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Prologue

Ira talks to "Cheryl," an anonymous blogger who's been documenting life with an 8-year-old son who seems to take pleasure in causing chaos. He's tried to kill his little brother more than once.

Act One: The Old College Try

Ira talks to Rick Clark, director of undergraduate admissions at the Georgia Institute of Technology, better known as Georgia Tech. Clark says the latest trend in misguided college admissions efforts: parents emailing and calling the admissions office, pretending to be their own children.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass visits Claremont Middle School in Oakland, CA — a school with two principals. Principals Reggie and Ronnie Richardson are also twins.

Prologue

A few years back, when he and his family were driving home from a vacation in Texas, John Nova Lomax realized that the police were aggressively tailing him. And he was definitely not prepared for the reason they pulled him over.

Act Four: Saturday to Wednesday: CA, NY, WI, ME

Ira tells what happened this week to Shirley Everett-Dicko in Oakland on Sunday, to Gabe and Kevin in Brooklyn on Saturday, to Eric and Roz in Stevens Point, Wisconsin on Wednesday night at midnight, and (in the podcast version of the show) to Eugene Rand and Bill True, on Monday in South Portland, Maine.

Prologue

Thanksgiving 2002, the Ohm family's dinner conversation turned to the recent terrorist attacks. Alexis Ohm, the youngest daughter, made a comment that in retrospect she admits was probably the wrong thing to say with her conservative, military-veteran dad at the table...that Osama bin Laden was hot.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to his dad and stepmom about a story his dad thought might be good for the radio, concerning a mishap with a lost suit on a train. Ira then gathers the This American Life producers in their conference room, and announces a contest: Whoever makes the best story out of their parents' pitches wins.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass introduces four characters: Kay McDonald, who raised a daughter named Sue, and Mary Miller, who raised a daughter named Marti. In 1994, Mary Miller wrote letters to Sue and Marti, confessing the secret she'd kept for 43 years: The daughters had been switched at birth and raised by the wrong families.

Prologue

Thanksgiving 2002, the Ohm family's dinner conversation turned to the recent terrorist attacks. Alexis Ohm, the youngest daughter, made a comment that in retrospect she admits was probably the wrong thing to say with her conservative, military-veteran dad at the table...that Osama bin Laden was hot.

Prologue

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.

Act Two: Not Just A Number

Captain Ryan Gist was given a particularly tough assignment in Iraq: To build relationships with a town where U.S. bombs had killed twelve innocent people. But first he has to apologize to the families of those who were killed.

Act Three: The War This Time

The Lancet's new study of deaths in Iraq, by the same research team that did the earlier study, yielded an astounding number—650,000 civilian deaths. Producer Alex Blumberg talks to Ira about the debate over this new study.

Act One: Lab Rugrats

Continuing from our prologue, host Ira Glass checks in with Lisa and her older daughter, Kennedy, to see how the experiment went. After a month, they've charted surprising results, learned that the girls aren't the only ones in the house who need to change, and found out just how much money it takes to get a twelve-year-old to play with a five-year-old.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Eddie Schmidt about his Aunt Mary, the source of the best stories in his family—including how she was so cheap she stole azalea bushes from the side of the highway.

Act One: Duki

The story of a typical American family, and how their family dynamic has re-organized itself around around an imaginary duck, invented in childhood, who somehow stayed alive well into adulthood.