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February 27 2017

#360: Switched At Birth

On a summer day in 1951, two baby girls were born in a hospital in small-town Wisconsin. The infants were accidentally switched, and went home with the wrong families.

February 20 2017

#610: Grand Gesture

This week we have stories of people going to very extreme measures to demonstrate their feelings. Elna Baker makes a questionable trip to Africa, while a man in Florida commits a series of disturbing acts in the name of love. Ira also goes to a high school to talk to kids before a dance.

February 13 2017

#582: When the Beasts Come Marching In

We human beings think we run the world, that we’ve got things under control. And then an animal shows up, and things don’t go as planned. We have stories this week where seals, wolves and a moose drop in and show us who isn't boss.

February 06 2017

#609: It’s Working Out Very Nicely

This week we document what happened when the President’s executive order went into effect temporarily banning travel from seven countries, and we talk about the way it was implemented. A major policy change thrown into the world like a fastball with no warning. It’s hard not to ask: “What just happened? What was that all about?”

January 30 2017

#489: No Coincidence, No Story!

We asked listeners to send us their best coincidence stories, and we got more than 1,300 submissions! There were so many good ones we decided to make a whole show about them. From a chance encounter at a bus station to a romantic dollar bill to a baffling apparition in a college shower stall. See more of your coincidence stories — with photos — here.

July 06 2015

#560: Abdi and the Golden Ticket

For July 4th, a story about someone who's desperately trying – against long odds – to make it to the United States and become an American. Abdi is a Somali refugee living in Kenya and gets the luckiest break of his life: he wins a lottery that puts him on a short list for a U.S. visa. This is his ticket out. But before he can cash in his golden ticket, the police start raiding his neighborhood, targeting refugees.

June 01 2015

#558: Game Face

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.

May 25 2015

#467: Americans in China

It used to be that the American expats in China were the big shots. They had the money, the status, the know-how. But that's changed. What's it like to be an American living in China now? And what do they understand about China that we don't?

May 18 2015

#557: Birds & Bees

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.

May 04 2015

#556: Same Bed, Different Dreams

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.

April 27 2015

#555: The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind

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.

April 13 2015

#554: Not It!

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.

April 06 2015

#553: Stuck In The Middle (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.

March 30 2015

#552: Need To Know Basis

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.

March 23 2015

#551: Good Guys 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.

March 16 2015

#550: Three Miles

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.

March 02 2015

#549: Amateur Hour

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.

February 09 2015

#547: Cops See It Differently, Part One

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 distrust the police — even fear them — and people who see cops as a force for good. Stories of people living on both sides of that divide, and people trying to bridge it. (If you prefer, here's a bleeped version.)

February 02 2015

#546: Burroughs 101

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.

If you prefer, here's a bleeped version.

January 26 2015

#545: If You Don't Have Anything Nice to Say, SAY IT IN ALL CAPS

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?
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