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Prologue

Host Ira Glass tells listeners we can no longer stand behind the reporting in the recently aired episode "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory." He explains how Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz tracked down Daisey's interpreter in China — a woman named Cathy Lee — who disputes much of Daisey's story.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass notes the sub-industry in journalism right now of reporting anything that looks like a sign of the recession. He then goes on to list a handful of his own favorites, including a dentist who's seen an increase in broken teeth from grinding, and a decrease in shark attacks.

Prologue

Robyn Forest thought she'd gotten her big break when a magazine assigned her to write about a famous Japanese pop singer. Instead, Robyn ended up on Japanese television denying that she and the singer were having an affair.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes the thing that we all do at some point: Talk expertly about something we don't actually know anything about. It's so common, explains This American Life contributing editor Nancy Updike, that some friends of hers invented an imaginary magazine devoted to such blathering.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass interviews Lori Gottlieb about the time she sent a letter to a writer in a magazine, a letter packed with white lies. One complication led to another and before long, the writer seemed to be lying to her.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks to This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt about the time he hacked into his employer's computer and found out what he didn't want to know.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Michael Beaumier, who runs the personals section of the Chicago Reader, and who functions as a kind of guardian angel for many of the singles who advertise in his paper.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with Marion Tanios, a classified section editor at the Chicago Sun-Times. She explains that if the news section of the newspaper gives you the public life of a city, the classified section gives you a sense of people's personal lives.

Act One: Get On The Mic

Ira interviews three of the people involved in making the documentary How's Your News?, about a team of developmentally disabled people who travel across the country doing man-on-the-street interviews. He talks to two of the developmentally disabled reporters, Susan Harrington and Joe Simon, and to the film's non-disabled director, Arthur Bradford.

Prologue

Ira tells the story about how Scott first got into radio. He was listening to a story on the radio one day, thought "I can do that," and promptly hitchhiked across the country to Washington, to the headquarters of NPR.

Act Four: Who You Gonna Call?

There is an entire class of consultant who does nothing but help people and companies that are under public attack. Eric Dezenhall is one of them.

Prologue

Stories about rats in the city, from Kate Aurthur (former rat columnist for New York magazine), and from a Mark Lewis documentary called Rat. When rats arrive in our homes, we remember why we as a species wanted to tame nature in the first place.

Prologue

When Adam and Jamie were kids, Jamie would always ask for Adam's advice, but he didn't want to hear what Adam would say himself. Instead, he wanted Adam to pretend to be an Israeli commando he once knew, named Yakov.

Act Two: Advise And Consent

Host Ira Glass talks with his mom—a clinical psychologist—about why people seem to rarely take the advice others give. Then advice columnist Dan Savage, author of the syndicated column and book Savage Love, gives the audience some advice that hopefully might save lives.

Prologue

Ira reads from an editorial from a 1957 newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi. It tries to scare white southerners about the NAACP by describing a Chicago human rights campaign called "Take a Negro Boy Home Tonight." The idea behind the campaign? "Racism can be combated by intimate relationships between Negro boys and white girls." No such campaigns really existed in Chicago.

Act Two: Economic Integration

Cedric Jennings grew up in Southeast Washington, in one of the poorest communities in the country. Wall Street Journal reporter Ron Suskind followed him for over two-and-a-half years, as Cedric tried to make it through high school and work his way into an Ivy League university. Once he gets there, he discovers that all the qualities that got him out of the ghetto make him an outcast in the Ivy League.