Host Ira Glass talks to reporter John Bowe about the story of John Nash Pickle, who ran a company in Tulsa, Oklahoma that made steel tanks used in the oil industry. According to 52 Indian men whom Pickle hired and brought to America, Pickle was trying to compete with foreign companies, doing something most companies never try.
Host Ira Glass talks with some real-live NASA astronauts: Cady Coleman, Chris Cassidy, and Marsha Ivins. On average, NASA schedules just a couple of space missions a year.
Host Ira Glass talks to an expert stone cutter who makes headstones. One day he got a call from a guy who wanted him to make his headstone in advance, which is not all that uncommon.
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.
A man who we're calling "Dennis" inherits his father's job as a landlord of a big apartment building. His dad had warned him that bad tenants could drive even a good man to become heartless, but Dennis vowed that would never happen to him. He's tested on this point when he tries to help a couple that falls behind in their rent.
Host Ira Glass talks to Scott Shrake, who got hired for a job he was utterly unqualified for – as a German interpreter for visitors to Detroit. On his first assignment, Scott realized that not only couldn't he understand what the German tourists were saying, he didn't understand the English words he was supposed to translate.
Marti Noxon used to work for a company that did "product placement" for the movie industry. When auditors came to check that clients were being correctly billed, the company's bosses took unusual steps.
When Aric Knuth was a little kid, his dad would leave for six months at a time. He was a merchant marine.
Host Ira Glass talks to Bobby Morris about his decision to quit baseball's minor leagues after nine years and pretty good stats all the way.
Host Ira Glass talks to This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt about the time he hacked into his employer's computer and found out what he didn't want to know.
When Ira heard that Cathy La Luz, the best public school teacher he'd met during all his years of education reporting, was considering leaving her job, he went to see her in her classroom.
Washington Irving Elementary School became a model of school reform in Chicago a decade ago. The school did it without adding a ton more money.
We continue with the story of Irving Elementary, and hear what's happened to make Cathy La Luz think about quitting. In just nine months, the reforms that had made the school a model began to unravel.
It seems apples for the teacher is a bygone tradition. Host Ira Glass talks to Mindy, a first-grade teacher, about the rather racy gifts her students give these days at Christmas.
This American Life host Ira Glass talks about one thing you probably haven't heard about the occupational hazards of working in Iraq: Since you work every single day, you never know what day of the week it actually is.
Every day each American produces 4.8 pounds of garbage. Where does it all go? Ira talks with Robin Nagle, a anthropology professor at New York University who's been studying garbage,and says that most of us want garbage to be invisible.
The people who pick up our trash don't call themselves garbagemen. They're san men ("san" being short for "sanitation").
Host Ira Glass talks with Chris, who worked for a company that helped deaf people talk over the phone with hearing people. The deaf person would type what they wanted Chris to say, and Chris would say it, then type back the response from the hearing person on the line.
We hear three stories of how conflicts are resolved in offices. Two of those stories come from sociologist Calvin Morrill, who studied the executive suites at a number of large companies in his book The Executive Way: Conflict Management in Corporations.
Ira talks with Barry Keenan, who was living a lot of people’s plan A in the early 60’s. He was rich, he was successful.
Host Ira Glass talks with Stephen Goldin, author of an online guide that prescribes 23 rules for comic fans to follow when mingling with professional sci-fi authors at sci-fi conventions. For instance: don't try to start a discussion with a pro on the way to the bathroom.
Ira travels to Las Vegas for the World Series of Poker, gets hooked, and tries to figure out what it would mean if he'd ditch his job in radio to become a professional card player. What he learns: A professional gambler can suffer two heartbreaking losses back-to-back, costing him over $100,000, and moments later, at the casino bar, calculate the million-to-one odds of his unlikely losses...in his head.
Host Ira Glass talks to two different people who have stories they just can't get over...stories that make them cringe...and stories from which we can glean what makes a cringe story different from other kinds of stories.
Ira reports on a week he spent on the set of the TV show M*A*S*H in 1979, supposedly to do a story about the program for National Public Radio. He was 20 years old.