#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.

#11 : January 24, 1996


A story of a friendship between two adolescent boys that was destroyed through the manipulative acts of one of them.

#10 : January 17, 1996

Double Lives

People living their lives, just like the rest of us. Plus an extra life.

#9 : January 10, 1996

Julia Sweeney

When comedienne Julia Sweeney and her brother both got cancer, she decided to tell the story the best way she knew how: in a comedy club. It might seem like a strange choice, but what resulted is halfway between standup comedy and true-life diary entries.

#8 : January 3, 1996

New Year

Stories that reflect back on 1995.

#7 : December 29, 1995


Stories of people who quit everything in their lives that they hated—and what happened to them afterwards.

#6 : December 22, 1995


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#5 : December 15, 1995

Anger and Forgiveness

Stories that reveal the societal "trend" toward anger and away from genuine forgiveness.

#4 : December 8, 1995


Stories about vacations gone awry—or perhaps vacations that never should have happened.

#3 : December 1, 1995

Poultry Slam 1995

Stories decrying the wonders of turkeys, chickens, and other fowl.

#2 : November 24, 1995

Small Scale Sin

Small-scale stories on the nature of small-scale sin.

#1 : November 17, 1995

New Beginnings

Our program's very first broadcast.