John Nova Lomax: I'm on the Next Episode of This American Life
John Nova Lomax: Unlike the NPR segment being taped in this photo, his This American Life piece will air.
It was one of those things in life you just can't quite believe. A few weeks back, I received an e-mail from Robyn Semien telling me that This American Life was interested in a story I had submitted, and asking if I would be interested in being interviewed by Ira Glass for possible inclusion on their show.
I read it once, twice, three times. I even had a little trouble remembering that I had submitted a story to them at all -- I had done so way back in October or November of last year and forgot all about it after a month or so. But there was that e-mail, still there in my inbox.
And then I talked to Semien and set the date with Glass. Maybe it was real after all. Later that day, I did double-check and, yes, the e-mail was still there. Maybe it wasn't a dream, acid flashback or practical joke after all.
A couple of weeks ago, I rode my bike down to KPFT's studio for my chat with Glass. For about two years, I have been a huge fan. I listen to the podcast every week while riding my bike to work, and I took my wife Kelly Graml Lomax (who got me truly hooked on the show and encouraged me to submit my story) to see Glass at Jones Hall for her birthday last year.
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All of that made being interviewed by Glass seem like I had stepped into my own dreamland. His demeanor one-on-one is identical to his on-air and on-stage persona, which is to say it's not a persona at all: He is just an unassuming, endlessly curious and wryly hilarious guy with a singular gift for developing and appreciating narratives.
And yet once it was done, I was still nervous. What if I hadn't passed the test? What if the whole thing wound up in the ethery limbo of unaired digital recordings? My fears were not allayed when my segment did not air on the Father's Day episode of the show last week; I had been told that was one of two possibilities.
And they were only slightly mollified when Semien assured me it would air this weekend, as had been the original plan all along. And I just got word that it definitely is airing as the top segment on the "A House Divided" episode, airing here tomorrow at 11 a.m. on KUHF and Monday at 2 p.m. on KPFT.
As for what the story is about, well, you'll just have to tune in and listen. We'll give you one hint: It's something we wrote for the Houston Press between 2000 and last October.
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