Fearless Curiosity

I complain about radio a lot. I rant about Gannett owning all of the so-called alternative stations; how National Public Radio is too safe and tidy; how I wish the micro-radio advocates would hurry up and take over.

My tirades have tapered off lately due to the weekly public radio offering "This American Life." In its fifth season, this hour-long show explores a theme—"Be Careful Who You Pretend to Be," "Edge of Sanity," "I Enjoy Being a Girl, Sometimes," to name a few—through essay, interview, and story.

I’ve become an evangelist for this show. It has usurped my dead mother’s place in my small-talk repertoire. My introduction came a little over a year ago when a friend called and told me to turn my radio on—now. Producer Ira Glass and contributing editor Sarah Vowell were detailing the former’s attempt to teach the latter how to drive. Through recorded conversations and after-the-fact commentary, they recounted her transformation from bus rider to car driver. The subject matter grabbed me immediately. I don’t drive. What’s more, friends—former and present—have tried to teach me to drive. So when Vowell drove off the cemetery road to get out of the way of an approaching vehicle, I yelled at my housemates, "It’s me!"

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