It was nearly 20 years ago that Ira Glass, a Chicago public radio host, launched a unique radio show with a magazine format, in which various stories (or “acts”) with an interconnected theme were provided by reporters, storytellers, commentators, and the like. In honor of the occasion, Flavorwire has (with great difficulty and discussion) selected the show’s 15 best episodes to date. They’ll probably be 15 completely different ones tomorrow.)’s holiday episodes are always wonderful, from the annual “Poultry Slams” for Thanksgiving to the scary storytelling of their Halloween shows to the frequently heartbreaking Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day editions.And from the show’s early days, it has served as a showcase for the talents of the two Davids, Sedaris and Rakoff.Both of those elements come together in this early episode, which features a full performance of Sedaris’s wonderful “Santaland Diaries” (which Glass had recorded, in a much shorter version, for NPR before ’s inception) as well as Rakoff’s uproarious “Christmas Freud” story.
Like the radio program, the series is hosted by Ira Glass. The TAL staff had already attempted to move their program to television once before in 1999.
Even though two different networks offered to screen a pilot, the TAL staff ultimately decided that it would be too difficult to make a television show that reflected its already successful weekly radio show.
In 2002 Showtime offered to shoot a pilot, to which the TAL staff eventually agreed.
In 2007 the first episode, "Reality Check", aired on television.
When the staff was asked why the show moved to a commercial television station, Showtime, instead of public television (i.e.
PBS), it responded that Showtime invited them to do a television show while PBS did not.
In 2007, the series won two Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Nonfiction Series and Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming.
It was also nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming and Outstanding Editing for Nonfiction Programming.
In 2008, the series was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming, Outstanding Directing for Nonfiction Programming, and Outstanding Writing for Nonfiction Programming.
Season one of the series was released on DVD exclusively to Borders bookstores in April 2008.
On May 19, 2008, Showtime announced the release would "go wide" to other retailers on September 23, 2008.