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Lisa Pollak

Before becoming a producer at This American Life, Lisa was a print reporter at the Baltimore Sun, where she won the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing. Her story about an Iraq War veteran in episode 340 is a must-hear.
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Act 2: Stutter Step

We sent several correspondents straight to the epicenters of middle school awkwardness: School dances. Producers Lisa Pollak and Brian Reed, plus reporters Eric Mennel, Rob Wildeboer and Claire Holman spoke with kids across the country during the nervous moments leading up to the dances.

Act 1: Blood Brothers

When he was a kid, Josh Martin's mother Nancy told him that if anythingever happened to her, he needed to take care of his brother Ben. This confusedJosh, because Ben was his older brother, and he felt that if anything heshould be the one taken care of.

Act 1: I'm Not As Think As You Drunk I Am

Most of the This American Life production staff spent the weekend at Penn State, and found that drinking is the great unifier at the school. Ira Glass, Sarah Koenig, Lisa Pollak and Jane Feltes report on tailgating parties, frat parties, an article of clothing known as a "fracket," and a surprising and common drunken crime.

Act One

Host Ira Glass describes scenes from a rest stop on the New York State Thruway, the Plattekill Travel Plaza, and the kind of people you might meet if you ever stayed long enough to talk with them. These include Robert Woodhill, the general manager, who needs a good sales day so he can beat his friend Andy, who manages a rest stop in Maine, in their weekly competition.


There's a town in Florida where if you shoplift, and get caught, a judge will send you back to the scene of your crime to stand in front of the store, with a large sign that reads "I stole from this store." Ira and producer Lisa Pollak talk to one such teenager who was caught stealing from a convenience store, the supervisor overseeing her punishment, and the judge who sends her there.

Act 3: Union Halls

No one much likes to talk about it out loud, but everyone knows it's true: There are a lot of people out there who say they won't vote for Obama because he's black. To fight this problem, Richard Trumka, secretary treasurer of the AFL-CIO, has been traveling around the country giving a speech to fellow union members.

Act 1: And So We Meet Again

Sam Slaven is an Iraq War veteran who came home from the War plagued by feelings of hate and anger toward Muslims. TAL producer Lisa Pollak tells the story of the unusual action Sam took to change himself, and the Muslim students who helped him do it.

Act 2: Dire Enigmas For Elite Fans

Every winter, some of the world's best puzzle solvers gather in Boston for the MIT mystery hunt, a competition in which teams of puzzle enthusiasts spend between 24 and 72 straight hours trying to solve what just may be the hardest recreational puzzles in the world. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak hung out with one team (named Dr. Awkward...a palindrome) as they worked towards the ultimate answer, the location of a coin, buried somewhere on the MIT campus. Check out the puzzles from that year's hunt.

Act 3: Land Grab

As a half-dozen families—including a pregnant woman having contractions and another with a four-week-old baby—are driven around Houston looking for housing, they confront potential neighbors who they believe don't want them...and neighbors they themselves don't want. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak reports.

Act 5: End Of The Road

People don't want to stop driving, no matter how old they get. This American Life producer Lisa Pollak talked with Rosyna Salerno, a 91-year-old widow, who recently gave up her license after she had a stroke. And Dan Neil, automotive critic for the Los Angeles Times, tells the story of Stirling Moss, the race car driver who, at 75, still holds the world record for completing a 1,000-mile race called the Mille Miglia.