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Ira Glass to Deliver Commencement Keynote

Release date: May 18, 2012

Ira Glass, the radio producer and host of Public Radio International's "This American Life," will receive an honorary degree and deliver the keynote address at Goucher College's 121st Commencement on Friday, May 18, 2012.

Honorary degrees also will be awarded to Nancy K. Kopp, the Maryland state treasurer and a former state delegate for Montgomery County; and Rear Admiral Margaret Grun Kibben, Goucher Class of 1982, the 18th chaplain of the United States Marine Corps and the deputy chief of chaplains of the United States Navy — the first female to serve in either of these roles.

President Sanford J. Ungar will preside over the ceremony, which will begin at 10:30 a.m. on the Winslow Great Lawn, between the Athenaeum and Katharine and Jane Welsh Hall. For more information, visit www.goucher.edu/commencement.

Ira Glass began his career in public radio as an intern at National Public Radio's network headquarters in Washington in 1978. He was 19 years old and had never even listened to public radio before accepting the job. Since then, he has worked on nearly every NPR network news program and done virtually every production job in NPR's Washington headquarters. He has been a tape cutter, newscast writer, desk assistant, editor, and producer. He has filled in as host of "Talk of the Nation" and "Weekend All Things Considered."

Time magazine has called him the best radio host in America, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet has written that Glass "reinvented radio."

From 1989 until 1995, Glass was a reporter in NPR's Chicago bureau, WBEZ. For two years, he covered Chicago school reform for "All Things Considered," with two unusual series of reports. In the first, he followed Taft High School for an entire school year; in the second, he covered Washington Irving Elementary for a year. The largest finding of his investigations was that smaller class sizes would contribute to more success in impoverished, inner-city schools.

From 1990 until 1995, Glass co-hosted for WBEZ a weekly free-form radio show called "The Wild Room."

In 1995, the MacArthur Foundation approached the general manager of Chicago Public Radio with an offer of $150,000 to produce a show featuring local Chicago writers and performance artists. The manager contacted Glass, who countered that he wanted to do a weekly program with a budget of $300,000.

The show that resulted was "This American Life," which was nationally syndicated in June 1996 by Public Radio International and is now heard on more than 500 stations each week.

As the host and producer of "This American Life," Glass has become a fixture in the lives of the 1.7 million listeners who tune in every week to hear stories that are built around a common theme and that run from hilarious to tragic. Some of the program's more experimental shows have been derived from a single Sunday newspaper's classifieds, 24 consecutive hours spent in a diner, and a visit to an aircraft carrier.

Glass has carved out a niche for warm, empathetic storytelling and gentle humanism, and "This American Life" has won the highest honors for broadcasting and journalistic excellence, including a recent George Polk Award in Journalism and several Peabody and DuPont-Columbia awards. The American Journalism Review declared that the show is "at the vanguard of a journalistic revolution."

A native of Baltimore, Glass graduated from Milford Mill High School, now known as Milford Mill Academy, and is the grandson of Frieda Friedlander, Goucher Class of 1931. He attended Northwestern University but transferred to Brown University, where he concentrated in semiotics and graduated in 1982.