This American Life
This American Life
This American Life
Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.
779: Ends of the Earth
An exploration of the very upper limits of what you do for someone you love. Prologue: Host Ira Glass explains what we’re doing on today’s show. (2 minutes) Act One: Amy Bloom tells the story of her husband, Brian, getting Alzheimer's and wanting assisted suicide. Her search to find a way to do that led her to Dignitas, in Switzerland. Hear this intimate and frank account of the experience they go through, excerpted from her book, IN LOVE. (39 minutes) Act Two: Comedian Zarna Garg tells jokes onstage about the extreme ways she tries to control her daughter Zoya’s life. Zoya explains, they’re not really jokes.  Ira Glass talks to both of them about it. (15 minutes)
Sep 24
1 hr 6 min
810: Say It to My Face
Friends and ex-friends finally talk about the one thing between them they've been avoiding. Prologue: Host Ira Glass tells a story he’s never told anyone before, about something someone said to him. (4 minutes) Act One: Gabe Mollica had something important he needed to discuss with his friend  — stewed about it for eight years. But rather than go to that friend, he talked about it with everyone other than that one person. (28 minutes) Act Two: Jasmine and Gabbie are best friends. BFFs! But there’s something major that they’ve never been able to talk about. Something so important that it makes them wonder, who does this person even think I am? (23 minutes)
Sep 17
1 hr 3 min
809: The Call
One call to a very unusual hotline, and everything that followed. Prologue: Ira talks about a priest who set up what may have been the first hotline in the United States. It was just him, answering a phone, trying to help strangers who called. (2 minutes) Act One: The Never Use Alone hotline was set up so that drug users can call if they are say, using heroin by themselves. Someone will stay on the line with them in case they overdose. We hear the recording of one call, from a woman named Kimber. (13 minutes) Act Two: An EMT learns he was connected to the call, in more ways than he realized. (16 minutes) Act Three: Jessie, who took the call, explains how she discovered the hotline. She keeps in touch with Kimber. Until one day, Kimber disappears. (16 minutes) Act Four: We learn what happened to Kimber after she called the line. (10 minutes)
Sep 10
1 hr 1 min
388: Rest Stop
Nine radio reporters. Two days. One rest stop on the New York State Thruway. Stories of people who are just passing through, and the ones who can’t leave, because this is where their jobs are. Act One: Host Ira Glass describes scenes from a rest stop on the New York State Thruway, the Plattekill Travel Plaza, and the kind of people you might meet if you ever stayed long enough to talk with them. These include Robert Woodhill, the general manager, who needs a good sales day so he can beat his friend Andy, who manages a rest stop in Maine, in their weekly competition. Ira hangs out with a group of foreign students who’ve landed in Plattekill on a summer work program, and reporter Lisa Pollak gets travel tips from Lenny Wheat, who works at the rest stop’s information booth. Reporter Jonathan Goldstein spends a few hours in the rest stop parking lot. (30 minutes) Act Two: More stories of travelers and workers at a highway rest stop. The competition between Plattekill and Maine continues. Reporter Sean Cole observes the lunch rush at the rest stop’s busiest restaurant and stumbles into a behind-the-scenes romance. Reporter Gregory Warner watches a cashier at the Travel Mart deal with an angry customer. Reporters Nancy Updike and Jay Allison hang out for the graveyard shift – midnight to 8 a.m. – and find a surprising amount of romance at the rest stop. (26  minutes)
Sep 3
1 hr
808: The Rest of the Story
Legendary radio broadcaster Paul Harvey had a popular show called “The Rest of the Story.” Today on our show, we do just that. We hear from people who, whether they want to or not, find themselves face-to-face with the rest of their stories. Prologue: Legendary broadcaster Paul Harvey had one of the most popular radio shows of all time. For 35 years he served up big twists and  jaw dropping reveals all with his one-of-a-kind delivery. (7 minutes) Act One: Psychiatry used to be all talk. Then came a patient named Ray Osheroff. Producer Chris Benderev tells us what became of the man who changed therapy. (26 minutes) Act Two: Contributor Samuel James thought he knew what happened to his mother. But he was wrong. Then he was wrong again. (9 minutes) Act Three: A new resident in Berlin is greeted like a minor celebrity wherever she goes. The perks are nice, but does she really want to know why? Producer Bim Adewunmi has the rest of the story. (14 minutes)
Aug 20
1 hr 3 min
807: Eight Fights
Nadia's family is split between Russia and Ukraine, which is pretty common. And when Russia invaded Ukraine, it didn’t just start fighting on the battlefield. It sparked family conflict, too. An intimate story of the war from writer Masha Gessen.  Prologue: An extended family, and eight fights. (1 minutes) Fight #1: Luka’s parents – Nadia and Karen – try to figure out where to take him once war breaks out. (6 minutes) Fight #2: Nadia and Karen have been arguing over Russian-ness since they needed to pick a school for Luka. (10 minutes) Fights #3 and #4: Nadia remembers the times that Luka’s father would suggest going to Crimea for vacation, as if it wasn’t Ukrainian land occupied by Russia. And she remembers a present that Karen once gave Luka––the sort which had to be smuggled into the country. (6 minutes) Fight #5: Nadia tells the story of her father, Alex, who lives near Bucha, and how differently he and she view the Russian atrocities there. (10 minutes) Fight #6: Nadia tells the story of her mother, who lives in Russia, and how she won’t do the one thing Nadia keeps asking her to do. (2 minutes) Fight #7: Karen sends Nadia a photo which drives them to a final showdown. (12 minutes) Fight #8: Nadia’s step-father works for the Russian government. How to manage that? (4 minutes) Epilogue: Nadia and Karen’s son, Luka, who most of these fights are about, gets the last word. (3 minutes)
Aug 6
1 hr
806: I Can't Quit You, Baby
People  on the verge of a big change, not wanting to let go. And the people who give them the final push. Prologue: Guest Host Sean Cole gets some scary news about his health, and decides to quit smoking. (5 minutes) Act One: Sean Cole attempts to kick his 35 year-long smoking habit, using a book that’s said to have helped millions of people to quit. (33 minutes) Act Two: Someone writes into the advice column Dear Sugar to ask whether or not they should quit a relationship, and gets a strange but very persuasive response. (9 minutes) Act Three: Even people who vehemently disagreed with Heider Garcia wanted him to stay in his job. But then something happened that made staying impossible. Zoe Chace reports. (9 minutes)
Jul 30
1 hr 1 min
805: The Florida Experiment
Governor Ron DeSantis is running for president on the argument that he'll do for America what he's done for Florida. So what's it like in Florida? Prologue: Florida is now the fastest growing state, and DeSantis says people are moving there from all over because of him. We speak to people who did make the move, at least in part, for DeSantis’s policies. (6  minutes) Act One: Among the big items in DeSantis's run for president is medical freedom. Producer Zoe Chace wanted to understand its appeal and its growing popularity. So she spent some time in Sarasota County, where one man — at the side of former Trump appointee Mike Flynn — is creating a sort of little parallel universe for this very thing. (33 minutes) Act Two: DeSantis has passed law after law about what can and can’t be taught in Florida classrooms, starting as early as elementary school. And last spring, Florida Republicans introduced a bill initially proposing to ban things like critical race theory and identity politics, or students majoring in things like gender studies in Florida universities. Reporter Emmanuel Dzotsi followed how things unfolded at one of the biggest universities there, Florida State, from the bill’s introduction all the way to its passage. He explains how professors and students have been preparing. (25 minutes) Act Three: Among the legislation introduced by DeSantis that has passed is a ban on minors receiving transition care. The bill passed into law a few months ago. We speak with a teen whose family has since had to flee the state in order to access the care they needed. (2 minutes)
Jul 16
1 hr 15 min
804: The Retrievals
At a Yale fertility clinic, dozens of women began their I.V.F. cycles full of expectation and hope. Then a surgical procedure caused them excruciating pain. In the hours that followed, some of the women called the clinic to report their pain — but most of the staff members who fielded the patients’ reports did not know the real reason for the pain, which was that a nurse at the clinic was stealing fentanyl and replacing it with saline. What happened at that clinic? What are the stories we tell about women's pain and what happens when we minimize or dismiss it? The Retrievals, a new five-part series from Serial Productions, is hosted and reported by longtime This American Life producer and editor Susan Burton. We're excited to bring you the first episode today. Prologue: Ira Glass introduces the first episode of a new podcast from longtime This American Life producer and editor Susan Burton. (1 minute) Act One: Susan Burton introduces some of the many women who went to a Yale fertility clinic for IVF treatment, and charts their experience from hopeful beginning to excruciatingly painful egg retrieval. (27 minutes) Act Two: Often bypassing logic, the women go to great lengths to construct elaborate stories to make sense of their inexplicable pain. And then, a letter arrives. (25 minutes)
Jul 2
59 min
803: Greetings, People Of Earth
Humans encounter non-human intelligences of various kinds and try to make sense of them. Prologue: Ira has some thoughts about our country’s long history of alien invasion movies. (2 minutes) Act One: In this past year we’ve witnessed a revolution in A.I. since the public rollout of ChatGPT.  Our Senior Editor David Kestenbaum thinks that even though there’s been a ton of coverage, there’s one thing people haven’t talked much about: have these machines gotten to the point that they’re starting to have something like human intelligence? Where they actually understand language and concepts, and can reason? He talks with scientists at Microsoft who’ve been trying to figure that out. (30 minutes) Act Two: A short piece of fiction from the perspective of aliens who’ve been scouting Earth, from writer Terry Bisson. It’s called “They're Made Out of Meat.” It’s performed by actors Maeve Higgins and H Jon Benjamin. (5 minutes) Act Three: A species of massive, mysterious, highly intelligent beings have recently been making contact with humanity. Or our boats, anyway. Many people seem convinced they are seeking revenge for past injustices. Producer Chris Benderev wondered if that was true. (7 minutes) Act Four: Many of us, especially when we’re young, feel like we’re the alien, trying to understand and fit in with the humans on this planet. Producer Diane Wu spent some time recently with a teenage humanoid who feels that way. (15 minutes)
Jun 25
1 hr 3 min