#41 : November 8, 1996


More stories of the election you can't hear anywhere else.

#40 : November 1, 1996


Stories from acclaimed storyteller Spalding Gray and others.

#39 : October 25, 1996


This week: A show for Halloween. Stories of things that are supposed to be scary, but aren't.

#38 : October 11, 1996

Simulated Worlds

Simulated worlds, Civil war reenactments, wax museums, simulated coal mines, fake ethnic restaurants, an ersatz Medieval castle and other re-created worlds that thrive all across America. (4 minutes)

#37 : September 27, 1996

The Job That Takes Over Your Life

Radio producer Scott Carrier quit his job at a low moment in his life. His wife left him and took the kids. And he got a job interviewing schizophrenics for some medical researchers. After doing it a while, he began to wonder if he was a schizophrenic himself. And more stories.

#36 : September 20, 1996


Host Ira Glass and playwright David Hauptschein took out advertisements in Chicago inviting people to come to a small theater with letters they've received, sent or found.

#35 : September 6, 1996

Fall Clearance Sale

Evocative, funny, emotional stories collected over the last few months that haven't fit into any of our regular "theme" shows.

#34 : August 30, 1996

Democratic Convention

Unusual stories from the 1996 Democratic Convention in Chicago, with scenes and moments not documented elsewhere.

#33 : August 23, 1996

A Night at the Wiener Circle

Host Ira Glass spent a Saturday night — from 9:00 p.m. until dawn the next morning — at one of the most frenetic, joyous, efficient, angry, boisterous hot dog stands in the nation: Chicago's own Wiener Circle.

#32 : August 16, 1996

Republican Convention

Unusual stories about day-to-day life at the Republican Convention.

#31 : August 9, 1996

When You Talk About Music

Stories of people whose lives are transformed by music.

#30 : July 26, 1996


Stories of obsession and compulsion. What happens when a little idea starts to control you. Co-hosted by Paul Tough.

#29 : July 19, 1996

Bob Dole

Unusual perspectives on the presumptive Republican nominee.

#28 : July 12, 1996


Writer David Sedaris recalls the days when his mother and sister played armchair detective — until a very odd crime wave hit within their own home. Plus, host Ira Glass goes out on surveillance with a real-life private eye.

#27 : June 21, 1996

The Cruelty of Children

Stories about kids being mean to each other... including a mysterious handbook for bullies, a surprising experiment conducted by a teacher who wants to make kids be nice, and a story of youthful backstabbing told by David Sedaris.

#26 : June 14, 1996

Father's Day '96

Ira's own father Barry Glass co-hosts this special father's day edition of the show.

#25 : June 7, 1996


A set of documentary stories, radio essays and monologues about basketball, the Chicago Bulls, and their grip on Chicagoans' hearts and lives during the NBA Playoffs.

#24 : May 24, 1996

Teenaged Girls

Stories of girls who have to figure out how they're going to act when the ground rules are constantly shifting.

#23 : May 10, 1996

Drama Bug

Stories of the people who fall for a life in the theater.

#22 : May 3, 1996

Adult Children

Stories of the difficult relationships between parents and their grown children, including two long stories from Sandra Tsing Loh about her father.

#21 : April 26, 1996


A show about something most people have gone through. Friends get together to start a business, start a church, do political action together. And after a while, they start fighting and split up. We hear three true stories.

#20 : April 19, 1996

From A Distance

Stories of hero worship, of people admiring someone from afar, and trying to get closer to them.

#19 : April 12, 1996

Rich Guys

Men who had comfortable, decent lives, yet decided to do something wild and eccentric with their lives instead.

#18 : March 28, 1996


April first is the one day of the year when we're allowed to enjoy deceiving others. But April Fools' Day is for amateur deceivers. The real pros are the people who can't control their lying, who lie without even knowing what the truth is.

#17 : March 21, 1996

Name Change / No Theme

Our first show as This American Life.

#16 : March 14, 1996


Stories of politics, the economy, and the big picture.

#15 : February 28, 1996


Writer Jack Hitt goes on a search for a mysterious neighbor from his childhood in Charleston, South Carolina, and stumbles onto an epic story of the Old South, the New South, gender confusion, Chihuahuas, and changing values in American journalism.

#14 : February 21, 1996

Accidental Documentaries

What unites these stories on the surface is that they're all made from old tapes, recordings found in attics and thrift stores. What unites them under that surface — and not far under it — is that they all end up being stories about fathers and the legacies that fathers leave their children.

#13 : February 7, 1996


Explorations of the dream of true love ... and the difficulties with achieving and maintaining that dream.

#12 : January 31, 1996


Stories about the animalness of animals, the irreducible ways in which they are not human.