#126 : April 9, 1999


Stories of people trying to do good: Why they often fail and why they occasionally succeed.

#125 : April 2, 1999


Stories of the end of the world. More people believe it's more imminent than you probably realize.

#124 : March 19, 1999

Welcome to America

Stories of people moving to this country: what they see and hear about America that those of us who were born here don't necessarily see.

#123 : February 26, 1999

High Cost of Living

Stories of people who choose not to live every moment to the fullest or smell the roses, and instead choose to withdraw from life, to make themselves numb.

#122 : February 12, 1999

Valentine's Day '99

For Valentine's Day, stories of impossible love and heartbreak.

#121 : January 29, 1999

Twentieth Century Man

One thing that makes our country different from most others is this idea that you can re-create yourself as someone you'd prefer to be...sell everything off, head out west, start a new life.  But what happens if you're too good at it?  At throwing everything out and starting over?

#120 : January 22, 1999

Be Careful Who You Pretend to Be

Three stories of people pretending to be something they're not, and what happens to them.

#119 : January 8, 1999


With the number of prisoners in the United States rising rapidly, we present stories of their lives and the lives of their families and children.

#118 : December 18, 1998

What You Lookin' At?

Stories about seeing and being seen. Taped before a live audience in Town Hall in New York City in December 1998, this was a co-production with WNYC New York, featuring live music by the pop band They Might Be Giants and the This American Life Orchestra.

#117 : December 11, 1998

You Gonna Eat That?

The family table is stage on which many family dramas are played out. We hear three stories...of three families...at three meals.

#116 : November 27, 1998

Poultry Slam 1998

For Thanksgiving, the time of year when poultry consumption is highest, it's our annual program about turkeys, chickens, and fowl of all types.

#115 : November 13, 1998

First Day

Stories of the first day on the job, the first day in a relationship, the first day in school. On the first day, any first day, we're expected to live by the rules and customs of the culture we're entering, but we don't know those rules and customs just yet.

#114 : October 23, 1998

Last Words

Stories of people's last words before death. Their one last shot at figuring things out, summing things up. One last moment of asserting the fact of our existence, at the moment of our annihilation.

#113 : October 16, 1998


What happens when you suddenly strike it rich. And the power money has over our lives, for good and bad.

#112 : October 2, 1998

Ladies and Germs

Germs, and how they make us leave the world of rational thinking.

#111 : September 11, 1998

Adventures in the Simple Life

I thought this was supposed to be easy. Tales from the simple life.

#110 : September 4, 1998


Five ways of mapping the world. One story about people who make maps the traditional way — by drawing things we can see. And other stories about people who map the world using smell, sound, touch, and taste. The world redrawn by the five senses.

#109 : August 28, 1998

Notes on Camp

Stories of summer camp. People who love camp say that non-camp people simply don't understand what's so amazing about camp. In this program, we attempt to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between camp people and non-camp people.

#108 : August 7, 1998

Truth and Lies at Age Ten

Two stories of children lying to themselves and others. A woman who'd been diagnosed with cystic fibrosis talks about the lies she told herself as a child. And Dan Gediman tells the story of how he was cast in the public TV show Zoom, which aired from 1972 to 1979, at the age of ten. Then he was cut from the cast before the show ever went on the air. So for years, he lied about it. He let friends believe he was on Zoom.

#107 : July 3, 1998

Trail of Tears

For the July 4th holiday weekend, writer Sarah Vowell and her twin sister re-trace the "Trail of Tears" — the route their Cherokee ancestors took when expelled from their own land by President Andrew Jackson.

#106 : June 19, 1998

Father's Day '98

For this Father's Day, stories in which fathers and their kids sit down and try to have an honest moment together. And stories about fathers who aren't close with their kids.

#105 : June 12, 1998

Take A Negro Home

Two stories of people who try to cross the color line — and why it's still so hard. We hear the story of a failed interracial marriage and the story of a teenager from a poor inner city neighborhood (Cedric Jennings, pictured) who ends up at an Ivy League University — and how he barely survives there.

#104 : June 5, 1998

Music Lessons

What's frustrating about music lessons, what's miraculous about them, and what they actually teach us. This show was recorded in front of a live audience at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, with help from KQED-FM, during the 1998 Public Radio Conference in San Francisco.

#103 : May 29, 1998

Scenes from A Transplant

An NPR reporter leaves her three-year-old son and heads to Omaha—for cancer treatment—a last chance to save her life. After years of covering stories about medicine, Rebecca Perl enters the hospital as a patient. She moves from the world of healthy people into the world of sick ones. What she sees and what she learns.

#102 : May 22, 1998

Road Trip!

With all the American movies and songs and books about the joy of the open road, it's hard for an American to take just a normal road trip without huge expectations.

#101 : May 1, 1998


During this hour, a special edition of our show: Stories about Niagara Falls, half of them from documentary producer Alix Spiegel, who went to the Falls and interviewed people living there; and half from playwright David Kodeski, who grew up in the town of Niagara Falls.

#100 : April 24, 1998


For the 100th episode of This American Life, a radio show about the pleasures of radio. About what makes radio so great ... and what makes it so terrible.

#99 : April 10, 1998

I Enjoy Being A Girl, Sort Of

Variations on what it means to be a girl and what it means to be a woman.

#98 : March 27, 1998

Throwing the First Punch

Stories about what it means to be a person who throws the first punch ... and how hard it is to give up.

#97 : March 20, 1998

Death to Wacky

An assault on the idea of wackiness. And then, an appreciation of wackiness, and an analysis of wackiness in American culture. Thirteen ways to describe wackiness.