For a whole generation of podcasters and writers, Ira Glass and his This American Life radio show are the gold standard.
Glass has won pretty much every available award, and the This American Life podcast is downloaded by more than a million people each week. (One podcaster I met said he trots out “WWID?” to test his decisions — shorthand for “What Would Ira Do”).
His take on the yawning gap between our tastes and our work resonates with almost every serious artist.
That’s why I perked up when I stumbled across a “This is How I Work” interview with Glass that outlines the methods used to produce This American Life.
What apps/software/tools can’t you live without? Why?
On the tech/app side I keep things unsophisticated. Pro Tools to edit sound, Microsoft Word for writing. This American Life runs on Google Docs. Before Google Docs existed, those rare times I met software engineers, I’d ask them to please create software so two people in different locations could edit a document together online. God bless Google Docs.
We use Google Docs so much at the radio show because we edit and re-edit each story many times before it gets to air. At each edit, we add at least one producer who’s never heard the earlier versions.
Editing a radio story goes like this: The reporter reads the script out loud and when it’s time for the quotes, we play those from the computer. Someone times how long the story is. We all take notes. If you’d stuck your head into the office, you’d see four of five of us scribbling away furiously and noting what we’d change. Lately we’ve been buying Muji notebooks and .38 Muji gel ink pens at the office for this purpose. They’re pleasant to touch and make the world seem like an orderly place. I number and date my notebooks in case I need to go back to them later.
I really can’t stand writing in Google Docs, but I’m seeing a lot of people referencing its usefulness as a collaborative tool.
You can read the rest of Glass’ interview here.
You can see Glass explain why your work kinda sucks here.
Keep writing, Tom Chandler.