We begin with a woman whose sister has died. She has questions.
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There’s a problem with having a Facebook account after you’re dead that you’ve never, ever, ever thought about. Producer Stephanie Foo tells this story, about Dave Maher.
A guy goes to a funeral for someone he doesn’t know at all, and has to piece together everything about him.
When a pet dies, to what degree can it be replaced by another? And to what degree can pets replace people in our lives? David Sedaris tells this story of cats and dogs and other animals.
There is a four mile long bridge in Naan-jing China, famous for how many people jump off to commit suicide. In 2003, a man named Chen Sah began spending all of his weekends on the bridge, trying to single handedly stop the jumpers.
Producer Miki Meek tells the story of a phone booth in Japan that attracts thousands of people who lost loved ones in the 2011 tsunami and earthquake. A Japanese TV crew from NHK Sendai filmed people inside the phone booth, whose phone is not connected to anything at all.
Nema and Neda Semnani have extraordinarily similar first names – and completely opposite ways of dealing with what happened to their dad when they were little.
Robert had a bad reputation as a kid who didn't do his schoolwork and had little respect for adults. But his best friend, Lilly thought he was misunderstood.
Julia DeWitt tells the story of someone who goes to incredible lengths to do a favor for another guy, even though the guy won't ever be able to know about it. Julia's story originally aired on Snap Judgment.
Tig Notaro is a comedian who’s been on our show before, and last year she went on a tour that was filmed. It was a strange tour.
Writer Ben Loory has a short story about the 180 none of us can escape. It’s from his collection, Stories for the Nighttime and Some for the Day.
This American Life producer Nancy Updike takes some personal questions about death and dying to a place where they're happening all the time.
David Sedaris comes from a big family, who for many years growing up, took annual vacations to the same beach house. In this story, David tells us about losing a sister last year, and how her death prompted a family reunion back at the beach.
More stories of dazzling coincidences: An old boyfriend is conjured in Morocco; a jazz singer seems to rise from the dead, and three boys believe they’ve seen a corpse. Plus stories of errant fathers, lost and found.
Most murders in Chicago happen in public places — parks, alleyways, cars. Scores of Harper students will tell you they've actually seen someone shot.
Reporter Ben Calhoun tells the story of Terrance Green, a 16-year-old who was killed three years ago but is still an iconic presence at Harper.
In the first hour of our Harper High School shows, Alex Kotlowitz talked to a junior named Devonte who a year earlier had accidentally shot and killed his 14-year-old brother. Devonte was forming a strong relationship with Crystal Smith, one of the social workers, and beginning to come to terms with both his grief and guilt.
At the first day assembly, the freshman seem confused and nervous while the seniors are boisterous and confident. It's exactly the kind of first day stuff you'd expect at any school.
Reporter Alex Kotlowitz spends time in the social work office, where the effects of gun violence are most often apparent. Early on in the year, social worker Crystal Smith spends time with a junior named Devonte, talking him through his grief and guilt after Devonte accidentally shot and killed his 14 year old brother last year.
Ira talks with UC Davis Professor Kathy Stuart about a macabre trend that dates back to 17th and 18th century Europe. It seems that in order to avoid eternal damnation for the sin of committing suicide, a number of people began committing murder for the express purpose of turning themselves in, confessing their sins to a priest in order to be blessed and forgiven before being executed.
An estate attorney in Rhode Island discovers the investor's Holy Grail: a financial scheme that guarantees only reward and no risk. All upside with no downside.
Host Ira Glass talks to someone who escaped from the twin towers with a minute to spare and someone who lost her husband on 9/11. Both say they try to avoid 9/11 commemorations.
Marian Fontana, whose husband was a firefighter who died on 9/11, originally appeared on our show in 2005. Ira talks with Marian today, about what has changed for her over the last 10 years.
Michael Ian Black reads an excerpt from his book You're Not Doing It Right, about his dad and about being a dad. Michael hosts the podcast How To Be Amazing.