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An Open Letter to Ira Glass

Dear Ira,

I'm sure you get plenty of letters and emails from people with show ideas for This American Life. And I'm sure you've got a team of people finding the themes and stories that get more people to download your podcast than just about any other on the web.

Everyone who listens to This American Life has their personal list of favorites - I'm no exception. To me, 24 Hours at the Golden Apple, Rest Stop, and Scenes from a Mall are all brilliant. These shows bring to life the people you see every day, and sometimes wonder: who are these people? What is their story?

I often ask these questions in my head when I ride public transportation. Surely, as a resident of Chicago and New York City, you've had moments where you watched people moving into and out of subway trains and thought: who are these people and where are they going.

(from Flickr user Runs With Scissors)

Putting together a '24 hours on the subway' could easily surpass the Golden Apple. Position your people on trains in New York or Chicago. Talk to people. Find out not only who they are, but where they're going, and why. So much research on public transportation focuses on the stations where people get on and off. Few ever step back and ask why they're going there.

This is a theme that I think can produce some fantastic stories; and doesn't seem to be an area yet explored by the show. I trust if there is anyone who can pull it off and do it well, you can.



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