"Will it Work?" she asked herself, over the anxious, contemplative, narration

If I were stranded on a desert island, there's no doubt that one of the things I'd wish to bring would be the full library of NPR radio show, This American Life. (Since this is an oft-asked question in teen beauty magazines, I've also known since high school that another item I'd have literally "on hand" would be Neutrogena's Norwegian Formula Hand Cream. I love a great beauty product that you can pick up at any grocery store. And I HATE dry hands.)
With This American Life I could rest my chin on my finely moisturized hand and remember life in America, all its oddities, anxieties and humor. This show is so reflective and internal that I was a little surprised to see that it's making a foray into television. I don't think we have Showtime so this question might be academic, but: will the show be nearly as good when the pictures are provided for us? Will there be the same intimacy of just hearing someone's voice and its emotion on the radio when there's now an entire vision of the clothes they're wearing, the chair they're sitting in, the weather outside their window in front of you? Will this work?
It was the offer of a CD of This American Life recorded live that finally goaded me into donating to my local public radio station this week. After they needled me for 14 mornings with that pledge drive. Ugh. But I hear that this CD promises the story of John Hogdman ("PC") having to go to an Apple store to have his own computer problem fixed. Mob scene.
This American Life debuts on Showtime, March 22nd. You can even add them as a friend to your MySpace page, which curiously locates them in New York. I thought This American Life was brought to you by WBEZ in CHICAGO!! (And yes, I took some pride, as well as security, in that. My NPR station in C'bus canceled their support of TAL because of its cost - devastating loss. I complained and received an e-mail back from a whiny public radio employee bemoaning that they hardly had money to buy highlighters. Really.)


Andra Sue said...

TAL on television? Heresy, I say! Although, I don't have Showtime either, so I suppose I'll never know. I love love love NPR...and TAL is my favorite show, although I hardly ever get a chance to listen anymore. I need to download some podcasts for when I'm working out. Did you catch the Pimp Anthology from a bunch of years back? That was so interesting...and kind of kitschy-funny, yet disturbing at the same time.

abby said...

This week's TAL has a piece by Ira himself explaining why they expanded to Showtime, and it's the lead story in the Times' Arts section today.

They quietly moved to NYC a while ago (pre-TV, I think). When M. told me she had dinner with him I almost fainted.

Claire said...

Then why do they still say, "From WBEZ Chicago, it's This American Life"?? Are they posers? Trying to buy themselves some midwest authenticity?

joe b. said...

When it was brought to my attention that you were discussing TAL, I had to respond...

WBEZ Chicago still co-owns the show, regardless of where the staff works. When Glass says, "from WBEZ Chicago and PRI", he's referring to the entities who bring you the show. "WBEZ Chicago" is the broadcast name of the station, and PRI is based in Minnesota. I don't think he even says the word "in" between WBEZ and Chicago, for whatever it's worth.

Furthermore, unlike Fresh Air which is technically an NPR show, TAL is a Public Radio International (PRI) show. But I know you meant "NPR" as a generic term for all public radio, so that's just nitpicking.

And speaking of Fresh Air, Terry Gross's recent interview with Glass is well worth listening to if you're curious about the TV show and Glass's experience with the transition.

Although I wasn't aware of the move to New York, it looks like the Chicago Reader had a Feb. 2006 article about it. It reminds me that many years ago when I was still living in Chicago, Chicago Magazine had a cover story about famous Chicagoans who left the city as well as the few who returned after years away. Either way, I think both people and radio shows born and raised in Chicago always retain at least some of their Chicago-ness forever.

Claire said...

...may I introduce Joe B, who knows more about NPR than anyone I've ever known.
And who I feel like has just assigned me some homework! ;)


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