I recently went on a bit of a road trip…and by, a bit, I mean, I drove a total of 42 hours over the course of 87 hours…solo.
To while away the hours on the road, I set myself up with as many episodes of the NPR series, This American Life.
This was a rather dangerous thing to do, as, although I absolutely adore Ira Glass, his voice is more than fully capable of putting even the most awake person into a comatose state. Something about his psychiatrist-level of calmed tones can just get into ones’ head and lull them into a catatonic state.
Luckily for me, this didn’t occur, and I happened to stay awake for the entire driving time sequence, with nary a falling asleep on the road to occur…although I did have to take myself off the road a number of times just to look at something other than dotted lines.
But while listening to this show where they take little glances into the lives of people who make up this grand country of ours, I couldn’t help but think about their storytelling process. There isn’t really a set roadmap they put in place as far as how they tel a story, and ultimately, it’s a rather journalistic style of story they tell, yet, somehow, these stories all seem to come out feeling as though they belong as part of this show…and are all surprising dramatic.
Tales of inept ATF agents setting up stings so terribly that the bad guys actually use a UHAUL to drag stuff out of their retail establishment seem to fit just perfectly next to stories about transgender folks taking their first rounds of testosterone treatments.
In a lot of ways, it reminds me of the little bits I remember from my parents listening to Paul Harvey as I was a kid. Sure, the overall experience might be greatly different, but it’s all part of this same world of journalistic storytelling that you don’t really see in many places. These fluff pieces that really attempt to tell a much larger story, to show a much greater idea…to highlight the true culture of America.
So, what’s the point here? Well, mostly that in the past week, most of what I experienced in real life was exactly what I was experiencing on the radio…the culture of America. As I drove along the highways of this country of ours, I couldn’t help but see a parallel between the radio and the outside world, as well as a need to find the exact people I was hearing about, while I drove by their home states.
In the end…you should listen to This American Life. You’ll learn something, as well as getting a better idea of what really makes people tick. I think you’ll be more than amused.
Have fun out there!