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this american life

March 26, 2009

Driving  home from a wedding last summer, Peter and I were taken in by a fascinating story on the radio. So captivating was the story that conversation ceased for an hour without our noticing. We didn’t think about the incident again, until it was repeated on another car trip. Our trip ended before the story did, but I simply had to hear the conclusion!  A little research revealed that on both occasions, we had been hooked on the same show: This American LifeNow I’m a big fan!

Episodes either explore a single theme with a few stories, or tell one story from multiple perspectives. Essentially, each episode is a documentary. The topics are unexpected, the people are attention-grabbing, the music fits, the suspense rises to a healthy level, and the show is sometimes just funny. It can also expand your view of the world  and introduce you to people different than you.  (Disclaimer: I do not share every view expressed in the show.)


  • A Little Bit of Knowledge: Especially the Prologue (talking like you’re an expert when you’re not) and Act One (carrying childish thoughts into adulthood). Funny!
  • My Big Break: Act One tells the story of a couple who royally missed the boat. Funny!
  • Switched at Birth: Two women find out at age 40 that they were switched at birth. Interesting!
  • The Ghost of Bobby Dunbar: A family legend is challenged. Suspenseful!

Your Recommendations
Which documentaries, podcasts or radio shows do you enjoy?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. March 28, 2009 8:45 am

    I’ve listened to This American Life for the last 5 years and LOVE it. I found WNYC Radiolab which is similar, but even better! If you start listening to it, you have to listen to the episode “Beyond Time”. Of course I also listen to DG, NPR: Science Friday, the Moth podcast, True Women (this will blow your mind), NPR: On health, NPR: Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me and NPR: Food podcast. Do you see a theme here? I also am currently finding the joys of ITunes U where I can listen in on lectures giving at snobby colleges. I swear I don’t have an addiction issue!

  2. phmerrill permalink
    March 30, 2009 3:49 pm

    It’s a great show – and you have a great blog! I’ve enjoyed checking it out, just now.


  3. Ellen permalink
    May 29, 2009 10:17 am

    I didn’t know you ‘log and that you had such a funny bone and aptitude for words. I just found out from a friend at BBC and been enjoying your posts.

    I love “This American Life” too. Have you ever listened to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me”? It’s a weekly news quiz show on NPR (on Sat. as well) that makes fun of the week’s real news. Given your sense of humor, you might really enjoy it. Again I don’t agree with all the views expressed on the show, but it’s hilarious.

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