Ira Glass began his career in public radio as an intern at National Public Radio's network headquarters in Washington in 1978. He was 19 years old. Since then, he has worked on nearly every NPR network news program and done virtually every production job in NPR's Washington headquarters. He has been a tape cutter, newscast writer, desk assistant, editor and producer. He has filled in as host of "Talk of the Nation" and "Weekend All Things Considered."
From 1989 until 1995, Glass was a reporter in NPR's Chicago Bureau. For two years, he covered Chicago school reform for "All Things Considered," with two unusual series of reports. The first followed Taft High School for an entire school year. The second followed Washington Irving Elementary for a year. School restructuring at Taft went poorly; at Irving it went well.
In 1988, Glass was named as one of a handful of Young Journalists of the Year by the Livingston Foundation. In 1991, he and John Matisonn, NPR's South Africa correspondent, were honored by the National Association of Black Journalists for their four-part series comparing race relations in South Africa with those in the United States.
During the 1992 presidential campaign, he travelled with the Clinton campaign, and in January 1993, he anchored NPR's live broadcast of the Clinton inauguration.
From 1990 until 1995, he co-hosted a weekly, local program on Chicago Public Radio called "The Wild Room," a show that defies easy description.