Welcome to my glorious mess.

Ira Glass on Storytelling.

Posted in Ira Glass on Storytelling by Dom Brady on June 10, 2008

I’m addicted to This American Life with Ira Glass. For my money it’s the best radio program I’ve ever heard in my life. I’m a nerd and unapologetically so. 1.7 million people can’t be wrong, right? That’s not necessarily true, is it? Nevertheless, This American Life remains one of the best written, well-thought-out programs in media today. When I took on the VIMBY.com project of Analogue Atlanta, I looked to people like Ira Glass, Terry Gross, David Sedaris, Ed Bradley, John Oliver Killens, Krista Tippett,Ayi Kwei Armah, Charlie Rose and Ralph Wiley.

These writers and journalists are all people I constantly look up to as examples of how to get it: how to get the story, the interview, the tale right and how to keep it compelling. It turns out this isn’t such an easy thing to do. It’s particularly difficult in radio. What’s held me up in releasing the finalized pilots and ultimately the inaugural Analogue Atlanta episode is fear. I know I can do this well. I know I can. There is a standard that I’m not willing to bend on, however and I am just not sure that what I have meets that standard. How do you tell someone that their story just wasn’t compelling enough, though? That the day you spent with them wasn’t interesting?

That’s a tough pill to swallow. At the end of the day I could easily publish what I do have. I’m sitting here on this Dosa Kim/Epidemik Coalition story which began as an Epidemik Coalition story and I feel like a fool, to be honest. I told the guys over at EC-good guys, laid back fellows- that this story was about them. But the story I publish won’t be about them. That angle was washed away by the day we spent together and the story that emerged, the story you’ll hear by week’s end, God willing.

What about the hours I spent preparing the Youth in arts piece? It’s worthless. I’m not afraid to say it is. Some stories, despite the well wishes of yours truly, are just crap. They are. I have a story I haven’t started on editing yet that I know will knock your socks off. I know this because it did mine and I am an unabashed cynic. Who could know that would happen? I certainly didn’t. That’s the trick of it, isn’t it? That’s the magic of artistry, of Journalism. I’ve been sitting on my hands, wringing them in my mind afraid of how my peers, how Atlanta, how the people I have interviewed will view me. Well, I think I’ll adopt my good friend Spree Wilson’s approach and say “FUCK IT!” I’ma do me.

When it’s all said and done, I’m the only one that will have to answer to the quality of my work. I’m not ashamed that I am behind deadline or that I’ve trashed, tabled and re-hashed much of my work. I shouldn’t lament quality control and neither should the people I interview. I know my listeners won’t.

*sigh* This is ALOT of work, I’m sure you know. Work I do on my own each day, dutifully. Hundreds of hours of tape, more hours of writing and few hours of sleep. All this for what? For a city that doesn’t even know I exist. I do this for you, Atlanta.

I do this for you and thank Allah (swt) for Ira Glass. That last sentence is funny because he’s both Jewish and an atheist, but in the above pieces Mr. Glass has assured me my process is a solid one. Analogue Atlanta will debut this week. It will debut late and it will be a monthly program instead of a weekly. As one person, I just don’t think it’s possible to live life, work and make a weekly happen without doing the project a severe injustice.

Until then here are the two pilots that I am satisfied with enough to have published. I don’t particularly like them either, but at least the stories are somewhat compelling. The other three pilot shows have been TRASHED, DELETED, THROWN AWAY. Sorry guys! I did keep the interviews for stock sound bites, though:

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