I really can’t overstate the importance of This American Life in this American’s (my) life. The show started in 1995, which was my first semester at OU. In 1997 I moved into 614 South Lahoma, a house I shared with a menagerie of other scholarship students who are still my good friends today. We refer to ourselves as “614”. I had a room on the 2nd floor facing the street. The house had a giant fan in the roof; when it was on it would pull air in the windows. Taking naps on my bed by the window with the breeze flowing over me is one of my favorite memories of college. It was in that room I discovered public radio. I was sliding through frequencies on my radio and all of a sudden I recognized music. My mother had listened to NPR in our kitchen – I’d never paid attention – and the tones I recognized were from All Things Considered. I started listening – partially because it reminded me of my Mom – and soon I found This American Life.
My first memory of This American Life is hearing the conventions episode, specifically at 51:96 where John Perry Barlow tells what happened on the plane. That was the moment I fell in love with this art I was hearing come out of my radio. This American Life would be with me later in that apartment on Division Street in Chicago, in that basement apartment in Seattle with the spiders, and on the road between all those places. I consider myself a collector of TAL, I think I have all the mp3s. Thier voices have been with me everywhere I’ve been. The recent episode on bung made me laugh and smile for days.
I consider Ira Glass a personal hero (as well as those less famous members of his staff, present and past). This American Life is a model of sustained brilliance and excellence that I use as a benchmark to strive for in all of my endeavors, business and personal, creative and otherwise. Ira’s series on storytelling made me think I could try to tell stories of my own.
Congratulations to Ira and This American Life. Your lives, in a very real way, have touched the life of this American.