Ira Glass

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Ira Glass

Glass giving a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, in 2006
Born(1959-03-03) March 3, 1959 (age 53)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
ShowThis American Life
NetworkPublic Radio International
Time slotSyndication
CountryUnited States
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Ira Glass

Glass giving a lecture at Carnegie Mellon University, in 2006
Born(1959-03-03) March 3, 1959 (age 53)
Baltimore, Maryland, United States
ShowThis American Life
NetworkPublic Radio International
Time slotSyndication
CountryUnited States

Ira Glass (born March 3, 1959) is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.


Personal life

Glass was born in Baltimore, Maryland, United States, to Jewish parents Barry Glass, an accountant, and Shirley Glass, a psychologist, infidelity researcher, and author whom the New York Times called "the godmother of infidelity research."[2][3] He attended Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County where he was active in student theater, student government, yearbook, and was the editor of the student literary magazine. A member of the Milford Drama Department, Glass played the part of Captain George Brackett in their 1975 production of South Pacific[4], Lowe in their 1976 production of Damn Yankees[5], and Bud Frump in their 1977 production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying[6]; along with his involvement on stage, he was a member of the Thespian Society. Glass was involved in student government during his junior and senior years, as a member of the executive board.[7] His involvement in yearbook started in 10th grade and continued until he graduated in 1977. A rather popular and outgoing student, Glass was also involved with the morning announcements, as well as being a member of the Millford Honor Society in 1977.[8] After graduating high school, he attended Northwestern University, in Evanston, Illinois,[9] but transferred to Brown University, where he concentrated in semiotics and graduated in 1982.[10] He is the first cousin once removed of composer Philip Glass, who has appeared on Ira's show and whose music can often be heard on the program. Glass stated on This American Life that he is a staunch atheist.[11]

Glass married Anaheed Alani, a writer and editor, in August 2005.[12]


Radio broadcasting

Glass has worked in public radio for some 30 years. At 19 he began as an intern at National Public Radio's headquarters in Washington, D.C.[13] He was a reporter and host on several NPR programs, including Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Talk of the Nation. Glass wrote,

"The very first National Public Radio show that I worked on was Joe Frank's. I think I was influenced in a huge way... Before I saw Joe put together a show, I had never thought about radio as a place where you could tell a certain kind of story."[14]

From November 1990 until September 1995, he co-hosted, with NPR producer Gary Covino a weekly, local program on Chicago Public Radio called The Wild Room. In 1993, Glass said,

"I like to think of it as the only show on public radio other than Car Talk that both Daniel Schorr [NPR news analyst] and Kurt Cobain [lead singer/guitarist of Nirvana] could listen to. I think it's appropriate that the show [which aired on Friday evenings] is on a station that most people don't listen to at a time when most people won’t hear it. And the fact that public radio never puts a new show on the air or takes any off is definitely to our advantage."[15]

During this time, he spent two years reporting on the Chicago Public School System—one year at a high school, and another at an elementary school. The largest finding of his investigations was that smaller class sizes would contribute to more success in impoverished, inner-city schools.[16]

In 1995, the MacArthur Foundation approached Torey Malatia, general manager of Chicago Public Radio, with an offer of $150,000 to produce a show featuring local Chicago writers and performance artists. Malatia approached Glass who countered that he wanted to do a weekly program with a budget of $300,000. In 1998, Covino told the Chicago Reader, "The show he proposed was The Wild Room. He just didn't call it The Wild Room."[17] Covino continued to produce The Wild Room until February 1996.

Glass invited David Sedaris to read his essays on NPR, which led to Sedaris's success as an independent author. Glass also produced Sedaris's commentaries on NPR.[18]

Since 1995, he has hosted and produced This American Life, from WBEZ. The show was nationally syndicated in June 1996 by Public Radio International and has been national ever since. PRI was eager to take on the program, even as NPR passed on it.[19]

This American Life reaches over 1.7 million listeners on over 500 stations weekly, with an average listening time of 48 minutes. Glass can be heard in all but four episodes.

On November 17, 2005, This American Life celebrated its 10th anniversary. The following week, as a special show celebrating the anniversary, the first episode, "New Beginnings", was re-broadcast. Prior to this, the first episode had never been aired outside of Chicago. When the first episode was broadcast in 1995, the show was known as Your Radio Playhouse. That first episode includes interviews with talk-show host Joe Franklin and Ira's mother, as well as stories by Kevin Kelly, founding editor of Wired, and performance artist Lawrence Steger.

In May 2009, the This American Life radio show episode "Return to the Scene of the Crime" was broadcast live to over 300 movie theaters.[20]

In 2009, Glass was named the recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Outstanding Contributions to Public Radio.[21][22]

In 2011, Ira Glass earned the George Polk Award in Radio Reporting for "Very Tough Love," an hour-long report that showed alarmingly severe punishments being meted out by a county drug court judge in Georgia. Drug courts were set up to emphasize rehabilitation instead of incarceration, but Glass’ investigation revealed that Judge Amanda Williams strayed far from the principles and philosophy by routinely piling on jail sentences for relapses. One 17-year-old girl, initially in trouble for forging two small checks on her father’s account, was facing more than 10 years in jail. Following the airing of "Very Tough Love," Georgia’s Judicial Qualifying Commission filed 14 ethical misconduct charges against Williams. Within weeks of the filing of charges, Williams stepped down from the bench and agreed never to seek other judicial offices.[23]

In 2012, Glass received a Doctorate of Humane Letters honoris causa from Goucher College in Baltimore, MD.

Other works

While in high school, he wrote jokes for Baltimore radio personality Johnny Walker.

In September 1999, Ira collaborated on a comic book, Radio: An Illustrated Guide, with Jessica Abel. The book showcases how This American Life is produced, and how to produce your own radio program.

In 2006, he served as one of the executive producers of the feature film Unaccompanied Minors. It is based on the true story of what happened to This American Life contributing editor Susan Burton and her sister Betsy at an airport on the day before Christmas. Burton had already produced a segment on This American Life about the same experience before the story was adapted to film.

In October 2007, he published the anthology The New Kings of Nonfiction.

On March 22, 2007, Glass and company began airing a television version of This American Life as half-hour episodes on the Showtime network. During an interview with Patt Morrison on 89.3 KPCC, Southern California Public Radio, Glass said that he lost 30 lb (13.5 kg) for this venture.[24] The show aired for thirteen episodes over two seasons, and ended in 2009 because of the heavy workload required to produce it.[25]


On April 25, 2008, Glass again appeared on The Late Show.[26] On April 22, 2009, Glass appeared as the featured guest on The Colbert Report. He also was on TBTL on September 18, 2009. Glass served as the monologist for ASSSSCAT at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in New York on February 21, 2010. He appeared in a green motion capture suit in a John Hodgman segment on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Thursday, November 4, 2010 where he acted as the main character of the Grand Theft Auto: Vice City video game. Glass appeared on the June 24th, 2011 edition of Adam Carolla's podcast, where they discussed The Adam Carolla Podcast claiming the title of "Most Downloaded Podcast" from the Guinness Book of World Records. On September 17, 2011, Glass participated in the Drunk Show at the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival,[27][28] during which Glass became so drunk he blacked out and vomited backstage.[29] On September 19, 2011, Glass appeared on WTF Live with Marc Maron[30], which aired as Episode 213[31] of WTF with Marc Maron, on September 26, 2011. Ira Glass guest co-hosted Dan Savage's sex advice podcast, Savage Love, on January 31, 2012.[32] He also lent his voice to The Simpsons in Season 22 in the episode entitled "Elementary School Musical."

On May 18, 2012, Glass gave the commencement address for Goucher College class of 2012 graduation ceremony, where he also received an honorary degree.[33]

On Sept 17, 2012, Glass made a special voice appearance on The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert to promote his film Sleepwalk with Me and to invite Colbert to take part in a This American Life episode.


  1. ^ Cox, Ana Marie; Dionis, Joanna (August 10, 1998). "Ira Glass: Live and Uncut". Mother Jones. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Bio of Dr. Shirley Glass". Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  3. ^ "Dr. Shirley Glass - Obituary from the New York Times, 10/14/03". 1936-03-01. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  4. ^ 75 Milestone. Baltimore, Maryland: Milford High School. 1975. pp. 162. 
  5. ^ 76 Milestone. Baltimore, Maryland: Milford High School. 1976. pp. 164. 
  6. ^ 77 Milestone. Baltimore, Maryland: Milford High School. 1977. pp. 164. 
  7. ^ 76 Milestone. Baltimore, Maryland: Milford High School. 1976. 
  8. ^ 77 Milestone. Baltimore, Maryland: Milford High School. 1977. pp. 58, 116, 119, 126, 129, 130, 155, 164. 
  9. ^ Benson, Heidi (2007-03-21). "Storytelling's new frontier". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2010-05-09. 
  10. ^ Greenberg, Paul (May 16, 2004). "The semio-grads". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2007-05-01. 
  11. ^ "394: Bait and Switch (Act 2)". This American Life. November 6, 2009. Retrieved May 18, 2011. 
  12. ^ "His American Life: A Look at Ira Glass". Retrieved 2012-03-31. 
  13. ^ "Ira Glass’s Manifesto, Part One". The Transom Review 4 (2). June 1, 2004. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  14. ^ Glass, Ira; Sedaris, David (.MP3). Ira and David Discuss Joe Frank (Audio). Retrieved March 19, 2007. 
  15. ^ C.K. (February 22, 2006). "Wrong-O, Mary Lou". No Sleep Til Mysore. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  16. ^ Bracey, Gerald W. (September 1995). "Research oozes into practice: the case of class size". Phi Delta Kappan 77. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  17. ^ Miner, Michael (November 20, 1998). "Ira Glass's Messy Divorce". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on December 15, 2011. 
  18. ^ Carlin, Peter Ames (October 20, 1997). "Elf-Made Writer". People 48 (16).,,20123516,00.html. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  19. ^ McGrath, Charles (2008-02-17). "Is PBS Still Necessary". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-02-15. 
  20. ^ "Interview on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, May 23, 2008". hulu. Archived from (see segment at 30:00) the original on 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2008-02-29. 
  21. ^ "Ira Glass Receives Edward R. Murrow Award". CPB Media Room. July 8, 2009. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  22. ^ "Ira Glass acceptance speech for the Edward R. Murrow award". YouTube. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  23. ^ "LIU Announces 2011 George Polk Awards in Journalism". Long Island University. February 20, 2012. Retrieved February 25, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Patt Morrison for March 22, 2007". Patt Morrison. KPCC. 2007-03-22. Retrieved 2010-05-13. 
  25. ^ Kaufmann, Justin (September 18, 2009). "Ira Glass dishes on end of TAL TV. Will he return to Chicago?". WBEZ. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  26. ^ Print this Article: Glass on glass |[dead link]
  27. ^ Lineup for the 2011 Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  28. ^ Eugene Mirman Fest 2011 --- Day 3 in pics (Rachel Maddow, John Hodgman, Jon Benjamin, Ira Glass & many more)| Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  29. ^ Ira Glass got blackout drunk onstage with Eugene Mirman, Rachel Maddow | Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  30. ^ Kinski, Klaus (September 13, 2011). "Nerdist, Doug Benson & Marc Maron keep taping podcasts in NYC, Eugene Mirman fest coming soon (tix back on sale today)". Brooklyn Vegan. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  31. ^ "Episode 213 - Artie Lange, Nick DiPaolo, Nick Griffin, Joe Mande, Wayne Koestenbaum, Elna Baker, Morgan Spurlock, Ira Glass". WTF with Marc Maron. September 26, 2011. Retrieved December 15, 2011. 
  32. ^ Savage, Dan (2012-01-31). "Ever Wanted to Hear Ira Glass Give Sex Advice? | Slog". Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  33. ^ [1]

External links