This American Life

  • Monday 1 p.m.–2 p.m.
  • Monday 10 p.m.–11 p.m.
  • Sunday 8 a.m.–9 a.m.

This American Life is best described as a movie for radio. There are people in dramatic situations. Things happen to them. There are funny moments and emotional moments and—hopefully—moments where the people in the story say interesting, surprising things about it all. It has to be surprising. It has to be fun. This American Life is hosted by Ira Glass and produced by Chicago Public Media.

  • Sep 29

    This Week on the Radio: "The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra"

    An unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she got a tiny recorder and started secretly taping. ProPublica's print version.

    Broadcast September 27 to September 29

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  • Sep 26

    Our Questions for the New York Fed and Goldman Sachs

    In the course of reporting our story "The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra" with ProPublica, we sent lots of questions to the New York Fed and Goldman Sachs. We wanted to share those with you, along with the institutions' responses.

    Our questions to the New York Fed are here.

    The New York Fed responded with a statement and later this email.

    Our questions to Goldman Sachs are here.

    Goldman Sachs' response is here.

    And one last document that plays an important role in our story: the confidential report Columbia professor David Beim wrote for the New York Fed in 2009, as it was trying to figure out why it failed to anticipate the financial crisis and what it should do to make sure it wouldn't fail to catch the next one.

    You can listen to our story here, and read ProPublica's story too.
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  • Sep 26

    "The Ray Rice Video for the Financial Sector Has Arrived"

    Ira writes:

    Michael Lewis — the author of Moneyball, Flash Boys and The Big Shortwrites about this weekend's episode of our show.

    Morning Edition led today's show with a story about the revelations in our episode.

    The episode is up today! You can listen now!


    Image of Carmen Segarra by Nabil Rahman for Pro Publica
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  • Sep 22

    This Week on the Radio: "Origin Story 2014"

    This week we bring you little-known and surprising stories of how all sorts of institutions began. An updated version of a 2009 episode.

    Broadcast September 20 to September 22

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  • Sep 19

    A Brand New Series! From the Creators of This American Life!

    Ira writes:

    For weeks now I’ve been sitting in on edits of our new podcast and it’s killing me that we have to wait another two weeks before we release it to the world. It’s so good! It’s made by two of our longtime producers here – Sarah Koenig hosts and Julie Snyder produces – and it feels like the greatest stories we ever do on This American Life and it also feels like something totally new.

    I’m writing today to say it premieres on Friday October 3rd. It’s called Serial. We’re releasing not just one episode, but two episodes that day. You can subscribe to the series and hear a preview here.

    Wait, did I bury the lede? Yes, this is our very first spinoff show! We have a spinoff! We’re making two shows, not one! That’s news, right? It’s the first brand new show from the staff of This American Life since 1995. And yes – we’re old. Sorry about that. And yes, this is not going to be on the radio. Podcast only!

    We’ve tried to continually reinvent how we tell stories on our show and this is the next step. Instead of bringing you a new theme and a new set of stories each week the way we do on This American Life, Serial brings you back every week to the same story, to tell you the next chapter. Our hope is to give you the same experience you get from a great HBO or Netflix series, where you get caught up with the characters and the thing unfolds week after week, and you just have to hear what happens next, but with a story that’s true. And no pictures. Like House of Cards or Game of Thrones but you can enjoy it while you’re driving.

    Each season of Serial will be a different story and the first season is about a murder. Sarah Koenig is – no question – the best radio reporter in the world for this job. Did you happen to catch the hour-long story she did, where she re-investigated a murder committed by this doctor named Gilmer? I felt like every ten minutes, I learned something that changed my whole idea of the case and the story and in the end, she found exculpating facts nobody at the trial on either side knew about. It was perfect radio. It’ll be amazing to hear Sarah do this once a week.

    Subscribe now, while you’re thinking of it. Listen to the preview. You won’t be sorry.


    Serial staff: Dana Chivvis, Emily Condon, Sarah Koenig, Ira Glass, and Julie Snyder.
    Photo by Meredith Heuer.
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  • Sep 15

    This Week on the Radio: "A Not-So-Simple Majority"

    We take it for granted that the majority calls the shots. But in one NY school district, that idea — majority rules — has led to an all-out war. School board disputes are pretty common, but not like this one. This involves multimillion-dollar land deals, lawyers threatening to beat up parents, felony criminal charges, and the highest levels of state government. Meanwhile, the students are caught in the middle.

    Broadcast September 13 to September 15

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  • Sep 11

    Update: "Kim Possible"

    We ran a story last year about former police detective Jim Trainum and how his first major homicide investigation went horribly wrong. He and his colleagues in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police pinned the crime on the wrong woman. Her name was Kim Crafton. It took Trainum ten years to realize that the confession he got from her was actually false. And that some of the interrogation techniques he used had caused it.

    Crafton says she'd never heard him admit that his interrogation techniques led to a false confession before that story and last week, she filed a $5-million lawsuit against Trainum and the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department for coercing her confession and false imprisonment. The Washington City Paper covered has more on the suit here: "District Sued Over This American Life Revelations of False Confessions."
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  • Sep 11

    We Want Your Video Ideas!

    Hi friends,

    We’re trying out an experimental video project, and we need your help.

    The project goes like this:

    You send us an idea for a message you’d like to send to one specific person. Then we’ll interview you and make a video to help you convey that message.

    It could be something small and mundane: you want to tell your parents how to use the internet, you want to tell your friend their breath is bad, you want to tell your kid to stop screaming...

    Maybe you need to confess something or apologize. You got away with something you shouldn’t have. Maybe you need to level with your parents about something. Maybe you’ve loved someone for a long time in secret?

    If you have an idea, email us at personalvideo@thislife.org. Tell us where you live, your relative age, and keep your idea brief. If we think it could work, we’ll write you back.

    Thank you so much!
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  • Sep 10

    New York Premiere Tonight!

    NYC: Come to the New York premiere tonight! Dress rehearsal killed (see photos). Tickets are still left for tonight, tomorrow and Friday! The show's like a great episode of the radio show, live, onstage, with dancers. 30% discount with this code: IRABWY. Student rush tickets too!

    Images by Adrianne Mathiowetz.
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  • Sep 08

    This Week on the Radio: "It's Not the Product, It's the Person"

    Starting a business is not for the self-doubting. Or even usually the self-deprecating. The first thing you have to sell is yourself — like dating, but with a greater chance of landing in debt. Alex Blumberg tells the incredible, sweat-stains-and-all saga of a man fumbling through starting a new business, and the man is: himself. Plus, new stories from Mike Birbiglia and Love + Radio.

    Broadcast September 6 to September 8

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  • Sep 05

    Ira to Broadway: Stop the Lies!!!

    Ahead of their radio/dance show at Town Hall in NYC, Ira Glass, Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass have an important message about "Broadway."

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  • Sep 05

    NYT Names Our Dance Show One of the Most Exciting Cultural Events in NYC

    Ira writes:

    The New York Times just named our dance show one of the most exciting cultural events in NYC this fall. We're #5 in their list of 100. I wish I could say this means we're the fifth best event in NYC but it just means we're coming up soon. They're in order of date. Still: an honor! The full list is here.

    Most important thing about this: You only have a week to get your tickets, New York City. It's Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, September 10, 11 & 12 at Town Hall. Move fast to purchase before they're sold out here.

    NYT story explaining the show here.

    New Yorker rave here.
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  • Sep 02

    New Yorkers: One Week Till Ira’s Dance Show


    Image by Julieta Cervantes for the New York Times

    Ira writes:

    Hi everyone! So next week we premiere this show at Town Hall that combines radio stories and dance. Let me say first of all, I know that sounds awful. Radio stories and dance. But it’s a show that's designed as this very funny entertainment, and it kills everywhere we take it.

    You may have seen the dancers – Monica Bill Barnes and Anna Bass – at some of our live This American Life shows. The New York Times today describes their style as "refreshingly relatable ... equal parts theater, movement, comedy, vaudeville, clowning and spectacle. Think of Buster Keaton in Vegas."

    The show has stories about love and middle school and marriage and losing what you love, but as an interviewer suddenly thrown into the world of dancers, some of my favorite parts of the evening are these pieces which combine interviews I did with Monica and Anna about the job of being a dancer ... and dance. So we see Monica and Anna move and glide and turn as we hear them talk about what goes on in their heads while they’re onstage.

    The show’s unlike anything else, and a total labor of love. You get only three chances to see it: Wednesday Thursday and Friday next week. Then … that's it! Never again! You'll have to live your life knowing you missed this very rare, fun thing we invented.

    Today’s New York Times does a better job explaining the show than I’m doing right now. The story's here.

    Tickets are here.

    I'm very happy that our media partner for these shows is WNYC.
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