Several producers talked about the first stories they ever heard on the show, before they worked here. Former producer Jonathan Goldstein, now host of WireTap, remembers the prologue to episode 27: The Cruelty of Children:
Then producer Brian Reed talks about the first time he heard the show, when Ira spoke at his college and played a story by Jack Hitt from episode 188: Kid Logic:
Alex Blumberg talks about an early story by Adam Davidson, Alex's current colleague at Planet Money, from episode 94: How To. The story is about Adam trying to figure out how much his life would be worth, if he died in an accident:
At the end of the show, Ira talks about his own favorite episodes. Some of his favorites are also listener favorites, like Notes on Camp, Somewhere In The Arabian Sea, Harper High School Parts One and Two, Switched at Birth, Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde, Starlee Kine's story from Break-Up, The Giant Pool of Money, and the episode about Harold Washington.
But a lot of Ira's favorites are shows he likes for admittedly selfish reasons, when the experience of making the story just meant a lot to him — like the episode we did about David Rakoff after David died, the episode where Ira hung out in Paris with David Sedaris, the one where we tried to recreate the original recipe for Coca-Cola, or when Ira got to go to a Medieval Times restaurant with a noted medieval scholar, or talk with lots and lots of people in Georgia about a small town judge who had been accused of wrongdoing and eventually stepped down. Surprisingly, in the early years the show also helped Ira bond with his mom and dad, who had been skeptical about his choice to go into public radio.
Our 500th episode ends with Julie Snyder talking about the only story that still makes her cry, no matter how many times she hears it, from episode 241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes:(27 minutes)Song: "This American Life", Matt Poss & The Wild Bunch
Jul 12, 2013
To celebrate our 500th episode, Ira asked the producers of This American Life to talk about their very favorite moments on the show. Some chose stories that've been more or less forgotten for years; others chose just one line of script, or a segment that secretly made them cry. So for our 500th, we bring you the best of This American Life — the way we've been hearing it, behind the scenes, all these years.
Web extras: we commissioned nine illustrations from different artists to mark our 500th episode. We also posted this list of potential show names from a meeting in 1996. Here is Ira's interview with Buzzfeed, and the Favorite Favorites List. Use the player above to hear the 500th episode. Use the players below to hear the full versions of stories excerpted in the show.