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.
Saturday 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM on WUSF 89.7
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
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/7NjW4TZZoR0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 641: The Walls
Stories from border walls around the world, where one place ends and another begins. And the strange ecosystems that arise.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/_gX46zmQxOs" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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. <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/O9fqT1iR85I" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/0IM-lPyBQi4" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 204: 81 Words
The story of how the American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/m_wsDLgDjII" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 663: How I Read It
Documents you don't normally think of, showing you things you didn't expect. <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/77U1bite8ok" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/7aW5aQpU2LE" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/KqWllQrfrMg" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 662: Where There Is a Will
Stories of people who believe there is always a way. And also those who don’t.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/sZodUVZeV0U" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/wiVS9RpSdX0" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>