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As the host of "This American Life" for the past 16 years, Ira Glass has one of the most recognizable voices in radio.
He's heard by about 1.7 million listeners a week on more than 500 public radio stations, but that doesn't mean he thinks he has a great radio voice.
"I am recognized now when I speak, but I don't actually have an impressive radio voice," Glass said. "You've heard my voice on the radio so it sounds like a voice you'd hear on the radio. But if you compare my voice with a really great radio announcer, I'm just a whiny Jew. It's just sheer repetition that makes it sound like it belongs on the radio."
Utahns will have a chance to judge for themselves when he returns to Utah on Saturday, June 25. His Kingsbury Hall presentation, which will run about two hours, will include his accounts of his adventures in public radio, playing clips and music from the show, and a Q&A.
"He's very engaging," said Sheri Jardine, communications manager at Kingsbury Hall. "He does talk about episodes that fans will recognize but gives details that weren't on the air, so even the most ardent listener will hear things they haven't heard before."
"This American Life" and Glass have won impressive journalism prizes, including the Dupont-Columbia Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, Overseas Press Club Award and a pair of George Foster Peabody Awards. A TV version of the show, which ran on Showtime in 2007-08, won three Emmys.
Glass last appeared at Kingsbury Hall in 2007. As of Thursday, June 16, only about 200 tickets remained for the event, so Jardine predicted a sell-out for the June 25 event.
The radio show's podcast is among most-downloaded in America, earning a must-listen reputation for its eclectic mix of stories and down-to-earth approach to reporting.
"When you turn on the radio and hear our show, in five seconds or 10 seconds you can tell it's our show," Glass told TV critics when he was promoting the Showtime series. "It sounds like nothing else on the radio."
That's because the show takes a different approach to the sources, uh, people it is covering.
"We're not making fun of them," Glass said. "We're not looking at them the way a news story does like people are little microbes under a glass. We're just trying to talk in a normal human tone about the whole thing."
The storyteller with a face, and voice, for radio
Ira Glass, the host and producer of "This American Life," will appear at the University of Utah.
When • Saturday, June 25, at 7:30 p.m.
Where • Kingsbury Hall, 1395 E. Presidents Circle, Salt Lake City.
Tickets • $20.50, $27.50 and $34.50; 801-581-7100 or kingsburyhall.org.