Ira Glass offers insight into radio show at Westobou Festival

Ira Glass speaks as part of the Westobou Festival. The National Public Radio show airs on more than 500 radio stations.

The radio medium is inherently about creating a personal connection to other’s experiences, said Ira Glass, the host of National Public Radio’s This American Life, on Saturday night.

“We can bombard ourselves with stories from the moment we get up in the morning ‘til the time we go to bed at night,” Glass said. “How rare it is for a story to take you into someone else’s experience.”

Glass described the structure of his show, which airs on more than 500 radio stations across the country, for a nearly-full audience at Augusta State University’s Maxwell Performing Arts Theatre. “Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass” was the first event at the theatre for the 2011 Westobou Festival.

Several hundred people attended the show to see the face of the voice they hear on the radio show listened to by 1.7 million people on the radio and another 600,000 by podcast every week.

“Wonderful; very insightful,” said Jill Korn, of Augusta. “He’s very inspiring.”

The show provided a more full understanding of the journalism craft and the everyday human experience, Korn said.

Fans waiting before the show shared funny and memorable stories they have heard Glass tell on the radio since it began in 1995.

“I like the oddities of the stories; the characters or whatever shows up,” said Carson Blocker, of Augusta. “You never know what you’re going to get.”

Saturday’s show began with the theatre lights off and Glass on the stage to simulate the “intimacy of radio voice.” Then, he played a sound clip from a CNN show followed by a clip of his show’s reporting on the beginning of the War on Terror from a naval ship.

In the show, the reporter laughed during an interview with the Navy sailor who has the full-time job of stocking the ship’s vending machines.

“Imagine your traditional newsmen ... in this situation,” he said. “We’re supposed to be serious. We’re supposed to know better.

“There’s strict segregation between the funny and the serious in news broadcast,” Glass said.

This American Life consciously strives to add aesthetics, joy and surprise to stories, but tells the very important news simultaneously, he said.

ABOUT THE FESTIVAL

The fourth annual Westobou Festival, Augusta’s 10-day celebration of the arts, features big names, collaborations and one-of-a-kind performances. Tickets are available for many performances, and nearly half of the festival’s 50 events are free. Learn more at westoboufestival.com.

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