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Ira Glass tells ‘What Say Ye?’ podcast about visiting Payson High School

By Court Mann & Derrick Clements, daily Herald - | Feb 17, 2017

Ira Glass, of “This American Life” fame, has visited Utah a bunch of times. His visit to Payson High School on Jan. 27, however, was a first.

Payson High is spotlighted on the next episode of “This American Life,” which premieres this weekend on public radio and online. The episode focuses on the topic of grand gestures — a subject that’s been familiar to Payson High’s students for decades now. As part of a larger tradition within the Utah and Idaho region, Payson High students ask each other to school dances in elaborate (and sometimes shocking) ways. Going big has become the standard, and that phenomenon is gradually spreading to high schools in other states.

With so many other schools in the Mountain West sharing the tradition, one might wonder why “This American Life” picked Payson. As it turns out, one of the show’s producers, Miki Meek, graduated from Payson High in the 1990s. These elaborate dance proposals may have been commonplace for her, but not for someone like Glass.

“Payson is very different than the high school I went to for sure,” Glass said in a recent phone interview with us. “Like, I grew up in suburban Baltimore, so my school was a lot more black people, and more like an aging factory than the … prairie kind of school that you get when you hit Colorado and head west. It looks so different.”

In the newest episode of the “What Say Ye?” podcast, we spoke with Payson High students, as well as Mr. Glass himself, about his recent visit, and what listeners can expect on the next “This American Life.”

Play the audio below to listen, or find “What Say Ye?” on SoundCloud and iTunes.

Derrick Clements and Court Mann

“What Say Ye?” Ep. 019: Ira Glass discusses visiting Payson High School for “This American Life”

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