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.
492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde
A doctor named Benjamin Gilmer gets a job at a rural clinic in North Carolina. He’s replaced another doctor named Gilmer – Dr. Vince Gilmer – who went to prison after killing his own father. But the more Benjamin’s patients tell him about the other Dr. Gilmer, the more confused he becomes. Everyone loved Vince Gilmer. So Benjamin starts digging around, trying to understand how a good man can seemingly turn bad. Sarah Koeing reports.
758: Talking While Black
Think back to two summers ago, the summer of 2020, when a series of violent, highly-publicized killings of Black Americans sparked outrage and a national movement to eradicate racism and its evils. That movement gave way to a newer, reactionary one, a backlash that is playing out in schools and school board meetings across America. Host Emanuele Berry shares stories about Black people who got tangled up in this current backlash in both extreme and very personal ways.
757: The Ghost in the Machine
People use machines to find people they lost.
47: Christmas and Commerce
Stories about the intersection of Christmas and retail, originally broadcast in 1996 when our show was only a year old. Including David Sedaris's story "Santaland Diaries," which first aired on NPR's Morning Edition in a much shorter version.
756: But I Did Everything Right
People earnestly doing what they're told, and absolutely not getting what they were promised.
755: The Convert
In 2006, a new convert showed up at a mosque in Orange County, California. Known as Farouk al-Aziz, the convert was actually an FBI informant named Craig Monteilh. That informant’s infiltration of the mosque is at the heart of FBI v Fazaga, a case heard at the Supreme Court last month. We return to our episode from 2012, which tells the story behind it.
Beware Of This Show!
Oh sure, This American Life almost always begins with some rollicking, humors piece directly related to its theme. You’ll hear Ira interview someone to a backdrop of fun, upbeat or whimsical music….You can’t help but get sucked in.
But know this, and know it well: Ira Glass is an insidious and manipulative genius. Sure you’ll start out the hour laughing (maybe harder than you’ve ever laughed at a public radio show) but inevitably and seamlessly, in a completely unconscious manner your emotions will be turned inside out and you’ll end the hour sobbing in your car, in the Target parking lot you’ve been parked in for the last 40 minutes. And sometimes you won’t even know why you’re crying, all you’ll know is that some sort of emotional release is needed before reintegrating yourself into the outside world.
Remember how the television show The Outer Limits began with the warning, “We have taken control of your TV….” well, Ira Glass and Co. take control of your emotional state with full reign to raise you to dizzying heights of euphoric happiness or plung you down, down into unsettling depths of despair.
So beware. The stories within have the ability cling to you for days, weeks, month, or even a lifetime. That’s why I never miss a show.
The Last Remaining Reason to Own a Radio is Gone
The podcast itself is evidence of the producers' dedication to their art. I've purchased this program for the last couple of years from Audible. I held on to an XM Radio subscription only because they added TAL to their lineup. I've streamed it online. I even offered to help my local public radio station raise money to carry the program JUST so they could carry TAL. The fact that it is now available as a free podcast is a great public service. Since Audible will be refunding this year's subscription price, I plan to send the money to my local public radio affiliate. Thanks, Ira and Gang!!
Wish I could give it six stars, because it outshines SO MUCH of radio.
I don't know if it's true for you, but I am SO very tired of listening to ridiculous, air-headed, disingenuous disc jockeys handing me "life trivia" stories of "public interest." Most of the time their false giggles make me want to puke.
This American Life is so very different from any other radio experience I've probably ever had or will have. It captures, as well as it can, in audible form, the human condition, in all its delicious and uncanny glory. Glass may well be suited to manipulate his audience into convulsive laughter or tears, but I have never finished broadcast feeling as though I were duped into feeling anything. Each one of the participating storytellers edits his or her tale brilliantly and with individual flourish. I would be loathe not to admit that it sometimes can be geekily playful, but really, my friends, if you're telling yourself you've never been a geek about anything, you need to check your pulse. You're downloading podcasts for goodness' sake. Regardless, this is an excellent, moving and already blazingly popular radio program, so if you don't listen to it already, you should at least give it a try. I have NEVER heard an unsatisfying show yet from Glass and his crew.