Ira Glass sure is spectacular! My friend Kelsey has been trying to persuade me to listen to This American Life for almost a year now, and the whole time I have refused to do so, and insisted that the radio was boring and that NPR was a waste of time. Boy, don’t I look like a fool. Ira Glass is amazing, and This American Life is fascinating! I listened to the episode Dopplegangers one afternoon while on lunch break at work, and I was hooked, I spent the rest of the afternoon just clicking around listening to as many episodes as I could.
There are a few very useful and effective techniques that Ira Glass and This American Life use to get the listener’s attention and to keep them engaged. The things I found to be the most effective at reeling me in, was the way in which he tells an anecdote, and then comes to a conclusion about it. There’s a very specific way that Ira Glass does this, and you can just about picture the lightbulb going off over his head. If I recall correctly, Fred Armisen (one of my favorite celebrities, what a pleasure to discover him on this recording!) even pointed that out at one point.
Most remarkable, however, is the way that the producers are able to use sound to create a vivid picture of what is happening. The restaurant noises, including the background restaurant music, and the clinking silverware were when this was most apparent. I have no clue what the people in the show look like, yet I could picture them vividly sitting around a table taste testing pork bung. The other way they use music, is to get your sympathies, make you feel the way the want you to so that you follow the story line. When Ira Glass (or Fred Armisen, who can even tell their voices apart?) talked about the bung being the underdog, and that he was coming around to root for it, and to hope it would pass as calamari, they played the theme music to Rocky in the background. I haven’t even seen the movie, yet the music is so ingrained into our culture’s standard that I started to empathize with the pork bung as well.