Eighteen-year-old correspondent Claudia Perez goes to an audition where a thousand Mexican women and girls dress up to play the slain Mexican pop star Selena in an upcoming film about her life. Feelings about Selena run so high that when her fans talk about her, they often cry.
Jack Hitt reviews the strange case of William Kane, his mistress, his family, and fifteen vials of frozen sperm.
The late Ron Brown, the former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, could have had an easy life, but chose instead to take on stressful, difficult tasks.
Host Ira Glass talks changing the name of the show from Your Radio Playhouse and stumbles on a more fundamental truth about naming things: The people with an investment in the name can be incredibly divisive. He consults television talk show host Joe Franklin for advice.
Navy Pier's renovation was presented as a success in last week's show, but recent press reveals that the pier is bleeding money. WBEZ personality Aaron Freeman and his kids take Ira on a tour of the pier, looking at it from a child's perspective.
Barbara Adams, a former member of the Whitewater trial jury, showed up for jury duty wearing a full-scale costume from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Ira dissects a discussion on an Internet mailing list about fandom, inspired by Adams' celebrity. Also: Temple University professor Cindy Patton's childhood infatuation with G.I.
Host Ira Glass brings together a panel of Republicans to discuss their lack of excitement about then-presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole.
Temporary employment agencies' business has exploded in the last few years as corporations lay off their full-time employees, especially technical workers. This American Life "hired" two temp workers, Lee and Tito, to document their experiences as temps. Ira invites Tito and Lee into the studio to spin some music "appropriate" for temp employees.
Ira takes a look at the remarkably successful $156 million renovation of Chicago's Navy Pier. He talks with seven employees working at the businesses on the pier.
Who are the people we remember as significant figures from our childhood? What is their hold on our imaginations as we age? Ira visits McCosh Elementary on Chicago's South Side, where a man everyone calls "Mr. Lewis" is the surrogate dad for hundreds of kids — a nearly mythic figure.
Host Ira Glass with some tape he recorded of a high school senior prom. Kids goof around in the car after the prom and get lost looking for a friend's house.
A Midwestern family records a "letter on tape" to their son, who is in medical school in California. Three decades later, the recording somehow ends up in a thrift store.
Ira plays tapes of his own father, Barry, who was a radio deejay in the mid-1950s. Barry gave up spinning records when he decided that he couldn't make a decent living at it, and for over a decade he was against his son going into radio, not wanting him to waste time the way he did.
Host Ira Glass explores a self-help cassette tape that promises to bring the listener peace about being single. The only problem is that it achieves this by having you envision your perfect romantic partner.
Artist Julie Laffin talks about the inspiration for her "kissing projects." Jessica Yu's film Breathing Lessons is about Mark O'Brien, a man using an "iron lung." In this excerpt, Mark talks about the yearning he tries to quell through the use of sex surrogates. Poet Luis Rodriguez reads his poem "Waiting." Writer Dolores Wilbur tells a story of wanting love.
Samantha Martin trains raccoons to play basketball and rats to bowl. She says that what we want from animals is for them to imitate humans.
Bob and Dave were close childhood friends — until their relationship began to lead their peers to believe that it might be more than a friendship. The accusations led to Dave turning on Bob.
Ira reaches current-day Dave, who is a born-again Christian living with his parents. According to Dave, Bob was at fault for the breakdown in their relationship, because Bob had decided to become friends with someone else.
Susan Bergman's father was a family man, head of the church choir, and, secretly, having sex with men. He died before his children had a chance to really talk to him about what they should make of his hidden life.
When Susan Bergman wrote a book about her family's experience, other gay men tried to explain her father's actions to her.
A talk with a father who's deceiving his own children.
Sketches from the neo-futurists on the subject of double lives.
Ira talks about the adage "Comedy equals tragedy plus time." Usually it's true, he says, though today's show is devoted to someone who decided to go on stage the same week she was experiencing some horrible things — and talk about those things.
Host Ira Glass talks about recently released archival television interviews with the Beatles, who suddenly seem a little less magic — and a lot more pedestrian (4 minutes).