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

#475: Send a Message

This week people reach out in all kinds of ways to try to get their point
across. And the recipients of those messages try to decipher what
they mean. Messages in code, over the phone, and from beyond the grave.

#504: How I Got Into College

Students all over are starting college this month, and some of them still have a nagging question: what, exactly, got me in? An admissions officer tells us the most wrongheaded things applicants try. And Michael Lewis has the incredible story of how a stolen library book got one man — Emir Kamenica — into his dream school. (Photo: Emir as a Harvard undergrad. Credit Terri Wang.)

#388: Rest Stop

Nine radio producers. Two days. One rest stop on the New York State Thruway. In this show, we'll bring you stories of people who are just passing through, and people who are at the rest stop every day—working. One of them has worked there since 1969. A bunch of others came from Asia and eastern Europe to pour coffee for travelers.

#175: Babysitting

Stories of babysitters, and what goes on while mom and dad are away that mom and dad never find out about. Including the story of two teenagers who decide to invent children to babysit, as an excuse to get out of their own house.

#503: I Was Just Trying To Help

Stories of people doing the noble thing and stepping up to help, only to find out that others think what they're doing isn't helping at all. Planet Money looks at a charity that's decided to just give people money, and a sheriff in California devises a plan to let farmers grow weed — as long as they register with him.

#502: This Call May Be Recorded... To Save Your Life

A journalist named Meron Estefanos gets a disturbing tip. She's given a phone number that supposedly belongs to a group of refugees being held hostage in the Sinai desert. She dials the number, and soon dozens of strangers are begging her to rescue them. How can she ignore them?