By Siouxsie Q.
It was a cool February morning when I got an email from the lawyers representing Chicago Public Media and Ira Glass. My heart sank. There goes my shot. I thought. I've pissed off the most important person in podcasting and I've only been at this three months.
I had just launched my own podcast about sex work then titled This American Whore. Clever title, right? The folks over at the award winning podcast This American Life thought so as well. Turns out I was infringing on their trademark. Trademark Law is nuanced and super hard to understand, but I was still facing a lawsuit if I didn't change the name of the show. As much as the media tried to spin it as a David vs. Goliath story, it wasn't. All that really happened was our lawyers talked for awhile, Ira released a real nice statement, and then we all decided that changing the name to The WhoreCast was the best decision for everyone. We parted ways on good terms, but I continued to worry that Glass would hold some kind of grudge or think poorly of me in the future.
Flash forward six-plus months later. I get a call from the SF Weekly telling me Glass would be doing a show at the Nourse Theatre in November and asked if I would like to interview him.
We don't often get second chances in life, but I felt like this might be mine. I hoped that if I just got a chance to actually talk to him and explain that I truly meant no offense, maybe he'd forgive my misstep.
Truly, I was terrified. As the phone rang I felt sweat trickle down my sides. I was hoping maybe there would be a secretary I would talk to first, maybe some kind of Ira-Glass-handler or personal assistant, but no. He picked up and said "Hello?" just like any other human. I've heard him talk about prison, politics and even prostitution... but I had never heard him talk directly to me. It was surreal.
It turns out we have a bunch in common. Not only are we podcasters and story tellers, we're also both theater nerds. Which is why I'm so excited to see his show: "Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host." It's an opportunity to do what he does best: telling stories, but this time with a bigger tool box -- lights, dancers, music, and stage pictures. As a live theater junkie myself, I'm sure it'll be right up my alley.
As I hung up the phone, I felt like I had just finished a marathon. My mouth was dry and I was out of breath. It had been one of the more awkward conversations in my life, but it had also been one of the most magical. At the end of the day, Glass is one of my heroes, and getting the opportunity to interview him was no less than a dream come true.
Also, check out our Arts section story "Ira's Mad Gambit: The Host of This American Life Defies Nature with a Hybrid Dance and Radio Show."