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date: 15 July 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Over the past seventeen years This American Life has functioned, in part, as an investigation into, and representation and construction of an American voice. Alongside David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, Mike Birbiglia, and the panoply of other odd timbres on the show, Glass’s delivery, pitch, and tone have irked and attracted listeners. Yet what began as a voice on the margins of public radio has become a kind of exemplum for what new radio journalism in the United States sounds like. How did this happen? What can this voice and the other voices on the show tell us about contemporary US audio and radio culture? Can we hear the typicality of that American voice as representative of broader cultural shifts across the arts? And how might author Daniel Alarcón’s Radio Ambulante, which he describes as “This American Life, but in Spanish, and transnational,” alter the status of these American voices, possibly hearing how voices travel across borders to knit together an auditory culture that expands the notion of the American voice?

Keywords: BBC, David Sedaris, Ira Glass, nasal, National Public Radio, radio, Radio Ambulante, received pronunciation, Sarah Vowell, This American Life

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