This American Life

This American Life describes contemporary life with themed episodes and a variety of stories on that theme — mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. The stories presented are engaging, intimate, surprising, funny, disturbing and bittersweet.

Recent Episodes

#538: Is This Working?

Stories of schools struggling with what to do with misbehaving kids. There's no general agreement about what teachers should do to discipline kids. And there's evidence that some of the most popular punishments actually may harm kids.

#537: The Alibi

Baltimore, 1999. Hae Min Lee, a bright teenager disappears after school one day. Six weeks later her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed is arrested for her murder. He says he's innocent — though he can't remember what he was doing that afternoon. But someone can. A classmate at Woodlawn High School claims to know exactly where Adnan was. Trouble is, she’s nowhere to be found. This week features a pilot of our new podcast, Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig.

#536: The Secret Recordings of Carmen Segarra

This week, an unprecedented look inside one of the most powerful, secretive institutions in the country. The NY Federal Reserve is supposed to monitor big banks and prevent another financial crisis. But when Carmen Segarra was hired, what she witnessed inside the Fed was so alarming that she bought a tiny recorder, and started secretly taping. ProPublica reports.

#535: Origin Story 2014

This week we bring you little-known and surprising stories of how all sorts of institutions began. An updated version of a 2009 episode.

#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.

#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.