This American Life

 
  
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ABOUT THIS AMERICAN LIFE

Sundays, noon-1pm on WGBH 89.7

Ira GlassBuilt around the personal vision of host Ira Glass, This American Life pioneered a new kind of radio storytelling. The weekly program explores a theme — fiascoes, conventions, the job that takes over your life — through a mix of radio monologues, mini documentaries, "found tape," short fiction, and unusual music.

Usually the program applies the tools of journalism to everyday life. But sometimes it tackles news stories, leading to some of its most acclaimed shows. For example, This American Life documented life on an aircraft carrier that was flying missions over Afghanistan. It spent an hour with mercenary soldiers fighting in Iraq. One show followed school reform over a decade at a Chicago public school. Another was about the most successful informant in FBI history and how he double-crossed his employer, Archer Daniels-Midland, and then the FBI.

The stories presented are engaging, intimate, surprising, funny, disturbing, bittersweet. Glass and his staff have a knack for finding writers and performers whose work hasn't been heard on radio, and producing their stories alongside Glass's own commentary in a way that listeners praise as "riveting" and "mesmerizing." Breakout stars include David Sedaris, Sarah Vowell, and David Rakoff.

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