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.