As one of the most popular podcasts of all time, Public Radio International's This American Life has had to deal with its fair share of imitators and parodies over the years, and many other podcasts have appropriated the "This American..." moniker to draw attention to their own audio. On Feb. 5, SF Weekly spotlighted one such effort that was reportedly getting heat from Glass and his attorneys over trademark violation: This American Whore, a podcast covering sex workers' issues, created in November 2012 by Siouxsie Q, a San Francisco sex worker. Siouxsie Q first tweeted on Feb.
Among the new radio programs inspired by This American Life are two productions for listeners who don’t speak English. Both Israel Story and Radio Ambulante launched after receiving some guidance and helpful advice from Ira Glass and company.
This American Life host and public radio superstar Ira Glass continues his foray into scripted entertainment, as a producer of a new television series in development at the Sundance Channel. The project, billed as T, will follow Terrence, a transgender man who has recently undergone sex reassignment surgery, and the story will be split between his present life as a male and former life as a female college student named Thora. Fellow TAL producer Alissa Shipp will also produce T.
Glass ventured into the world of independent film this summer with Mike Birbiglia's Sleepwalk With Me, which he co-wrote and produced. The film, which had a budget of $1 million, has grossed more than $2.2 million in theaters to date, making it a financial success. This is also not the first time Glass has dealt with a commercial TV station.
Humorist and essayist David Rakoff, a regular contributor to Public Radio International’s This American Life since the program’s inception, died Aug. 9 after a fight with cancer that dated to his 20s. He was 47. Rakoff worked in publishing before becoming a full-time writer. He appeared dozens of times on TAL to recite his essays, which often balanced pessimism with a wry sensibility.
Within a few hours of phoning the translator who refuted key details in a This American Life show about factories that manufacture Apple products in China, Marketplace correspondent Rob Schmitz was on a plane to meet her...
Current's Feb. 27 story on This American Life's recent breakthroughs with enterprise reporting describes the inspiration behind "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," the story on Apple factories in China that was later retracted. Glass tells Current that after seeing Daisey's monologue last October, he was already “editing the radio version in my head” as he left the theater. “I thought [Daisey] was doing something remarkable,” said Glass, “which is taking a fact that we all already know — that these devices we love are made in China in conditions that are probably not so wonderful, and he makes us feel something about it.”
Glass invited Daisey to lunch, and he recalls feeling nervous when they met Nov. 16.
Update: On March 16, This American Life retracted "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory," its Jan. 6 broadcast that adapted monologist Mike Daisey's story about working conditions in Chinese gadget factories. Read more. Crunching a two-hour stage monologue into a 39-minute radio piece was a huge challenge for Ira Glass, e.p. and host of This American Life. Glass decided to adapt The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs after seeing monologist Mike Daisey perform the show that skewers Apple and Jobs for the harsh working conditions in factories where adored Apple products are assembled.