I am an avid This American Life fan. The podcasts are great to listen to while you are getting ready in the morning, during your long drives, or at work. If you are me, it’s all of these. I sure that most of you know what it is, but if you don’t, here is their explanation that I love…
There’s a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It’s mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There’s lots more to the show, but it’s sort of hard to describe.
If you aren’t a fan yet, these 10 episodes should get you started. I’ve listed TAL’s description and why I have included it(You will notice most of these are light-hearted). If you are already a listener, hopefully this list brings you some good memories. To download the episode, click on the title.
10. Episode 175 – Babysitting
Stories of babysitters, and what goes on while mom and dad are away that mom and dad never find out about.
Why it’s on the list: Act 1 about a teenage son who is in charge of watching his younger siblings will bring you back to a time where messing with your siblings was the most fun you could have.
9. Episode 401 – Parent Trap
Stories about parents setting accidental traps for their children, and sometimes for themselves, including a story from WNYC’s Radiolab about a chimp raised twice—once as a human child, and again as a chimp.
Why it’s on the list: One of my favorite all time stories of Lucy the chimp.
8. Episode 109 – Notes on Camp
Stories of summer camp. People who love camp say that non-camp people simply don’t understand what’s so amazing about camp. In this program, we attempt to bridge the gap of misunderstanding between camp people and non-camp people.
Why it’s on the list: I loved going to camp as a kid, and that week of drama to me felt like months.
7. Episode 226 : Reruns
Stories of people stuck in their own personal reruns—moments or episodes that they revisit over and over again.
Why it’s on the list: I became a little obsessed with the first story about The Beaver Trilogy… mostly because I hate the town of Beaver, Utah.
6. Episode 424 – Kid Politics
What if, say, the U.S.-led invasion of Grenada in 1983 had been decided, not by Ronald Reagan, but by a bunch of middle-schoolers? And what if every rule at your high school had been determined, not by teachers and administrators, but entirely by teenagers? This week, stories about whether, when it comes to governing, kids do any better than grown-ups.
Why it’s on the list: It introduced Please Vote for Me, one of my favorite documentaries and took me back to being a passionate child.
5. Episode 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.”
Why it’s on the list: I think I am just jealous that this didn’t happen to me.
4. Episode 246 – My Pen Pal
Stories of very unusual pen pals, people whose relationship could not exist without the help of the postal service.
Why it’s on the list: I so admire the open-minded parents in Act I. A young 10 year old girl ends up writing and visiting a Panamanian leader, and at the time, enemy of the US.
3. Episode 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.
Why it’s on the list: It’s hard to imagine that this story is real and it also really sheds insight into what family is.
2. Episode 354 – Mistakes Were Made
It’s the late 1960s, and in the new technology of cryonics, a California TV repairman named Bob sees an opportunity to help people cheat death. But freezing dead people so scientists can reanimate them in the future is a lot harder than it sounds. Harder still was admitting to the family members of people Bob had frozen that he’d screwed up. Badly.
Why it’s on the list: This story is incredibly complicated and you will wonder how on earth all of it happened.
1. Episode 449 – 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.
Why it’s on the list: The voices of these kids along will melt your heart. I have listened to this over and over and over again. Absolutely a great take on this awkward time in our lives.
What about you? Do you have a favorite?
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