and is available for pictures daily through Christmas Eve.  Hours are Monday – Saturday 11 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sunday 1-6 p.m. There will be extended hours Dec. 16-24. (click for more)

Bradley County Police Investigating Shooting; Victim Dies

The Bradley County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that occurred in the area of Georgetown Road. The Sheriff's Office said Sunday night that the victim had died. The victim's name has not yet been released.  A BCSO officer was waved down at the intersection of 25 th Street and Peerless Road by the driver of a vehicle who told the officer a gunshot victim ... (click for more)

Police Seek Lookout Mountain Man, 73, Missing Since Friday

The Dade County Sheriff's Department is looking for Freddie Wooten, 73. Mr. Wooten was driving a 2002 Ford Windstar minivan with the license plate number, THM1418. He was last seen wearing a light blue shirt and navy pants. Anyone who has seen Mr. Wooten, or has information regarding the case, is asked to contact the Dade County Sheriff's Office at 706 657-3233. (click for more)

Don't Be Quick To Discard Common Core

Let's not be too quick to discard Common Core. A recent article in the Tennessean on  Sunday detailed Common Core successes the Kingsport, Tennessee school system.  I encourage you to read it.  The article also noted that Tennessee was recently ranked as one of the fastest improving states in education after implementing portions of the Common Core curriculum ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Our Tubman Goat-Roping

Every spring there comes a bright day on the ranch when the straw-boss decrees a goat-roping should take place. What really happens is the veteran cowboys arm the greenhorns with some lariats late in the afternoon and take them to the pen that holds some Billy goats. This is before they get into bigger beasts -- horses and cattle – yet what appears to be easy most certainly is not. ... (click for more)