As television news continues its pathetic slide into the abyss of celebrity worship, political partisanship and 24-hour punditry, its encouraging to note that in one area of traditional broadcasting there is actually something of a renaissance going on. Public radio is bucking the trend with programs like Radiolab and This American life, shows that do nothing to confirm our biases, but instead engage our curiosity and teach us something new.
In this funny and thought-provoking talk from the 2007 Gel Conference, Ira Glass, host of This American Life, explains a little of what goes into a good radio story. “Narrative,” he says, “is basically a machine that’s raising questions and answering them.” Glass’s talk is very much like his radio show. In exchange for a little patience, you will be rewarded with a good story and perhaps an insight or two.