Radio host Ira Glass speaking at Shady Side

Ira Glass is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.
Ira Glass is an American public radio personality, and host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life.
Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Sarah Rubin wasted no time when she heard that Ira Glass was available to visit Shady Side Academy in Fox Chapel.

“I responded (to an e-mail) within literally 30 seconds,” said Rubin, executive director of SSA's Hillman Center for Performing Arts. “Glass received hundreds of offers that day and if I hadn't seen that posting and reacted immediately, we would have missed our chance.”

Glass is founder and host of the public radio show, “This American Life,” which reaches 1.7 million listeners on 500 stations across the country.

He also is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner for outstanding contributions to public radio.

Lower Valley residents can get a glimpse inside Glass' own life at 7:30 p.m. April 13.

“Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass” will come to the Hillman Center, at the school along Fox Chapel Road. General admission tickets cost $40; VIP seating that includes a pre-show reception is $125.

“I think Ira Glass is an exceptionally good fit for the Pittsburgh community,” Rubin said. “Our history of public radio is long and bright. With KDKA as the country's first radio station, and the longevity of WDUQ (now WESA) and WQED, it's clear how significant public radio is to both our past and our future.”

The journalist will speak about the process of tracking down great, untold stories.

Having worked in public radio for three decades, Glass began as an intern at NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. at 19. He worked on shows such as “Morning Edition,” and “Talk of the Nation.”

Since 1995, he has hosted and produced “This American Life,” distributed by Public Radio International. The show was briefly turned into a series for Showtime and earned three Emmy Awards.

Rubin said it's fitting that Glass will address the necessity of public radio, which she called one of the nation's most democratic, deliberative media.

He requested that Rubin use his speaking engagement to benefit and raise awareness about local public radio, she said. Rubin already has lobbied WYEP and WESA leaders to join in the event and talk about the “interconnectedness of all public radio,” she said.

“I love that the Hillman Center for Performing Arts can facilitate and connect with these wonderful organizations,” Rubin said. “The arts scene in Pittsburgh really is that fantastic.”

The show format will be a combination of clips and lecture to create a “live” radio show for the audience.

The performance will reveal how he finds his stories using pre-taped quotes, music, story snippets and his acclaimed narration as part of a 360-degree listening experience, Rubin said.

There will be time for audience interaction with questions following the show.

Participants who purchase VIP seating will be treated to a pre-show reception with a Pittsburgh flair, Rubin said.

“I approached independent local businesses that epitomize regional fare, like Wigle Whiskey, the Greensburg Supper Club, Legume and Pittsburgh Winery to be the food purveyors,” she said. “Each is donating their product, which has made this an incredible team effort.”

Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the Hillman Center Box Office at 412-968-3040.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or

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