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[photo from The A.V. Club]
Today on the MP3 Shuffle we wish a very Happy Birthday to Ira Glass, as much a modern radio pioneer as we have in the 21st century. His radio program This American Life, originally produced right here in Chicago, is the standard for non-commercial radio interview/news/essay/non-fiction variety shows. This program is, in this writer’s opinion, a national treasure with a knack for making the local universal as well as addressing the big issues of our time. Check out the show archives for a couple of hundred examples. (I rank “The Giant Pool of Money,” “Plan B,” “The Fix Is In,” "Somewhere in the Arabian Sea," and “Fiasco!” among the best examples of journalism produced by any media outlet in the last few decades.) Moving from local to national and international distribution at a time when radio was being written off as a dead medium, Glass proved that public radio could compete with multi-million dollar media operations when it comes to telling intelligent, compelling stories that matter to people.
Like some others who got their start in Chicago, Glass has taken his talents elsewhere (he currently resides in New York), but there’s no question that his show and voice are an institution tied to Chicago. Let’s wish him a happy birthday by playing the MP3 Shuffle: Take your MP3 player, press the “shuffle” button, and share the first 10 songs you hear…