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This American Life

English, Literature, 1 seasons, 57 episodes, 2 days 10 hours 11 minutes
About
This American Life is a weekly public radio show, heard by 2.2 million people on more than 500 stations. Another 2.5 million people download the weekly podcast. It is hosted by Ira Glass, produced in collaboration with Chicago Public Media, delivered to stations by PRX The Public Radio Exchange, and has won all of the major broadcasting awards.
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653: Crime Scene

Every crime scene hides a story. In this week's show, we hear about crime scenes and the stories they tell. Medical Examiner D.J. Drakovic, in Pontiac Michigan, explains how every crime scene is like a novel. (5 minutes)Act One: Reporter Nancy Updike spends two days with Neal Smither, who cleans up crime scenes for a living, and comes away wanting to open his Los Angeles franchise, despite the gore — or maybe because of it. (12 minutes)Act Two: Actor Matt Malloy reads a short story by Aimee Bender, from her book “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt," about what can be and cannot be recovered from a crime scene, or from anywhere. (12 minutes)Act Three: Sometimes criminals return to the scene of their misdeeds — to try to make things right, to try to undo the past. Katie Davis reports on her neighbor Bobby, who returned to the scene where he robbed people and conned people. This time, he came to coach little league. (22 minutes)Transcrip
18/02/20241 hour 16 seconds
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823: The Question Trap

An investigation of when and why people ask loaded questions that are a proxy for something else. Prologue: Host Ira Glass talks with producer Tobin Low about the question he got asked after he and his boyfriend moved in together, and what he thinks people were really asking. (4 minutes)Act One: “What do you think about Beyoncé?” and other questions that are asked a lot, raised by people on first dates. (12 minutes)Act Two: When a common, seemingly innocuous question goes wildly off the rails. (13 minutes)Act Three: Why are people asking me if my mother recognizes me, when it’s totally beside the point? (14 minutes)Act Four: Schools ask their students the strangest essay questions sometimes. The experience of tutoring anxious teenagers through how to answer them requires a balladier, singing his lived experience to a crowd as though it were the Middle Ages. (10 minutes)Transcripts are available at <a href="https://www.this
04/02/202457 minutes 30 seconds
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822: The Words to Say It

What it means to have words—and to lose them. Prologue: Sometimes we don’t want to say what’s going on because putting it into words would make it real. At other times, words don’t seem to capture the weight of what we want to say. Susanna Fogel talks about her friend Margaret Riley, who died earlier this week. (6 minutes)Act One: The story of a woman from Gaza City who ran out of words. Seventy-two days into the war, Youmna stopped talking. (27 minutes)Act Two: For years there was a word that Val’s mother did not want to use. Val sets out to figure out why. (22 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
28/01/202458 minutes 1 second
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821: Embrace the Suck

People finding themselves in situations that are worse than they thought and deciding to really go with it. Prologue: A Boston woman takes her dog for a walk and suddenly finds herself in a terrible situation she never anticipated. The strange thing is, it helps her. (9 minutes)Act One: Two college friends try to stop Donald Trump’s primary season momentum by convincing New Hampshire voters to vote against everything they care about. Producer Zoe Chace follows along. (22 minutes)Act Two: When producer Ike Sriskandarajah tries to sleep-train his baby, a neighbor decides to call the police. Later, Ike thinks, "I can work with that." (9 minutes)Act Three: A story by producer Boen Wang about how to get through a summer of bad days. (9 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
21/01/202458 minutes 50 seconds
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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, we get inside and find out just how much more interesting the reality of it is. A mysterious tunnel is found in a forest in Toronto. Public speculation is all over the place and totally wrong. Nick Kohler tells Ira the story behind the tunnel. (10 minutes)Act One: A teenager reports what it is like to be inside an abusive relationship with an older man. (29 minutes)Act Two: Larry speaks English. His dad speaks Chinese. They grew up in the same house but Larry could never speak to his dad. After 20 years, with the help of filmmaker Bianca Giaever, he and his dad have their first conversation. (16 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
14/01/202459 minutes 31 seconds
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205: Plan B

There's the thing you plan to do, and then there's the thing you end up doing. Ira summarizes the results of an informal poll of about a hundred people, about whether they were living their Plan A or Plan B and recounts a moment from a short story by author Ron Carlson. (2 minutes)Act One: John Hodgman first encountered Cuervo Man on a press junket to Cuervo Nation, a small island owned by Jose Cuervo Tequila. Cuervo Man was wearing nothing but a Speedo, wraparound shades, and a red cape. Occasionally he’d stick a toilet plunger on his bald head. John was fascinated and eventually got to know Cuervo Man, whose real name was Ryan. Though the Cuervo act was Ryan’s Plan B, it had a special power that John couldn't help but envy. (19 minutes)Act Two: Starlee Kine was becoming friends with a woman named Robin when they started to encounter an obstacle, a common obstacle people run into when the become friends as adults. So Robin invented a Plan B to solve th
07/01/20241 hour 3 seconds
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241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

Instead of the usual "each week we choose a theme, and bring you 3 or 4 stories on that theme" business, we throw all that away and bring you 20 stories—yes, 20—in 60 minutes. Ira Glass introduces the idea of doing 20 stories in one hour.Act One: Contributor Starlee Kine talks to actor Tate Donovan about the day he felt he was being exactly the kind of celebrity he'd wanted to be: when suddenly, he was approached by a kid with a camera.Act Two: Writer and producer Scott Carrier recognizes a woman he sees in a restaurant.Act Three: Susan Drury talks about "Swap and Shop," a local radio classifieds show that has become a low-tech, personable sort of Ebay.Act Four: From Patty Martin: a one minute, four second vacation on Nantucket Island, involving a lot of waving.Act Five: From Vicki Merrick, Eric Kipp, and Jay Allison at Transom: scallops on Martha's Vineyard.Act Six: From Blunt Youth Radio: a story of a possibly bad "
31/12/202359 minutes 10 seconds
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820: It Wouldn’t Be Make-Believe If You’d Believe In Me

A major political party in a major swing state bets on a new leader: a total political outsider. How does that work out for them? Prologue: In 2022, Michigan Republicans ran anti-establishment candidates who claimed the last presidential election was stolen. And they lost big. Now, the state party regroups and must decide whether to stay the course or moderate. (7 minutes)Act One: The Michigan GOP’s newly elected leader, Kristina Karamo, faces her first big test: Can she organize and pull off the state party’s fabled, expensive Mackinac Island conference as a political outsider – with no fundraising experience or establishment connections? (9 minutes)Act Two: Two young Michigan GOP vice chairs are totally on board with Kristina Karamo’s take on politics and hate the establishment like her. So why do they feel iced out by her? (15 minutes)Act Three: At the start of the year, Warren Carpenter was a Kristina Karamo supporter; helped her get electe
24/12/20231 hour 2 minutes 22 seconds
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819: Special Bonus Podcast — Yousef’s Week

One of our producers, Chana Joffe-Walt, had a series of conversations with a man in Gaza over the course of one week. They're so immediate – and particular to this moment in the war in Gaza – that we're bringing them to you now, outside of our regular schedule. Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
22/12/202342 minutes 42 seconds
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818: Stand Clear of the Closing Doors

In the last year and a half, New York City has scrambled to try and provide shelter and services to over 150,000 migrants. We take a look at how that’s going. Prologue: In the middle of the night, host Ira Glass meets a woman on a mission at Port Authority Bus Station. (13 minutes)Act One: Producer Valerie Kipnis follows a group of people who’ve just arrived at their new home, a tent shelter in the middle of nowhere. (11 minutes)Act Two: Producer Diane Wu talks to an asylum seeker trying to hustle his way through bureaucratic limbo. (11 minutes)Act Three: Host Ira Glass meets some of the city’s newest arrivals in every New Yorker’s least favorite place. (9 minutes)Act Four: Three girls, whose families traveled thousands of miles to get to New York, navigate their latest challenge: American middle school. (11 minutes)Act 5: One woman needs to find shelter for 27 young men in a matter of hours. (15 minutes)Transcrip
17/12/20231 hour 17 minutes 47 seconds
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786: It's a Game Show!

Something we’ve never done before: true stories told in the form of a game show. Prologue: Jiayang Fan has this theory that because she's spent so much time thinking about her own accent when she speaks English, she believes that when she hears other Chinese-Americans speak, she can tell how old they were when they immigrated to the U.S. (7 minutes)Act One: We test Jiayang Fan’s self-proclaimed special skill by having her listen to three Chinese-Americans speak, and then guss when they came to the U.S. (20 minutes)Act Two: Is it possible for the U.S. to reach the goals set by the Paris Agreement? What steps would we have to take to cut emissions by 50% by 2030? We challenge climate researcher Melissa Lott to get us to that number. (11 minutes)Act Three: A game of telephone played on the podcast Normal Gossip reveals how gossip spreads, and why stories change from person to person. (15 minutes)Transcripts are available at <a href="h
10/12/20231 hour 5 minutes 10 seconds
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817: The Cavalry Is Not Coming

When you realize that help is not on the way, what do you do next? Prologue: Saddam Sayyaleh’s job right now is trying to get trucks filled with aid into Gaza and he knows it’s nowhere close to what’s actually needed. (10 minutes)Act One: Tim Reeves runs a hospital in rural Pennsylvania, and he’s trying to do something that is so hard to do and that he knows is completely up to him. (11 minutes)Act Two: One of our producers, Nadia Reiman, talked to officials who work in the asylum and refugee branches at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They gave her a window into the immigration system under President Biden that you don’t usually get. (32 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
03/12/202359 minutes 38 seconds
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816: Poultry Slam

During the highest turkey consumption period of the year, we bring you a This American Life tradition: stories of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, fowl of all kinds—real and imagined—and their mysterious hold over us. Prologue: Ira Glass talks with Scharlette Holdman, who works with defense teams on high profile death row cases, and who has not talked to a reporter in more than 25 years. Why did she suddenly end the moratorium on press? Because her story is about something important: namely, a beautiful chicken. (2 minutes)Act One: Scharlette Holdman's story continues, in which she and the rest of a legal defense team try to save a man on death row by finding a star witness — a chicken with a specific skill. (10 minutes)Act Two: Yet another testimony to the power chickens have over our hearts and minds.  Jack Hitt reports on an opera about Chicken Little.  It's performed with dressed-up styrofoam balls, it's sung in Italian and, no kidding, able to make
26/11/202357 minutes 50 seconds
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815: How I Learned to Shave

Things our dads taught us, whether they intended to or not. Prologue: Ira talks about the time his dad taught him to shave, and how unusual that was. (5 minutes)Act One: When Jackie read the obits for the man who had invented the famous Trapper Keeper notebook, she was very surprised. As far as she knew, the inventor was very much alive. It was her dad. Not the guy in the obit. (15 minutes)Act Two: A father and son find themselves in a very traditional relationship. Until the end. (21 minutes)Act Three: Simon Rich reads his short story "History Report," in which a father explains the sex robots of the future. And other things as well. (14 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
19/11/20231 hour 27 seconds
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814: 814: Parents Are People

What happens when you realize the people in charge don’t have the answers. Prologue: Guest Host Chana Joffe-Walt asks her kids when they first encountered adult fallibility. (8 minutes)Act One: A middle schooler really wants to trust the adults have her best interests in mind. But some of the most powerful people at her school begin to make that very difficult. (27 minutes)Postscript: In Israel and Gaza, children are directly facing the fact that the adults around them cannot protect them. (4 minutes)Act Two: Comedian Gary Gulman on a choice his dad made for him when he was seven years old. (11 minutes)Act Three: There are many kids who do not gradually discover that grown ups don’t have a handle on everything.  These kids already know. Miriam Toews’s novel, “Fight Night,” is about a nine-year-old named Swiv who takes care of her grandma and manages her mom’s mental health struggles. Even simple tasks can become complicated, like takin
12/11/20231 hour 3 minutes 14 seconds
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813: Is That What I Look Like?

You've been seeing yourself, getting to know what you look like, your whole life. So why does it often take an outsider to see things about you that are obvious, and set you straight? Prologue: Guest host Nancy Updike talks about learning something new, and unpleasant, about herself in, where else, a makeup store. She also talks with other people about moments where someone made an observation about them that was shocking. (8 minutes)Act One: Writer Domingo Martinez tells a story from his memoir, "The Boy Kings of Texas," about when he was forced to face how he might look in 20 years if he kept doing what he was doing. (12 minutes)Act Two: A man has a very clear vision of how he always stood up to his father, protected his mother and fought hard for the truth. Until one day he discovers actual raw data — secretly recorded conversations — that threaten to change his picture of everything. (12 minutes)Act Three: Nancy hears from Producer Ben Calh
05/11/202356 minutes 56 seconds
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319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement

For the lead up to Halloween, scary stories that are all true. Zombie raccoons, haunted houses—real haunted houses!—and things that go "EEEEK!!!" in the night. Plus, a story by David Sedaris in which he walks among the dead. Ira and Albert Donnay read a true ghost story that appeared in a medical journal in 1921. A "Mrs. H" and her family moved into an old rambling house and strange apparitions started appearing, until her brother-in-law figured out the real cause of the ghostly presences. (6 minutes)Act One: Some of the scariest stories happen when fluffy, innocent creatures turn murderously evil. Producer Alex Blumberg tells one such story, about a raccoon gone bad. (13 minutes)Act Two: Writer Bill Eville and his brother are picked up on the side of the road late at night, and not taken to their destination. (10 minutes)Act Three: We set up a special 800-number for listeners to call with their true-life scary stories. More than 500 people cal
29/10/202358 minutes 10 seconds
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812: The Bear at the End of the Tunnel

People who have a good, long time to think about what they’re doing, look hard at what’s ahead of them, and decide to keep moving forward anyway. Prologue: Brothers Wes and Jeff spent a winter tagging black bears in Bryce Canyon National Park. One of the bears they needed to tag decided to hibernate at the end of an usually long tunnel. Wes and Jeff try to figure out their next move. (5  minutes)Act One: The story of Wes and Jeff venturing into the bear den continues. (11 minutes)Act 2: Miki Meek reports on the situation for pregnant women in Idaho under the state’s new, post-Roe abortion laws, which are some of the most restrictive in the country. OB-GYNs say the state is in a crisis. Miki also talks to Idaho legislators who voted for the laws, some of whom now think there should be some changes to the laws. (42 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
22/10/20231 hour 3 minutes 50 seconds
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477: Getting Away With It

People breaking the rules fully, completely, and with no bad consequences. Some justify this by saying they’re doing it for others, or for a greater good. Some really don’t care. And, unlike the mealy weaklings you usually hear on this program: none of these wrongdoers seem regretful about what they’ve done. Ira takes a flight with travel writer Ken Hegan, to witness Ken deploying a travel gadget that keeps the seat in front of him from reclining. This means more knee space for Ken — but does he get away with it, really? (6 minutes)Act One: A boy rides shotgun in a memorable car ride with his mother, and in the process learns how his father earns money for their family. This story appears in Domingo Martinez’s memoir, The Boy Kings of Texas, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. (17 min)Act Two: We asked listeners to call in with their stories of getting away with it, and got nearly 1000 messages. Here are a handful. (6 minutes)Act
15/10/202359 minutes 49 seconds
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751: Audience of One

We bring the movies to you. Prologue: Host Ira Glass revisits the one movie he’s seen more than any other, about an ocean liner that gets hit by a tsunami and flips over. (9 minutes)Act One: Our producer, Diane Wu, spent most of her life thinking she doesn’t have a unique and personal take on The Sound of Music. She is wrong. (13 minutes)Act Two: To cope with the COVID pandemic, producer Sean Cole finds himself turning to a movie about a pandemic. But the virus in this movie isn’t like any you’ve ever heard of. (19 minutes)Act Three: Comedian Will Weldon’s ex-wife made a movie loosely based on their marriage. Producer Elna Baker watches the film with Will as he revisits his break-up. (15 minutes)Act Four: Jaime Amor does yoga storytelling for kids at Cosmic Kids Yoga and on YouTube. We ask her to try taking on a film for grownups. (7 minutes)Transcripts are available at <a href="https://www.thisamericanlife.org/751/transcr
08/10/20231 hour 11 minutes 44 seconds
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811: The One Place I Can’t Go

Spots we’re avoiding in our private maps of the world. Prologue: Guest host Bim Adewunmi talks to her cousin Kamyl about a funny thing Kamyl did when she was small, regarding a dog named Foxy. (4 minutes)Act One: Comedian Atsuko Okatsuka moved suddenly from Japan to the U.S. when she was eight years old, and has long joked that it was because her grandmother kidnapped her from her dad. But she'd never talked to anyone in her family about what had actually happened. (31 minutes)Act Two: Producer Emmanuel Dzotsi has a tale about something he avoids at all costs… even though it seems to follow him everywhere he goes. (8 minutes)Act Three: Writer Tamsyn Muir spent her childhood craving a world that she could not find on earth. So as an adult, she just created it. And it was perfect. Until she became the one person who couldn't go there. (12 minutes)Transcripts are available at t
01/10/20231 hour 16 seconds
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779: Ends of the Earth

An exploration of the very upper limits of what you do for someone you love. Prologue: Host Ira Glass explains what we’re doing on today’s show. (2 minutes)Act One: Amy Bloom tells the story of her husband, Brian, getting Alzheimer's and wanting assisted suicide. Her search to find a way to do that led her to Dignitas, in Switzerland. Hear this intimate and frank account of the experience they go through, excerpted from her book, IN LOVE. (39 minutes)Act Two: Comedian Zarna Garg tells jokes onstage about the extreme ways she tries to control her daughter Zoya’s life. Zoya explains, they’re not really jokes.  Ira Glass talks to both of them about it. (15 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
24/09/20231 hour 6 minutes 25 seconds
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810: Say It to My Face

Friends and ex-friends finally talk about the one thing between them they've been avoiding. Prologue: Host Ira Glass tells a story he’s never told anyone before, about something someone said to him. (4 minutes)Act One: Gabe Mollica had something important he needed to discuss with his friend  — stewed about it for eight years. But rather than go to that friend, he talked about it with everyone other than that one person. (28 minutes)Act Two: Jasmine and Gabbie are best friends. BFFs! But there’s something major that they’ve never been able to talk about. Something so important that it makes them wonder, who does this person even think I am? (23 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
17/09/20231 hour 3 minutes 25 seconds
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809: The Call

One call to a very unusual hotline, and everything that followed. Prologue: Ira talks about a priest who set up what may have been the first hotline in the United States. It was just him, answering a phone, trying to help strangers who called. (2 minutes)Act One: The Never Use Alone hotline was set up so that drug users can call if they are say, using heroin by themselves. Someone will stay on the line with them in case they overdose. We hear the recording of one call, from a woman named Kimber. (13 minutes)Act Two: An EMT learns he was connected to the call, in more ways than he realized. (16 minutes)Act Three: Jessie, who took the call, explains how she discovered the hotline. She keeps in touch with Kimber. Until one day, Kimber disappears. (16 minutes)Act Four: We learn what happened to Kimber after she called the line. (10 minutes)Transcripts are available at t
10/09/20231 hour 1 minute 58 seconds
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388: Rest Stop

Nine radio reporters. Two days. One rest stop on the New York State Thruway. Stories of people who are just passing through, and the ones who can’t leave, because this is where their jobs are. Act One: Host Ira Glass describes scenes from a rest stop on the New York State Thruway, the Plattekill Travel Plaza, and the kind of people you might meet if you ever stayed long enough to talk with them. These include Robert Woodhill, the general manager, who needs a good sales day so he can beat his friend Andy, who manages a rest stop in Maine, in their weekly competition. Ira hangs out with a group of foreign students who’ve landed in Plattekill on a summer work program, and reporter Lisa Pollak gets travel tips from Lenny Wheat, who works at the rest stop’s information booth. Reporter Jonathan Goldstein spends a few hours in the rest stop parking lot. (30 minutes)Act Two: More stories of travelers and workers at a highway rest stop. The competition between Plattekill
03/09/20231 hour 20 seconds
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323: The Super

The mysterious hold supers have on their buildings, or that their buildings have on them. Host Ira Glass visits the Upper East Side building in Manhattan where Peter Roach has been the super for about ten years. Peter has a lot of keys. He doesn't know what most of them unlock. (4 minutes)Act One: Reporter Jack Hitt tells the story of how he helped organize tenants and threaten a rent strike in a New York City building back in the 1980s. Before long, Bob, the building super became his enemy. The situation got pretty ugly. Mobster ugly. Bob began to brag about how important he was in his native Brazil, how he could kill a person and be immune from prosecution. Only many years later did Jack find out how dangerous Bob really was. (23 minutes)Act Two: The super in Josh Bearman's Los Angeles building was kind of a needy character. He would sometimes ask Josh to come into his apartment and help him out -- check whether his garbage was being moved by a ghost,
27/08/20231 hour 30 seconds
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808: The Rest of the Story

Legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey had a popular show called “The Rest of the Story.” Today on our show, we do just that. We hear from people who, whether they want to or not, find themselves face-to-face with the rest of their stories. Prologue: Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey had one of the most popular radio shows of all time. For 35 years he served up big twists and  jaw dropping reveals all with his one-of-a-kind delivery. (7 minutes)Act One: Psychiatry used to be all talk. Then came a patient named Ray Osheroff. Producer Chris Benderev tells us what became of the man who changed therapy. (26 minutes)Act Two: Contributor Samuel James thought he knew what happened to his mother. But he was wrong. Then he was wrong again. (9 minutes)Act Three: A new resident in Berlin is greeted like a minor celebrity wherever she goes. The perks are nice, but does she really want to know why? Producer Bim Adewunmi has the rest of the story. (14 minut
20/08/20231 hour 3 minutes 24 seconds
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714: Day at the Beach

It’s the last few weeks of summer, so we’re going to the beach! This week, stories from the surf and sand. Prologue: Host Ira Glass reflects on his feelings about going to the beach. (3 minutes)Act One: Producer Dana Chivvis explores the case of a 66-year-old working lifeguard who is suing New York State for age discrimination after refusing to wear a Speedo on the job. (15 minutes)Act Two: Alex Blumberg talks to Shane Dubow about a time decades ago, when Shane went sea kayaking and camping with his friends on the beach in Baja California, Mexico. When Shane’s neck stiffens up on him, he finds himself looking for an unlikely chiropractor, in the middle of nowhere. (11 minutes)Act Three: This clip is from what Ira calls “the beachiest show” public radio ever made. It’s a segment from NPR’s 1970’s show, Ocean Hour. In it we hear from a man who lives on the beach, literally. He explains how it provides him everything he needs to survive. You can h
13/08/20231 hour 4 minutes 40 seconds
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807: Eight Fights

Nadia's family is split between Russia and Ukraine, which is pretty common. And when Russia invaded Ukraine, it didn’t just start fighting on the battlefield. It sparked family conflict, too. An intimate story of the war from writer Masha Gessen.  Prologue: An extended family, and eight fights. (1 minutes)Fight #1: Luka’s parents – Nadia and Karen – try to figure out where to take him once war breaks out. (6 minutes)Fight #2: Nadia and Karen have been arguing over Russian-ness since they needed to pick a school for Luka. (10 minutes)Fights #3 and #4: Nadia remembers the times that Luka’s father would suggest going to Crimea for vacation, as if it wasn’t Ukrainian land occupied by Russia. And she remembers a present that Karen once gave Luka––the sort which had to be smuggled into the country. (6 minutes)Fight #5: Nadia tells the story of her father, Alex, who lives near Bucha, and how differently he and she view the Russian atrocities 
06/08/20231 hour 24 seconds
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806: I Can't Quit You, Baby

People  on the verge of a big change, not wanting to let go. And the people who give them the final push. Prologue: Guest Host Sean Cole gets some scary news about his health, and decides to quit smoking. (5 minutes)Act One: Sean Cole attempts to kick his 35 year-long smoking habit, using a book that’s said to have helped millions of people to quit. (33 minutes)Act Two: Someone writes into the advice column Dear Sugar to ask whether or not they should quit a relationship, and gets a strange but very persuasive response. (9 minutes)Act Three: Even people who vehemently disagreed with Heider Garcia wanted him to stay in his job. But then something happened that made staying impossible. Zoe Chace reports. (9 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
30/07/20231 hour 1 minute 49 seconds
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199: House on Loon Lake

The true story of an abandoned house, discovered by a young boy in the 1970s, and the mysterious family who disappeared without a trace. Ira introduces this week's story. (1 minute)Act One: Adam Beckman tells the first part of his story, about how, back in the 70s, he and his friends broke into an abandoned  house in the small town of  Freedom, New Hampshire. The home turned out to be a perfect time capsule, containing the furniture, letters and personal effects of an entire family — abandoned for decades. It seemed like the family just vanished one day, leaving salt and pepper shakers on the table, notes on the bedroom mirror, and a wallet with money still inside. Adam and his friends read the letters, saving some as clues, and never forgot. (30 minutes.)Act Two: Adam Beckman continues his story. He returns to the town in New Hampshire where he discovered the abandoned house as a kid and tries to find out what happened there. It turns out he's not the 
23/07/202359 minutes 51 seconds
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805: The Florida Experiment

Governor Ron DeSantis is running for president on the argument that he'll do for America what he's done for Florida. So what's it like in Florida? Prologue: Florida is now the fastest growing state, and DeSantis says people are moving there from all over because of him. We speak to people who did make the move, at least in part, for DeSantis’s policies. (6  minutes)Act One: Among the big items in DeSantis's run for president is medical freedom. Producer Zoe Chace wanted to understand its appeal and its growing popularity. So she spent some time in Sarasota County, where one man — at the side of former Trump appointee Mike Flynn — is creating a sort of little parallel universe for this very thing. (33 minutes)Act Two: DeSantis has passed law after law about what can and can’t be taught in Florida classrooms, starting as early as elementary school. And last spring, Florida Republicans introduced a bill initially proposing to ban things like critical race
16/07/20231 hour 15 minutes 26 seconds
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165: Americans in Paris

Many Americans have dreamy and romantic ideas about Paris, notions which probably trace back to the 1920s vision of Paris created by the expatriate Americans there. But what's it actually like in Paris if you're an American, without rose-colored glasses? Host Ira Glass talks with writer David Sedaris at the Louvre in Paris. David's never set foot inside, though he lives just a few minutes away. He says most people go to the Louvre because they think they should. Where he would take them if they wanted to see the city where he's lived for two years is very different. (6 minutes)Act One: David Sedaris takes Ira on a tour of his favorite spots in Paris. He moved to France with no special feelings for the place. His head wasn't full of Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein and Sartre and Proust; he was a blank slate. And so the places he's found as his favorites tend to be places where the people aren't mean to him when he speaks French, or places where very unusual a
09/07/202359 minutes 55 seconds
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804: The Retrievals

At a Yale fertility clinic, dozens of women began their I.V.F. cycles full of expectation and hope. Then a surgical procedure caused them excruciating pain. In the hours that followed, some of the women called the clinic to report their pain — but most of the staff members who fielded the patients’ reports did not know the real reason for the pain, which was that a nurse at the clinic was stealing fentanyl and replacing it with saline. What happened at that clinic? What are the stories we tell about women's pain and what happens when we minimize or dismiss it? The Retrievals, a new five-part series from Serial Productions, is hosted and reported by longtime This American Life producer and editor Susan Burton. We're excited to bring you the first episode today. Prologue: Ira Glass introduces the first episode of a new podcast from longtime This American Life producer and editor Susan Burton. (1 minute)Act One: Susan Burton introduces some of the many women who w
02/07/202359 minutes 42 seconds
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803: Greetings, People Of Earth

Humans encounter non-human intelligences of various kinds and try to make sense of them. Prologue: Ira has some thoughts about our country’s long history of alien invasion movies. (2 minutes)Act One: In this past year we’ve witnessed a revolution in A.I. since the public rollout of ChatGPT.  Our Senior Editor David Kestenbaum thinks that even though there’s been a ton of coverage, there’s one thing people haven’t talked much about: have these machines gotten to the point that they’re starting to have something like human intelligence? Where they actually understand language and concepts, and can reason? He talks with scientists at Microsoft who’ve been trying to figure that out. (30 minutes)Act Two: A short piece of fiction from the perspective of aliens who’ve been scouting Earth, from writer Terry Bisson. It’s called “They're Made Out of Meat.” It’s performed by actors Maeve Higgins and H Jon Benjamin. (5 minutes)Act Three: A species of massi
25/06/20231 hour 3 minutes 13 seconds
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802: Father's Day

Ira's own father, Barry Glass, co-hosts this special Father's Day show. Prologue: Ira talks with his father and co-host for this show, Barry Glass, about his own early days working in radio. (3 minutes)Act One: LA writer/performer Sandra Tsing Loh discovers that a local rock band has recorded a song about her own father, wildly misinterpreting who he is. They think he’s a free spirit; she believes he’s a worried, miserly grump. She invites the band and her father into the studio to discuss it. (10 minutes)Act Two: Ian Brown explains the lengths a normal dad will go to give his daughter a memorable birthday party, including a birthday stunt so crass that he and his wife shocked all of their friends. (12 minutes)Act Three: Audio artist Jay Allison and writer Dan Robb present an audio montage on the moment Robb’s parents divorced. (11 minutes)Act Four: Chicago playwright Beau O’Reilly talks about how he reconciled with his estranged fathe
18/06/202359 minutes 38 seconds
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801: Must Be Rats on the Brain

The one animal we can’t seem to live without, even when we really, really want to. Prologue: At this spring’s announcement of New York City’s inaugural rat czar, we meet Darneice Foster, who despises the rats outside her apartment. And host Ira Glass introduces two special co-hosts for today’s show. (11 minutes)Act One: Producer Elna Baker meets Todd Sklar, a man who can’t quit rats. (22 minutes)Act Two: Fifty years ago, New York City started to put garbage out in plastic bags. This has become the number one food source for rats. Producer Ike Sriskandarajah investigates the decision that led to the city’s rat baby boom. (10 minutes)Act Three: How did Alberta Canada pull off a feat that has eluded the rest of human civilization? Ira visits the largest rat-less land in the world. (15 minutes)Act Four: We drop a hot mic into a hot mess of a rats’ nest. You’ll never believe what happens next. (3 minutes)Transcripts are availab
11/06/20231 hour 9 minutes 46 seconds
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692: The Show of Delights

In these dark, combative times, we attempt the most radical counterprogramming we could imagine: a show made up entirely of stories about delight. Prologue: Ira Glass talks to Bim Adewunmi about her understanding of delight through American pop culture and the summer she spent in the US as a 19-year-old. Ira then hands the show over to Bim as guest host. (10 minutes)Act One: Bim talks to poet Ross Gay, whose book inspired today’s show, about the discipline and rigor of seeking and holding onto delight. (8 minutes)Act Two: Producer Robyn Semien captures a special morning for her five-year-old son, Cole, who is doing something delightful for the very first time: he’s getting to ride the school bus. (4 minutes)Act Three: Producer Miki Meek speaks to Noriko Meek, her 72-year-old mother, about discovering delight late in life. (8 minutes)Act Four: Producer Dana Chivvis follows the night zookeeper at the Denver Zoo as she doles out snacks an
04/06/20231 hour 4 minutes 14 seconds
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800: Jane Doe

Five years after the #MeToo explosion, what’s happened in the lives of the women who stepped forward and went public with their stories? We tell the story of a teenager who spoke out against one of the most powerful people in her state, and what happened next. Prologue: Some powerful and well known men lost their jobs after #MeToo. But what about the women at the center of all this who’ve been way less visible after they told what happened to them? We hear about big and small ways the aftermath of coming forward continues to pop up in their daily lives. (10 minutes)Act One: Back in 2021, a 19-year-old intern at the Idaho state legislature reported that a state Representative named Aaron von Ehlinger raped her. She went by the name Jane Doe. There was a public ethics hearing and Ehlinger resigned. State legislators talked about how proud they were of their ability to do the right thing so quickly. But the story that the public knows is very different from what ac
28/05/20231 hour 15 minutes 37 seconds
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508: Superpowers

We answer the following questions about superpowers: Can superheroes be real people? (No.) Can real people become superheroes? (Maybe.) And which is better: flight or invisibility? (Depends who you ask.)  Host Ira Glass talks to comic artist Chris Ware, who thought about superheroes a lot of the time as a kid. He invented his own character and made a superhero costume, which he wore to school under his regular clothes. Which went fine until he realized he would have to change for gym class. (6 minutes)Act One: John Hodgman conducts an informal survey in which he asks the age-old question: Which is better: The power of flight or the power of invisibility? (14 minutes)Act Two: Kelly McEvers with the story of Zora, a self-made superhero. From the time she was five years old, Zora had recurring dreams in which she was a 6'5" warrior queen, who could fly and shoot lightning from her hands. She made a list, pages and pages long, of all the things she could ac
21/05/202359 minutes 19 seconds
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799: The Lives of Others

Looping thoughts about people you barely know, or don't know at all.  Prologue: We get a tip that an entire town is consumed by a huge, elementary-school-style crush on a local veterinarian. Guest host Lilly Sullivan goes to Utah to investigate the mystery of the hot vet. (8 minutes)Act One: We do the thing the people in town would rather die than do – spill the crush to the legendary Dr. Artz himself. Lilly Sullivan reports. (8 minutes)Act Two: Producer Alix Spiegel talks to one of her closest friends, Sarah Blust, about the time Sarah met a stranger who, unbeknownst to her, had already spent years thinking about her. (29 minutes)Act Three: There are certain jobs where thinking about someone else’s life is just built into it. Aviva DeKornfeld has a theory that petsitting is a job like that. She talks to a couple of pet sitters to find out. (14 minutes)Transcripts are available at <a href="https://www.thisamericanlife.org/799/trans
14/05/20230
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798: Leaving the Fold

A week after Jerry Springer’s death, we go back to a story we first broadcast years ago, about a side of Springer most people don’t know and can’t imagine: his years as an idealistic politician in the mold of Bobby Kennedy. Plus other stories of people who try to leave some moment in their life behind, which can be hard. Prologue: Ira explains the premise of this week’s show, where most of the stories were first broadcast in 2004.Act One: Alex Blumberg tells the true story of Jerry Springer's life before he was a talk show host.Act Two: Ira talks with Shalom Auslander, who was raised as an Orthodox Jew and who made a pivotal break with his faith at a Rangers game. Shalom Auslander is the author of several books, including Foreskin's Lament where he tells this story, and his latest Mother for Dinner.Act Three: The journalist E. Jean Carroll is in court this week with her rape case against Donald Trump.Transcripts are available at <a
07/05/20231 hour 3 minutes 17 seconds
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352: The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar

In 1912 a four-year-old boy named Bobby Dunbar went missing in a swamp in Louisiana. Eight months later, he was found in the hands of a wandering handyman in Mississippi. In 2004, Bobby Dunbar's granddaughter discovered a secret beneath the legend of her grandfather's kidnapping, a secret whose revelation would divide her own family, bring redemption to another, and become the answer to a third family's century-old prayer. 
30/04/20231 hour 6 seconds
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797: What I Was Thinking As We Were Sinking

It's funny the things that go through your head during a disaster.
23/04/20231 hour 2 minutes 59 seconds
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796: What Lies Beneath

Summoning up stuff that’s usually hidden down deep.
16/04/20231 hour 2 minutes 5 seconds
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795: Nine Months Later

It’s been nine months since Roe v. Wade was overturned. We talk to people who wanted abortions right when the laws were changing in their states. They had to wait for appointments, for money to travel or abortion pills. And during that waiting, a lot of interesting things happened. We see how much life has changed, nine months later.
09/04/20231 hour 3 minutes 7 seconds
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765: Off Course

Three people, and one animal, who know the path their lives will take until, suddenly, they don’t.
02/04/20231 hour 6 minutes 19 seconds
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794: So Close and Yet So Far

People ​so close to each other, ​in ​extremely intimate situations​,​ who are also a million miles apart.
26/03/20231 hour 3 minutes 43 seconds
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654: The Feather Heist

A flute player breaks into a British museum and makes off with a million dollars worth of dead birds. 
19/03/20231 hour 5 minutes 11 seconds
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793: The Problem with Ghosts

The ghosts that visit us, the ghosts that never do, and the ghosts that walk among us.
12/03/20231 hour 3 minutes 18 seconds
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792: When to Leave

People staring down that hardest of questions: Is now the time? To leave?
05/03/20231 hour 1 minute 50 seconds
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791: Math or Magic?

When it comes to finding love, there seems to be two schools of thought on the best way to go about it. One says, wait for that lightning-strike magic. The other says, make a calculation and choose the best option available. Who has it right?
12/02/202356 minutes 34 seconds
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790: You're It

Sometimes you raise your hand. Other times you’re just the only one left.
29/01/202359 minutes 50 seconds
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789: The Runaround

People being dodged, delayed, and evaded—and what they do to put an end to it.
22/01/20231 hour 3 minutes 2 seconds
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788: Half-Baked Stories About My Dead Mom

Writer Etgar Keret tries to come up with the stories that capture his late mother, Orna Keret—but it’s hard, he says, because she’s like Maria in West Side Story and she’s also like Thanos from the Avengers. He ends up with a series of very short stories — most just a few paragraphs long — that give glimpses of different sides of her. 
08/01/20231 hour 1 minute 51 seconds
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774: The Pink House at the Center of the World

The Supreme Court case that overturned Roe v. Wade began with a lawsuit filed by a Mississippi abortion clinic. On the day Roe was overturned, we were there. Stories from the center of this moment of history, the day it happened.
04/07/20221 hour 10 minutes 57 seconds
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666: The Theme That Shall Not Be Named

Satan! In his many surprising manifestations, all around us. Prologue: Host Ira Glass plays recordings from the Satanic Prayer Line, and speaks to the line’s creator, Chris Allert. (8 1/2 minutes)Act One: New Yorker staff writer Kelefa Sanneh tells the story of exorcist Bob Larson’s trip into the world of heavy metal. (20 minutes)Act Two: Religion professor Elaine Pagels explains the roots and evolution of Satan in religious texts. She is the author of "The Origin of Satan." (9 minutes)Act Three: Writer Gary Shteyngart presents a fictional diary of two Russian men — and a story of the special malevolence that can grow from an intimate situation. A portion of the story is read by actor Josh Gad. Gary Shteyngart’s most recent book is "Lake Success.” (18 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
04/07/20221 hour 4 minutes 56 seconds