LuAnne Johnson is a teacher who sold her story to Hollywood and saw it made into the film and TV series Dangerous Minds, in which a character named LuAnne Johnson does things the real LuAnne believes are unethical and silly.
Ira talks about one of the purest expressions of ordinary folks' desire to be detectives: a child's detective notebook — full of information, secret codes, cases, and an application to become an FBI agent.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Evan Harris was entrenched in her life, stalled and going nowhere both personally and professionally. A silly conversation with a co-worker about the letter "Q" led her to start a magazine called Quitter Quarterly. That one conversation changed her life completely.