Posts Tagged ‘Imagination’

What’s next and a few Ira links from the past month…

January 16, 2010

How did your semester go?

Great question… and I’ve fielded it every year since 2004. The answer always varies but I can say I never thought my response would include, “Well, I got to meet Ira Glass.”

I still struggle with describing this to folks. It’s like a good high school basketball player getting 15 minutes with Michael Jordan- you’re at the point where you are strongly immersed in the craft and can really appreciate how incredibly brilliant the person sitting across from you is.  It strengthens your desire to achieve your professional goals and helps you refocus on what you need to do next to grow. Plus, you can’t stop mentioning it to everyone who cares even an ounce about that particular entity.

So if meeting Ira Glass was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, then Questions for Ira Glass will be too (sort-of). This blog helped focus my thoughts (that, thankfully, later became true interview questions), force me into a new writing copy-cycle, strengthen my pursuit of articles to read and also likely helped my credibility to gain the interview assignment.

All of that is too good to simply stop. You can’t talk to Ira Glass every month, so Questions for Ira Glass may be done. There are plenty of other personal heroes that occasionally sneak through CNY however so Questions for (Someone) is something that’s definitely on the horizon. I even have the first post-Ira candidate in mind.

Until then, enough about me and this site. Here’s some of what’s been going on with Ira since November:

Links: PRI’s Twitter feed | WBEZ’s Twitter feed | | The Daily Collegian | Etsy

E-mail us if you have any suggestions on who should be the focus of a Questions blog next… or if you have any more Ira info.

Was it really a week ago already?

November 24, 2009

I couldn’t sleep at all the night before, the day itself was a blur. I needed to somehow document what November 17 was like for me as an official interviewer for Ira Glass. This is the video diary more or less.

Question No. 28: “And the morale of the story is?”

November 5, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

I know journalism always preaches unbiased reporting, but TAL isn’t pure journalism…. it’s pure storytelling.

Stories have morals. Habeas Schmabeas teaches us about how even prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are human beings deserving of fairness.  81 Words sheds light on the beginning of society’s push to truly understand homosexuality.  Hell, there are even episodes that go directly at morality and decision making in the human brain.

It has to be impossible to tell all these stories and not have something to draw from, right?

What is the best moral you can take away from a story you’ve produced on TAL? How much of an impact has what you’ve seen, heard and interacted with made on your life outlook?

Links: This American Life

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 27: “You accept submissions, right?”

November 4, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

Today I attended a conversation with former Playboy CEO Christie Hefner. Given the territory, she had tons of provocative and profound things to say. One in particular really peaked my interest however.

A student asked if it’s tough to attract young journalists to Playboy because of the potential trouble it could cause on a resume down the road. Hefner retorted that actually the opposite is true, Playboy doesn’t have enough room for all the writers that want to be published within and the list of writers who have contributed (including publishing the original excerpts of Fahrenheit 451 and All The President’s Men) has made it a badge of honor. She finished the thought by noting that, especially for storytellers looking to have non-traditional journalism pieces published, Playboy is actually one of the very few places that features short-form fiction (evidenced by their yearly contest for unknown writers).

Seems like it’s a rough market for young storytellers…

What advice do you have for young storytellers looking to share their work in the digital age? Given the fact that many of the known outlets are very difficult to get published through (books, select literary magazines, public radio reading opportunities, etc.) would you recommend starting off self-publishing for free or cheap online (and hoping that the merit of your work can lead to more wide-reaching, established means)?

Links: The Newshouse | Playboy Online

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 26: “What’s the web site again?”

November 3, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

We talked about innovating new ways of communicating a story in my web journalism class tonight. We’ve worked with slideshows, audio interviews, video sequencing and, of course, text already.  Our professors showed us some free web tools to try some things ( for instance) but my mind immediately went to the work of Jonathan Harris.  He’s someone a new media prof. of mine turned me on to and I immediately began questioning how viable my future in online storytelling was.

The thought that next came to mind was the TAL web site. Ira Glass and co. were adventurous enough to take storytelling to the video medium for two successful seasons of TAL TV. Radio has held strong for them and translated fine to podcasting…

…so the  next logical step…

Why not support your storytelling through innovative online multimedia (or even do uniquely online pieces)? Do you have plans for the TAL web site beyond just storing and organizing your radio stories?

Links: | In Pursuit of the Trivial

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 24: “What are you dressing up as this year?”

October 29, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

In spirit of this weekend’s holiday, there’s something I’ve been wanting to ask virtually any celebrity. It might be even more pertinent to Ira Glass however.

As someone who has acknowledged a lack of interest in the spotlight, it has to be weird for Ira Glass to see his likeness everywhere. His notoriety isn’t even built on his image, but it’s not as if people are recording his voice for answering machines or home video voice overs. He appears on things as random as Whiskey Bar signs and has folks aspire to be him on Halloween.

Trick-or-Treat Ira…

What  is your reaction when you see people wanting to recreate your image? Are you flattered? Is it surreal? Does it make you self-conscious? (All this especially given… your medium of choice is imageless).

Links: Flickr | Hulu

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 22: “When’s the book tour?”

October 27, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

I like to think that deep down inside all journalists share the same secret desire.

They like writing, but really want to write a book.  Since journos are trained in reporting, it has to be a subject driven text.

Chuck Klosterman said he’d take the Real World culture. Bill Simmons took the Basketball Hall of Fame. I’m on record for Ra Ra Riot.

So, Ira Glass the journalist: If you had two years to immerse yourself in a subject and produce your signature text…

What subject would you most like all-access to in order to write the definitive text on? (Radio comic books not included)

Links: Amazon | USA Today’s Pop Candy

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No.19: “Did you ever ask that guy?”

October 21, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

If I was ever offered the opportunity to appear/read/write/hold a microphone for a This American Life story, I’d drop everything and start driving to Chicago.

I’m an aspiring journalist with a super high love for the work of Ira Glass and Co. however.  I know they’ve been turned down on offers to contribute before (I’m looking at you, Ed Norton. Johnny Depp said yes).

After salivating over the thought of Malcolm Gladwell and Ira interacted on something, it got me thinking about a lot of my other favorite writers. They’re all incredible storytellers who find unique angles and utilize a great literary voice for storytelling  (Bourdain, Klosterman, Eggers… I mean Amazon probably recommends them if you like TAL regular Sedaris).

So, have you asked yet…

Do you ever entertain the idea of having some recognizeable storytellers contribute to This American Life? Have you been turned down by some of these folks or do you simply never consider it because you worry about the story losing some of its focus to the teller him/herself?

Links: Wikipedia |

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 16: “What’s on your iPod again?”

October 15, 2009

Ira Question Written by Nathan Mattise

I don’t want to ask, “What’s on your iPod?

It’s not what I really want to know. Sure, I like indie rock, jazz, classical… and all of those genres mysteriously show up in TAL programming.  Those aren’t picked because they’re Ira Glass’s personal preferences however (nor are they selected because it’s the music of choice for any of the audio producers for that matter).

When dealing with storytelling on the level of TAL and with the preferred-medium of TAL, sound is a major stylistic component. It can push a reader towards an emotional reaction regardless of whatever speech is being surrounded by it.  That said, there is an unusually high amount of indie rock and jazz that sneaks into TAL stories.

Turn it down for a minute…

What goes into your music selection for any episode of TAL? Is there an exact science to it? Are you trying to match story content to lyrical content or a song’s “feeling” to the story’s?

Links: This American Life | SPIN Online

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.

Question No. 13: “Where did you move the furniture?”

October 12, 2009

Ira Question | Written by Nathan Mattise

Describe that picture in one word.  Is it Storytelling? Pretentious? Memorable? Awesome?

This American Life on radio has the iconic soundbite – Ira’s self-admitted slightly nasal, a bit too quick delivery of the “It’s This American Life…” intro. After Season One of TAL on TV, Ira Glass sitting at his Ikea-chic desk in some remote and scenic location seemed to be the frontrunner for the show’s “defining image.”

They opted to ditch it all in Season Two however. The new intro was Ira on a handheld video camera, taping himself in the middle of some organic experience (on escalators, driving in cars, etc.). I understand that Ira never wants to be the focus of the program, but if he is the face that people recognize and then sit down to listen to (inevitably leading them into the entire program)…

…what gives?

In this age of meticulous marketing and branding, why would you opt to move away from having a defining image (Ira at the desk) for the television series?

Links: n/a

E-mail us if you have a question for Ira Glass to discuss or if you have insight on this one.