Radio journalist Ira Glass creates balloon poodle on SXSW stage

Megan Hix and Katie Walsh

Fans of public radio personality Ira Glass will be surprised to learn that Glass, in addition to hosting the podcast “This American Life,” is also a talented balloon twister.

During the Q&A portion of his interview, Glass pulled a blue balloon from his coat pocket and formed it into a poodle, reminiscing about his days performing magic in middle school.

Tuesday morning Glass took the stage at the Austin Convention Center to discuss storytelling, entrepreneurialism in public radio and the changing landscape of technology.

Glass kicked off the interview by touching on the differences between his radio show and podcasts, saying podcasts are more like a “playground” where he can add additional interviews, clips of music or curse words that can’t be used on the radio.

“I love cursing, and some stories really benefit from it,” Glass said. “We did a story on car dealers in Long Island, the radio version is wonderful, but to hear them really curse — it just touches your heart.”

Glass said the success of “This American Life,” is partially because he paid close attention to the economics of the project.

“In the beginning of our show, we were not a sure bet,” Glass said. “The more off-center your mission, the more weird your mission, the more different than other people you are, the more cunning you have to be. And I was like ‘I’m going to fucking kill the business side.’”

While he compared the business of podcasts to cooking, requiring only “decent attention” to be successful, Glass said creative projects are less certain.

“Any kind of creative work is so frustrating,” Glass said. “Everything you make is just trying to be mediocre, and it’s only through an act of will that you prop up every part of it so it gets to be good.”

For those looking to break into podcasts, Glass recommended using the tools readily available and just making content.

“Don’t make anything you yourself wouldn’t consume,” Glass said. “I feel like that’s God’s law.”