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.


September 17, 2023 63 mins

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 mi...
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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 ov...
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September 3, 2023 60 mins

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, t...
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August 27, 2023 60 mins

The mysterious hold supers have on their buildings, or that their buildings have on them.

  • Host Ira Glass visits the Upper East Side building in Manhattan where Peter Roach has been the super for about ten years. Peter has a lot of keys. He doesn't know what most of them unlock. (4 minutes)
  • Act One: Reporter Jack Hitt tells the story of how he helped organize tenants and threaten a rent strike in a New York City building back in ...
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August 20, 2023 63 mins

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 de...
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August 6, 2023 60 mins

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: N...
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July 30, 2023 61 mins

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 wh...
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July 16, 2023 75 mins

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...
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July 2, 2023 59 mins

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 sal...

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June 25, 2023 63 mins

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 ab...
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