Best of '16: Ira Glass, Bessie Stringfield, & 10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Donald Hall

Dec 29, 2016

The New Year is just a few days away, but before you pop the champagne, take a moment to reflect. All this week we’re reflecting on some of our favorite conversations and stories of 2016, and we're wrapping it up with a bang.

He's built a storytelling empire on radio, podcasts, television and film.  But...can he dance?

We'll revisit my conversation with Ira Glass about his stage show "Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host" .

Plus, a surprisingly touching story about urinary incontinence. And the little known story of Bessie Stringfield, an African American woman who crossed the country eight times during the 1930s and 40s, on a motorcycle.

All this week, we're revisiting some of the team's favorite segments from the past year. Read some of the reasons why they were chosen below. 

Ira Glass

"This has to be one of my favorite interviews of the year, it was with radio legend Ira Glass, I was actually engineering this interview and had an opportunity to talk to Ira before Virginia interviewed him and I was so nervous, he’s just one of the greats, and immediately, even just testing his line, he was just an absolute delight." - Maureen

For the past twenty years, Ira Glass has captivated audiences with his radio show This American Life, which just won its 6th Peabody Award. For those in public media and beyond, Glass is a trailblazer icon credited with breathing new life into audio storytelling. He's done television, videos, movies, even had a cameo on The Simpsons…but can he dance?

You can be the judge this Saturday (4/30) when he brings his live show "Three Acts, Two Dancers, One Radio Host" to the Music Hall in Portsmouth.

Listen to this segment again at this link.

10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Donald Hall

"Each one [of the authors interviewed for the 10-Minute Writer’s Workshop] emphasized process over product. Which is funny because in radio, we’re always thinking about the product, the end goal. We begin with our ideas and experience and creativity and gather sound and edit with a mind to illuminating and intriguing our audience. So that’s why talking with Donald Hall, the former US Poet Laureate, really stands out for me, because it was the process, it was the experience of making, more than the product." - Virginia    

Donald Hall is now 87 and no longer writing poetry, a pursuit he calls "a young man's game" which takes "too much testosterone." But Hall, former Poet Laureate of both New Hampshire and the United States, long ago cemented his place in literary history. In this episode of the 10-Minute Writer's Workshop, Virginia and Sara traveled to Hall's home in Wilmot, NH, to speak to him - getting lost along the way, and, ultimately, finding themselves right at home.

You can listen to this full episode again here: 10-Minute Writer's Workshop: Donald Hall

Peeing in Your Pants

"This is a science story, it’s a medical story, it’s very personal, but I think it’s also really relatable to a lot of people. So it’s maybe a little weird to talk about on public radio, but hey, some things are weird but deserve to be talked about, this is one of those things." -Taylor

It's not an easy topic to discuss, but some studies suggest that one out of every ten women in their 30s suffer from urinary incontinence. Others say those numbers could be much higher, which makes sense, because wetting your pants as an adult is...embarassing, and few people want to talk about it. Producer Lauren Whaley decided it was time to open up about this growing problem and look into the treatments and technologies that are designed to help.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org.   

Bessie Stringfield

"This has a lot of my favorite things, all at once. Joel Christian Gill is a great guest, I love history segments, I love weird history segments, I love under appreciated womens history segments, and this has everything I could want." -Molly

Credit Joel Christian Gill

Joel Christian Gill is the chairman, CEO, president, director of development, majority and minority stock holder, manager, co-manager, regional manager, assistant to the regional manager,  receptionist, senior black correspondent and janitor of Strange Fruit Comics. He’s also Chair of Foundations at the NH Institute of Art

Listen to this story again, learn more about Bessie Stringfield, and see some of Joel's artwork here.