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September 15 2014

#534: A Not-So-Simple Majority

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.

September 08 2014

#533: It's Not the Product, It's the Person

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.

August 18 2014

#532: Magic Words

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.

August 11 2014

#245: Allure of the Mean Friend

What is it about them, our mean friends? They treat us badly, they don't call us back, they cancel plans at the last minute, and yet we come back for more. Popular bullies exist in business, politics, everywhere. How do they stay so popular?

July 28 2014

#531: Got Your Back

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

July 21 2014

#530: Mind Your Own Business

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.

July 14 2014

#293: A Little Bit of Knowledge

Stories about the pitfalls of knowing just a little bit too little.

July 07 2014

#241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes

Instead of the usual "each week we choose a theme, and bring you 3 or 4 stories on that theme" business, we throw all that away and bring you 20 stories—yes, 20—in 60 minutes.

June 30 2014

#529: Human Spectacle

Gladiators in the Colosseum. Sideshow performers. Reality television. We've always loved to gawk at the misery or majesty of others. But this week, we ask the question: What's it like when the tables are turned and all eyes are on you?

June 23 2014

#528: The Radio Drama Episode

Our most ambitious live show ever! (VIDEO DOWNLOAD) We pulled together a massive team of theater pros at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Opera House – nearly 50 singers, actors, dancers and musicians. The result? Journalism turned into a Broadway musical, into opera. Mike Birbiglia, Sasheer Zamata, Stephin Merritt, Lindsay Mendez, Josh Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda and others.

June 16 2014

#527: 180 Degrees

Flipflops, u-turns, changes of heart, about faces. Completely changing our position — sometimes it can be our best move, sometimes it can be our worst. Either way, it's usually complicated. This week we bring you stories of people who go one way, and then, for what ever reason, turn around and go the exact opposite direction.

June 09 2014

#199: House on Loon Lake

Our entire show this week is one long story, sort of a real-life Hardy Boys mystery. More than most of our shows, this one lends itself to a Hollywood-style tagline. Perhaps: "You Might Break In...But You'll Never Forget." Or "Dead Letters Tell No Tales."

June 02 2014

#75: Kindness of Strangers

Stories of the kindness of strangers and where it leads. Also, the unkindness of strangers and where that can lead. All of today's stories take place in the city most people think of as the least kind city in America: New York.

May 26 2014

#526: Is That What I Look Like?

You've been seeing yourself, getting to know what you look like, your whole life. So why is does it often take an outsider to see things about you that are obvious, and set you straight?

May 19 2014

#165: Americans In Paris

Many Americans have dreamy and romantic ideas about Paris, notions which probably trace back to the 1920s vision of Paris created by the expatriate Americans there. But what's it actually like in Paris if you're an American, without rose-colored glasses?

May 12 2014

#525: Call For Help

Stories of people coming to terms with being in serious trouble. They need help. Figuring out how to get it, that's another problem.

May 05 2014

#524: I Was So High

Your waitress. Your colleagues at work. Your doctor. Maybe even your parents. They’re all high. All the time. That’s what it feels like anyway. This week, stories in which drug use and daily life intersect – and in which people get high in secret and then do their best to function in the non-high world. Also, we hear some “I Was So High” stories from our very own listeners.

April 28 2014

#523: Death and Taxes

It is a peculiar feeling to know with certainty that something big is about to happen to you. This week we watch people go right up to the edge of inevitable change. We hear from preteens about the terrifying knowledge that puberty is about to happen...any minute now. And true to the death and taxes saying, we found it unavoidable to include a story about each one of those things.

March 24 2014

#480: Animal Sacrifice

What animals sacrifice for us, and what we sacrifice for them. Including a story from Susan Orlean about dogs in World War II, and the This American Life staff confronts Ira about his dog, Piney.

Photo: Dog wearing suicide bomb vest, 1943.

March 17 2014

#520: No Place Like Home

There's lots of ways we define where we're from. And whether we're proud of it, or ashamed of it, love it, hate it, miss it or are trying desperately to get back to it — where we're from is always a big part of who we are. This week, stories of people who are, in good ways and bad ways, coming to terms with the places they call home.
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