With flames moving in from all sides during the Northern California fire, an entire town flees—except for four friends who’ve lived there since childhood. Producer Nancy Updike on what they do next.
The story of a con man, one of the most successful salesmen in a long-running multimillion-dollar telemarketing scam, who finally got caught when he was conned himself. Producer Nancy Updike talks about the case with Dale Sekovich, Federal Trade Commission investigator.
Reporter Nancy Updike spends two days with Neal Smither, who cleans up crime scenes for a living, and comes away wanting to open his Los Angeles franchise, despite the gore — or maybe because of it.
There is one line in the executive order that justifies its existence. It’s the second sentence in section 1.
An Iraqi translator named Sarah has been trying to get to the U.S. for eight years. Finally, this fall, she got a call to come in for an interview for her visa.
Nancy returns with a story that explains the origins of the special visa program for interpreters. A decade ago, a young guy named Kirk Johnson inadvertently became the point person for American policy about the Iraqis and Afghans endangered by their work for us.
In this act, writer Michael Kinsley describes harnessing the power of his own mind to deal with his Parkinson's diagnosis. Michael Kinsley is a contributing columnist for Vanity Fair and the Washington Post.
Producer Nancy Updike speaks with comedian Tig Notaro about her mother-in-law, Carol. Carol came up with a joke that is only funny to one person—herself.
Evan Osnos, a staff writer for the New Yorker who for years reported on China, tells producer Nancy Updike about an incredibly shrewd and successful propaganda campaign that hinged on two words. Evan's book about China, Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China, won the national book award in 2014.
Ira talks to producer Nancy Updike and reporter Dan Ephron, about their interview with the accomplice, Hagai Amir, who showed them the house where he and his brother plotted the murder and the shed where he machined special bullets.
Updike and Ephron reconstruct the night of the murder, with Ephron describing what he recalls (he reported from Israel at the time and covered the rally where Rabin was assassinated). A police investigator talks about interrogating Amir in the hours after the assassination.
Harmon Leon is a writer and comedian whose cocktail party story about “the-weirdest-gig-I-ever-did” is more weird…by a lot….than anyone else’s we’ve heard. He answered an ad several years ago that called for a hilarious sidekick to a celebrity on a hidden camera show.
Update on unlicensed rehab center story
Kim Jong-Il loved movies – but hated all the movies made in North Korea. So he kidnapped a famous South Korean director and his ex-wife, a South Korean film star, locked them up in a villa in North Korea, and forced them to make movies for him.
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.
There’s been a big, messy, fascinating story unfolding in Los Angeles for awhile… involving two big law enforcement agencies: the LA county sheriff’s department, which is huge, and the FBI. A secret investigation got exposed.
In Iraq, everyone from the militant group known as ISIS to the government security forces and shiite militias have been putting on such a deliberate show. Each faction has its own videos, parades, flags, propaganda and counter-propaganda.
Guest host Nancy Updike talks about learning something new, and unpleasant, about herself in — where else — a makeup store. She also talks with other people about moments where someone made an observation about them that was shocking.
This American Life producer Nancy Updike takes some personal questions about death and dying to a place where they're happening all the time.
Reporter Nancy Updike talks to a group of New York City residents about their frustrating attempts to rent an apartment. With hidden microphones, we hear landlords and supers tell the apartment hunters that there's nothing available.
Julie Snyder talks about a favorite passage from Sarah Vowell's story in episode 107: Trail of Tears: Then she talks about Alex Blumberg's interview with Griffin Hansbury in episode 220: Testosterone: Producer Robyn Semien talks about Ira's interview with Denise Moore, who was trapped in the New Orleans Convention Center after Hurricane Katrina.
Ira talks with Producer Nancy Updike about when she first met Kirk Johnson in 2007. At the time he was mulling a crazy plan that involved Iraqi refugees, the Coast Guard and a boat.
Kirk sleepwalks through an open window and into a completely different life. He explains how he starts compiling a list of Iraqis who’d worked with the U.S. government after the invasion, whose lives were now in danger because of that.
To get a sense of what may be broken about our process for bringing these Iraqis into the US, the ones who worked with US forces and who believe their lives are now in danger because of that, Kirk Johnson tells Nancy Updike about one guy. Almost a year of his emails were forwarded to Kirk, who printed them out and started to realize that he was looking at a dead man’s attempt to immigrate to the U.S.