He's a first cousin to composer Philip Glass. Fans of The Wire will appreciate that he was born in Baltimore and attended Milford Mill High School in Baltimore County. Today he is the voice of This American Life (TAL), a weekly hour-long radio program that he has served as producer and host since 1995. For more info on TAL, click here.
Put simply, the guy tells stories. He's been doing it a long time and has hundreds of thousands of listeners who come back for more every week, which suggests he has some skills.
Here is part one of a four-part video in which he talks about The Building Blocks of Story.
There are two basic building blocks to stories:
1. The anecdote. A sequence of actions; a story in its purest form; with a bit of bait. (Raise questions from the beginning. If you raise a question, it's implied that you're going to provide an answer along the way. That keeps people interested.)
2. The moment of reflection. What it all means. (You need to provide both for it all to come together and be larger than the sum of its parts.)
The picture on this video is a bit fuzzy, but the sound is clear.