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Want to make radio stories?

Jun 30, 2011

Are you interested in learning how to make radio stories, but not so interested in spending a hundred grand on journalism school?

Our friends over at Transom.org have an answer: A new seven-week production workshop, taught by veteran radio instructor Rob Rosenthal. Guest teachers will include producers from Transom and WCAI, and our own host Ira Glass.

The workshop is in Cape Cod, MA, and starts in October.

"The Talent Show" - featuring This American Life contributors - June 29

Jun 24, 2011

Ira Glass and TAL contributors Dave Hill and Eugene Mirman are performing in The Talent Show on Wednesday, June 29th, at Littlefield in Brooklyn. The theme of the show is "The Talent Show Edition of the Talent Show" -- wherein the performers get to do whatever the hell they want.

Tickets are $5. Doors open at 7, show starts at 8.

Two awards and a story update

Jun 22, 2011

This just in:

* Nancy Mullane's story "Hasta La Vista, Maybe" from our episode Long Shot was awarded a prestigious Edward R. Murrow Award for Best Audio News Documentary.

* Graham Rayman's Village Voice series "The NYPD Tapes"—which we adapted for radio in our episode Right To Remain Silent—has won the Gold Keyboard Award, the highest honor given by the New York Press Club.

Congratulations, Nancy and Graham!

* In other news, The Securities and Exchange Commission announced that JPMorgan Chase has agreed to a $154 million settlement for allegedly misleading investors in a mortgage-securities deal involving the hedge fund Magnetar—the subject of our collaboration with ProPublica in the episode Inside Job (the print version of which nabbed a Pulitzer for ProPublica).

Funny Once In a Lifetime Event Monday Night

Jun 19, 2011
826NYCHey, Ira writing here. Monday night, June 20, I'm in this show that seems like it's going to be kind of amazingly great, with a bunch of people from The Daily Show (John Hodgman, John Oliver, Wyatt Cenac—though come to think of it, is it really right to i.d. Hodgman as "from The Daily Show" at this point?), plus the iconically great Eric Bogosian, Bobby Cannavale and Amy Sedaris. Oh! And Sarah Vowell, who's organizing it and has us all performing famous and memorable speeches from history. That's the event. Plus "outbursts" which is Sarah's tricky way to include anything anyone thinks will be funny to perform in front of an audience.

I may or may not perform a Garrison Keillor "News from Lake Wobegon" monologue, I can't decide. Tried it last weekend on the stage of the Fitzgerald Theater in St Paul where they do A Prairie Home Companion, while giving a speech there for Minnesota Public Radio, and it seemed to work with the public radio fans there, to hear his words coming out of my mouth, sounding just like me, with the music we use on our show underneath me as I talked. But maybe that's a situation where context was everything. Hopefully Sarah will tell me if this is a good idea or not.

Yes, it's $40 but that money goes to 826NYC to teach kids to write and not to cocaine and imported shoes like most of the shows mentioned on this blog and yes, I'm talking to you Radiolab and Mike Birbiglia.

Seriously, Sarah keeps telling me all her plans for the night and I think it's going to be a special one.

Ira presents a Webby to Dan Savage for "It Gets Better"

Jun 15, 2011

On Monday night at the Webbys, in addition to accepting an award for our iPhone app, Ira Glass presented Dan Savage with the Special Achievement Award for his work on "It Gets Better," a video campaign that Dan started in response to the suicides of bullied gay teens.

Please donate to keep us producing stories

Jun 3, 2011

Donate to support our free podcast

A message from Ira...

Contributor Jack Hitt - on stage in NYC

May 24, 2011

Ira writes:

"We have a lot of great talkers on our show but Jack Hitt stands out. I haven't seen his one man show yet but if it's anything like having dinner with Jack, it'll be the most entertaining evening of theater ever created. He's an amazing talker. Funny as hell, deeply curious about the world, and such a great raconteur that it feeds into every stereotype you've ever had about what it means to grow up in the south, which he did. Some of the stories he tells have been on the radio show which is fine by me, because some of the best things we've ever put on the air were Jack's. His story about a Peter Pan production gone badly wrong, his account of his braggy super who claimed to be a former hitman (and then the claim turned out to be true), the story of the island of Nauru, his astonishingly enjoyable explanation of the writ of habeas corpus and Guantanamo, his search for the truth about his legendary Charleston neighbor Dawn Langley Hall Simmons, the Chicken Little opera, okay I'm tired of typing these out so I'll stop there. You get the idea. I guess I'm saying, I'm very excited to see his show and you might like to see it also. It's only playing for a limited time in a small space so you might want to act fast for tickets."

Jack Hitt: Making Up the Truth
June 1-5
3LD Art and Technology Center
80 Greenwich Street
NYC
Tickets
Show info

"Best Nonfiction of 2010"

May 24, 2011

Over at The Atlantic, a writer named Conor Friedersdorf put together a list of favorite journalism from 2010. We're proud that three of our stories made the cut:

* Ben Calhoun's story "Patriot Games" from This Party Sucks, about two guys in Michigan whose friendship is changed forever after they venture into politics.

* "Is That A Tape Recorder In Your Pocket Or Are You Just Happy To See Me," from Right To Remain Silent (based on a five part story in The Village Voice by Graham Rayman).

* And NUMMI, a full episode reported by NPR's Frank Langfitt, about a car plant that possibly could have saved the US auto industry - and why it didn't.

The list also includes a story by our friends over at Planet Money, plus a bunch of other great stories worth checking out.

A mix tape, and the story behind it

May 18, 2011

Production manager Seth Lind writes:

A few weeks ago I was cleaning out our storage closet (yes, it's as glamorous as you imagine around here), and came across a bunch of blank cassette tapes. I remembered putting them in the closet five years earlier, so I figured we wouldn't be using them anytime soon. Rather than toss them, I tweeted out asking if any listeners still make mix tapes and wanted to take them off our hands. A surprisingly large number of people responded.

But then I got curious about what mixes people would make. So when I sent off the tapes I asked folks to also upload a digital version on 8tracks.com, a site that lets you legally create and share mixes, so that we could put a few up here on our blog along with the stories behind them. Maybe we'll even match up some of the actual tapes with other listeners.

Here's the first one, from Jamin Hoyle in Maryland. He made a mix with one song for each of his co-workers as he was leaving a job. It has 35 songs, so I'm guessing it filled two tapes. If you're not in the mood for, say, stories on a theme, give a listen.

Jamin writes:

I just left my job as an art director at a design and advertising agency. I was only there for six busy, stormy months. I made a mixtape for the agency and gave it to them on the last day. Because that's what you do when you're wrung out and you want to say something but you can't use the real words.

I put it on the server and let everybody download it, telling them there was a song in there for all 35 people in the agency. But I didn’t tell anybody which song was whose. I just thought it would be a fun puzzle to let people try to figure it out. Plus, the whole point of saying goodbye is hoping to be remembered for a little while after you’re gone. I’ve always been afraid of being forgotten.

One of my best friends at the agency is warm and joyful and exuberant and cocksure and from the Midwest. She got Hey Nonny Nonny, not really for the lyrics but because of the way the song makes me feel. It’s boisterous and loud but also reverential. And because Violent Femmes are from the Midwest.

A woman who worked pretty closely alongside me and did a lot of the heavy lifting got 99, which is about Agent 99 from Get Smart.

Get Me is about somebody who didn’t turn out to be the person I hoped or wanted he would be.

I've broken the agreed-upon conventions of mixtapes. i.e. more than one entry from the same band (and worse, more than one entry from the same album), it runs far too long, the first half is solid but becomes a bit of a mishmash after Wave of Mutilation, there’s just a shade too much pop-punk, no Al Green.

Truth be told, I had to cheat. I got close to my quit date and realized that I didn’t get to know every person in just six months. Some people didn’t get songs. On the other hand, I grew extremely fond of some people and they got multiple songs. And frankly, some songs are on there just because they’re cathartic and I like them.

Leaving of Liverpool - The Pogues
I Don't Love Anyone - Belle & Sebastian
Hey Nonny Nonny - Violent Femmes
You Don't Know... - Jawbreaker
Career Opportunities - The Clash
Ivy League College - J Church
The Boy Who Sailed Around the World - Go Sailor
Winterlong - Pixies
Jamie (Live and Acoustic) - Weezer
Ask - The Smiths
Hot Guacamole - MF Doom & MC Paul Barman
No Culture Icons - The Thermals           
Detroit Has a Skyline - Superchunk
99 - Screeching Weasel
Disappearing Boy - Green Day
Chesterfield King - Jawbreaker
Get Me - Dinosaur Jr
Brandy Alexander - Feist
Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf) - Pixies
Burn Your Way Home - Algebra One
Range Life - Pavement
Wings of a Dove - Madness
Young Livers - Rocket from the Crypt
Dead - They Might Be Giants
Maggie Mae - The Pietasters
We Ain't Even Married - Young Pioneers
Cottleston Pie - Rowlf the Dog
Now That You Are Gone - Mr. T Experience
My Favorite Place - J Church
Fett's Vette - MC Chris
Cut Your Hair - Pavement
Please Do Not Go - Violent Femmes
The Slow Descent Into Alcoholism - The New Pornographers
My Brain Hurts - Screeching Weasel
Walcott - Vampire Weekend

A New Day

May 12, 2011

If you're a regular visitor to our website, you may notice a couple of changes. Kind of big changes.

First off, on each episode page, in addition to the big PLAY button at the top, there are now play buttons for individual stories. No more shuttling through audio to get to that one story your friend told you about. Of course, we believe that the episodes are best heard as a whole, but we understand that sometimes you're just after one particular act. So there's that.

You'll also notice in the upper right corner, LOGIN and REGISTER links. Now you can make an account on the site, which unlocks features like marking favorite episodes, checking off which episodes you've heard, and creating and saving playlists with multiple stories and episodes. Your own DASHBOARD page contains these lists.

We'll be adding new features over time, such as playlist sharing and new ways to interact with the archive. Stay tuned.

And as always, we value your feedback. If something seems broken, or you have an idea for better or new features, please email web@thislife.org.

Cheers,
Your friends at This American Life