This American Life

This American Life

By This American Life

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.

Episodes

713: Made to Be Broken

From the moment we wake up in the morning there are a trillion rules — big and little — governing our lives. But sometimes, we encounter one we just can't abide by. In a pitched moment of rule-questioning, a show about rules and the people who break them. 
09/08/2059m 51s

712: Nice White Parents

Years ago, producer Chana Joffe-Walt started reporting on one school in New York. She thought the story was about segregation and inequality in public schools. But the more she looked into it, the more she realized she was witnessing something else. She was seeing the inordinate power of white parents at this school. This is the first episode of Chana’s new mini-series: Nice White Parents. 
02/08/201h 5m

443: Amusement Park

This week, we celebrate pre-coronavirus summertime fun: at amusement parks! Ira Glass takes us behind the scenes at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, where the young staff – coached by a funny, fun-loving boss just a little older than they are – truly seem to love their jobs.  
26/07/201h 0m

711: How to Be Alone

In space, in the ocean, by ourselves, or with others—we’re all just figuring out how to be apart.
19/07/201h 6m

710: Umbrellas Down

As China's new national security law tightens its control over Hong Kong, we return to our episode about last fall's anti-government protests and check in to see how people are responding.
12/07/201h 13m

513: 129 Cars

We spend a month at a Jeep dealership on Long Island as they try to make their monthly sales goal: 129 cars. If they make it, they'll get a huge bonus from the manufacturer, possibly as high as $85,000 — enough to put them in the black for the month. If they don't make it, it'll be the second month in a row. So they pull out all the stops.
05/07/201h 15m

709: The Reprieve

Michigan has passed its Covid-19 peak, and the state has started opening up. But it’s still been intensely difficult for the staff in the ICU at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. We've embedded with them over the past few months, and tracked how this pandemic has changed them and their city.
28/06/201h 18m

684: Burn It Down

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, people everywhere are demanding that police departments change not just their rules, but the culture inside that leads to these deaths. But those things are notoriously hard to change. As a case study, here's the story of a fire department that gets a new boss who starts a war with his own firefighters, to change their macho, racist culture. They fight back hard.
21/06/201h 2m

708: Here, Again

An exhaustingly familiar story. Maybe it’ll have a different ending this time, but maybe not. We hear what different people said and did one weekend in reaction to the killing of George Floyd.
14/06/201h 5m

707: We Are in the Future

In this moment of sorrow, protest, and rage in the wake of George Floyd’s death, we offer this as a break from the dreadful present: our show about Afrofuturism. It’s a way of looking at Black culture that’s fantastic and hopeful, which feels especially urgent during a time without a lot of optimism. Featuring the song "The Deep" by clppng.
07/06/201h 1m

706: A Mess to Be Reckoned With

Lissa Yellow Bird searches for missing people. Cold cases, mostly. People no one else is looking for. It’s not her job, but a lot of Native Americans go missing and their cases remain unsolved, so families often ask Lissa for help. But then, Lissa’s own niece goes missing. 
31/05/201h 5m

705: Time Out

While sports of all kinds have been put on pause, we bring you favorite stories from back when people were still on football fields, boxing rings, and basketball courts.
24/05/201h 4m

704: Our Pulitzer-Winning Episode

Last week, our episode "The Out Crowd" won the very first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded to a radio show. This is the episode that won, with some updates on the stories. Hear what the Trump administration’s "Remain in Mexico" policy actually means, on the ground, at the Mexican border.
17/05/201h 8m

703: Stuck!

During a time when a lot of us feel like we are living in a holding pattern, stories of people feeling stuck.
10/05/201h 0m

186: Prom

While the seniors danced at Prom Night 2001 in Hoisington, Kansas—a town of about 3,000—a tornado hit the town, destroying about a third of it. When they emerged from the dance, they discovered what had happened, and in the weeks that followed, they tried to explain to themselves why the tornado hit where it did. Plus other stories that happen on Prom Night.
03/05/2059m 40s

702: One Last Thing Before I Go

Words can seem so puny and ineffective sometimes. On this show, we have stories in which ordinary people make last ditch efforts to get through to their loved ones, using a combination of small talk and not-so-small talk.
26/04/201h 4m

701: Black Box

Desperate to know what happened to his family, a man obsessively decodes the only information about them he can get. That, and other stories of people looking into the void for answers.
19/04/201h 3m

700: Embiggening

Sometimes a sketch of a thing needs filling in for its true significance to be known.
12/04/201h 4m

699: Fiasco!

Stories of when things go wrong. Really wrong. When you leave the normal realm of human error, fumble, mishap, and mistake and enter the territory of really huge breakdowns. Fiascos. Things go so awry that normal social order collapses.
05/04/201h 0m

698: The Test

The coronavirus has now fully arrived in the United States. This week, stories of people trying to rise to that challenge, in some pretty extreme situations.
29/03/201h 1m

697: Alone Together

This week, as the staff creates the episode from their apartments and houses, with our host in quarantine, in this moment when everyone’s reaching out to the people they love, we put together a collection of family stories, with some timely stuff at the top.
22/03/201h 1m

696: Low Hum of Menace

Things do not seem fine at all, but it’s hard to say why.
15/03/201h 4m

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 we teach children about race, death, and sex.
08/03/201h 5m

695: Everyone's a Critic

People squirming in a world where everything is rated and reviewed.
01/03/201h 0m

646: The Secret of My Death

Cryptic messages on a cell phone and a teeter totter at a construction site: these are clues people found, trying to make sense of a death.
23/02/201h 5m

694: Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

People looking everywhere to find a place—any place—where, for once, they don't have to be the odd man out.
16/02/201h 4m

693: Abdi the American

We return to our story about Abdi Nor from 2015, with some big news about his life today. When we first broadcast the story, Abdi was a Somali refugee living in Kenya desperately trying – against long odds – to get to the United States. Then he got the luckiest break of his life: he won a lottery that puts him on a short list for a U.S. visa. But before he could cash in his golden ticket, the police started raiding his neighborhood, targeting refugees.
09/02/201h 4m

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.
02/02/201h 4m

640: Five Women

As Harvey Weinstein goes to trial, we have a different kind of #MeToo story about several women who worked for the same man. They tell us not only about their troubling encounters with him, but also about their lives beforehand. Who were they when they entered the workplace, and how did their personal histories shape the way they dealt with his harassment?
26/01/201h 22m

654: The Feather Heist

A flute player breaks into a British museum and makes off with a million dollars worth of dead birds. 
19/01/201h 5m

691: Gardens of Branching Paths

Stories of other universes that are just like our own, but with one small difference.
12/01/201h 6m

667: Wartime Radio

Intimate and personal dispatches from two very different battlefields: A small town in the Syrian war. And the U.S. opioid epidemic. Each came from a DIY radio outfit. (Okay, one’s a podcast.)
05/01/201h 6m

690: Too Close to Home

For the holidays, stories of families finally addressing the thorny thing they’ve never really talked about.
29/12/1959m 54s

576: Say Yes To Christmas

No Christmas can ever be as good as the ones you had as a kid. But this week we go all in and bring the joy, the spontaneity, the sense that anything can happen back to Christmas. 
22/12/191h 2m

323: The Super

Stories of the mysterious hold supers have on their buildings, or their buildings have on them.
15/12/191h 0m

689: Digging Up the Bones

There's a lot that can be gained from unearthing the past -- learning about oneself, learning about others. But, it doesn't always go how you'd expect.
08/12/1959m 47s

252: Poultry Slam 2003

During the weeks between Thanksgiving and New Year's - the highest turkey consumption period of the year - we bring you an annual This American Life tradition: stories of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, fowl of all kinds, real and imagined, and their mysterious hold over us. 
01/12/1959m 31s

291: Reunited (And It Feels So Good)

Stories about getting back together with your parent, your spouse, your ... Brahman bull. And how it never goes the way you think it's going to.
24/11/191h 0m

688: The Out Crowd

Reports from the frontlines of the Trump administration's "Remain in Mexico" asylum policy. We hear from asylum seekers waiting across the border in Mexico, in a makeshift refugee camp,  and from the officers who sent them there to wait in the first place. 
17/11/191h 7m

687: Small Things Considered

Stories about being little. Secret writings in tiny letters. The power of a very small number. And a medication that's supposed to cure shortness. 
10/11/191h 1m

239: Lost in America

Stories of people who are lost, histories that are lost, and things that are lost. This show was recorded onstage in front of audiences on a five-city tour in May 2003. The cities: Boston, Washington DC, Portland Oregon, Denver and Chicago. Featuring house band OK Go.
03/11/1959m 16s

319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement

For the week leading up to Halloween, scary stories that are all true. Kidnappings, 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.
27/10/1959m 8s

686: Umbrellas Up

For over 100 days now, protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets every weekend. What it’s like to live through that.
20/10/191h 14m

685: We Come From Small Places

The staff goes to one of the biggest parties in New York City, the Labor Day Carnival and the West Indian American Day Parade in Brooklyn.
13/10/191h 0m

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, the print version of the story was written by Ken Armstrong and T. Christian Miller.
06/10/191h 0m

683: Beer Summit

Two people, sitting down over a beer, hashing out their differences and understanding where the other guy is coming from. Hard to imagine these days, right? It's so rare right now that someone is curious enough to actually see the other person's point of view. This week on the show, beer summits. Including going behind the scenes of the most famous one ever.
22/09/191h 9m

477: Getting Away With It

Stories of 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 in the slightest.
15/09/1958m 46s

205: Plan B

There's the thing you plan to do, and then there's the thing you end up doing. Most of us start off our lives with some Plan A, which we abandon...switching to a Plan B, which becomes our life.
08/09/1959m 49s

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.
01/09/191h 0m

682: Ten Sessions

What if someone told you about a type of therapy that could help you work through unhealed trauma in just ten sessions? Some people knock through it in two weeks. Jaime Lowe tried the therapy—and recorded it.
25/08/191h 1m

681: Escape From the Lab

What happens when our most ingenious creations actually make it out into the world.
18/08/191h 1m

409: Held Hostage

Stories of people held captive — by criminals, by paperwork, and in one man's case, his own body — and the ways they try to cope.
11/08/1959m 8s

585: In Defense of Ignorance

Exactly how incompetent you are. What your ex’s best friend really thinks of you. The approximate time that you will die. Some things in life are better not to know about. And sometimes there can be a benefit to not knowing. In this episode — examples of ignorance truly being bliss, or even being an asset.
04/08/191h 2m

680: The Weight Of Words

Words mean things, but some words are especially meaningful — whether in a survival manual, a song lyric, or a slur.
28/07/191h 0m

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?
21/07/1958m 53s

679: Save the Girl

People go on missions to save young girls from danger. But sometimes they get so caught up in the mission that it overshadows the girl herself.
14/07/191h 1m

678: The Wannabes

This country is crawling in presidential candidates right now and they're bumping into each other in Des Moines and yelling over each other in Miami. We hang out with them, in this weird early period of the election when they're easy to walk right up to.
07/07/191h 9m

354: Mistakes Were Made

It’s the late 1960s, and a California TV repairman named Bob sees an opportunity to help people cheat death with the new science of cryonics. But freezing dead people isn’t easy. And apologizing for the mistakes you make along the way? Even harder.
30/06/1958m 31s

644: Random Acts of History

Stories about people who accidentally bump into unsettling facts of history in settings meant to teach them history. What they end up learning is very different from what they’re supposed to.
23/06/1958m 23s

677: Seeing Yourself In the Wild

Stories of those unexpected moments when we see who we really are.
16/06/191h 2m

647: LaDonna

A security guard at the airport notices something going wrong on the tarmac, and takes it upon herself to fix it. It’s way harder than she expects. 
09/06/191h 5m

676: Here’s Looking at You, Kid

Adults telling kids who they are, and kids wondering — are they right?
02/06/191h 1m

199: House on Loon Lake

A real-life Hardy Boys mystery. More than most of our shows, this one lends itself to a Hollywood-style tagline. Perhaps: "The House at Loon Lake: You Might Break In ... But You'll Never Forget." Or, "The House at Loon Lake: Dead Letters Tell No Tales." It's the true story of an abandoned house, discovered by a young boy in the 1970s, and the mystery of why it was abandoned.
26/05/1958m 41s

675: I’m on TV??

What it's like to be momentarily big on the small screen. 
19/05/191h 1m

674: Get a Spine!

Stories of people standing up for themselves, shaking off their fear, bracing themselves, and doing what they’ve been scared to do.
12/05/191h 5m

172: 24 Hours at the Golden Apple

We document one day in a Chicago diner called the Golden Apple, starting at 5 a.m. and going until 5 a.m. the next morning. We hear from the waitress who has worked the graveyard shift for over two decades, the regular customers who come every day, the couples working out their problems, assorted drunks, and, of course, cops.
05/05/1957m 6s

332: The Ten Commandments

Stories of people struggling to follow the Ten Commandments from the book of Exodus.
28/04/191h 0m

673: Left Behind

People figuring out how to move through a world in which something important has disappeared.
21/04/191h 5m

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.
14/04/191h 9m

672: No Fair!

Stories of very small injustices and also one very big one.
07/04/191h 4m

671: Anything Can Be Anything

People connecting the dots that maybe should not be connected.
31/03/191h 1m

616: I Am Not a Pirate

To be, or not to be a pirate? This week, that is the question. Hold fast, mateys! We have stories about both historical and modern-day swashbucklers who loot, pillage, and question their choices.
24/03/191h 8m

670: Beware the Jabberwock

Stories from the upside-down world where conspiracy theorists dwell.
17/03/191h 9m

317: Unconditional Love

Can love be taught? A family uses a controversial therapy to train their son to love them. And other stories about the hard and sometimes painful work of loving other people.
10/03/1959m 13s

669: Scrambling to Get Off the Ice

The Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee may have to fight to protect Mueller's investigation and make his report public. Now that they’re in the majority, they have new tools they can use. Our producer Zoe Chace spent weeks behind the scenes with them as they tried out their new powers for the first time. This and other stories of people scrambling to get their footing on some challenging terrain.
03/03/191h 2m

419: Petty Tyrant

In Schenectady, New York, a school maintenance man named Steve Raucci works his way up the ranks for 30 years, until finally he's in charge of the maintenance department. That's when he starts messing with his employees. Teasing them at meetings. Punishing them with crummy work assignments. Or worse things, like secretly slashing their tires in the middle of the night. Ten years after his arrest, Steve Raucci broke his silence and gave an interview to Paul Nelson at the Times Union in Albany.
24/02/191h 1m

668: The Long Fuse

People tossing words out into the world impulsively. And how they ignite and burn. Over decades.
17/02/191h 6m

486: Valentine’s Day

Love makes us do crazy things. But usually not this crazy. This week for Valentine's Day we have stories of people going to extremes to find and pursue their one true love.
10/02/191h 0m

638: Rom-Com

The one thing you know for sure when you're watching a romantic comedy is that it's going to turn out okay in the end. When you're living one? Not so much. This week, stories that unfold like rom-coms.
27/01/191h 2m

666: The Theme That Shall Not Be Named

Satan! In his many surprising manifestations, all around us.
20/01/191h 4m

665: Before Things Went to Hell

We revisit those moments of calm before the storm, when things could have gone very differently, but instead, they went to hell.
13/01/191h 3m

641: The Walls

Stories from border walls around the world, where one place ends and another begins. And the strange ecosystems that arise.
06/01/191h 14m

664: The Room of Requirement

Libraries aren't just for books. They're often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It's actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required. 
30/12/181h 0m

47: Christmas and Commerce

Stories about the intersection of Christmas and retail, originally broadcast in 1996 when our show was only one year old. Including David Sedaris's story "Santaland Diaries," which first aired on NPR's Morning Edition in a much shorter version.
23/12/1859m 57s

204: 81 Words

The story of how the American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness.
16/12/1859m 14s

663: How I Read It

Documents you don't normally think of, showing you things you didn't expect. 
09/12/181h 2m

479: Little War on the Prairie

Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen says, nobody ever talked about the most important historical event ever to happen there: in 1862, it was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged after a war with white settlers. John went back to Minnesota to figure out what really happened 150 years ago, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it much after.
02/12/181h 2m

492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Benjamin Gilmer gets a job at a rural clinic. He finds out he’s replaced someone — also named Dr. Gilmer — who went to prison after killing his own father. But the more Benjamin’s patients talk about the other Dr. Gilmer, the more confused he becomes. Everyone loved the old Dr. Gilmer. So Benjamin starts digging around, trying to understand how a good man can seemingly turn bad.
25/11/181h 4m

662: Where There Is a Will

Stories of people who believe there is always a way. And also those who don’t.
18/11/181h 3m

661: But That's What Happened

Stories of women in unsettling situations. When they try to explain what’s wrong, they’re told that they don’t understand—that there’s nothing unsettling about it.
11/11/181h 2m

660: Hoaxing Yourself

Stories of people who tell a lie and then believe the lie more than anyone else does. In other words: Stories about people pulling hoaxes...on themselves.
04/11/1858m 17s

351: Return to Childhood

Stories of people who try to revisit their childhoods—what they find and what they do not find.
28/10/1859m 39s

528: The Radio Drama Episode

Our most ambitious live show ever! We pulled together a massive team of theater pros at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Opera House—nearly 50 singers, actors, dancers and musicians. The result? Journalism turned into a Broadway musical (hear the cast album), into opera. Mike Birbiglia, Sasheer Zamata, Stephin Merritt, Josh Hamilton, Lindsay Mendez, Lin-Manuel Miranda and others. Watch a video of the live performance or download it for $5.
21/10/181h 27m

659: Before the Next One

There’s no rulebook on how to handle a school shooting. And no real way to prepare for one. This week, people take what they’ve learned from these tragedies and try to use that knowledge to save others.
14/10/18

658: The Unhappy Deciders

Making big decisions about other people's lives can feel pretty awful. Zoe Chace followed Senator Jeff Flake as he decided to force the Senate to delay its vote on Judge Kavanaugh. Among her discoveries: Those protestors in the elevator? They aren’t the reason he did what he did. 
07/10/18

657: The Runaways

A bunch of teenagers go missing from a town in Long Island. For months, the police treat them as runaways, ignoring the kids' parents, who keep trying to tell them otherwise. They keep trying to tell them that something much worse might have happened.
23/09/18

656: Let Me Count the Ways

Yes, youʼve heard about the family separations. Youʼve heard about the travel ban. But there are dozens of ways the Trump administration is cracking down on immigration across many agencies, sometimes in ways so small and technical it doesnʼt make headlines. This week, the quiet bureaucratic war that’s even targeting legal immigrants.
16/09/18

655: The Not-So-Great Unknown

What happens when unadventurous people end up in adventurous situations. Like an astronaut who goes to places no one has gone before, even though he’s not really into outer space.
26/08/18
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