This radio show is possibly the only thing that I liked in high school that I still like just as much eight years later. This weekend, with some extra time to myself at home, I marveled at how many old episodes I still have never heard, even though I've gone through stretches of listening to at least an episode a week, for years.
It's fun to listen to old shows from 1996 and 1997 and to see how the focus of the show has evolved over time. Breaking away from interesting stories that seem to mainly come from friends of the show's producers, at some point This American Life acknowledged the political potential of its voice. They started to tackle current events and other tricky issues with a slant very different than other forms of media, such public education disparity in New York City, stories from Katrina survivors, and stories of people wrongly held at Guantanamo Bay. It's surprising how many important issues this show covers that are virtually ignored in the mainstream media or our classes in school. It's also surprising how shows totally comprised of everyday people's stories (The Inauguration Show, 24 Hours at the Golden Apple) are incredibly engaging.
Here are some other of my favorites:
- Mapping - five ways of mapping the world
- In the Shadow of the City
- Heretics - what happens when a renown evangelical preacher rejects the idea of hell
- Giant Pool of Money - the economic crisis explained
- Poultry Slam '07 - stories about birds
- Harold - the story of Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago
- Act V - high security inmates perform the final act in Hamlet
- Americans in Paris - what it means to be American in other countries
- Testosterone - life with and without testosterone
- Last Words