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Ira Glass (born March 3, 1959) is an Americanmarker public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.

Early life

Glass was born in Baltimore, Marylandmarker, to Barry Glass, an accountant, and Shirley Glass, a psychologist and infidelity researcher. He attended Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County where he was active in student theater. He attended Northwestern Universitymarker, in Evanstonmarker, Illinoismarker , but transferred to Brown Universitymarker, where he concentrated in semiotics.


Radio broadcasting

Glass has worked in public radio for some 30 years. He began as an intern at National Public Radio. He was a reporter and host on several NPR programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation. Glass wrote, "The very first National Public Radio show that I worked on was Joe Frank's. I think I was influenced in a huge way... Before I saw Joe put together a show, I had never thought about radio as a place where you could tell a certain kind of story."

From November 1990 until September 1995, he co-hosted, with NPR producer Gary Covino a weekly, local program on Chicago Public Radio called The Wild Room. In 1993, Glass said, “I like to think of it as the only show on public radio other than Car Talk that both Daniel Schorr [NPR news analyst] and Kurt Cobain [lead singer/guitarist of Nirvana] could listen to. I think it’s appropriate that the show [which aired on Friday evenings] is on a station that most people don’t listen to at a time when most people won’t hear it. And the fact that public radio never puts a new show on the air or takes any off is definitely to our advantage.” During this time, he spent two years reporting on the Chicago Public School System—one year at a high school, and another at an elementary school. The largest finding of his investigations was that smaller class sizes would contribute to more success in impoverished, inner-city schools.

In 1995, the MacArthur Foundation approached Torey Malatia, general manager of Chicago Public Radio, with an offer of $150,000 to produce a show featuring local Chicago writers and performance artists. Malatia approached Glass who countered that he wanted to do a weekly program with a budget of $300,000. In 1998, Covino told the Chicago Reader, "The show he proposed was The Wild Room. He just didn't call it The Wild Room." Covino continued to produce The Wild Room until February 1996.

Glass invited David Sedaris to read his essays on NPR, which led to Sedaris's success as an independent author; Glass also produced Sedaris' commentaries on NPR.

Since 1995, he has hosted and produced This American Life, from WBEZ. The show was nationally syndicated in June 1996 by Public Radio International and has been national ever since. PRI was eager to take on the program even as NPR passed on the program.

It reaches over 1.7 million listeners on over 500 stations weekly, with an average listening time of 48 minutes. Glass can be heard in all but one episode.

On November 17, 2005, This American Life celebrated its 10th anniversary. The following week, as a special show celebrating the anniversary, the first episode, "New Beginnings", was re-broadcast. Prior to this, the first episode had never been aired outside of Chicagomarker. When the first episode was broadcast in 1995, the show was known as Your Radio Playhouse. That first episode includes interviews with talk-show host Joe Franklin and Ira's mother, as well as stories by Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired, and filmmaker, performance artist Lawrence Steger.

In May 2009, the This American Life radio show was broadcast live to over 300 movie theaters.

Glass's father was a radio announcer also during his youth, but Glass was not made aware of this fact until after he had begun his own radio career.

Other works

While in high school, he wrote jokes for Baltimore radio personality Johnny Walker.

In September 1999, Ira collaborated on a comic book, Radio: An Illustrated Guide, with Jessica Abel. The book showcases how This American Life is produced, and how to produce your own radio program.

In 2006, he served as one of the executive producers of the feature film Unaccompanied Minors. It is based on the true story of what happened to This American Life contributing editor Susan Burton and her sister Betsy at an airport on the day before Christmas. Burton had already produced a segment on This American Life about the same experience before the story was adapted to film.

In October 2007, he published the anthology The New Kings of Nonfiction.

On March 22 2007, Glass and company began airing a television version of This American Life as half-hour episodes on the Showtime network. During an interview with Patt Morrison on 89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, Glass revealed that he lost 30 lb (13.5 kg) for this venture.


On April 25, 2008, Glass again appeared on The Late Show. On May 1, 2009, Glass appeared as the featured guest on The Colbert Report. He also was on TBTL on September 18, 2009.

Personal life

Due to an encounter with objectors to a segment of his show, Glass became a vegetarian. He discusses this in an April 2007 appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman.

In August 2005, Glass married Chicago editor Anaheed Alani. Glass and Alani moved from Chicago to New Yorkmarker in March 2006.

He is an avowed atheist.

Noted composer Philip Glass is his father's first cousin.


External links

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