This American Life

This American Life

United States

Official free, weekly podcast of the award-winning radio show "This American Life." First-person stories and short fiction pieces that are touching, funny, and surprising. Hosted by Ira Glass, from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio. In mp3 and updated Mondays.

Episodes

#611: Vague and Confused  

A show about rules and what happens when they’re vague and randomly enforced.

#617: Fermi’s Paradox  

Three people grapple with the question, “Are we alone?”

#218: Act V  

We devote this entire episode to one story: Over the course of six months, reporter and This American Life contributor Jack Hitt followed a group of inmates at a high-security prison as they rehearsed and staged a production of the last act—Act V—of Hamlet.

#616: I Am Not A Pirate  

To be, or not to be a pirate? This week, that is the question. Hold fast, mateys! We have stories about both historical and modern-day swashbucklers who loot, pillage, and question their choices.

#615: The Beginning of Now  

Before Donald Trump started his presidential campaign in 2015, there was a congressional race that redefined what was possible in American politics. Steve Bannon and Breitbart News got involved in that race early, just like they later got deeply involved Donald Trump's race. On this week’s show: What happened in that campaign, what it made it work, and how we got to now.

#583: It’ll Make Sense When You’re Older  

At first, it’s super annoying, getting told it’ll make sense when you’re older. Then, when you’re a teenager, hard lessons are learned, despite your best efforts to be too cool to care. By the time you’re actually old, you know a bunch of stuff— and you’re desperate to hold onto it. You might even wonder HOW you know all the things you know. Hosted by Chana Joffe-Walt and featuring SNL’s Sasheer Zamata.

#614: The Other Mr. President  

Since Russia meddled in our election, there's been concern that the fake news and disinformation that's so prevalent there could be taking hold in this country. But is that hyperbole? This week we look at what it's actually like to live in the confusing information landscape that is Putin's Russia.

#585: In Defense of Ignorance  

Exactly how incompetent you are. What your ex’s best friend really thinks of you. The approximate time that you will die. Some things in life are better not to know about. And sometimes there can be a benefit to not knowing. In this episode, examples of ignorance truly being bliss, or even being an asset.

#613: OK, I’ll Do It  

Stories of people who decide that they are the best person for the job, no matter how dangerous. Including a story about a stay-at-home mom with a history of gun running for a guerilla organization, and a surgeon who does surgery...on himself.

#220: Testosterone  

Stories of people getting more testosterone and coming to regret it. And of people losing it and coming to appreciate life without it. The pros and cons of the hormone of desire.

#612: Ask a Grown-Up  

Stories from people who need a grown-up. Featuring teenage girls asking for advice about their love lives and Ira's tribute to his his very grown-up friend Mary.

#579: My Damn Mind  

The brain! It's powerful! We have the story of how one man's delusions lead him to a situation that's just as strange as the worst thoughts his mind is cooking up. That story's a collaboration with the New York Times.

Pictured: Alan Pean, with visible scar from a bullet wound. Photo by Chad Batka for The New York Times.

#360: Switched At Birth  

On a summer day in 1951, two baby girls were born in a hospital in small-town Wisconsin. The infants were accidentally switched, and went home with the wrong families.

#610: Grand Gesture  

This week we have stories of people going to very extreme measures to demonstrate their feelings. Elna Baker makes a questionable trip to Africa, while a man in Florida commits a series of disturbing acts in the name of love. Ira also goes to a high school to talk to kids before a dance.

#582: When the Beasts Come Marching In  

We human beings think we run the world, that we’ve got things under control. And then an animal shows up, and things don’t go as planned. We have stories this week where seals, wolves and a moose drop in and show us who isn't boss.

#609: It's Working Out Very Nicely  

This week we document what happened when the President’s executive order went into effect temporarily banning travel from seven countries, and we talk about the way it was implemented. A major policy change thrown into the world like a fastball with no warning. It’s hard not to ask: “What just happened? What was that all about?”

#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. See more of your coincidence stories — with photos — here.

#608: The Revolution Starts At Noon  

Some people are super-stoked for the political changes that are coming. We hear from them. And others.

#577: Something Only I Can See  

When you’re the only one who can see something, sometimes it feels like you’re in on a special secret. The hard part is getting anyone to believe your secret is real. This week, people trying to show others what they see—including a woman with muscular dystrophy who believes she has the same condition as an Olympic athlete.

#607: Didn't We Solve This One?  

We’ve fought two wars since 9/11. We got help from tens of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans—some were targeted or killed because they helped us. We owe these people. We’ve passed laws that say so. So why has it been so hard for us to get many of them to safety?

#572: Transformers  

For the New Year, as people everywhere make resolutions, we have stories of people deciding to make very big changes. A prisoner who hasn't talked to anyone in years comes up with a bold plan to re-introduce himself to the world. A 90-year-old woman shocks her family when she falls in love.

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