Thursday, September 13, 2007

Ira Glass: Action Hero

That's kind of what the inside page looks ike dosent it? In April of 1999 WBEZ, Ira Glass and artist Jessica Abel made a comic book for the program "This American Life." It was originally produced as a "premium" for donors in the fall 1999 for a fund drive at WBEZ.
They take an episode called "Do-gooders" and break down the process that brings it from idea to flushed out radio program. It was published by artbabe Army Publishing PRI and WBEZ.

But much in the way that his program This American Life" approaches the topic at an angle, the comic approaces the show indirectly. It devlves into the fine zen-like art of audio editing obsessing on the pauses and breaths between thoughts and sentences.
It also delves into the deisre to be a radio man. How to get an internship, what to learn, where to learn it. And more importantly maybe, how to do it yourself. the Comic fuly embraces Ira's Chicago-centric world-view using local examples for everythign from interviewees to pirate radio stations. It's possibly the most clever promo item I've ever seen. At 30 pages long it's far more engaging than a promotional coffee mug or umbrella.

The writing is superb. You can tell Ira had his fingers in it. Let me quote thsi passage about dubbing in music to a program: "Somtimes there are obviosu music cues, like, sombody introducing a new character, or they'll talk about some event, or some feeling, and you bring in music which speaks to that in some way. ...and somtimes you bring in music where there isnt' any obvious cue, and create a beginning. We start music where a sequence of action begins or starts to build. it adds to the drama. ...and you always take out the music when there's a big idea that you really want peopel to pay attention to. You lose the music so it stands out. This I had to learn by trial and error but, like, it's so profoundly true: if there is music under a person speaking, and then it stops, whatever is said next is really powerful, it sounds more important. It's like shining a light on it."
Ira has been at NPR since 1978 as an intern. In the early 90s he was a reporter at NPR's Chicago Bureau. He hosted "wild Room at WBEZ until 1995 when This American Life" debuted. It went into national distribution a year later with PRI. It's now heard on over 470 public radio stations.