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Simple Googling dug up what Daisey had hidden

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... Continue Reading

Ira Glass on his nervous pitch to monologist Mike Daisey

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. Continue Reading

Adapting Daisey’s staged monologue for radio: less shouting, more intimacy

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. Continue Reading

Ira Glass

Glass & Co.: Emboldened to tell hard-news stories

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. For 16 years, public radio host Ira Glass has charmed listeners with offbeat, quirky stories that captivated minds and won awards. Lately, he’s also been kicking butt, taking names and making a difference. It’s not quite that aggressive. Continue Reading

Georgia ramble turns exposé

Ira Glass didn’t know what he was in for when he walked into the post office in the seaside burg of Brunswick, Ga., and asked the first person he met to name the most interesting character in town. Glass and his This American Life production team had given themselves a special assignment: to collect the best stories they could stumble upon far off the beaten path of their day-to-day reporting routines. They followed the standard operating procedure of the Atlanta Journal’s “Georgia Rambler” columnist Charles Salter, who researched more than 500 columns in the late 1970s by roving around small towns of the Peach State in a company car. Nine of the radio show’s producers and reporters adopted Salter’s technique for an episode that aired last summer. They drew the names of their assigned Georgia locales from a baseball cap, went in-country with mikes and recording equipment and, on fast turnaround, collected a trove of human-interest material. Continue Reading

Mobile giving a ‘no-brainer’ for TAL postcast audience

It’s not the best way to collect big annual gifts from station members, pubcasting fundraisers agree. But This American Life’s producers confirmed that giving-by-texting among their many devoted listeners holds considerable potential. Beginning last November, appeals for $5 donations included in four of the show’s weekly podcasts brought in $142,880 from 28,576 listeners, as of April 15, according to Seth Lind, production manager. To donate, a podcast listener simply texts “LIFE” to 25383 and TAL receives a $5 donation, minus fees, paid through the giver’s wireless phone bill. The vast majority of the text gifts to TAL were sent during the campaign’s first month, but fans continue to respond. Continue Reading

This American Life: The pimp show turned out to be rare error, thank God

This American Life is hot. The weekly radio program produced by WBEZ, Chicago, and distributed nationally since June 1996, airs on 325 public radio stations. Ira Glass, TAL's creator and producer, has become something of a celebrity. The subject of lengthy feature stories in national magazines, he now turns up in TV and radio interviews to publicize a Rhino Records CD, "Lies, Sissies and Fiascos: The Best of This American Life." His own life, frequently described by himself and others, emerges as one of frenetic activity, a contemporary Scheherazade, obsessively devoted to creating stories that he hopes "will give voice to those outside the mainstream." Continue Reading