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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.

815: How I Learned to Shave

This American Life

  • 340 views
  • 5 months ago
  • 59:07

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

814: Parents Are People

This American Life

  • 320 views
  • 5 months ago
  • 01:03:08

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 taking them both on the bus. (7 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org

814: 814: Parents Are People

This American Life

  • 360 views
  • 5 months ago
  • 01:03:08

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 taking them both on the bus. (7 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org

813: Is That What I Look Like?

This American Life

  • 310 views
  • 6 months ago
  • 54:56

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: Ira Glass interviews actress Molly Ringwald about what happened when she watched one of her own movies, "The Breakfast Club" with her daughter. Ringwald talks about how for the first time, she saw the movie from the parents' point of view, not the kids'. (19 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org

319: And the Call Was Coming from the Basement

This American Life

  • 290 views
  • 6 months ago
  • 57:46

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 called. The scariest stories we got all had one thing in common. (9 minutes)Act Four: One Halloween, David Sedaris decides to skip all the fake monsters and ghosts and zombies and visit the real thing: dead people, in a morgue. (14 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org

812: The Bear at the End of the Tunnel

This American Life

  • 310 views
  • 6 months ago
  • 01:04:31

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

477: Getting Away With It

This American Life

  • 290 views
  • 6 months ago
  • 58:26

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 seems 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 Three: Molly Shannon tells the story of when she and a friend evaded a whole lot of adults to travel half-way across the country, despite the fact that they were twelve years old and wearing tutus. Her story was recorded during a live taping of WTF with Marc Maron. (4 minutes)Act Four: Producer Alex Blumberg tells the story of how Oklahoma, against huge odds, came to have the first and best publicly-funded pre-school system in the country, and how one businessman joined the fight because a cardboard box full of evidence convinced him that pre-school was the smartest business decision the state could make. (21 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org

549: Amateur Hour

This American Life

  • 1.9K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 59:39

People put in positions they’re completely unqualified to handle, but who try to make it work anyway. Including one story of a tough group of soldiers who attempt to save lives through the power of show tunes.

676: Here’s Looking at You, Kid

This American Life

  • 2.2K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:01:50

Adults telling kids who they are, and kids wondering — are they right?

734: The Campus Tour Has Been Cancelled

This American Life

  • 1.7K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:01:23

We look at how the coronavirus pandemic is causing tectonic shifts in the college admissions process. Without the SATs, a majority of universities have gone test-optional. What will this mean for the future of higher education?

695: Everyone's a Critic

This American Life

  • 1.4K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:01:34

People squirming in a world where everything is rated and reviewed.

733: Warriors in the Garden

This American Life

  • 1.6K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:04:51

This week, three men who came together to protest the murder of George Floyd. They were unified, loud, and impressive, but over time these three friends end up in three very different places.

635: Chip in My Brain

This American Life

  • 3.8K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:06:55

A boy who can’t dribble gets a coach, a new best friend, and something to believe in.

732: Secrets

This American Life

  • 1.6K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:00:01

Why we tell them, and what happens after we do.

731: What Lies Beneath

This American Life

  • 2.1K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:00:24

Stories of people summoning up stuff that’s usually hidden down deep.

670: Beware the Jabberwock

This American Life

  • 2.2K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 01:09:23

Stories from the upside-down world where conspiracy theorists dwell.

489: No Coincidence, No Story!

This American Life

  • 2K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 59:25

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. 

730: The Empty Chair

This American Life

  • 1.4K views
  • about 3 years ago
  • 58:54

Things we’ve lost in the past year — since the first American coronavirus case — that we haven’t talked about so much. Gossip. The chance to make new friends. And much larger stuff.

694: Get Back to Where You Once Belonged

This American Life

  • 1.3K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 01:04:14

People looking everywhere to find a place—any place—where, for once, they don't have to be the odd man out.

729: Making the Cut

This American Life

  • 1.2K views
  • over 3 years ago
  • 01:03:26

There's always someone whose job it is to decide if you measure up.