Chicago Stories and Tips

Confessions of an NPR Groupie

WBEZ Photo, Chicago, Illinois

I am a National Public Radio groupie.

No, I don’t travel with the band, (gee, they have a band??) and I’ve never waylaid an on-air personality. I am, however, someone who has all the radios tuned to various NPR stations. I can distinguish between the voice of Tom Magliozzi and his brother Ray on Car Talk. I can tune in mid-segment and identify Susan Stamburg in three syllables. I know the voices of Ira Glass, Sara Vowell, and David Sedaris as well, if not better, than members of my own family. I am hooked.

A while ago I read an article about Ira Glass, host of the weekly show "This American Life, " which is produced by WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station. The article said that WBEZ had its studios on Navy Pier. I vowed to look for said studios the next time I was in Chicago.

You can imagine my delight when I found the small sign, past the Billy Goat Tavern, pointing to WBEZ.

I pondered my next move. Figuring that I have been thrown out of worse places than this, I pushed through the glass doors and announced, "I am part of the public in National Public Radio, and I’m from out of town." The young lady behind the desk said, "Oh. Would you like a tour?"

A young staffer showed me around the station, and shared some of WBEZ’s history with me. She pointed out the studio where Ira Glass tapes "This American Life," and let me peek into the office of Peter Sagel, host of "Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me." For an NPR addict, it was a great tour.

If you decide to visit WBEZ, look for the sculpture along the Pier that has the WBEZ call sign. The studio is just inside.

A Friskycelery Tip
Ira Glass tapes his show "This American Life" on Friday evenings at 7 pm. On occasion, members of the public are allowed into the studio to watch the taping.

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