from St. Louis on the Air
4:59 pm
Wed June 15, 2011

Ira Glass explains his decision to sound different

Today on St. Louis on the Air, we got a little peek at what Ira Glass fans can expect this weekend at Powell Hall.  The voice behind PRI’s This American Life will recreate moments from the show live on stage with the distinctive sounds, voices, and music TAL fans have come to know-- but there won’t be any fancy mixing console or many recognizable radio props on stage.  Glass says, “I’ll run it all from my iPad."

A sign of the changing times, to be sure, but Ira Glass has gotten good at change during his years in public radio.  He started at NPR as a tape cutter at age 19 when he says he “didn’t know anything about public radio.”  He spent the next ten years behind the scenes at NPR, writing and producing, before later trying his hand at reporting and hosting.  As a reporter, Glass says he “sounded like all the other NPR reporters,” a habit that, as a host, he had to train himself out of:

“I thought it wasn’t as effective at getting something across, and that a more conversational, more casual style actually penetrates more and has more feeling. So I tried to train myself to do that. I don’t have a good radio voice.  But this thing happens now.  People say “you have such a nice radio voice.” And I say, that’s the force of repetition.  You’re used to hearing me on the radio, so it seems like I should be on the radio. But when you hear me versus someone who should really be on the radio, you can tell, that I really have no business being on the radio. ”

1.7 million listeners might disagree.