Ira Glass on This American Life

While watching part 1 of Ira Glass’ series on storytelling, I learned that by using an anecdote when telling a story even the most boring topic can become exciting to the listeners. Basically, an anecdote is a version of storytelling in which the story becomes a sequence of events instead of a basic topic sentence, it’s more like a cause-and-effect storyline. Glass uses an example of a stupendously boring story of a man waking up to a quiet house. Yet, instead of saying, “the man woke to a quiet house” he uses more suspenseful phrases such as, “its unusually quiet as he walks down the stairs.” As he says, we start our stories with an action and bait to raise questions in the mind of the listener then later answering them to give shape to the story to keep the listener entertained. He states that we have multiple basic building blocks, the anecdote and the moment of reflection in the mind of the reader. An important thought from the video is that a story is only worthwhile if the anecdote is interesting while also having an equally exciting moment of reflection making the story worthwhile.

In watching part 2 of Ira Glass’ video on storytelling I learned how difficult and time consuming finding a decent story and that it’s our job as the storyteller to have the courage to kill a story. We also have to be, as he says, ruthless with a story to find the good parts of it and to remove the excess. He also says that we have to accept failure because a lot of what we work on will not always turn out in our favor.

Jad Abumrad on Radiolab

In “How Radio Creates Emphaty” Abumrad opens with a statement of how much he loves television because of it’s visual aspect, but adores radio because it uses co-authorship to allow empathy to fill the gap he calls “picturelessness”. He explains that the goal of radio is to create a connection with the listeners using our voices to turn sound into images, which he thinks is why radio never dies.