You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

March 3: This American Life

March 3, 2014
220px-Ira_Glass_CMU_2006Ira Glass, the host and creator of National Public Radio’s “This American Life,” was born in Baltimore on this date in 1959. (His mother, Shirley, is a psychologist whom the New York Times has identified as the “godmother of infidelity research.”) A graduate of Brown University, Glass began at NPR as a 19-year-old intern and served as a reporter and in many other roles before launching “This American Life” in 1995. The show, which features quirky, thematically linked real-life, revelatory narratives told at some length, today reaches over 1.7 million listeners per week on some 500 stations. Glass is an irreligious Jew — “I’ve tried to believe in God but I simply don’t,” he has said on the show — but “It’s not like I don’t feel like I’m a Jew. I feel like I don’t have a choice about being a Jew. Your cultural heritage isn’t like a suitcase you can lose at the airport.” His childhood rabbi, Seymour Esrog, was an important influence: “really funny, a great storyteller. He was so good that even the kids would stay and watch him. He’d tell a funny anecdote, something really moving, and go for a big finish. That’s what the show is.” The show has also been widely parodied, including in a YouTube mockup, “This American Laugh,” in which “Ira” makes a sex tape with Terry Gross of “Fresh Air.” The piece was viewed 100,000 times in one week, and you can view it below. “All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. . . . And your taste is why your work disappoints you.” —Ira Glass