This Saturday, Ira Glass, host of the radio show This American Life and creator of the "Ira Glass Abs Workout," will present Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass at the AT&T Performing Arts Center.
Glass started doing shows like this back in 1996, when This American Life went national. He tells us, "I saw that I occasionally was getting a day off on the weekend and thought, I gotta stop that."
"Basically," he says, "I get on stage with an iPad from which I can play clips and music and the sound that we use in the show. I both tell stories from the radio show -- which I can make form around me with all the audio -- but also talk about why we're making a show that's so different from everything else on the radio."
The show is actually part of an ongoing promotion for This American Life, the Peabody Award-winning public radio show. "It's the technology of the year 1935, where you show up in town and hopefully people who are fans will bring a friend who isn't listening to the show. And because the public radio station is involved in it to sell tickets they have to run lots of promos mentioning your name, which basically reminds people that your show exists."
Glass' popularity has swelled in recent years, causing some fans and bloggers to wonder if his fame would eventually hamper This American Life.
"It is not something I ever, ever worry about, ever," he says. "Not ever. Angelina Jolie is famous. What I am is somebody who is doing a public radio show that people who happen to listen to public radio may know."
That's as charming and self-deprecating a response as anyone who's heard the show can expect, but Glass definitely undersells his popularity. And it's because of this popularity that I really, really needed to ask Ira Glass something. And I had to give some context for it.
I saw a David Sedaris reading a few years ago in Baton Rouge, and while waiting in line for the book signing after I agonized over finding something memorable to say.
"So I asked him," I tell Glass in the present, "'What does Ira Glass smell like?'"
Understandably there's a pause.
"And what was his answer?" Glass asks me.
"'He smells tall. He smells like old newspapers. And you know that smell guys have when they have really big dicks?'"
"That's a really sweet answer. He's a very nice man."
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
So all these years later, I had to complete the cycle and ask Ira Glass: What does David Sedaris smell like?
"David Sedaris has the smell of warm bread baking in the oven and in a room next door someone else is making cupcakes. But simply from the smell you can tell that possibly the cupcakes and bread are poisoned. There's a question mark that hangs over the whole thing."
"He wins. You can't out-clever David Sedaris."