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This American Life

Official free, weekly podcast of the award-winning radio show "This American Life." First-person stories and short fiction pieces that are touching, funny, and surprising. Hosted by Ira Glass, from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. In mp3 and updated Mondays.

Episodes

Podcast: This American Life: #604: 20 Years Later

Samantha Broun talks to cops, politicians, inmates, and family closest to the crime that changed policy 20 years ago for inmates serving life sentences in Pennsylvania. It's a crime Samantha knows well, because it happened to her mom. This story was produced by Samantha Broun and Jay Allison for Transom, and won the Silver Award in the 2016 Third Coast / Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Competition. TW: Violence, sexual assault.
posted by ellieBOA on Dec 13, 2016 at 4:41 AM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #599: Seriously?

Watching lies become the truth in this year's election. And a few people who try to bridge the gap between the way the two sides see the facts. Featuring Leslie Odom, Junior, singing a song commissioned by TAL, written by Sara Bareilles, imagining what Obama is thinking about Trump.
posted by ellieBOA on Oct 28, 2016 at 10:46 PM - 1 comment

Podcast: This American Life: #593: Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee

We return to Greece with stories of people trying to move on with their lives in whatever way they can. We meet a couple who fell in love even though they weren't expecting anything like that to happen, and even though her family didn't approve. We also meet a shopkeeper in a camp who's running what amounts to a cigarette charity. INTERACTIVE TOUR [more inside]
posted by jenfullmoon on Aug 8, 2016 at 12:26 PM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #591: Get Your Money's Worth

Stories of people trying to make sure they get what they paid for, from political change to bedroom slippers. We follow a donor as he vets presidential candidates, and go inside a company wrestling with the consequences of its "no questions asked," lifetime return policy.
posted by ellieBOA on Jul 22, 2016 at 11:43 PM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #589: Tell Me I'm Fat

The way people talk about being fat is shifting. With one-third of Americans classified as overweight, and another third as obese, and almost none of us losing weight and keeping it off, maybe it's time to rethink the way we see being fat. A show inspired by Lindy West's book Shrill.
posted by misfish on Jun 20, 2016 at 6:59 PM - 19 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #581: Anatomy of Doubt

This week, a story about doubt: how it germinated, spread, and eventually took hold of an entire community, with terrible consequences. A collaboration with The Marshall Project and ProPublica.
posted by jenfullmoon on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:18 AM - 12 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #580: That's One Way to Do It

Forget the easy way. This week, stories about people who come up with very innovative...and unusual...solutions to their problems. Including the story of a young voter who defies political categorization.
posted by jenfullmoon on Feb 22, 2016 at 9:39 AM - 13 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #539: The Leap

Most of us go from day to day just coasting on the status quo. If it ain't broke, why fix it, right? But when routines just get too mundane or systems stop making sense, sometimes you just have to hold your breath...and jump. This week, stories of people who leap from their lives, their comfort zones...even through time.
posted by wonton endangerment on Nov 26, 2015 at 9:01 PM - 5 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #571: The Heart Wants What It Wants

When Jesse first started getting letters from Pamala, he couldn't believe his luck. He'd been waiting all his life to fall in love—and then he started getting these letters from the perfect woman. Vulnerable. In need of protection. Classic beauty. He was totally devoted. They corresponded for years. And when something happens that really should change how he feels about her— he just can't give it up.
posted by ellieBOA on Nov 3, 2015 at 11:37 PM - 7 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #570: The Night In Question

Twenty years ago, the prime minister of Israel was assassinated. The killer was a lone gunman, Israeli and Jewish, just like the prime minister. Lots of witnesses saw it happen; the assassin confessed immediately, that night, and has never recanted. But today, oddly, lots of people don't believe it happened that way. And a question hangs over the country: did this act change the fate of the nation?
posted by ellieBOA on Oct 25, 2015 at 12:51 PM - 3 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #569: Put a Bow on It

This week we go into the room at the headquarters of fast food chain Hardee's with the people who decided that this burger with beef, hot dogs, and chips is what America should be eating. We'll hear the story of how they sold that burger and other instances where how you tell the story is more important than the literal facts.
posted by ellieBOA on Oct 25, 2015 at 12:50 PM - 1 comment

Podcast: This American Life: #567: What's Going On In There?

Often we see someone's situation from the outside and think we know exactly what's going on. This week This American Life gets inside and find out just how much more interesting the reality of it is, including a teenaged girl who records a remarkable story about the boyfriend who abuses her, and why it's so hard to break up with him. (trigger warning for depictions of domestic abuse)
posted by lunch on Sep 20, 2015 at 6:04 PM - 9 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #566: The Land of Make Believe

A father constructs an elaborate fantasy to occupy his 12 children, and a woman finds herself sucked into a world of make believe that we almost never get to see inside. [more inside]
posted by Gin and Broadband on Sep 15, 2015 at 1:15 PM - 8 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #563: The Problem We All Live With - Part Two

Last week we looked at a school district integrating by accident. This week: a city going all out to integrate its schools. Plus, a girl who comes up with her own one-woman integration plan.
posted by lunch on Aug 9, 2015 at 7:50 PM - 6 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #562: The Problem We All Live With

Right now, all sorts of people are trying to rethink and reinvent education, to get poor minority kids performing as well as white kids. But there's one thing nobody tries anymore, despite lots of evidence that it works: desegregation. Nikole Hannah-Jones looks at a district that, not long ago, accidentally launched a desegregation program. First of a two-part series. [more inside]
posted by damayanti on Aug 3, 2015 at 9:13 AM - 13 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #560: Abdi and the Golden Ticket

For July 4th, a story about someone who's desperately trying – against long odds – to make it to the United States and become an American. Abdi is a Somali refugee living in Kenya and gets the luckiest break of his life: he wins a lottery that puts him on a short list for a U.S. visa. This is his ticket out. But before he can cash in his golden ticket, the police start raiding his neighborhood, targeting refugees.
posted by jenfullmoon on Jul 6, 2015 at 9:43 AM - 8 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #558: Game Face

Blair Braverman was a dog musher on an Alaskan glacier. One day the weather turned rough, and she and a pack of tourists were stuck. The worst part? They had to pretend like nothing was wrong. This and other stories of people facing very difficult situations who put their game face on and muscle through. And, we hear from people whose faces betray them and prominently display all their anxiety.
posted by wonton endangerment on Jun 2, 2015 at 10:34 AM - 2 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #467: Americans in China

It used to be that the American expats in China were the big shots. They had the money, the status, the know-how. But that's changed. What's it like to be an American living in China now? And what do they understand about China that we don't?
posted by wonton endangerment on May 25, 2015 at 12:18 PM - 0 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #557: Birds & Bees

Some information is so big and so complicated that it seems impossible to talk to kids about. This week, stories about the vague and not-so-vague ways to teach children about race, death and sex - including a story about colleges responding to sexual assault by trying to teach students how to ask for consent. Also, a story about how and when to teach kids about the horrors of slavery and oppression in America.
posted by wonton endangerment on May 18, 2015 at 12:03 AM - 5 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #556: Same Bed, Different Dreams

Stories of people who are tied together, but imagine radically different futures. In one case, a movie star and her ex-husband plot against Kim Jong-Il. In another, a woman stalks her doppleganger. And sometimes, one bed is the basis for an entire relationship, even for a man who almost never sees the person who shares his bed.
posted by wonton endangerment on May 9, 2015 at 11:57 AM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #555: The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind

We tend to give credit to those who stand by their beliefs. But sometimes it requires even more courage to change them. This week, stories of people reconsidering how they really feel about their enemies, their homes, and themselves. We also talk to a girl named Zalena, who finds herself in a pretty unexpected place.
posted by Gin and Broadband on Apr 29, 2015 at 12:44 PM - 6 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #554: Not It!

Stories of people, cities, and commonwealths touching their noses and proclaiming "not it!" Including the story of how one city used a rocking chair to take retribution against a late night TV show host, and an island that takes people it doesn't want to deal with and ships them away.
posted by latkes on Apr 15, 2015 at 8:42 AM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #552: Need To Know Basis

Even when you're not trying to get one over on someone, it can be useful to keep the truth to yourself. Or conversely, to not know why people are lying to your face all the time. This week we'll tell you the whole truth about not telling the whole truth. Including the story of a guy who learned to lie for the first time in his life at age 29.
posted by ellieBOA on Mar 31, 2015 at 4:00 AM - 7 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #551: Good Guys 2015

Yes fellas, lots of you think of yourselves as good guys. But what does it really take to be a good guy? We have stories of valiant men attempting to do good in challenging and not-so-challenging circumstances: in department stores, public buses, and at the bottom of a cave 900 feet underground.
posted by ellieBOA on Mar 25, 2015 at 8:44 AM - 9 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #550: Three Miles

There's a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country's poorest congressional district. The other is private and costs $43,000/year. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can't get over the divide. We hear what happens when you get to see the other side and it looks a lot better. (Beeped version) [more inside]
posted by jenfullmoon on Mar 16, 2015 at 10:59 AM - 13 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #549: Amateur Hour

This week, stories of people who are in put into positions they're completely unqualified to handle ... but who try to make it work anyway. Including one story of a tough group of soldiers who attempt to save lives through the power of show tunes. [more inside]
posted by ALongDecember on Mar 2, 2015 at 10:56 AM - 8 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #547: Cops See It Differently, Part One

There are so many cops who look at the killing of Eric Garner or Mike Brown and say race didn't play a factor. And there are tons of black people who say that's insane. There's a division between people who distrust the police — even fear them — and people who see cops as a force for good. Stories of people living on both sides of that divide, and people trying to bridge it.
posted by bq on Feb 9, 2015 at 9:25 AM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #546: Burroughs 101

This American Life host Ira Glass was never into William Burroughs. Didn't get why people love his writing so much. Then he heard this radio story that changed all that, partly because it wasn't very reverential about Burroughs. For Burroughs 101st birthday, we hear that story. [more inside]
posted by jazon on Feb 3, 2015 at 9:48 AM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #545: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS

The Internet is the one place where it's safe to say whatever you want — nobody will know it's you. But the same protections that make commenters invulnerable are what make the Internet scary — even downright dangerous — for the commented upon. In this week's show: what happens when the Internet turns on you?
posted by tjgrathwell on Jan 25, 2015 at 8:48 PM - 20 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #544: Batman

The Invisibilia preview roadshow continues! Can other people's expectations of you alter what you can do physically? Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller of NPR's new radio show and podcast Invisibilia investigate that question – specifically, they look into something that sounds impossible: if people's expectations can change whether a blind man can see. [more inside]
posted by jazon on Jan 12, 2015 at 2:19 PM - 7 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #543: Wake Up Now

As New Year's approaches and people are contemplating things they want to change about themselves, we have stories of people trying to wake themselves up, shake up their own lives, or wake up others. Including the story of a company – or maybe it's a movement – called WakeUpNow. [more inside]
posted by jazon on Dec 29, 2014 at 12:13 PM - 10 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #482: Lights, Camera, Christmas!

This holiday season we bring you a show filled with stories of people going to great lengths to throw a special Christmas for their families. Including tales of Luna the guinea pig (pictured), Bambi the reindeer, and Jeko the super-powerful (and somewhat-scary) Christmas elf. [more inside]
posted by ocherdraco on Dec 22, 2014 at 7:05 AM - 4 comments

Podcast: This American Life: #542: Wait - Do You Have The Map?

Stories about people feeling lost and trying to figure out how to move ahead: two brothers take a doomed road trip through through Mexico and a couple from radically different backgrounds draw up a contract for their unlikely romance.
posted by ocherdraco on Dec 16, 2014 at 2:10 PM - 6 comments

Podcast: This American Life: Episode 541: Regrets, I've Had a Few

Every day we make mistakes, and most of the time we just ignore these failings and move forward. But every so often, there is one that makes us pause and take notice. This week, people struggling with those regrets — big and small — that take root and have to be dealt with.
posted by jazon on Dec 8, 2014 at 5:38 AM - 16 comments