This American Life host Ira Glass stopped by The Smith Center Saturday night for an intimate show titled Seven Things I’ve Learned, culled from more than 20 years of hosting the iconic NPR radio show. Glass shared snippets—in anecdotes and audio and video clips—of what it takes to produce a weekly radio show and the elements of good narrative journalism.
Here are seven things we learned from the very funny and thought-provoking evening:
1. Doing work you are passionate about never gets easier. You just become more ambitious.
2. Don’t knock your parents’ musical taste. One day, when you’re an adult, you’ll remember something your mom or dad shared with you—a musical like Fiddler on the Roof, for example—and it will connect you to your childhood in a most poignant, unexpected way.
3. Listening to people with different points of view—Trump supporters, for example—is not “normalizing” them; it’s documenting, which is what good journalists do.
4. The radio format, in which there are no visuals attached, has a built-in intimacy that is hard to replicate in other mediums.
5. If you have normal feelings, it’s hard to understand someone so well and not fall in love with them, or at least love them deeply.
6. This American Life is quite happy with the demographic of its audience, and has never attempted to court millennials. But …
7. …If you build good narratives, they will come (and in droves, judging by the 2 million-plus podcast downloads each week).