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
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/EYU5XzGMx1E" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/UI7HQMsTw6s" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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. And other stories.<img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/b5OWMiLwIoY" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 489: No Coincidence, No Story!
We asked listeners to send us their best coincidence stories, and we got more than 1,300 submissions! There were so many good ones we decided to make a whole show about them. From a chance encounter at a bus station to a romantic dollar bill to a baffling apparition in a college shower stall. <img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~r/talpodcast/~4/nafvFmSsSoM" height="1" width="1" alt=""/>
- 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=""/>