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Act Two: The Plan

American cities have gone through a massive wave of gentrification in the last few decades. To some people, it's not a natural ebb and flow of the real estate market, but a plot, by rich, mainly white people, to take over the neighborhoods of poor, mainly black people. This American Life producer Jon Jeter reports on how, in neighborhoods all over the country, the plot has a name, "The Plan," and most people you talk to know about it.

Act Two: I'd Like To Spank The Academy

For the last 13 years, the University of Montevallo in Alabama has held an event called The Life Raft Debate, where several professors take the stage and each tries to convince the students that his or her discipline—chemistry, say, or communications—is the most essential field of study. But in 2007, a professor named Jon Smith decided that the debate itself needed saving.

Act Three: Musicians Classifieds

Sometimes in the classified ads one person will be seeking something that another person will be offering. This is especially true of the musicians section of the classifieds, where there might be a drummer seeking a band, and on the same page, a band seeking a drummer.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes the scene at a courthouse resource center in lower Manhattan where people learn how to represent themselves in civil court. Attorney Ruth Sharfman, who assists at the center, tells Ira that some of the pro se litigants are more prepared for the job than others.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to Jonathan Gold about the bully in high school who knocked Jonathan and his cello down the stairs one day as he was walking to history class—and why Jonathan felt a sudden surge of satisfaction about this almost three decades later.

Prologue

Ira tells the story of a guy, Lenny Pozner, who strikes up a conversation with a stranger in a bar, only to learn the guy already knows who Lenny is. And the stranger is furious with him.

Prologue

Ira explains that when the radio staff decided to take a test that reveals who is a psychopath, very quickly everyone came to believe that the highest score would go to either Robyn, Jane, or him.

Prologue

David Iserson tried to lay low in junior high, staying out of sight to keep from getting teased and bullied. But then he starred in a local TV commercial for his father's furniture store, and all of a sudden everyone knew about him...in a bad way.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass explains that when you name names, when you whistleblow, when you tell on someone, you often do it anonymously. We hear from one anonymous squealer, who was done wrong by her doctor—he messed up a procedure and then refused to fix it.

Prologue

The story of the lengths a father will go to to retrieve a lost teddy bear, and why—after he's enlisted many other parents to help him wade through tens of thousands of bags of trash to find it—none of the parents involved think he's nuts.

Act One: Mr. Holland's Opus

One day a successful cancer researcher named Jonathan Brody gave a talk at his alma mater, about how people in his field need to think outside the box if they're going to find a cure. Afterward Jonathan's old music teacher Anthony Holland shared an idea that was way out of the box: Killing cancer cells with electromagnetic waves. Gabriel Rhodes tells what happened next.

Act One: Underachievement Test

NPR Science Correspondent Alix Spiegel tells the story of Robert Dixon, who's in a maximum security prison in Vacaville California and is unlikely to ever get parole because of his score on the psychopath test. The test also is called "the checklist" or, more formally, the PCL-R, which stands for "Psychopathy Check List—Revised." Alix tells the story of its creation and reports that the man who created the test, Bob Hare, is concerned at how it's being used today in the criminal justice system.

Act One: Dream Weevil

Kim Jong-Il loved movies, but hated all the movies made in North Korea. So he kidnapped a famous South Korean director and his ex-wife—a South Korean film star—locked them up in a villa in North Korea, and forced them to make movies for him. Nancy Updike tells the story.