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This American Life
Saturdays from 11 a.m. - 12 p.m.

This American Life is a weekly public radio show broadcast on more than 500 stations to about 2.1 million listeners. It is produced by Chicago Public Media, distributed by Public Radio International, and has won all of the major broadcasting awards. It is also often the most popular podcast in the country, with around one million people downloading each week.

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  • Every crime scene hides a story. In this week's show, we hear about crime scenes and the stories they tell. Medical Examiner D.J. Drakovic, in Pontiac Michigan, explains how every crime scene is like a novel. (5 minutes)Act One: Reporter Nancy Updike spends two days with Neal Smither, who cleans up crime scenes for a living, and comes away wanting to open his Los Angeles franchise, despite the gore — or maybe because of it. (12 minutes)Act Two: Actor Matt Malloy reads a short story by Aimee Bender, from her book “The Girl in the Flammable Skirt," about what can be and cannot be recovered from a crime scene, or from anywhere. (12 minutes)Act Three: Sometimes criminals return to the scene of their misdeeds — to try to make things right, to try to undo the past. Katie Davis reports on her neighbor Bobby, who returned to the scene where he robbed people and conned people. This time, he came to coach little league. (22 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • When it comes to finding love, there seems to be two schools of thought on the best way to go about it. One says, wait for that lightning-strike magic. The other says, make a calculation and choose the best option available. Who has it right? Prologue: When guest host Tobin Low was looking for a husband, he got opposing advice from two of the most important people in his life, his mom and his best friend. (8 minutes)Act One: Zarna Garg had a clear plan for how she was going to find a husband. Things did not go as she expected. (17 minutes)Act Two: People who fall in love at first sight often describe it as a kind of magic. One of our producers, Aviva DeKornfeld, is skeptical of these sorts of claims. And also a little envious. (10 minutes)Act Three: Calvin is an 11 year old who is learning what love is all about, the hard way. (7 minutes)Act Four: Writer Marie Phillips believes that magic is not just reserved for the beginning of a relationship. In fact, she says the real magic can be found in the end, once you decide to finally leave. (8 minutes)Coda: Tobin Low tells us which camp he falls in — math or magic. (2 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • An investigation of when and why people ask loaded questions that are a proxy for something else. Prologue: Host Ira Glass talks with producer Tobin Low about the question he got asked after he and his husband moved in together, and what he thinks people were really asking. (4 minutes)Act One: “What do you think about Beyoncé?” and other questions that are asked a lot, raised by people on first dates. (12 minutes)Act Two: When a common, seemingly innocuous question goes wildly off the rails. (13 minutes)Act Three: Why are people asking me if my mother recognizes me, when it’s totally beside the point? (14 minutes)Act Four: Schools ask their students the strangest essay questions sometimes. The experience of tutoring anxious teenagers through how to answer them requires a balladier, singing their lived experience to a crowd as though it were the Middle Ages. (10 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • What it means to have words—and to lose them. Prologue: Sometimes we don’t want to say what’s going on because putting it into words would make it real. At other times, words don’t seem to capture the weight of what we want to say. Susanna Fogel talks about her friend Margaret Riley, who died earlier this week. (6 minutes)Act One: The story of a woman from Gaza City who ran out of words. Seventy-two days into the war, Youmna stopped talking. (27 minutes)Act Two: For years there was a word that Val’s mother did not want to use. Val sets out to figure out why. (22 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • People finding themselves in situations that are worse than they thought and deciding to really go with it. Prologue: A Boston woman takes her dog for a walk and suddenly finds herself in a terrible situation she never anticipated. The strange thing is, it helps her. (9 minutes)Act One: Two college friends try to stop Donald Trump’s primary season momentum by convincing New Hampshire voters to vote against everything they care about. Producer Zoe Chace follows along. (22 minutes)Act Two: When producer Ike Sriskandarajah tries to sleep-train his baby, a neighbor decides to call the police. Later, Ike thinks, "I can work with that." (9 minutes)Act Three: A story by producer Boen Wang about how to get through a summer of bad days. (9 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • A major political party in a major swing state bets on a new leader: a total political outsider. How does that work out for them? Prologue: In 2022, Michigan Republicans ran anti-establishment candidates who claimed the last presidential election was stolen. And they lost big. Now, the state party regroups and must decide whether to stay the course or moderate. (7 minutes)Act One: The Michigan GOP’s newly elected leader, Kristina Karamo, faces her first big test: Can she organize and pull off the state party’s fabled, expensive Mackinac Island conference as a political outsider – with no fundraising experience or establishment connections? (9 minutes)Act Two: Two young Michigan GOP vice chairs are totally on board with Kristina Karamo’s take on politics and hate the establishment like her. So why do they feel iced out by her? (15 minutes)Act Three: At the start of the year, Warren Carpenter was a Kristina Karamo supporter; helped her get elected. Now he’s plotting her ouster. (13 minutes)Act Four: Kristina Karamo and her camp defend themselves against Warren’s attacks that they’re bad at fundraising and bad at leading the party. (13 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • One of our producers, Chana Joffe-Walt, had a series of conversations with a man in Gaza over the course of one week. They're so immediate – and particular to this moment in the war in Gaza – that we're bringing them to you now, outside of our regular schedule. Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • In the last year and a half, New York City has scrambled to try and provide shelter and services to over 150,000 migrants. We take a look at how that’s going. Prologue: In the middle of the night, host Ira Glass meets a woman on a mission at Port Authority bus station. (13 minutes)Act One: Producer Valerie Kipnis follows a group of people who’ve just arrived at their new home, a tent shelter in the middle of nowhere. (11 minutes)Act Two: Producer Diane Wu talks to an asylum seeker trying to hustle his way through bureaucratic limbo. (11 minutes)Act Three: Host Ira Glass meets some of the city’s newest arrivals in every New Yorker’s least favorite place. (9 minutes)Act Four: Three girls, whose families traveled thousands of miles to get to New York, navigate their latest challenge: American middle school. (11 minutes)Act 5: One woman needs to find shelter for 27 young men in a matter of hours. (15 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • When you realize that help is not on the way, what do you do next? Prologue: Saddam Sayyaleh’s job right now is trying to get trucks filled with aid into Gaza and he knows it’s nowhere close to what’s actually needed. (10 minutes)Act One: Tim Reeves runs a hospital in rural Pennsylvania, and he’s trying to do something that is so hard to do and that he knows is completely up to him. (11 minutes)Act Two: One of our producers, Nadia Reiman, talked to officials who work in the asylum and refugee branches at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. They gave her a window into the immigration system under President Biden that you don’t usually get. (32 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org
  • During the highest turkey consumption period of the year, we bring you a This American Life tradition: stories of turkeys, chickens, geese, ducks, fowl of all kinds—real and imagined—and their mysterious hold over us. Prologue: Ira Glass talks with Scharlette Holdman, who works with defense teams on high profile death row cases, and who has not talked to a reporter in more than 25 years. Why did she suddenly end the moratorium on press? Because her story is about something important: namely, a beautiful chicken. (2 minutes)Act One: Scharlette Holdman's story continues, in which she and the rest of a legal defense team try to save a man on death row by finding a star witness — a chicken with a specific skill. (10 minutes)Act Two: Yet another testimony to the power chickens have over our hearts and minds. Jack Hitt reports on an opera about Chicken Little. It's performed with dressed-up styrofoam balls, it's sung in Italian and, no kidding, able to make grown men cry. (14 minutes)Act Three: Ira accompanies photographer Tamara Staples as she attempts to photograph chickens in the style of high fashion photography. The chickens are not very cooperative. (15 minutes)Act Four: Kathie Russo's husband was Spalding Gray, who was best known for delivering monologues onstage—like "Monster in a Box," and "Swimming to Cambodia." On January 10, 2004, he went missing. Witnesses said they saw him on the Staten Island Ferry that night. Two months later, his body was pulled out of the East River. Kathie tells the story of the night he disappeared, and about how, in the weeks following, she and each of their three children were visited by a bird, who seemed to be delivering a message to them. (9 minutes)Transcripts are available at thisamericanlife.org