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.

W Road Closed Tuesday

The Hamilton County Highway Department announced the W Road will be closed Tuesday from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. for general  maintenance and clean up.   (click for more)

Dalton Police Department Celebrates Brad Jones’ Retirement

The Dalton Police Department said goodbye to one of its own Friday as longtime employee Brad Jones celebrated his retirement from the agency. Mr. Jones served the department as a civilian employee. He joined the DPD in 1988 as a dispatcher.  Mr. Jones served as a dispatcher until 1994 when he moved into the property and evidence room as a P&E custodian.  He retired ... (click for more)

Additions And Improvements At Camp Jordan Arena Coming Soon

Additions and improvements are coming to Camp Jordan Arena in the near future. At the Thursday night meeting of the East Ridge city council, approval was given for buying new playground equipment. It will come from Gametime, a locally-based company. The VP of Marketing lives in East Ridge and made a proposal to set up the playground at Camp Jordan so his company could use it for ... (click for more)

Tribute Service For Luther Masingill Held At Historic Engel Stadium

It took a place as big as historic Engel Stadium for Chattanooga to say goodbye to their beloved Luther. Hundreds came Thursday afternoon to pay tribute to Luther Masingill who died early Monday morning after a radio career that spanned an amazing 74 years. It was clear from all who spoke that he was considered not only a radio personality, but also a role model. One after ... (click for more)

Not Everything Has Been Done To Save Hutcheson

I am a resident of Walker County and I have a personal belief that a hospital ranks equal to other basic services a community should offer (like police, fire, emergency services, school systems, government, etc.). I am not privy to all the management and financial conundrums concerning the feasibility of maintaining and growing Hutcheson, and as a private citizen I don’t believe ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Veterinarian’s Horse Sense

I suspect you’ve heard by now that a doctor in New York City, who volunteers with “Doctors Without Borders,” just got back from the African nation of Guinea on October 17 – last Friday – and on Thursday tested positive for the deadly Ebola virus. Luckily, he came in actual contact with only a few people but he reportedly rode a subway, took a taxi, went on a three-mile run and ... (click for more)