Browse our archive by

There are 25 results

Act Two: Santaland Diaries

Writer David Sedaris's true account of two Christmas seasons he spent working as an elf at Macy's department store in New York.  When a shorter version of this story first aired on NPR's Morning Edition, it generated more tape requests than any story in the show's history to that point.

Act Three: Christmas Freud

David Rakoff tells about his experience playing Sigmund Freud in the window of upscale Barney's department store in Manhattan. For Christmas. This was the first of dozens of appearances on our show by David Rakoff, who died in 2012.

Act Two: Whoring In Radio News

Scott Carrier took a job in commercial radio working for a network correspondent he refers to as "The Friendly Man." Every story was supposed to be upbeat, a tale of people coming together in the heartwarming spirit of community. And every story they sent him on turned out to be a sham.

Act Three: A Small Personal Act

Sarah Vowell on the joy of making mix tapes of your favorite songs to send to loved ones. She spots an ad for someone who makes them for money. "Prostitute," she thinks.

Act One: The Test

Radio producer Scott Carrier quit his job at a low moment in his life. His wife left him and took the kids.

Act Three: The Port Chicago 50

The story of the worst stateside disaster during World War II, at Port Chicago, an ammunition dump for the navy just north of San Francisco. Black workers were assigned to load ammo onto ships under such unsafe conditions that on July 17, 1944, two ships blew up, killing 320 men.

Act Four: Orientation

Even the most innocent office job can take over your life. A story by fiction writer Daniel Orozco about one such job.

Act Two: The Customer

Playwright and contributor Beau O'Reilly talks about a more typical relationship between restaurant and customer.

Act Four: A Life In Music

Ira with Sam Franco, a 72-year-old Chicagoan who spent his life playing and teaching accordion. He never became famous.

Prologue

Ira talks about one of the purest expressions of ordinary folks' desire to be detectives: a child's detective notebook — full of information, secret codes, cases, and an application to become an FBI agent.

Act Two: The Real World

Ira went out on surveillance with a real private eye in Chicago expecting it to be drudge work with none of the glamour of movie detectives. He was wrong.

Act One: Pier Pressure

Navy Pier's renovation was presented as a success in last week's show, but recent press reveals that the pier is bleeding money. WBEZ personality Aaron Freeman and his kids take Ira on a tour of the pier, looking at it from a child's perspective.

Act Two: The Economy

Temporary employment agencies' business has exploded in the last few years as corporations lay off their full-time employees, especially technical workers. This American Life "hired" two temp workers, Lee and Tito, to document their experiences as temps. Ira invites Tito and Lee into the studio to spin some music "appropriate" for temp employees.

Prologue

Who are the people we remember as significant figures from our childhood? What is their hold on our imaginations as we age? Ira visits McCosh Elementary on Chicago's South Side, where a man everyone calls "Mr. Lewis" is the surrogate dad for hundreds of kids — a nearly mythic figure.