Ira Glass Biography

Radio Personality (1959–)
American radio personality Ira Glass is the creator, host and executive producer of the award-winning public radio show 'This American Life.'


American public radio personality Ira Glass was born on March 3, 1959, in Baltimore, Maryland. He began his radio career as an intern at National Public Radio and worked on almost every NPR news program, before he created the wildly popular weekly show "This American Life" in 1995. "This American Life" has expanded to an audience of 2.1 million listeners on 500 stations, and is regularly named the most downloaded NPR podcast. Glass is also editorial adviser for the wildly popular podcast "Serial."

Early Life And Education

American public radio personality Ira Glass was born on March 3, 1959, in Baltimore, Maryland. His father, Barry Glass, was an accountant, and his mother, Shirley Glass, was a psychologist and infidelity researcher. As a high school student in the early 1970s, Ira was active in theater. He began his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University before transferring to Brown University, where he majored in semiotics, the study of symbols. Immediately after graduating, Glass talked his way into an internship at National Public Radio’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Early Career

After joining NPR, Glass reached a point where he worked on almost every NPR news program and performed nearly every job, including being a tape cutter, newscast writer, editor, substitute host, desk assistant and producer. Rising in the ranks, he was eventually made a reporter and host for "Morning Edition," "All Things Considered" and "Talk of the Nation." 

In the fall of 1990, Chicago Public Radio invited Glass to co-host a local late-night radio show called "The Wild Room." Chicago Public Radio let Glass and his co-hosts fill each Friday night with a free-form and highly varied mix of music, readings and banter. Simultaneously, Glass continued to produce serious and in-depth journalism, traveling with the Clinton campaign in 1992 and reporting on the Chicago Public School System for two years.

'This American Life'

In 1995, the general manager of Chicago Public Radio offered Glass the opportunity to host and produce his own show; Glass accepted and went on to create "This American Life." By early 1996, the show was nationally syndicated. Unlike much of public radio, Glass's show is based on intimate personal narratives about everyday people and events from their lives. "This American Life" airs weekly from WBEZ in Chicago and reaches some 2.1 million listeners on 500 stations nationwide. 

In 2007, Glass and company began airing a television version of "This American Life" as half-hour episodes on the Showtime network. The show ran for two seasons and won three Emmys before ending in 2009. According to the program's website, the television version ended primarily because it became too much work to produce both the radio and TV shows simultaneously.

Personal Life

Glass has been the recipient of many prestigious awards, including several Peabody Awards, the Edward R. Murrow Award, the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia Award and the Overseas Press Club Award. In August 2005, Glass married Chicago editor Anaheed Alani. Glass and Alani moved from Chicago to New York in March 2006.

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