This American Life

This American Life documents and describes contemporary America, but it is, quite literally, a special kind of radio storytelling. Built around the innovative personal vision of host Ira Glass, the program explores a weekly theme — fiascos, conventions, the job that takes over your life — through a playful mix of radio monologues, mini-documentaries, "found tape," short fiction, and unusual music.
Usually the program applies the tools of journalism to everyday life. But sometimes it tackles news stories, leading to some of its most distinctive and acclaimed shows. "This American Life" did an hour documenting life on an aircraft carrier that was flying missions over Afghanistan during the war there. It spent another hour with mercenary soldiers fighting in Iraq. One show followed school reform at a Chicago public school over a decade. Another was about the most successful informant in FBI history, and how he double-crossed his employer, Archer Daniels-Midland, and then the FBI.
The stories presented are engaging, intimate, surprising, funny, disturbing, bittersweet. Glass and his staff have an unusual knack for finding writers and performers whose work hasn't been heard on radio, and producing their stories alongside his own disarming commentary in a way that listeners praise as "riveting," "mesmerizing." Breakout stars from the show include David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell.

Schedule:

Saturday 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM on WUSF 89.7

Contact Info:

Contact the Show

Host:
Ira Glass

Ira Glass started working in public radio in 1978, when he was 19, as an intern at NPR's Washington headquarters. Over the course of the next 17 years, he worked on nearly every NPR news show and did nearly every production job they had: he was a tape-cutter, desk assistant, newscast writer, editor, producer, reporter, and substitute host. He spent a year in a high school for NPR, and a year in an elementary school, filing every week or two for All Things Considered. He moved to Chicago in 1989 and put This American Life on the air in November of 1995.

From This American Life

  • 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/2oyDjkw9m1U" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/xAOYq7z8nQc" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 402: Save the Day
    Stories about one person single-handedly taking charge of a situation gone wrong—including one man's mission to rescue two kids who were kidnapped by alleged murderers and taken to Mexico, and another about a professor's mission to keep the educators of a liberal arts college from extinction.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/07GGzRJ0Qk8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 504: How I Got Into College
    Students all over are starting college this month, and some of them still have a nagging question: what, exactly, got me in? An admissions officer tells us the most wrongheaded things applicants try. And Michael Lewis has the incredible story of how a stolen library book got one man — Emir Kamenica — into his dream school.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/O-DtJTqucz4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/UCbKhwpsYcE" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 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.) <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/HQ4iWAWofkE" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 654: The Feather Heist
    A flute player breaks into a British museum and makes off with a million dollars worth of dead birds. <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/Djry-zHroY8" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 653: Crime Scene
    Every crime scene hides a story. In this week's show, we hear about crime scenes and the stories they tell.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/Qvw3z3y5H_w" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 619: The Magic Show
    Just a few years before he got the internship at NPR that started him in radio, our host Ira Glass had another career. He performed magic at children's birthday parties. A powerful sense of embarrassment has prevented him from ever doing an episode on the subject, but when he learned that producer David Kestenbaum was also a kid conjurer, they decided to dive in together.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/uh7lp_nEQwI" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
  • 652: ICE Capades
    Dispatches from a government agency in its tumultuous teenage years. <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/Ag3cprnb3_A" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>