This Saturday, while everyone else was attending Halloween parties, I had the opportunity to go to Massey Hall and listen to Ira Glass. For those of you who don’t know, Ira Glass is one of the hosts of This American Life, which can be listened to not only on the radio but as a podcast as well, which you can subscribe to on iTunes.
Ira started off in the dark, talking about the power of voice without a face to it. This is something he brings up later on in the show multiple times. He said if he could have had it his way, he would have done the whole show in the darkness, however that was not possible. After the lights turned on, he mentions that it takes people a few minutes to match the voice with his face, especially for people who have been listening to him for a while.
He talked about one of the students that he interviewed for his show. The student was talking about one of her encounters with a gang group. This story worked really well as a radio piece because it was easier to connect to her on an emotional level because we only heard her voice and not her face. Ira mentions that we are quick to judge people on their appearances, and as a result it takes more to create an emotional connection.
He also talked about what makes a good and intriguing story, and this was something he discovered using semantics. With this formula, you can take an ordinary story and make it seem as if it is interesting. The formula is simply a process of action, then a step back from the action with thought, and then more action.
Ira ended the show with open questions. One of the audience members asked if, after seeing the full turnout of this event, did Ira retract his statement about the radio community. (In an interview, Ira had said that the idea of a radio community makes him want to puke, because a radio community does not actually exist.) He stood by his statement. Radio is about speaking to an audience, there isn’t an interactive nature to it. Even in that event, we all came there to hear him speak, but we had no intention of talking to the other audience members.