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Who is Ira Glass?

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  • Written By: Niki Foster
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 25 August 2016
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Ira Glass is an American public radio host best known for his radio and television show This American Life. Glass' radio show debuted in 1995, and the television version first aired in March 2007 on Showtime. Each hour-long radio show consists of a series of narrative "acts" on a range of typically non-fiction topics.

Glass was born in Baltimore, Maryland on 3 March 1959. His father, Barry Glass, was an accountant and radio announcer, and his mother, Shirley, was a psychologist. Ira Glass was active in student theater during his time at Mitford Mill High School. He also dabbled in the radio world as a teenager, writing jokes for Baltimore disc jockey Jonny Walker. After graduation, Glass attended Northwestern University, later transferring to Brown University, where he majored in semiotics.

Ira Glass made his on-air debut as R2D2 on a local radio show in 1977. He moved to Chicago, where he began working on Chicago Public Radio, in 1989 in order to be with his then girlfriend, cartoonist Lynda Barry. Though the relationship did not work out, the move proved to be fortuitous for Glass' career. Early radio shows Glass worked on include All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Talk of the Nation. Glass has produced and hosted This American Life, originally titled Your Radio Playhouse, since the first episode.

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This American Life began on WBEZ, a Chicago Public Radio station, and became nationally syndicated the year after it debuted. In addition to Ira Glass, the radio show helped jumpstart the careers of authors Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris. Unaccompanied Minors, a 2006 feature film starring Lewis Black and Wilmer Valderrama, was based on a personal story recounted on an episode of This American Life.

Ira Glass collaborated with comic book artist Jessica Abel on the 1999 comic book Radio: An Illustrated Guide, which details the making of This American Life and offers advice on how to produce one's own radio show. Ira Glass married editor Anaheed Alani in 2005, and the couple moved from Chicago to New York City the following year.

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