WNYC’s Greene Space Serves Glass Under Glass

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Quick Question: When you see the future of radio, is the glass half-empty or half full? Answer: The future of radio is full of Glass. Ira Glass, that is. Host of the popular radio program, This American Life.

Produced in conjunction with Chicago Public Radio, This American Life has been entertaining radio listeners for over a decade. The program features real-life, interesting, quirky people, and is a natural coming from the city of Studs Terkel. Glass’s popularity led to a Showtime television series by the same name.

Last night, Ira Glass performed his radio show, This American Life, in 400 movie theaters around the United States simultaneously. Movie theaters? Alicia Lozano, reporting for the Los Angeles Times, filed this report yesterday:

Radio aficionados will convene around the silver screen tonight when Ira Glass hosts a special two-hour edition of his weekly public-radio series This American Life, which will be beamed via satellite to more than 400 theaters nationwide. It’s the second time the show has been offered in movie theaters by NCM Fathom, a division of National CineMedia. The first was last May.

How fantastic that people will come together and buy tickets to sit in a movie theater and watch a radio show being performed? Certainly, the passion for well-made radio has not disappeared, even though it’s shape-shifting.

Ira Glass will help usher in a new era for radio when venerable New York public radio station, WNYC, inaugurates it’s new performance space later this month. Performance space? Radio station? What gives?

Elizabeth Jensen, on the media desk at The New York Times, enlightens us:

…the space, envisioned as a laboratory in which to rethink public radio as an interactive medium, will also host concerts, audio theater and political debates, many streamed live on thegreenespace.org.

Located in lower Manhattan at the corner of Charlton and Varick, WNYC’s new facility is known simply as “The Greene Space” and formally as The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space, after a benefactor. Notice the words “performance space.” The slogan of The Greene Space is “On Air, Online, and On The Street” — a fitting rallying cry for a new kind of radio.

Among the theatrics offered during the facility’s Grand Opening celebration April 28 through May 9 is Radio Lab’s “Audio-Visual Smackdown” featuring — you guessed it — Ira Glass! Right there on street level, under glass, the popular radio/TV show host will referee a face off on which is better, radio or television, between Radio Lab’s co-hosts, Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad. The cage match is set for Wednesday, May 6, at 7:00 p.m. ET.

Who knew radio would have such potential as performance art? Chasing the story for The New York Times, Elizabeth Jensen quotes Greene Space executive producer Indira Etwaroo saying, “We’re trying to reimagine what radio means to a 21st-century audience.”

I’d say they’re doing a pretty good job of it!

Photo courtesy of WNYC Radio.

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