Show cover of This American Life

This American Life

Each week we choose a theme. Then anything can happen. This American Life is true stories that unfold like little movies for radio. Personal stories with funny moments, big feelings, and surprising plot twists. Newsy stories that try to capture what it’s like to be alive right now. It’s the most popular weekly podcast in the world, and winner of the first ever Pulitzer Prize for a radio show or podcast. Hosted by Ira Glass and produced in collaboration with WBEZ Chicago.


794: So Close and Yet So Far
People ​so close to each other, ​in ​extremely intimate situations​,​ who are also a million miles apart. Prologue: Valerie Kipnis tells Ira about riding the subway, shoulder-to-shoulder with someone she knows quite well, pretending she doesn’t see him. (8 minutes)Act One: How much can you trust whether somebody who you think is close to you really is close to you? Saidu Tejan-Thomas Jr.’s been thinking about that question since a recent visit with some of his childhood friends in Sierra Leone. (37 minutes)Act Two: Comedian Tig Notaro has the story of someone as close as her actual bedside yet who, in another way, is impossibly far away. (9 minutes)Transcripts are available at
63:43 7/14/24
443: Amusement Park
We head to some of the happiest places on earth: amusement parks! Ira Glass takes us behind the scenes at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, where the young staff – coached by a funny, fun-loving boss just a little older than they are – truly seem to love their jobs.   Prologue: Host Ira Glass walks through a Kansas City Missouri amusement park called Worlds of Fun with Cole Lindbergh, who had a season pass to the park as a little kid, starting working there summers at 14, and then just stayed. Now he's a full-time, year-round employee, running the games department. It's possible he does this job better than anyone in the country. It's rare to witness someone so happily great at his job. (9 minutes)Act One: Ira continues with Cole Lindbergh and the hundred teenagers who work for him in the games department at Worlds of Fun. We watch them compete against each other to see who can do the most business, in Cole's Sweet Sixteen bracket tournament, which pits all 32 games in the park against each other. We hear about all the things Cole does that other games managers don't. He invents games. He directs music videos starring his team. (23 minutes)Act Two: We asked for your stories about amusement parks. Three hundred of you called in, with stories of fear, floating carnies and, um, vomit. (9 minutes)Act Three: Jonathan Goldstein returns to Wildwood, New Jersey, where he spent one not-fateful summer when he was sixteen. Jonathan's the host of the podcast Heavyweight. (13 minutes)Transcripts are available at
60:25 7/7/24
835: Children of Dave
Boen Wang has a theory that a lot of the misery in his life can be traced to a single moment that happened years before he was born. So he makes a pilgrimage to see if he’s right. Prologue: Ira talks about what it’s like to go back to 1119 Bayard Street in Baltimore. (6 minutes)Part One: Boen visits Norman, Oklahoma, where he was born, to meet the man he thinks changed his parents’ lives—and his life, too. (31 minutes)Part Two: Boen’s friend, Andrew, and his parents take what he learned in Part One, throw it into a blender, and push puree. (20 minutes)Transcripts are available at
61:10 6/30/24
834: Yousef and the Fourth Move
In Rafah, Yousef is out of options and faces his toughest move yet. Prologue: Since the beginning of the war in Gaza, Yousef Hammash has decided where to go next and when. In Rafah, he is out of options and faces his toughest move yet. (5 minutes)Act One: Yousef does not even want to think about leaving Gaza. (18 minutes)Act Two: The actual price — in cash — of getting out of Gaza. (31 minutes)Transcripts are available at
58:11 6/16/24
833: Come Retribution
Donald Trump has talked about taking retribution on his enemies since the early days of his 2024 presidential campaign. After his conviction last week in New York, his talk intensified. We try to understand what his retribution might look like by speaking with people who have the most to lose in a second Trump administration: people who believe Trump will be coming for them. Prologue: Donald Trump has talked about taking revenge on his enemies since the early days of his 2024 presidential campaign. Ira Glass talks to reporter Jonathan Karl about how Trump has placed retribution at the center of his run and what we know about how he’s thinking about it. (16 minutes)Act One: Reporter Alix Spiegel talks to two people with good reason to fear a second Trump administration. Former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham spent six years with the Trumps but resigned after January 6th and wrote a scathing tell-all book about her experience. Fred Wellman worked for The Lincoln Project - a group of high-profile Republicans who pledged to keep Trump out of office during the 2020 campaign. (22 minutes)Act Two: Alex Vindman became the face of the first Trump impeachment after he reported to his superiors that Trump had asked the President of Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden, the son of his political opponent. At the time, Vindman believed that his Congressional testimony would not jeopardize him; now, he and his wife Rachel are having second thoughts. (14 minutes)Act Three: After hearing from people who dread a possible second Trump term, we hear from those who are excited about it. Reporter Zoe Chace checks into whether his supporters are excited for retribution. (7 minutes)Transcripts are available at
64:14 6/9/24
832: That Other Guy
People tethered to one particular other person, whether they want to be or not. Prologue: Guest host Emmanuel Dzotsi talks to Leroy Smith about how one high school basketball tryout forever changed Leroy’s relationship to a childhood friend. (7 minutes)Act One: A man finds himself sucked into an intense head-to-head running competition against a perfect rival – all for free burritos from Chipotle. (18 minutes)Act Two: Writer Simon Rich grapples with an A.I. chatbot that threatens to make him obsolete. (21 minutes)Act Three: For writer Marie Phillips, moving in with her partner meant finding herself deeply connected to the woman who came before her. (12 minutes)Transcripts are available at
64:29 6/2/24
831: Lists!!!
How they organize the chaos of the world, for good and for bad. Prologue: Ira interviews David Wallechinsky, who wrote a wildly popular book in the 1970s called The Book of Lists, full of trivia and research, gathered into lists like "18 Brains" and "What They Weighed." The book sold millions of copies and had four sequels and a brief spin-off TV show. The list books were like the internet, before the internet. (12 minutes)Act One: John Fecile talks to his brother, Pat, about a list their other brother made before he died. They each have different ideas about what the list means and how they feel about it. (14 minutes)Act 2: A brief visit with Bobby, who keeps a list in his phone of all the dogs in his neighborhood and their names to save him from the awkwardness of not knowing the name of someone’s dog – because people get upset if you don’t remember their dog’s name. (3 minutes)Act Two: Reporter Masha Gessen talks to Russians living in America and elsewhere, about lists they’ve been put on by the Russian government in the last few years. Masha is also on one of these lists. Each list has its own complex rules and potential consequences, for the people on the lists and for their family members who live in Russia. (28 minutes)Transcripts are available at
62:35 5/26/24
830: The Forever Trial
The trial for the men accused of orchestrating the September 11 terrorist attacks still hasn’t started yet. Family members of those who died that day are still hoping for some kind of accountability, more than 22 years later. This week, the story of how one victim’s sister is navigating this historic and twisted trial. Prologue: Host Ira Glass introduces the new series that Serial is doing about Guantánamo Bay. This is the second of two episodes of theirs that we’re airing. (2 minutes)Act One: We meet Colleen Kelly, a member of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows, and learn just how upside down and messed up the trial for the 9/11 accused has been over the past decade. (28 minutes)Act Two: Sarah Koenig explains what’s probably the best possible outcome that everyone can hope for at this point. And why, when it hits the news someday — if it ever happens — it’s sure to be deeply misunderstood by lots of people. Plus a trip to Guantánamo with Colleen. (31 minutes)Transcripts are available at
62:33 5/19/24
829: Two Ledgers
For years, Majid believed that if he could testify in court about what happened to him when he was held in a CIA black site, a judge and jury would give him a break. Finally, he got a chance to see if he was right. Prologue: Ira talks about the exciting new series that Serial is doing about Guantánamo Bay. We’re airing two of those episodes on the show – one this week and one next. (2 minutes)Act One: Majid Khan struggled with his identity when he was young. And then he realized exactly who he wanted to be – a member of Al Qaeda, carrying out orders for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. He did bad things. But are the things that the U.S. Government did to him worse than his actual crimes?  (38 minutes)Act Two: Majid finally gets his day in court. At his sentencing hearing, he describes to the jury what his interrogators did to him. (20 minutes)Transcripts are available at
64:27 5/12/24

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