For years people have been encouraging me to tune into This American Life. Friends have been sure I would love it. I was sure I would love it too! Had no doubt. But somehow I never actually got around to listening, (except for the hilarious How's Your News? segment) even when I was given a CD. It's only recently, when my local NPR station switched from broadcasting Selected Shorts (which I had grown to love) to This American Life, on my weekly drive down to yoga, that I finally got a listen. And I didn't love it. And felt terrible about it. This Nancy Franklin piece really spoke to my discomfort.
Glass begins each show with an introduction to the day’s theme—which might be something like lost love, or what power and powerlessness do to people, or what it’s like to be a teen-age girl—and then he returns to provide commentary between the show’s segments, or “acts,” as he calls them, and to close the show. (He also does segments himself.) He describes the show’s structure this way: “There’s an anecdote, that is, a sequence of actions where someone says ‘this happened then this happened then this happened’—and then there’s a moment of reflection about what that sequence means.” He goes on, “It’s the structure, essentially, of a sermon; you hear a little story from the Bible, then the clergyperson tells you what it means.” Well, no wonder my head is exploding—meaning is being forced into it. When it comes to meaning, I prefer to grow my own. Sometimes, after reading certain magazines or watching certain TV shows, people speak of feeling as though they needed to take a shower; after listening to “This American Life,” sometimes I feel I need to roll around in the dirt. (complete)