When Ira Glass came to speak at USC, I jumped at the chance to volunteer at the Visions and Voices event. I couldn’t wait to see, and most importantly, hear him speak – all for free. As a volunteer for Visions and Voices, I helped check people in and let them know more about the program at USC. Intrigued by the tri-color highlighters and baskets full of free pens, hundreds of people made their way to my table to get their tickets. As it neared 7:00, everyone headed inside Bovard Auditorium to find a seat.
Being an avid listener of “This American Life,” I was excited to finally put a face to the voice I’d heard so many times telling such remarkable stories. But, much to my surprise, Ira Glass stepped onto the stage that October night in complete darkness.
The one thousand or so people seated in Bovard waiting to see Glass speak were unsure of what was going on when they saw his silhouette on stage, but no spotlight. The clapping slowed, and Glass said he wanted to do the entire talk in the dark, just like the radio show. Fortunately for the audience, the lights did eventually go on, and we were all finally able to see the man behind the microphone.
Glass spoke for almost two hours about his own experiences, journalism today, and the complexities of life. He shared a fact of life he’d discovered when he was younger – it is normal to be bad at what you do when you first start. Some students even had a chance to ask him questions about his work and life. Altogether, it made for an incredible night of storytelling.