About Us

General Questions

  • What's that great music you're playing under the stories?

    We list the songs between stories on the individual episode pages in the radio archive. Over the years, we've used hundreds of songs under our stories—and in some stories, we use a number of different songs in different sections. We tried to answer these emails for awhile, but often it was impossible sometimes to pinpoint which song people were asking about—and the reality of digging up the answer completely overwhelmed us. For this reason, it's unfortunately not possible for us to answer emails asking what music was playing under a particular story. That said, if you're just browsing for ideas generally, some of the music on the show comes from movie soundtracks: Donnie Darko, Amelie, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Virgin Suicides, I Heart Huckabees, and others. We also use a lot of Calexico and Bexar Bexar.
  • I heard this great story but I can’t find it on your site. Can you help me?

    We receive tons of email, and we're thrilled because we know it means that lots of people are listening to the show. The trouble is, this means we can’t respond to everyone's email personally. So, we ask that you take some time first to research your question yourself by searching our radio archive. Use that search engine! We've been working really hard to flesh the website out with as much information as possible, so chances are good that if you hunt around, you'll find what you're looking for. Likewise if you've forgotten a name or something from a show—try listening to the segment again via our free streaming audio. Thanks for lending a hand.
  • Why haven’t you responded to my email?

    We have an extremely small staff—of one person (!)—handling email about our website and online store. As a result, we ask you to be as patient as possible. Many thanks.
  • Can I get tickets to one of your weekly shows?

    Our regular weekly broadcasts are closed to the public, but host Ira Glass performs numerous solo shows throughout the year, recreating the sound of the show on stage. We also occasionally perform an episode on stage, and beam it live into movie theaters. The most recent was The Invisible Made Visible, from May 2012. Right now we have no live shows planned, but you can stay updated by subscribing to our newsletter or following our blog, Facebook and/or Twitter feeds.
  • How can I get a transcript of a broadcast?

    Transcripts become available the week after broadcast, normally on Tuesday. Links to transcripts are located on each episode page.
  • Who is Torey Malatia anyway?

    Torey was the President of our home radio station, WBEZ Chicago. In the mid 1990s, Torey and the WBEZ Board wanted to start a national radio show and approached Ira Glass, who was a reporter for National Public Radio in Chicago at the time, to ask him if he had any ideas for a program.

Podcast / Streaming

  • How do I get the This American Life podcast?

    Visit the podcast page.
  • I'm subscribed, but having trouble receiving the podcast.

    If you're a newbie and you're having trouble setting up podcasts, we recommend first that you check out the info on our podcast page.

    If you usually get the podcast just fine, but this week is giving you trouble, check the schedule on our homepage to see if we're podcasting a rerun that you may have already downloaded when it was initially broadcast. Even if you've since deleted the file from iTunes, it will not re-download the episode. (If you'd like to re-download, you can do so from our homepage and then drag the file into your library.)

    If you know you have everything set up right and you're still having problems, email web@thislife.org with specific information on what's happening when, and what platform/programs you're using.
  • Your shows download to my iTunes library, but they won't move onto my iPod.

    This is most likely due to an iTunes quirk beyond our control. To verify, try opening the MP3 in a different audio player (e.g., Windows Media Player, Quicktime, Winamp). But, if you just want a quick workaround:

    * Go to the folder on your computer that contains the MP3. If you're not sure where it is, right-click (if you're on a PC) or control-click (if you're on a Mac) the file in iTunes, select "Get Info," and the bottom of the "Summary" tab should say: "Where."

    * Make a copy of the MP3 in the same folder. Either double click or "play" the new file, then it will move to the iTunes library—and you should be good to go. To prevent confusion, you'll probably want to delete the dormant file from your iTunes and your computer.
  • I downloaded the newest show from your site. Where did the file go?

    If you were not prompted to select a destination for the download, it probably went to your computer desktop or to a “downloads” folder. Our files are named by show number, for example 401.mp3. So if you search for that filename, you should find the file.
  • How long are podcasts and free downloads available?

    Each week's episode is posted on the Monday following national broadcast and is free for seven days. After that initial week, the show migrates into our 500+ episode archive. You can download archived shows from iTunes or Amazon for only $0.99 an episode. You can listen to these shows for free any time, via streaming audio, right here on our website (or via our mobile apps for iPhone, iPad or Android, which cost a few bucks).
  • Your streaming MP3s won't play on my machine.

    If you have trouble streaming audio from our site, first make sure you have the latest version of Flash installed on your computer. You may also have to contact your Internet service provider and ask them to add our audio server to a “safe list.”
  • Your streaming MP3s stop playing right in the middle of a show, even though I know I have a fast, stable connection.

    If you've got Flash and a stable, fast (non-dialup) connection, if you're able to stream MP3s from other locations without buffering or dropouts, but you're still having trouble, try this: When you begin streaming a file and the special streaming player pops up, right-click (or control-click on a Mac) and select "Settings" from the pull-down menu. Then select the tab with the image of the file folder. Under the "local storage" option, it says "How much information can audio.thisamericanlife.org store on your computer?" Slide the slider over to "unlimited." This should make a huge difference. If, after doing this you subsequently can't re-stream shows you've started to listen to but want to finish later, just be sure to clear your browser's cache.

    If this doesn't work, the culprit may be a temporary Internet burp somewhere between you and us that we can't really treat. You may also have to contact your Internet service provider and ask them to add our audio server to a “safe list.”
  • What if I'm on a dialup connection?

    Sadly, many folks on dial-up have trouble listening to our files. If you open one of the streams and let it sit for awhile, giving your computer time to queue the audio file, you'll eventually be able to play it without interruption—this can take 45 minutes to four hours, depending on your connection speed.

Submitting Stories

  • How do I submit work or send a story or show idea to This American Life?

    Visit the submissions page for more information.
  • How can I make radio stories of my own?

    Click here.
  • What kind of equipment do you use to record and edit your stories at This American Life?

    We use the Marantz PMD 661 and 670 digital audio recorders, set to record either 192 kbps MP2 files, 320 kbps MP3 files, or 16 bit WAV files, depending on whether we're more worried about sound quality or file size. We use the Audio Technica 835B, 8035 and 897 shotgun microphones, and a few different kinds of wireless microphones. We convert the files to WAV format, and edit on Macs using Avid/Digidesign Pro Tools. Click here for a lot more info on making your own radio stories.
  • How do I apply for a fellowship with the show?

    Click here.

About Our TV Show

  • Television! Wait, what?

    In 2006 and 2007, in addition to our weekly radio show, we shot and edited a television version of This American Life for the Showtime cable network.

    We did everything possible to make the TV show feel like the radio program. To see what we mean by that, check out the section of our website devoted to TV episode descriptions, TV-related links, and TV trailers and clips.
  • Why did you decide to do a show for a cable network, and not for public television?

    Showtime approached us; public television didn't. That's how we ended up on Showtime. And one advantage of working with a commercial network is that when they decide to do your series, they can just write a check, and you begin production. Public TV greenlights their series and then begins the fundraising process, which takes years. And though we had no idea what it would be like to work with a commercial network, and had some fears about it, it was very easy to work with Showtime. As Ira says, "We kept waiting for the moment when they'd say, 'This stuff is fine, but when do the girls take off their tops?'" That never happened. They supported our vision of the show at every step. When they gave us critiques of our stories, the notes were the same kinds of questions we were asking ourselves: "Is this part of the story dramatic enough?" "Can I hear more about this character?" They never overrode any of our creative decisions. It was a very happy working relationship.
  • How can I watch if I don't have Showtime?

    DVDs of our first and second seasons are on sale online everywhere and in our store. You can also download Season One and Season Two on iTunes.

About Our Store

  • Why didn’t I receive items I ordered from your store?

    It can take up to 3 weeks for items to arrive. Also, orders are sometimes split if they include posters, mugs or other fragile items. If something seems really late, email us (please include your order number if you have it).
  • How can I buy a copy of a show on CD?

    Because of reduced demand, we no longer offer individual episodes on CD. You can still get Greatest Hits collections on CD in our store. You can download every episode on iTunes or Amazon MP3. We've collected 35 favorite episodes onto a USB drive.
  • How can I find the title of a book mentioned on the show?

    Find the episode where you heard the story in our radio archive; you’ll find links to most books in the story descriptions.

About Our Mobile Apps

  • I can stream all of your shows here on the site; why would I want a This American Life app?

    With our apps for iPhone, iPad and Android, you can stream shows whenever and wherever you have a cell phone or internet connection. You can even download one show at a time for offline listening (three shows on the iPad). Since most smartphones don't support Flash, you likely can't currently stream our archived episodes via the a web. Plus the apps have exclusive audio and video bonus content, links to the Friday live feed from WBEZ, and more. For a user testimonial, check out this column at Poynter Online, called "Why I Bought the 'This American Life' iPhone App." And below is a video of Ira Glass demonstrating the iPhone app's features (which are similar to the Android's - the iPad has even more features, like play buttons for every story and more bonus materials like photos, essays and our comic book).

  • Are you going to make the app for Blackberry, Windows Phone, etc..?

    Not sure. Right now, demand isn't high enough to cover the development costs. But who knows. This stuff changes really quickly.
  • I'm having trouble with the app. Help!

    In the app, hit More -> Talk to Us -> Send App Feedback. If you can’t get to that screen in the app, email talappfeedback@prx.org, which goes to the folks at Public Radio Exchange, the organization that built our apps.
  • Does money from the app go to This American Life?

    Yes. Most of the money makes its way back to the show.

About Our Movies