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.

Episodes

May 19, 2024 62 mins

The trial for the men accused of orchestrating the September 11 terrorist attacks still hasn’t started yet. Family members of those who died that day are still hoping for some kind of accountability, more than 22 years later. This week, the story of how one victim’s sister is navigating this historic and twisted trial.

  • Prologue: Host Ira Glass introduces the new series that Serial is doing about Guantánamo Bay. This is the seco...
Mark as Played

For years, Majid believed that if he could testify in court about what happened to him when he was held in a CIA black site, a judge and jury would give him a break. Finally, he got a chance to see if he was right.

  • Prologue: Ira talks about the exciting new series that Serial is doing about Guantánamo Bay. We’re airing two of those episodes on the show – one this week and one next. (2 minutes)
  • Act One: Majid Khan struggled with ...
Mark as Played
May 5, 2024 59 mins

While the seniors danced at Prom Night 2001 in Hoisington, Kansas—a town of about 3,000—a tornado hit the town, destroying about a third of it. When they emerged from the dance, they discovered what had happened, and in the weeks that followed, they tried to explain to themselves why the tornado hit where it did. Plus other stories that happen on Prom Night.

  • Prologue: A high school boy explains how prom is the culmination of hi...
Mark as Played
April 28, 2024 59 mins

Gladiators in the Colosseum. Sideshow performers. Reality television. We've always loved to gawk at the misery or majesty of others. But this week, we ask the question: What's it like when the tables are turned and all eyes are on you?

  • Prologue: Ira talks to Joel Gold, a psychologist and author, about a strangely common delusion known as the "Truman Show Delusion," in which patients believe that they are being filmed, 24/7, for...
Mark as Played
April 7, 2024 59 mins

People taking it upon themselves to solve the tiny, overlooked crimes of the world.

  • Prologue: Host Ira Glass bikes around Manhattan with Gersh Kuntzman, in search of illegal license plates. (11 minutes)
  • Act One: Writer Michael Harriot reexamines the DIY criminal justice system his mom invented to deal with his bad behavior as a child. (20 minutes)
  • Act Two: Producer Aviva DeKornfeld talks to Caveh Zahedi about a crime he may or ma...
Mark as Played
March 24, 2024 60 mins

The things we break and the ones we can't fix.

  • Prologue: Ira tells the stories of three things that broke–two of them in his own family. (8 minutes)
  • Act One: A teenage whiz kid invents a new toy for Milton Bradley. Then the trouble starts. (28 minutes)
  • Act Two: Reporter Dana Ballout sifts through a very long list—the list of journalists killed in the Israel-Hamas War—and comes back with five small fragments of the lives of the pe...
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People waking up to the fact that the world has suddenly changed.

  • Prologue: Jackson Landers tells the story of a very strange decision he made one summer day. (6 minutes)
  • Act One: Elena Kostyuchenko tells the story of how she was probably poisoned after reporting on Russian’s invasion of Ukraine, and how she kept not believing it was happening. Bela Shayevich translated this story from Russian and reads it for us. (21 minutes)
  • Ac...
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March 4, 2024 66 mins

A series of phone calls to a man in Gaza named Yousef Hammash, between early December and now. He talks about what he and his family are experiencing, sometimes as they are experiencing it.

  • Act One: Over the course of one week in December, Yousef tries to get his sisters to safety, in Rafah. (29 minutes)
  • Act Two: Yousef is managing a camp of 60 people in Rafah, including his youngest sister, who is 8 months pregnant. Every day t...
Mark as Played
February 26, 2024 58 mins

Your mother and I have something we want to talk with you about.

  • Prologue: A family sits down to discuss one thing. But then the true purpose of the meeting emerges. (9 ½ minutes)
  • Act One: For one kibbutz-dwelling family in Israel, the decision of where to land after the October 7th attacks goes back and forth… and back… and forth. (28 minutes)
  • Act One: For one kibbutz-dwelling family in Israel, the decision of where to land afte...
Mark as Played
February 5, 2024 57 mins

An investigation of when and why people ask loaded questions that are a proxy for something else.

  • Prologue: Host Ira Glass talks with producer Tobin Low about the question he got asked after he and his husband moved in together, and what he thinks people were really asking. (4 minutes)
  • Act One: “What do you think about Beyoncé?” and other questions that are asked a lot, raised by people on first dates. (12 minutes)
  • Act Two: When ...
Mark as Played
March 28, 2015 64 mins

Even when you're not trying to get one over on someone, it can be useful to keep the truth to yourself. Or conversely, to not know why people are lying to your face all the time. This week we'll tell you the whole truth about not telling the whole truth. Including the story of a guy who learned to lie for the first time in his life at age 29.

  • Ira talks with a guy in Chicago named Josh who likes to spend time going bird watching...
Mark as Played

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