#461 : March 30, 2012

Take the Money and Run for Office

For anyone who has ever heard the term "Washington insider" and felt outside — we are with you. So this week, we go inside the rooms where the deals get made, to the actual moment that the checks change hands — and we ask the people writing and receiving the checks what, exactly, is the money buying?

#460 : March 16, 2012

Retraction

We've discovered that one of our most popular episodes contained numerous fabrications. This week, we detail the errors in Mike Daisey's story about visiting Foxconn, which makes iPads and other products for Apple in China. Marketplace's China correspondent Rob Schmitz discovered the fabrications. Transcript. Press Release.

#459 : March 2, 2012

What Kind of Country

All across the country right now, local and state governments are finding they can't pay their bills. Schools are losing teachers, street lights are going dark, garbage is piling up in public parks, and cops are suddenly an optional expense.

#458 : February 17, 2012

Play the Part

Stories of people who decide to flip their personalities and do the exact opposite of what they normally do. Pictured: Louis Ortiz, Obama impersonator. He is the subject of the documentary film The Audacity of Louis Ortiz.

#457 : February 10, 2012

What I Did For Love

Love makes us do crazy things. But not this crazy. This week for Valentine's Day we have stories of people going to extremes as they fall in love, chase love down, and try to make sense of it—including a teenager who falls for an undercover cop, and epic tales of snooping.

#456 : January 27, 2012

Reap What You Sow

Alabama's new immigration law aims to make life so difficult for illegal immigrants that they will "self-deport." And in a way it's working. Immigrants are fleeing Alabama...but not just the undocumented ones. This and other stories of people living with the unintended consequences of their decisions.

#455 : January 20, 2012

Continental Breakup

If you're like us, when the words "European debt crisis" pop up in the news you feel a little worried, and a little like taking a nap. Turns out, there's a story behind this story. One that's filled with guilt, and drama, and betrayal, and 100-year-old dreams come true. Alex Blumberg of Planet Money guest hosts.

#454 : January 6, 2012

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

NOTE: This American Life has retracted this story because we learned that many of Mike Daisey's experiences in China were fabricated.

#453 : December 16, 2011

Nemeses

This week, stories where a longtime standoff keeps both sides coming back for more. Including a story about the time in Poland's recent history where the country's two political blocks came together and believed, however briefly, they'd be able to set aside their differences. And another story about a college rivalry gone viral, and personal.

#452 : December 2, 2011

Poultry Slam 2011

We bring you our sort-of-annual holiday tradition: The Poultry Slam! Stories of what happens when humans and fowl collide, including the tale of one notorious turkey who unleashed a long reign of terror on an unsuspecting neighborhood.

#451 : November 18, 2011

Back to Penn State

In the wake of the recent news, listeners have contacted us and tweeted about the show we did two years ago at Penn State, #1 Party School. We listen again to some of those stories, with new interviews recorded this past week, as Penn State fans and loyalists try to make sense of the actions of Coach Joe Paterno and school officials.

#450 : November 11, 2011

So Crazy It Just Might Work

A few years ago a cancer researcher named Jonathan Brody gave a speech at his alma mater saying that people in his field really needed to think outside the box to find a cure. Afterward he was approached by his old orchestra teacher, who had something way out of the box—a theory that he could kill cancer cells with electromagnetic waves. And other stories.

#449 : October 28, 2011

Middle School

This week, at the suggestion of a 14-year-old listener, we bring you stories from the awkward, confusing, hormonally charged world of middle school. Including a teacher who transforms peer pressure into a force for good, and reports from the frontlines of the middle school dance. (Pictured: 7th graders at a costume dance, dressed as chararacters from The Outsiders.)

#448 : October 7, 2011

Adventure!

Sometimes you choose the adventure and sometimes the adventure chooses you. This week, stories that pinpoint when people's boring old lives turn into something wildly unfamiliar. Including a story of one young man's time served in a Chinese prison, and a handful of adventure stories from some of our favorite writers.

#447 : September 23, 2011

The Incredible Case of the P.I. Moms

What do you get when you take a P.I. firm, then add in a bunch of sexy soccer moms, official sponsorship from Glock, a lying boss, and delusions of grandeur? This week's show.

#446 : September 16, 2011

Living Without (2011)

Stories of people living without. Nubar Alexanian explains what fish can do for him that his own ears cannot. Bobby Morris, on leaving baseball. And other stories.

#445 : September 9, 2011

Ten Years In

In this show, we return to people who've been on This American Life in the last ten years, whose lives were drastically altered by 9/11, including Hyder Akbar, an Afghan-American teen who moved to Afghanistan after his father was tapped to become governor of Kunar province there.

#444 : August 26, 2011

Gossip

This week, Sarah Koenig hosts, as we tackle the thing we all hate to love: Gossip. That's right; we've got rumor, we've got innuendo, and we've got a story of gossipers gone pro. Sarah even makes a compelling case that in some places, gossip could very well be saving lives. But you didn't hear it from us.

#443 : August 12, 2011

Amusement Park

We head to some of the happiest places on Earth: Amusement Parks! Jonathan Goldstein revisits one he worked at as a teen, Ira takes us behind the scenes at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City, where the staff so loves their jobs they make music videos and other videos.

#442 : July 29, 2011

Thugs

Like a lot of Mexican towns, Florencia has had its share of problems dealing with drug gangs. That is until recently, when new narcos rolled into town telling residents that they were there to liberate them. They promised that people would live in peace and tranquility. And so far, it's working. As long as the narcos are on the streets with guns, people feel safe. That and other stories of thugs.

#441 : July 22, 2011

When Patents Attack!

Why would a company rent an office in a tiny town in East Texas, put a nameplate on the door, and leave it completely empty for a year? The answer involves a controversial billionaire physicist in Seattle, a 40 pound cookbook, and a war waging right now, all across the software and tech industries. (Transcript)

#440 : July 8, 2011

Game Changer

A professor in Pennsylvania makes a calculation, to discover that his state is sitting atop a massive reserve of natural gas—enough to revolutionize how America gets its energy. But another professor in Pennsylvania does a different calculation and reaches a troubling conclusion: that getting natural gas out of the ground poses a risk to public health. Two men, two calculations, and two very different consequences. (Transcript)

#439 : June 24, 2011

A House Divided

Stories about people who find themselves either unexpectedly being singled out or doing the singling out. Including one story about nine public officials whose constituents are trying to throw them out of office, and another story about a man's very physical battle with himself.

#438 : June 17, 2011

Father's Day 2011

Yes yes yes you've heard it all before, when it comes to stories of fathers and their children. There's the story of the kid who idolizes his dad, but then learns something and becomes disappointed. Or the opposite story, where the kid gives up on his dad when he's still young, and then much later comes to have a grudging respect. This week for fathers day: surprising stories of fathers trying to be good dads.

#437 : June 3, 2011

Old Boys Network

Stories about standing up to the man—or, really, the men. Nurses at a small Texas hospital report a well-connected doctor for dangerous medical practices, and find themselves under arrest. Plus...how political operators in Chicago get to be judges.

#436 : May 27, 2011

The Psychopath Test

Recently we heard about this test that could determine if someone was a psychopath. So, naturally, our staff decided to take it. This week we hear the results. Plus Jon Ronson asks the question: is this man a psychopath?

#435 : May 13, 2011

How To Create a Job

It seems like every politician has a plan for putting people back to work. But we and the Planet Money team couldn’t help but wonder…how do you create a job? Can politicians truly create many jobs? Is it possible the whole thing is just well-intentioned hot air?

#434 : May 6, 2011

This Week

This week we're trying something we've never tried before: An hour of stories about...this week. We take a crack at major news events, like what's happening in Egypt; and at the most minor, like an 8-year-old who's finally taking the training wheels off her bike. The stories are united by one thing: They all happened in the seven days prior to broadcast.

#433 : April 15, 2011

Fine Print 2011

Stories where the fine print changes everything, whether you read it or not.

#432 : April 8, 2011

Know When To Fold 'Em

When is it time to walk away, and when is it time to run? This week we have the story of an entire country deciding whether to give up on just one of its citizens, when to hold 'em in order to win nearly a million dollars in poker, and a new story from Dave Dickerson.

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