#559 : June 26, 2015
A captain’s log is a simple thing: the date, the time, maybe the weather — and the current status of a long journey. You wouldn’t know from the cryptic notations what weird worlds lurk beneath. On this week's show, stories behind those cryptic notations — including a concentration camp in China that housed groups of Girl Scouts. Also, Aziz Ansari explains the significance of a Thanksgiving text message, and Etgar Keret destroys a marriage piece by piece.
#558 : May 29, 2015
Blair Braverman was a dog musher on an Alaskan glacier. One day the weather turned rough, and she and a pack of tourists were stuck. The worst part? They had to pretend like nothing was wrong. This and other stories of people facing very difficult situations who put their game face on and muscle through. And, we hear from people whose faces betray them and prominently display all their anxiety.
#557 : May 15, 2015
Some information is so big and so complicated that it seems impossible to talk to kids about. This week, stories about the vague and not-so-vague ways to teach children about race, death and sex - including a story about colleges responding to sexual assault by trying to teach students how to ask for consent. Also, a story about how and when to teach kids about the horrors of slavery and oppression in America.
#556 : May 1, 2015
Stories of people who are tied together, but imagine radically different futures. In one case, a movie star and her ex-husband plot against Kim Jong-Il. In another, a woman stalks her doppleganger. And sometimes, one bed is the basis for an entire relationship, even for a man who almost never sees the person who shares his bed.
#555 : April 24, 2015
We tend to give credit to those who stand by their beliefs. But sometimes it requires even more courage to change them. This week, stories of people reconsidering how they really feel about their enemies, their homes, and themselves. We also talk to a girl named Zalena, who finds herself in a pretty unexpected place.
#554 : April 10, 2015
Stories of people, cities, and commonwealths touching their noses and proclaiming "not it!" Including the story of how one city used a rocking chair to take retribution against a late night TV show host, and an island that takes people it doesn't want to deal with and ships them away.
#553 : April 3, 2015
Jan Brady is not the only one who hated being in the middle. This week we have stories about how it sucks to be in limbo or be the mediator, but we also hear from a man who absolutely loves being in that uncertain and boring middle most of us dread — on hold, listening to hold music.
#552 : March 27, 2015
Even when you're not trying to get one over on someone, it can be useful to keep the truth to yourself. Or conversely, to not know why people are lying to your face all the time. This week we'll tell you the whole truth about not telling the whole truth. Including the story of a guy who learned to lie for the first time in his life at age 29.
#551 : March 20, 2015
Yes fellas, lots of you think of yourselves as good guys. But what does it really take to be a good guy? We have stories of valiant men attempting to do good in challenging and not-so-challenging circumstances: in department stores, public buses, and at the bottom of a cave 900 feet underground.
#550 : March 13, 2015
There’s a program that brings together kids from two schools. One school is public and in the country’s poorest congressional district. The other is private and costs $43,000/year. They are three miles apart. The hope is that kids connect, but some of the public school kids just can’t get over the divide. We hear what happens when you get to see the other side and it looks a lot better.
#549 : February 27, 2015
This week, stories of people who are in put into positions they’re completely unqualified to handle … but who try to make it work anyway. Including one story of a tough group of soldiers who attempt to save lives through the power of show tunes.
#548 : February 13, 2015
Our second hour of stories about policing and race. We hear about one city where relations between police and black residents went terribly, and another city where they seem to be improving remarkably. And one of our producers asks: Why aren't police chiefs talking about race after incidents where unarmed black men are wrongly killed by officers?
#547 : February 6, 2015
There are so many cops who look at the killing of Eric Garner or Mike Brown and say race didn't play a factor. And there are tons of black people who say that's insane. There's a division between people who are distrustful of the police — even scared of them — and people who see cops as a force for good. These next two weeks, we have stories of people living on both sides of that divide, and people trying to bridge it.
#546 : January 30, 2015
This American Life host Ira Glass was never into William Burroughs. Didn't get why people love his writing so much. Then he heard this radio story that changed all that, partly because it wasn't very reverential about Burroughs. For Burroughs 101st birthday, we hear that story. A bleeped version of this episode will be posted here.
#545 : January 23, 2015
The Internet is the one place where it’s safe to say whatever you want — nobody will know it’s you. But the same protections that make commenters invulnerable are what make the Internet scary — even downright dangerous — for the commented upon. In this week’s show: what happens when the Internet turns on you?
#544 : January 9, 2015
Can other people's expectations of you alter what you can do physically? Alix Spiegel and Lulu Miller of NPR's new radio show and podcast Invisibilia investigate that question – specifically, they look into something that sounds impossible: if people’s expectations can change whether a blind man can see.
#543 : December 26, 2014
As New Year’s approaches and people are contemplating things they want to change about themselves, we have stories of people trying to wake themselves up, shake up their own lives, or wake up others. Including the story of a company – or maybe it's a movement – called WakeUpNow.
#542 : December 12, 2014
Stories about people feeling lost and trying to figure out how to move ahead: two brothers take a doomed road trip through through Mexico and a couple from radically different backgrounds draw up a contract for their unlikely romance.
#541 : December 5, 2014
Every day we make mistakes, and most of the time we just ignore these failings and move forward. But every so often, there is one that makes us pause and take notice. This week, people struggling with those regrets — big and small — that take root and have to be dealt with.
#540 : November 21, 2014
Stories about people and places that are fronting in order to hide the truth. We visit a bizarre store in Milwaukee called Fearless Distributing, government checkpoints scattered on highways out west, and a front in a doctor's office.
#539 : November 7, 2014
Most of us go from day to day just coasting on the status quo. If it ain’t broke, why fix it, right? But when routines just get too mundane or systems stop making sense, sometimes you just have to hold your breath…and jump. This week, stories of people who leap from their lives, their comfort zones…even through time.
#538 : October 17, 2014
Stories of schools struggling with what to do with misbehaving kids. There's no general agreement about what teachers should do to discipline kids. And there's evidence that some of the most popular punishments actually may harm kids.
#537 : October 3, 2014
Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a bright teenager disappears after school one day. Six weeks later her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed is arrested for her murder. He says he's innocent — though he can't remember what he was doing that afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School claims to know exactly where Adnan was. Trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found. This week features a pilot of our new podcast, Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig.
#536 : September 26, 2014
This week, an unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks and prevent another financial crisis. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she bought a tiny recorder, and started secretly taping. ProPublica reports.
#535 : September 19, 2014
This week we bring you little-known and surprising stories of how all sorts of institutions began. An updated version of a 2009 episode.
#534 : September 12, 2014
We take it for granted that the majority calls the shots. But in one NY school district, that idea — majority rules — has led to an all-out war. School board disputes are pretty common, but not like this one. This involves multimillion-dollar land deals, lawyers threatening to beat up parents, felony criminal charges, and the highest levels of state government. Meanwhile, the students are caught in the middle.
#533 : September 5, 2014
Starting a business is not for the self-doubting. Or even usually the self-deprecating. The first thing you have to sell is yourself — like dating, but with a greater chance of landing in debt. Alex Blumberg tells the incredible, sweat-stains-and-all saga of a man fumbling through starting a new business, and the man is: himself. Plus, new stories from Mike Birbiglia and Love + Radio.
#532 : August 15, 2014
When Jonathan Goldstein was a kid, his father gave him a book that promised to teach you how to shoot mental laser beams, win the lottery, move solid objects with your mind, make others obey your command – all through the use of mental power and magic words. This week, he revisits the book to try to unlock the secrets within. And we have other stories where people recite words that have the power to change their lives, with no magic or mumbo jumbo at all.
#531 : July 25, 2014
There is a special comfort that comes from knowing someone's got your back. You can do things that just weren't possible before. You take huge risks, including some that aren't necessarily advisable. This week: stories where one person's powerlessness is transformed when they discover they have backup. And we see what happens when that backup goes away. Note: This episode contains un-bleeped curse words. BLEEPED VERSION
#530 : July 11, 2014
Stories of meddling, snooping, and just getting way, way up in other people's business. A cellphone hidden in a bag of chips starts a messy turf war between the FBI and a local sheriff; and a surprising handbook lets us peek into the secret world of professional cheerleading. Plus: Studs Terkel.