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Ira Glass Declares Craig Kopp 'Normal'


Ira Glass, the host and creator of This American Life, will be in town Sept. 13 at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg for “Reinventing Radio: An Evening with Ira Glass.”

On Florida Matters this week, he talks one-on-one with WUSF’s Craig Kopp about performing on stage, the future of radio and how his show recovered after they aired false information about an Apple iPhone factory in China.

Below is a transcript of the preview of that conversation:

CRAIG KOPP: What’s your attraction to the stage and a live audience? You not only do appearances like you’re going to do at the Mahaffey here in the Tampa Bay area, you’ve done other live performances. You’ve got this three acts, two dancers and one radio host gig now and again. What is your attraction to a live audience and a stage?

IRA GLASS: It’s fun being on a stage. It’s fun having your audience in a room. How long have you been in radio?

KOPP: About 30 years.

GLASS: Yeah, yeah, me too. And it’s like you’re in a completely silent room, and you talk to people as if they’re there, but they’re not there. And have you been on stage?

KOPP: Oh, yeah, just introducing people or conducting seminars and that kind of stuff. I know what you’re talking about. There’s a rush. I was in rock band way back when and I remember that too.

GLASS: Oh, that seems way better.  [laughter]  Oh, if I could switch over to that…if I had talent. No, but like, this is like that. It’s nice when people are in the room. It just is a nice performing thing, and honestly like for me, I was never so into the performing part of performing on the radio. I have friends – they are in radio – and they love being on the radio, that part. Whereas for me,  I was like a backstage person for the first decade of my career. I was a tape editor and a news writer for Carl Kasell – this was at NPR in Washington – I was a tape editor on All Things Considered and Morning Edition. I did the overnight for Bob Edwards back when he was hosting. And Carl Kasell, I was his news writer back when he was running the news, so I did all the behind the scenes stuff and then a decade into it, I started going on the air and I was not good at all on the air at first, and I didn’t enjoy it. And really when I think about the part about my job that I like, it’s the editing and writing part, and then the part where I have to go and sit in front of a microphone, I always feel like, oh no, I gotta do that part again…and it’s only in the last couple years I’ve really tried to embrace the fact that I perform for my job, like I’m a professional performer on the microphone and I should get used to it and try to get used to it, and appearing on stage is sort of part of that. Like do you enjoy the being on the radio part of your job?

KOPP: Yeah, yeah, always have.

GLASS: Yeah, you see, that’s better. You’re normal. You’re normal.

KOPP: [laughter] I have to get that in writing: Ira Glass declares Craig Kopp normal. That’s a good thing to have.

GLASS: That’s the way to be if you’re on the radio. You should enjoy being on the radio, whereas for me, I walk into the studio with a script and I’m just like, ok, if I perform it right then people will just be like, alright, that was kind of interesting. And if I perform it wrong, they’ll be like, why is he talking so loud and selling so hard and sounding so cornball? I just feel like all I can do is fail.

KOPP: And yet there you are, and you’re gonna be on the stage here in Tampa Bay, and you’re willing to take that tight rope walk.

GLASS: Well, honestly, one of the reasons why I’ve been doing so much stuff on stage is because I’m trying to train myself to…and not just train myself, like I can do it. I go on stage and I feel like I’m consciously being like, this will be fun. I’m going to do this because it’s fun. And it’s fun to see people who hear the show, and it’s fun to get laughs, and it’s just fun to be on the stage.

You can hear the full conversation between Ira Glass and Craig Kopp on Florida Matters Tuesday, Sept. 2 at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 7 at 7:30 a.m. on WUSF 89.7 FM. 

Lottie Watts is our Florida Mattersproducer, and she also covers health and health policy for.