There are some people who make you feel smarter just by association. That's why the thousands of people who listen each week to Ira Glass hosting "This American Life" often immediately run off and do "The New York Times" crossword puzzle blindfolded or find a Mensa member to shame in a story problem showdown. Besides boosting our intellectual self-esteem, Glass also exudes likability by being exactly like every smart boy best friend we ever had in high school, the ones who would stay home with us on Saturday nights watching reruns of "The Prisoner" or stand in line with us every time another movie with robots or aliens or preferably both opened.
Glass created "This American Life" in 1995 and has hosted it ever since, including its new-ish incarnation as a TV series on Showtime. For those who have never heard it, "This American Life" is a slice of storytelling bliss. Centered on a different theme each week, the hour-long show features spellbinding true and fictional tales that never, ever fail to grab your attention from beginning to end. Sometimes the stories are funny, sometimes they're odd, sometimes they're sad but they are always of extraordinary quality.
And just imagine, without Glass, the world might have been deprived of David Sedaris. Is that a world we want want to live in? I think not.
Aside from his fine geeky radio voice and the fact that he can rock a pair of spectacles like nobody's business - a trademark of fine nerds everywhere -- Glass is certifiably brainy, having earned a degree in semiotics (yes, I had to look the word up) from Brown University, which is one of those schools with the ivy all over it. Further nerd cred is earned with the fact that he has worked in public radio for 30 years, which is the human equivalent of going to college 400 times. Over the years, he worked as a reporter and host on all the public radio giants including "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition" and "Talk of the Nation."
If you've not seen or heard Glass yourself, here's a taste of his endearingly amiable and laid-back style as he talks with David Letterman about wives, chickens and angry public radio fans:
So, for being a likeable brainiac who enriches our lives with unforgettable stories each and every week and also on Showtime when we can sneak free cable from our neighbors, The Park Bench is pleased to name Ira Glass as its June Nerd Man of the Month.