“The zone” is a sort of trance state that gamblers experience while they’re playing. One’s sense of time, space, body, and sense of self can disappear. So there’s an imperative to design against interruption.
medium: stories that are 10:00–30:00
Lewis Greenberg is fighting to preserve a giant installation in his yard, Holocaust Revisited. He calls the neighbors who object Nazis, but it’s not nearly so black and white.
David Foster Wallace first made his mark on the literary scene with his 1,079-page, three-pound-three-ounce novel, Infinite Jest. He discussed the book in 1996.
In third grade, Shalom Auslander saw a chance to make his mom proud and push his drunk father out of the picture. The plan called for a lot of blessing, and a lot of sinning.
David Sedaris reflects on his mother’s lung cancer.
Jeff Viniard’s engagement to the woman he loves is threatened by a crisis of faith.
An investigation into internet sleuths — like Todd Matthews of Doe Network — amateur detectives who use the web to solve cold cases and identify missing persons.
After a bit role with DeNiro, ex-con-actor Richie Castellano moves to a small town and gets dozens of people to invest in a movie that never premieres. Why did they buy it?
That moment, in basketball, when time is running out, the team is down by one, a player arcs the ball from downtown just as the buzzer sounds, and sinks it. It’s exhilarating. It’s heart breaking. And most of all, it’s good design.
Heidi and Rick Solomon adopt a son who was raised in terrible circumstances in a Romanian orphanage. He is unable to feel attachments to anyone.
Completing an accurate map of all the stars in the night sky is the lifelong goal of astonomer and self-confessed nocturnal hermit Brian Skiff. Diane Hope documents a night in the life of one of this dwindling number of professional stargazers.
“How do we actually know that these sentences coming out of our mouths are real stories, are real sentences?” Author and illustrator Maira Kalman on her life and work.
One night, drunk and stumbling around the Hudson River with a friend, Sean Cole discovered a monument to two of his poetry heroes, Walt Whitman and Frank O’Hara. And weirdly, he had been reciting from O’Hara’s Lunch Poems just minutes before. Thus began his quest to talk to the people whose idea it was.
As a teenager, Jessica Riddle and her friends would pick up the phone and dial the letters “H-E-A-T-H-E-R.” An old man would pick up the phone and talk to them. At first they were prank calling. But it turned out to be much more.
A contemplation of time and mortality, including stories about a family’s tragic visit to Palestine and a man who attends a dinner party after learning he might be dying.
In early August of 1945, Tsutomu Yamaguchi had a run of the worst luck imaginable. A double blast of radiation left his future, and the future of his descendants, in doubt.
Jarrod Livingstone was once officially dead for three minutes. His sister wants to know what the experience was like, but he refuses to talk about it.
A profile of the extraordinary rise of the British roller derby — a dynamic new expression of female identity and feminine aggression in Britain.
Reggie Watts, the comedian and musician, goes on a sonic tour of Brooklyn.
In 2003, Noel was working at an ad agency in Virginia. Everyone wanted to work on flashy spots like Apple or Nike. Which is why when an insurance company called Geico became a client, everyone hoped the campaign wouldn’t end up on their desk.
On an August day in 1979, Carla Dimkoff learned something which shaped the rest of her life and the life of a complete stranger. And it took 26 years for her to realize that.
The discovery of Boston mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger and his girlfriend Catherine Greig turned the block in Santa Monica where they’d been hiding for 15 years into a media circus. Writer Gideon Brower, who lived across the street, talks to residents of the apartment building about their neighbors — “The Gaskos.”
The story of a Christian card counting team, and why they saw no contradiction in being devout Christians who spent their days in casinos.
Anthony Federico went from an unknown editor at ESPN to an accused bigot after unintentionally writing a racially loaded headline.
A booker for court TV shows opens up about the world of daytime justice.
Wisconsin Public Radio wanted to do something simple: start running Car Talk. But to do this, they had to move their local show, About Cars, to the afternoon. The host was so upset that he not only refused to move, he rallied the public against Car Talk.
The main concept behind the Trappist lifestyle is that the abbey should be self sufficient. The monks should make something and sell it to the public. Some make cheese. Some make spirits. But none of the Trappist products are as famous as the beer.
Luis Da Silva has been called the best ball handler in the world. But he didn’t even start for his high school basketball team. It wasn’t until he showed up for a Nike commercial shoot in New York that anyone had a clue what he could do.
Frankie Lewchuk lives in a small town in the southern Appalachian mountains in Alabama. His dad was on the run from the law for 16 years, and Frankie had no idea.
Ira Glass travels to Vegas for the World Series of Poker, gets hooked, and explores what it would mean if he ditched his job in radio to become a professional card player.
It has been known since the 1990s that James “Whitey” Bulger was a secret FBI informant going back a couple decades. But newly obtained government documents now show that Bulger started snitching on fellow criminals when he was in his twenties.
Tig Notaro was out at a party when she ran into Taylor Dayne, a late 80s pop star. Then she ran into her again. And again. They established something of a one-sided rapport.
One of the best-known stories from the Bible reenacted with an armadillo. Sort of.
The man who helped bring the Hubble Space Telescope into focus.
For centuries, the Newfoundland fishery was hailed as the greatest in the world. Then, in 1992, the cod disappeared and island culture was poised to go the way of the cod.
Private investigator Paul Bieber heads to Colombia for answers to a question victims of paramilitary violence are rarely — if ever — asked: What does justice look like to them?
Private investigator Paul Bieber heads to Colombia for answers to a question victims of paramilitary violence are rarely — if ever — asked: What does justice look like to them?
Aspiring young DJs without much money, post-blackout looting, and abundant hi-fi stores. Delaney Hall explores how the New York riots of 1977 sparked hip-hop music.
For over 40 years, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sponsored a program that placed Native American children in Mormon homes. The program aimed to help bring a “cursed race” back to the Kingdom of God.
Legions of fetal cells hang out inside a mother for decades after she gives birth — and might even help heal her when she’s sick or hurt.
We’re taught to avoid doing things we’ll regret for the rest of our lives, but why? Author Kathryn Schulz makes the case for cherishing our worst choices — like her tattoo.
A neuroscientist looks to her own research to understand her father.
Mark Sam Rosenthal’s father teaches him about the birds and the bees, but leaves out the one lesson he never learned himself.
As a teenager, Hallie Haglund had a complicated relationship with her English teacher — one that became even more complicated when they ventured into the wild.
The self-proclaimed Queen of Mean listens to and discusses her live performance about her ex-boyfriend, Big Frank, and what makes for good stand-up comedy.
Urban planner Daniel D’Oca on architectural weapons — design elements in the urban landscape used to wage the ongoing war between integration and segregation.
Urban planner Daniel D’Oca on architectural weapons — design elements in the urban landscape used to wage the ongoing war between integration and segregation.
You may not know his face, but you definitely know his voice. Tom Kane: the man behind thousands of video games, commercials, and those ridiculous movie trailers.
Back in the 1980s, Michael Larson made the most money ever on the game show Press Your Luck. It was no luck, but was his winning plan a scam or an honest venture?
Blaise Allysen Kearsley ponders the question: How do you learn about sexuality when no one tells you anything useful and everyone else seems to know what they’re doing?
Twenty five years ago, Michael Morton was convicted of killing his wife and sentenced to life in prison. DNA evidence finally set him free, but it took a quarter-century to force Texas officials to reveal the evidence that exonerated him.
Asa Carter was a speechwriter for Alabama Governor George Wallace. He penned one of the most infamous speeches of the era, Wallace’s “Segregation Now, Segregation Forever.” Forrest Carter was a Cherokee writer. But the two men shared a secret.
Matt Danzico took on a massive project to show that strangers on the Internet can be trusted — and found himself in the middle of nowhere with a stranger and his gun.
Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert says our beliefs about what makes us happy are often wrong and challenges the idea that we’ll be miserable if we don’t get what we want. Our “psychological immune system” lets us feel happy even when things don’t go as planned.
In July 2011, Matthew Rochelle stood trial for murder. His father, Stephen Rochelle, describes what it felt like when his own son became a stranger.
Even during construction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, the deck would go up and down by several feet with the breeze. In the months the bridge was open, people came just to ride the waves as they crossed above Puget Sound. The thrill ride didn’t last long.
When we think about bad behavior, we think about character. But psychologists have found that doesn’t explain everything. Take for example a man who started out as an upstanding businessman and went on to commit fraud involving millions of dollars.
A 26-year-old from Los Angeles gets deported to his parents’ home country of El Salvador, which he has not seen since he was five years old. He has no memories of the country, no immediate family, and little ability to speak Spanish.
Jad Abumrad goes looking for the devil, in search of the truth behind the legend of one of the most haunting, shadowy figures in music — American blues singer Robert Johnson.
Nneka’s music is a mixture of Afrobeat, hip-hop, R&B, and folk. As a teenager, she moved from Nigeria to Germany, her mother’s home country. “I was a foreigner, and I was treated like a foreigner. Despite the fact that I had both passports.”
Published in 1967, Guy Debord’s “La Société du Spectacle” is a radical attack on modern society, in which, in Debord’s words, “being” had declined into a state of “having” and “having” merely meant “appearing”. But what exactly was the spectacle?
A young man is bewildered when his phone conversation with a date sounds entirely different on her end of the line than it does on his.
“Q: Did you hear about the new corduroy pillows? A: They’re making headlines!” An all-icebreaker episode of the Dinner Party Download. Very short, very stupid jokes from Patton Oswalt, Miranda July, Spike Jonze, Shepard Fairey, and many more. Part 1.
As a boy in religious school, Shalom Auslander is informed that his name is one of the names of God, so he must be very careful not to take his own name in vain.
After a terrible loss, science writer Carl Zimmer goes to report from the South Sudan, surrounded by the world’s deadliest parasites.
In 1822, an accidental shooting left Alexis St. Martin with a hole in his gut that wouldn’t heal, but didn’t kill him either. Instead, the strange relationship that developed between the patient and his doctor opened up a one-of-a-kind window into the human body.
A look back at that relationship you can’t believe actually happened. You stayed too long, put up with too much, said such nasty things. The bylaws and byways of cringe love.
A tour through the world of money and politics, revealing just how much time members of Congress spend raising money and which committee assignments yield the biggest campaign donations. Plus, what exactly is all this money actually buying?
David Unkovic is a thoughtful, mild-mannered guy who was appointed to save Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The city had gone broke and it was Unkovic’s job to figure out how to fix things. Then he quit. And since resigning, Unkovic has gone missing.
Huddie Ledbetter, better known as Leadbelly, the renowned folksinger and bluesman, performed with pioneering folklorist Alan Lomax on WNYC in 1944.
The story of how the environmentalist that ranchers hated the most, whom they tried to run out of town and hanged in effigy, came to take the ranchers’ side of things.
Nick Epperson chronicles a turbulent year in his life. Feeling isolated, he drops out to try home schooling, then decides to go back. “If you could give me any advice or give me some potion that would make people my age start liking me,” he says, “or I don’t know.”
John Hodgman rambles through a story about aliens, physics, time, space, and the way all of these somehow contribute to a sweet, perfect memory of falling in love.
In 1946, legendary radio dramatist Norman Corwin was named the first recipient of the “One World Flight” Award. His prize was a four month trip around the world. Corwin used his global journey to produce a series of thirteen radio documentaries for CBS.
A taxi driver is forced to work on his anniversary, and gets more than he expected when he picks up a couple and a surprise passenger in Lower Manhattan.
Two stories about heart-stopping falls: David Eagleman gets to the bottom of what goes on in our brains during those life or death moments when time seems to slow way down. Plus, the story of Sarita and Simon, who fell in, and then out, of love.
A year spent documenting Megan’s transition into Miles, from the mundane practical considerations to the fundamental identity transformation.
As an adolescent boy, David Sedaris feared he might be gay. His secret plan was to win the lottery and hire doctors who would purge him of his impulses. Then he went away to summer camp and met Pete, who seemed like an outsider in the same way he was.
“I love the simplicity of Sesame Street characters,” says Kevin Clash, Elmo’s creator. “I love that Elmo is just an orange nose and two eyes and no tongue — just a black mouth — and you just find that by just the tilt of the head or looking up, it says something.”
The Sporkful tackles the world of gum, including thoughts on the liquid center, ideal shapes and sizes, and the best gum jingles of the 80′s. Featuring NPR’s Mike Pesca.
How to avoid bad jokes in your State of the Union speech, stop a nosebleed in the most insane way, and get discount groceries. Plus: Fred Armisen on how to make a prank call.
Jen Nathan produced “A square meal” in 2007 and she’s been reeling ever since. The story follows the last days of John Gallagher with his caring friend Cedric Chambers. Jen says being there felt uncomfortable at minimum and morally wrong at worst.
David Foster Wallace reports on a turning point in a past Republican presidential primary: The moment when John McCain failed to respond well to an attack by George Bush, which arguably ended up costing him the election.
Josh Cutler is a teenager living with Tourette’s Syndrome. “It feels like there’s a big balloon inside my stomach,” he says. “Like every second extra the tic stays inside it feels like somebody blows up the balloon another notch.” Listen to Part 2 of Josh’s diary.
At 17, Eleanor Longden started to hear voices and was diagnosed as a schizophrenic — a label she rejects. Now she is a high achieving academic, living happily with the voices.
Starlee Kine plays matchmaker to form a band that’s made entirely out of the classifieds.
Alan Turing was the first person to conceive of the computer age. He is considered the father of artificial intelligence. But the world wasn’t kind to Turing. In 1952, he was convicted under a British law prohibiting “acts of gross indecency between men.”
John Coltrane recorded the album in 1964 and released it the following year. In many ways, it mirrors Coltrane’s spiritual quest that grew out of his personal troubles.
A first-hand account of the power of animal magnetism.
John Corcoran graduated from high school and college and was a teacher for 17 years without knowing how to read or write. Listen also to Part 1 of his story.
Dror Etkes has taken it as his personal mission to document the spread of Israeli settlements in the West Bank — every shack, mobile home, housing cluster, bypass road, and town. But settlement growth is something many people would rather keep quiet.
Jonathan Goldstein interrogates the girls, now grown up, who terrorized him and his classmates years ago in school — and finds they can be just as scary as ever.
The American novelist Richard Ford reads a favorite John Cheever short story, and discusses it with The New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman.
Is there such thing as a good cage? The answer goes back to the ’70s, to the moment the modern zoo was born, embodied by the few tentative steps of a gorilla named Kiki.
A retelling of the story of Cain and Abel, in which we finally hear Cain’s side of things.
In his ongoing wrestling match with the Cantonese language, Benjamin Law charts his attempts to master his family’s mother tongue.
As Ed Gavagan watches medical students practice sutures on the subway, he remembers his own traumatic experience of being stabbed on the street in New York.
David Carr of the New York Times answers questions about his favorite “time” of the week, his thoughts on flying, and the country he knows least about.
Colorado Springs was in rough shape. City services were being cut left and right. Then one man wrote a manifesto for how to solve the city’s problems: run it like a hotel.
Some have called the song an alternative national anthem. Others say it’s a Marxist response to “God Bless America.” Written and first sung by Woody Guthrie, it probably borrowed heavily from a 1930 gospel recording by the Carter Family. From
On The Media, the show that specializes in pulling back the curtain on other media, pulls the curtain back on itself. Not everybody speaks as cleanly as it might seem.
The story of a man who has spent more than a decade trying to convince doctors that he’s not mentally ill. But the more he argues his case, the less they believe him.
At this moment, a quiet war is raging in our oceans. The opponents are microscopic, but the scope is so vast it rivals Lord of the Rings. And it’s vital to our own survival.
Hostile womanizer, crack addict, bad parent, New York Times columnist — David Carr has been all of those, sometimes simultaneously. But he couldn’t trust his memory of his own past. So the reporter set out to reconstruct his various sordid lives.
An Irish-Catholic family obsessed with the Kennedys spends a summer spying.
The conductor has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping people to realize their untapped love for it — and by extension, their untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, and new connections.
In September 2010, NPR and ProPublica published an investigation about five soldiers who suffered traumatic brain injuries from an explosion in Iraq, and the cognitive and emotional problems they’d been having since. Twelve days later, one of the soldiers piled an armload of guns into his pickup and led police on a high-speed chase.
A Houston woman tries to document every day of her four-year-old daughter’s life.
The Maltese Falcon is a detective novel, but it’s also a brilliant literary work, a thriller, a love story, and a dark, dry comedy. This radio documentary on the novel is part of The Big Read series, from the National Endowment for the Arts.
A closer look at Yoko Ono’s role in the Beatles break up, the complicated relationship with Paul McCartney, and surprising stories behind his most recognizable songs.
As a brain scientist, Jill Bolte Taylor got an unusual research opportunity. She had a massive stroke, and watched in fascination as her functions shut down one by one.
Christopher Daniel Gay has broken out of jail more than anyone else alive. He is the stuff of country songs. In his most notorious getaway, he fled prison and stole a tractor trailer to visit his dying mother. But the story behind the myth is more complicated.
In 2012, for the first time ever, women will step into the ring to compete at the Summer Olympics in London. One of the contenders fighting for one of the three spots is 16-year-old Claressa Shields, a high-school junior in Flint, Michigan.
“I have this habit of walking into any door that’s unlocked,” says Andrea Seabrook, NPR’s congressional correspondent. “You start poking around, you find the coolest things.” That’s how she found the marble bathtubs in the Capitol basement.
Director Richard Shepard had been dwelling in cinema obscurity for years before he got his break: a big budget and a chance to direct big stars in his film The Matador. When he took the film to Sundance in 2005, his entire future was flashing before his eyes.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has released transcripts and audio recordings made at the NRC Operations Center during the meltdown in Japan. The release of the tapes came at the request of the public radio program “BURN: An Energy Journal.”
David Foster Wallace’s iconic 2005 Kenyon College commencement address, now available in full. Listen to Part 2.
A documentary of a daughter’s frustration in not living up to her mother’s ideal, but compassion for a woman who suffered abuse, starvation, and the horrors of war.
It’s a dark night in Greenwich Village. A couple, a solitary customer, and a bartender seem adrift in the darkness. Adam Gopnik, of the New Yorker, walks the streets in search of the location and mood of Edward Hopper’s 1942 painting Nighthawks.
Comedian Robert Popper couldn’t stop his drunken friend from putting their lives at risk during a wedding in Israel, and a survivor of the 7/7 terrorist attacks is unable to refrain from joining in with message boards accusing her of being a government plant.
Meghan Groome encounters a young science teachers rite of passage.
Junot Díaz reads his short story “How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie).” And Edwidge Danticat discusses it with The New Yorker’s fiction editor.
They should! It’s a cardinal rule: more expensive items are supposed to be qualitatively better than their cheaper versions. But is that true for wine?
The New York Times reporter Amy Harmon is making no progress on her story about a young autistic man trying to live independently — until she finds a way to reconnect.
Elna Baker on being a 24-year-old virgin in New York City.
Is there such a thing as a purely selfless deed? Three bona fide heroes explain what went through their minds as they leapt into action. The heroes: Lora Shrake, who squared off with a 950-pound bull; Bill Pennell, who repeatedly dove into a burning car for survivors; and Wesley Autrey, who jumped in front of a subway train.
At 16 years old, Catalina Puente finds herself obsessing over a girl she hardly knows.
“Q: How do you turn a duck into a popular soul singer? A: Put it in the microwave until its bill withers.” An all-icebreaker episode of the Dinner Party Download. Very short, very stupid jokes from David Carr, Girl Talk, Billy Bragg, and many more. Part 2.
John Corcoran graduated from high school and college and was a teacher for 17 years without knowing how to read or write. Listen also to Part 2 of his story.
Kurt Braunohler and his girlfriend had been together for 13 years. So they decided that they needed to sleep with other people before they could get married. Naturally.
The pop star Robbie Williams is taking time out from his career and has been researching UFO sightings, abductees, and the possibility of extra-terrestrial life. Jon Ronson accompanies him to a UFO conference in Laughlin, Nevada.
Malcolm Gladwell gets inside the food industry’s pursuit of the perfect spaghetti sauce, and makes a larger argument about the nature of choice and happiness.
Scott Carrier hitchhiked to National Public Radio headquarters in 1983. It is something of a public radio legend. He left a failed marriage in Salt Lake City and spent several weeks thumbing his way east, carrying a tape recorder and a microphone.
In 1947, the House Un-American Activities Committee opened its hearing into Communist influence in the movie business. One of the 19 denounced was Gordon Kahn, the reporter’s father. The first of a six-part history of the Hollywood Blacklist.
“Somebody might be able to do a great painting that’s 20 x 30 inches,” says Ethel Kessler, art director of the United States Postal Service Stamp Services. “But you take that down to 1 x 1.5 inches, and it’s a challenge to make it work.”
In March of 1940, a young Woody Guthrie sat for a series of oral history interviews for the Library of Congress archives. The recordings offer a glimpse of Guthrie’s early music style and a frank account of his harrowing past.
Ira Glass spends time in perhaps the toughest room on earth, the editorial meeting at The Onion, where there’s one laugh for every 100 jokes.
In 1993, John Perry Barlow was at a convention for the NeXT computer, the machine Steve Jobs created. Feet away, the American Psychiatric Association was holding a convention of its own. At the border of the two, Barlow’s life changed forever.
A woman finds herself a salesperson for two religions: Christianity and Mary Kay.
The mycologist Paul Stamets believes that mushrooms can save our lives, restore our ecosystems, and transform other worlds.
Anthropologist Helen Fisher takes on the tricky topic of love and explains its evolution, its biochemical foundations, and its social importance.
The Pruitt-Igoe housing project in St. Louis became most famous at the moment of its demise. The 33 high-rise towers were supposed to solve an impending population crisis, but when conditions started to decline, everything got very bad, very fast.
Ali Davis literally hands people their fantasies, at a video store with a huge porn section.
Musician David Berkeley has gotten a lot of requests in his life, but none quite like this one. A fan wanted Berkeley to come to his house and help save his relationship by serenading the troubled couple with a personal concert.
There’s a common problem faced by Alzheimer’s and dementia patients all over the world: lost in their memories, they sometimes get disoriented and wander off. A nursing home in Düsseldorf, Germany, came up with a novel solution.
“What I was doing was trying to be a glamour girl,” the singer told Terry Gross. “I had been a tomboy most of the time. And I wanted to look grown, you know, I want to wear tall high-heeled shoes, and fishtail gowns, and big long rhinestone earrings.”
The composer and radio host are second cousins, but they didn’t know each other well when the Field Museum in Chicago asked Ira to interview Philip on stage.
Mount Kailash in Tibet is one of the world’s most venerated, and least visited, holy sites. Walking its circuit alongside pilgrims, yaks, and yogis, Scott Carrier circles the center of creation. From the six-part series Stories from the Heart of the Land.
What strikes most people when they first arrive in Antarctica is the quiet. “It’s the only place in the world that you can actually hear geology happening; all these processes that you’re schooled to think take thousands and thousands of years.”
The practice of isolating prisoners for extended periods has been denounced as torture by the United Nations. But thousands of inmates are locked up this way in US prisons.
In 1998, Dr. Gary Kaplan, the CEO of Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle, received some bad news about his hospital. It was losing money. In his quest for a better management system, Kaplan ended up at a Toyota factory in Japan.
The true story of Princess Alexandra Amelie of Bavaria, 1826-1875, who was observed awkwardly walking sideways down the palace corridors. When questioned by her worried royal parents, she announced that she had swallowed a grand glass piano.
A teacher’s classroom of restless, indifferent students becomes suddenly reliant on his seemingly worthless field study on drowning.
Before Ira Glass was host of This American Life, he worked as a producer for NPR. In this story from 1989, he talks to some of the 18 people in Chicago who were struck by lightning in just one month (on the story page, scroll down a bit to find the audio link).
A strange twist of legal taxonomy causes a dispute over whether X-MEN action figures are toys or dolls and sparks a court case about what it means to be human.
A story of the kind of preferential treatment we all dream of, where waiters routinely bring us extra appetizers on the house, delivery men throw a little something special into our take-out orders, and deli owners regularly comp us free pickles and chips.
Girl moves to big city, girl meets boy, boy turns out to be a crackhead living in a halfway home, girl thinks she can change him, ends up changing herself.
The writer and her daughter talk sex, divorce and sexuality among young women.
The true story of little-known rooms in the New York City school system. Teachers are told to report there instead of their classrooms. When they arrive, they find they’ve been put on probationary status. Average length of stay? Months, sometimes years.
Jack London’s The Call of the Wild is a singular classic. It’s a great novel, and a philosophical one, but packed with adventure. Oddest of all, it is experimental — half of the characters are canine, including the hero. This radio documentary on the novel is part of The Big Read series, from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it.
A man who believes he’s turning into a cockroach reaches out to a world famous doctor.
The interview begins with Terry Gross mispronouncing Simmons’ original Hebrew last name; he tells her it’s because she has a Gentile mouth. It’s only downhill from there. Simmons refused to allow the interview to be posted online by NPR.
The writing of Marshall McLuhan has entered popular jargon like that of few other modern intellectuals. Perhaps no other line has been quoted, and misquoted, as enthusiastically as “the medium is the message.” But what does that really mean?
This Is Your Life was a 1950s television show in which unsuspecting, often famous, guests would have their biographies created on the spot for 40 million viewers. But in some cases, the format seemed a bit inappropriate for the story being told.
Barney’s has chosen an odd tactic for its Christmas decorations on the Upper East Side. They don’t refer to Christmas. Instead, each window is dedicated to a different famous person. Only one window has a live human being in it, and it’s the Freud window.
The sounds from Dublin Zoo at night. Howling wolves and snuffling elephants.
The best idea that Susan Schaller ever had came after meeting an isolated young man at a community college. He was 27. Though he had been born deaf, no one had ever taught him to sign. He had lived his entire life without language.
After a 2010 plane crash killed dozens of Polish dignitaries, including the president, some thought the country would cross the social and political rift and come together to mourn. But something else entirely happened instead.
Dan Savage points a finger at the Catholic Church for driving him to atheism, despite the fact that he still wants to believe he’ll see his mom in heaven someday.
Brian and Alma Hart lost their 20-year-old son in Iraq in 2003. A week before he was killed, their son called home, concerned about a lack of protection for soldiers.
Working in an art museum, quietly observing for hours at a time, security guards begin to feel trapped inside their own thoughts, or even inside a painting.
She rose at dusk, sang, rehearsed, performed, ate and drank and sang until dawn. Then she slept all day and began to create and unravel again as the sun went down.
Eighteen years after Carol gave up her son for adoption, she still believed they would meet again. She never changed her name and she never moved away.
Robert and Danielle tried for years to steer their son away from female clothing. But nothing they did made a difference. Eventually, they found out about a controversial treatment that allows kids to postpone puberty and avoid developing the physical attributes of the sex they were born with (here’s the first part of the series, too).
Jon Ronson goes to his high school reunion to figure out why his friends threw him in a lake when he was 16. He suspects it was because he was fat. But no one at the reunion remembers it quite the way he does. A shorter version aired on This American Life.
In which Sean Cole goes undercover as a strip club attendee in Memphis, which he’s heard is the city for that sort of thing. Note: This story deals with mature themes.
The dizzying rise and fall of Lincoln Beachey, a pilot whose aeronautic feats changed aviation forever and turned chancy stunts into acrobatic mastery.
The Great Salt Lake’s West Desert is a land of polygymists and bombing ranges. There’s chlorine gas in the air, anthrax underground, and people who call the place home.
An economist and his buddies tricked the people of Brazil into saving the country from rampant inflation. They had a crazy, unlikely plan, and it worked.
Most of us deal with death by looking away. But in the Zagar family, they looked closer. A father and son have a contest to take the best pictures of their dying grandpa.
Before Starlee Kine was a producer for This American Life, she was the subject of a story, in which she and a neighbor become obsessed with treating each other badly.
Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were adopted as infants. When they were 35 years old, they met and discovered they had been separated after birth, for a research study of identical twins designed to examine the question of nature versus nurture.
The history of the modern shopping mall, told by people living in a real, yet unnamed, city. Scored to Muzak, the universal mall experience comes to life, for better or worse.
What it’s like to be the player who spends 90 minutes mostly looking at the backs of his colleagues. They call it a team sport, but for the goalie it is a life of inaction interrupted by moments of frantic activity, occasionally bordering on near-suicide.
“I was plotting to kill a man,” the reporter begins. “Investigators look for motive, and mine was buried 25 years in the past.” Note: This story deals with mature themes.
When people critique cul-de-sacs, often, they’re actually critiquing the suburbs more generally. Cul-de-sacs by definition aren’t well connected to other streets and they are far away from town centers. People argue whether these are pros or cons.
Walking in San Francisco, journalist Delfin Vigil noticed the name “Nikko” etched into the sidewalk. Then he saw the name again. And again. And again.
Can coconut cake + random phone calls = love? Two people who are used to being alone in the winter connect over the telephone in this radio drama.
As host of 99% Invisible, Roman Mars spotlights the seams and joints that make up the world around us. Roman joins Radiolab to play some favorites from his podcast, and chat about the hidden language of design that shapes our lives.
Knowing what’s going on in the minds of humans is a leap of faith, but a pretty safe leap. The minds of animals is another story. When Jerry Stones, a zookeeper, was duped by an orangutan named Fu Manchu, was he knowingly deceiving his human captors?
A profile of Ataiba, the chief of one of the last bands of nomads in the Americas, as he leaves the Bolivian jungle to live with evangelical missionaries.
Why is it that karaoke machines only have songs on them? Why aren’t there other options, like the “you talkin to me?” scene from Taxi Driver?
From the headquarters of Aftermath, Inc., amidst a strip of bland office buildings, Tim Reifsteck makes his living cleaning up after the darkest side of human society.
“It’s marvelous when we’re surprised by coincidences,” the composer said. “That’s one of the beautiful things about hunting mushrooms — is that they grow up and are fresh at just a particular moment, and our lives are actually characterized by moments.”
Whether or not you believe it, about one in 10 people report having an “out of body” experience. And turns out it happens pretty frequently among fighter pilots.
Being in an open relationship can be awkward when meeting your partner’s parents.
As construction commenced on the largest building project since the pyramids, questions swirled around Lower Manhattan. How tall? Why two? What’s a world trade center? Young women were posted outside to put a pretty face on a controversy.
The same story from two different sides of the bench. Judge Jeremiah, a Rhode Island juvenile court judge, grants an early release to Matthew, a 16-year-old repeat offender. Two weeks later, Matthew is arrested again. Plus, the tragic update to the story.
Matt Damon and Ben Affleck express their desire to be on Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, to the producers’ delight. But it turns into a lesson on being duped.
The format of the program was to reconnect people, live on the air. On July 6, 1947, those connections were diverse: one man was reunited with his wife, another with a childhood friend, and — in a story unlike anything on the radio before — Holocaust survivor Siegbert Freiberg was reunited with his father.
In 2008, detectives in Worcester, Massachusetts, spent two hours interrogating a 16-year-old girl whose baby son had just died, until they forced from her what was later judged a coerced confession of murder. Listen to Part 2 of this investigative report.
Pornography rates up there with Hollywood as one of Southern California’s biggest industries, yet stories about it are often completely off the mark. Pornographer Sam Stern offers an unsettling answer to the question: just how far have we come in perceptions of feminine sexuality? Note: This story deals with mature themes.
An account of life in one of the Bowery’s last flophouses, from the men who live in its rows of wooden cubicles. “So it’s not the Waldorf,” says Nathan Smith, the manager, “but where else can you find a room in New York for $10 a night?”
Mild traumatic brain injury has been called a signature wound of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Shock waves from roadside bombs can ripple through soldiers’ brains, causing damage that leaves no visible scars. Listen to the second part of this story.
Suzanne, a single woman in her 40s, decides to adopt an African-American baby. In preparation, she attends workshops to “teach white people to raise kids of color.”
An unconventional father/son story. Two prison inmates in Texas, Daniel Johnson and Jesse Johnson, form a stronger bond behind bars than any they’d had on the outside.
The stories of the men and women involved with the execution of death row inmates in Huntsville, Texas. Narrated by Warden Jim Willett, who oversees all lethal injections.
Walking down the street in Seattle, it might be easy to ignore the throngs of homeless kids asking for spare change. But it’s harder to ignore their dogs.
When he was 16, Myron Jones was allowed to go out any night of the week, but his mother barely let his sister out of the house. So the siblings invented an imaginary family that required her to babysit late into the night and sometimes for entire weekends.
One of the last songs Johnny Cash recorded was “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).” It was written in 1934 by a 12-year-old boy named Claude Ely, who went on to become a Pentecostal preacher known to followers as Brother Claude.
The voice behind a famous but not well-understood “fall guy” for American policies worldwide — Lynndie England, the American servicewoman photographed at Abu Ghraib prison holding a leash with a naked, Iraqi prisoner on the end of it.
The neurologist tells stories of Charles Bonnet syndrome, an under-reported phenomenon when visually impaired people experience lucid hallucinations.
There’s no scientific metric for measuring a city’s personality. But you can feel it. As a musician, Sxip Shirey decided that living in New York was a necessary evil. Then, one night on a roof, he had an epiphany that completely changed the way he saw the city.
For more than 25 years, Frank Pease was the primary portrait photographer in a town of about 20,000 just south of Lake Michigan. Jason Bitner, co-founder of Found Magazine, happened across thousands of those photos and tracked down some of the subjects.
The reporter’s father spent 23 years in prison. He started off as a Cuban Revolutionary and later ended up a convicted felon in the United States. Then, out of the blue, she got an email from him. He wrote, “I’m home. Your biological father, Hector.”
The Canadian singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, Metals, is a bit more chaotic and liberating. It’s “about un-simplifying things and leaning on these masterful minds I have so much respect for,” Feist says. She performs four songs from the album.
What thoughts do bridge jumpers have a second after their feet leave the wall? How does it feel to hit water at 120 miles per hour? How do they stay afloat until rescued?
The things we do for love. It’s not pretty. These stories could also be described as the things we do when we fail to realize that we aren’t in love.
By day he was a file clerk, by night he created one of America’s favorite cult comics. A conversation with Cleveland’s favorite dark, dysfunctional and curmudgeonly son.
The phone rings at the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce and 86-year-old Matt Kennedy answers a common question about the Brooklyn amusement park. “Yes, of course Coney Island still exists. Yes, it’s bigger and better than ever. Thank you.”
How to justify the use of “OMG,” evade the escaped cobra in New York, use Pandora effectively, and undo an awkward first impression, with guest Julie Klausner.
Burnt orange and harvest gold — looking at the century through changing palettes.
Witness the tearful end of a perfect online world.
A mystery involving a box of old letters and a chase through clues and suspects — a Manhattan middle school teacher, homesick WWII soldiers, Rte 101, an estranged wife and mother — that all revolve around, yes, a goat standing on a cow.
A carpenter finds reason to stay in New York after a chance encounter.
Blues musician Screamin’ Jay Hawkins had 57 children, some of whom were happier than others to learn of their father’s prolific paternity.
Near the end of the 19th century, a mysterious young woman with a beguiling smile turned up in Paris. She became a huge sensation. She also happened to be dead. You’d probably recognize her face yourself. You might have even put your mouth on it.
Residents of a FEMA trailer park deep in the Mississippi woods struggle with drugs and depression. One hundred families have lived there in near isolation for close to two years since Hurricane Katrina. Several people confess they want to kill themselves.
“I seem to be one of these curious cases of a person whose memory is continuous,” the author says. “The capacity to forget is what preserves your life, in some instances. On the other hand, there is no continuity of human life without memory.”
Captain David Trask was born on land but lived most of his life on the waters off Nova Scotia. A respected dragger, he was at peace on the sea, but he also knew her dangers. So when Trask saved the life of his crew, but not himself, no one was surprised.
Two toys with two very different fates. The teddy bear, named after the charismatic president Theodore Roosevelt, was a sensation in the early twentieth century. Then, in 1909, toy makers placed their bets on the Taft presidency’s answer to the teddy bear.
Julia Easterlin describes her performing style as “musical sudoku.” When the 22-year-old walks into a room, she is equipped with just a backpack. She unpacks her rectangular looping machine, which essentially creates a one-woman chorus.
Rachel North was on a train that got blown up in the London subway bombings. After blogging about her experience, Rachel became a spokeswoman for a survivors’ group. Conspiracy theorists started attacking her online. For some reason, she engaged them.
Some ideas are just repugnant — like paying for human organs. On the other hand, is it any less repugnant to let thousands of people die every year for want of a kidney that people might be willing to give up if they were able to be compensated?
Rumor has it that two things made Robbins become a writer: taking LSD and moving to Seattle. With that in mind, he plays a game called “Unleash the power within!”
As a teenager, John Richardson Jr. discovered his father was the CIA station chief in Saigon, before his cover was blown in the ’60s. For decades, the son was desperate to know more. Then, with his years running out, his dad began to fill in the blanks.
“I cry a lot because I miss people. They die and I can’t stop them,” the author told Terry Gross. “What I dread is the isolation. … There are so many beautiful things in the world which I will have to leave when I die, but I’m ready, I’m ready, I’m ready.”
Comedian Mike Birbiglia on the time he ruined a cancer charity event with the worst performance of his life. He improvised. About cancer.
For decades, believers living in the Appalachian hills of the southeastern US have incorporated handling serpents and drinking strychnine into their religious practice. In accordance with their faith, handlers refuse medical treatment when bitten.
Mike Birbiglia was used to doing weird stuff in his sleep, until it almost killed him.
Thembi was 19 and living in one of the largest townships in South Africa. She was willing to speak out at a time when few South Africans were willing to say, “I have AIDS.” Thembi carried a tape recorder from 2004 to 2005 to document her life.
“Man is small, and, therefore, small is beautiful.” Ernst Fritz Schumacher sought to expose the flipside to glib mottos — growth is good, big is better — questioning our obsession with economic expansion. But did we heed the spirit of the phrase?
The odd power of the cover band. One day in Afghanistan, the reporter started playing “Those Were the Days My Friend” on his accordion. His translator, shocked, asks, “How do you know Afghan music?” And so we learn the tale of Afghan Elvis.
Jimmy Weekley has lived in Pigeonroost Hollow, West Virginia for 70 years. In the 1990s, Arch Coal moved in and began work on one of the largest mountaintop removal mining sites ever proposed. Over the last decade, Weekley has watched his family and neighbors take buyouts and leave the area. But he refuses to sell.
In 2005, the singer, then 24, didn’t have a piano in her apartment, so she went to the Baldwin Piano showroom in Midtown Manhattan to play some new compositions.
The true nature of the dark side, its power over 32-year-old men living with mom — and why being known as “The Master-Vader” may not command the respect you seek.
A life-changing relationship between a young house painter and an older woman.
Merrill Garbus’ second album, w h o k i l l, explores themes of sexuality, femininity, class and violence, with Garbus’ witty lyrics alternately delivered in animalistic bursts, tender coos and yodels. She performs four songs from the album.
When Benny was 23, he couldn’t even admit to himself that he had feelings for other men. He actively campaigned to keep gay alliance clubs out of schools. But then he fell completely, horribly in love with another Mormon — a hopelessly straight one, at that.
Why does a country music star and all-American guy — half of what was Nashville’s biggest act — have a house full of paintings from the Soviet Union? It’s a long story.
You pretend you don’t want to listen, but you totally do. The mom/manager of the Kardashian clan says the reality show was a no-brainer. “If someone says, we could shine a camera on your shop every day, hello, I’m signing up.”
Early in his career, musician Dan Deacon embarked on an eight-week tour. Totally broke, when the car died, he had no choice but to finish the trip by Greyhound bus.
While first man on the moon Neil Armstrong receives honorary degrees from MIT, second man on the moon Buzz Aldrin is stuck doing space-themed fast food restaurant openings. Their embittered email exchange features David Sedaris as Armstrong.
For a time, the Nadeau family had secret: the husband had a tendency to wear women’s clothes. Then Doug Nadeau got sick and, after surgery, he became less inhibited and more public in his crossdressing. His wife tells his story.
Each year, South Dakota removes an average of 700 Native American children from their homes. Indian children are less than 15 percent of the state’s population, but make up more than half the children in foster care (Part one of a three-part series).
Mandy Maldonado’s dad is an evangelical minister. But she’s no angel.
William Safire prepared a speech for President Nixon to read on television if the Apollo 11 astronauts were stranded on the Moon. This radio drama imagines what it might have sounded like if things had gone differently for Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong.
At the age of 15, Cristel viciously attacked a rival classmate with a razor blade. It was one of the most violent acts ever committed by a young girl in Rhode Island. Now, after more than three years of incarceration, Cristel is getting ready to be released.
A famous boy prodigy, William James Sidis taught himself Latin at 3, graduated Harvard at 16, but collected streetcar transfer tickets at 28.
The Frankenstein Family Crypt in 1952, paranormal observations of an 8 year old, the haunting of a kitty, thoughts on the ghost story structure, and a scary pantry door.
The extraordinary story of Mary Turner Thompson. Mary met and married Will, a man who said he was a CIA agent. He dashed off to Israel, leaving Mary holding the baby, never knowing when he would come back. But the most bizarre twist was still to come.
The reporter’s father was kidnapped in Colombia by the FARC guerillas and held for months. To communicate with him, the family would go on a special radio station that broadcasts messages to people’s loved ones in captivity in the jungle.
In Faulkner County, Arkansas, there’s been a gold-rush like influx of natural gas fracking in the community, with over 3,000 new wells drilled in the area. At the same time, there’s been a mysterious wave of thousands of small earthquakes. Musician Bonnie “Prince” Billy wrote an original song to contribute to the narrative.
To make foie gras, geese must be strapped down and force-fed huge amounts of food. So when Dan Barber heard about a Spaniard who had supposedly found a way to make the delicacy without mistreating the animals, he went to Spain to investigate.
This is a story that’s hard to describe. A slow, sonic, poetic roadtrip. The story itself starts at 05:05, before that is a conversation with the reporter.
A classic example of what an economist would call a matching market — there’s a person who wants a ride, and there’s a person who’s willing to give a ride. There was some sort of equilibrium and somehow that got destroyed. So what happened?
A group of anxiety-ridden professionals hold a weekly phone conference aimed at providing support and advice. The producer joined and recorded the proceedings over six years. In this first episode, we meet the members.
Can fear change you for the better? A clinic in Russia aims to scare patients sober, with a pill called “the torpedo,” administered … creatively.
The audio diary of LeAlan Jones, 13, and Lloyd Newman, 14, on Chicago’s South Side. The boys walk listeners to school, to an overpass to throw rocks at cars, to a bus ride that takes them out of the ghetto, and to friends and family members in the community.
Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens is introduced to the Arkansas town of Brinkley, a farming town not far from where the ivory-billed woodpecker was recently rediscovered. That the bird is not extinct has brought a ray of hope to the residents.
Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash, told Sarah-Vowell style.
Rob Corddry is a detective confronted with the biggest case of his career: a stolen soul. He’s heard of stolen hearts. Heck, he’s stolen plenty himself. But a stolen soul?
In 1906, a rich family vacationing in Oyster Bay, New York, started to get sick. Very sick. It turns out they’d come down with typhoid, a disease forever associated with one woman: Typhoid Mary. You may think you know this story — you don’t.
Matthew wears a face mask. He reveals through drawings and sound the story behind the mask. Let’s leave it at that, because the strength is in the unraveling.
Working at FAO Schwartz, the reporter’s job is to sell lifelike “newborns” displayed in a “nursery” inside the store. When the white babies sell out, white parents are faced with a choice: Will they go for an Asian, Latino, or African-American baby instead?
The much-publicized bout between Joe Frazier’s daughter, Jacqui, and Muhammed Ali’s daughter, Laila. Billed as “Ali vs. Frazier IV,” the daughters’ fight was a continuation of the feud that fueled their fathers’ three title fights in the 1970s.
In 1945, Willie McGee was accused of raping a white woman and put to death in Mississippi’s traveling electric chair. His execution was broadcast live by a local radio station. The reporter grew up knowing nothing about her grandfather. Now she is on a quest to unearth everything she can about his life — and death.
In 1929, George Orwell stepped from a life of privilege into a battle against dirt and hunger. In France, the novelist was starving and broke. In Britain, he lived the life of those who’d fallen even lower — becoming a tramp on London’s streets.
Rolling Stones bouncer turned large animal veterinarian Kevin Fitzgerald talks about his more interesting patients and answers questions about baseball doping and Barry Bonds.
Growing up in a Mexican-American family in Texas, Domingo Martinez’s two middle school aged sisters found a unique way of coping with feelings of inferiority.
Efforts to protect the endangered Kirtland’s warbler have led to the killing of cowbirds and a prescribed burn aimed at creating a new habitat. Tragically, this burn led to the death of a 29-year-old wildlife technician who was dedicated to warbler restoration. How far should we should go to protect one species?
The reporter gets answers about her parents’ marriage from her dad… after a lifetime of mystery. She and her sister had wanted her parents to divorce since they were little.
In 1932, a group of World War I veterans rallied the Bonus Army to Washington to lobby for early payment of their promised bonuses. They set up camp that May. But by July, officials lost patience and went in to evict the marchers. It turned violent.
“Pretend I’m your priest,” the political strategist tells prospective candidates — most recently, Republican Michelle Bachmann. Rollins encourages his clients to tell him everything, but even still, he tells Alec, “they always lie.”
The story of a man obsessed with reruns. A director makes an entire movie that’s a rerun, based on a personal rerun that he found himself caught in. But why?
Kohn Ashmore’s voice is arrestingly slow. When he was eight years old, he was in a coma for five months, and when he finally woke up, everything about him was slowed down, except for his mind. His friend Andy tells his story.
Laura Rothenberg has always tried to live a normal life, with lungs that often betray her and the sober awareness that she may not live to see her 30th birthday. For two years, Laura keeps an audio diary of her battle with cystic fibrosis.
In December of 1967, miner Melvin Earl Dummar was driving down a desert road in Nevada when he saw a man lying in the road. Melvin rescued the man who turned out, he says, to be billionaire tycoon Howard Hughes. His life changed forever.
David Sedaris tells a story from his boyhood, when a voice inside his head commanded him to lick every light switch and tap his forehead with his heel.
The recovered tapes of Lance Corporal Michael A. Baronowki, a young marine who kept an audio diary of his war experience in Vietnam until his death.
On the 25th anniversary of the mass suicide and murder of more than 900 followers of Reverend Jim Jones in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978, survivor Laura Johnston Kohl looks back on what went wrong, and the pain and regret she lives with.
Samr “Rocky” Tayeh is 6 foot 1 and weighs 393 pounds. At 16, he is dangerously overweight. Rocky wants to slim down, but doesn’t know how to control his eating.
The reporter and his family live in the same Salt Lake City neighborhood as Elizabeth Smart, the 14-year-old whose kidnapping made international news in 2002. Though pictures of Smart were everywhere, her captors brought her back to the neighborhood and walked freely through the streets with her. But no one recognized her.
Elliot Castro spent five years being a con man, travelling first class around the world, pursuing a five-star, fantasy life that eventually spiralled out of control.
Charlie Barnett is a composer who scores films for a living. But in the summer of ’74, he was just one of a legion of hippie hitchhikers making his way across country.
At age 48, Stewart Selman was told he had a malignant brain tumor. Less than 5 percent of people with the diagnosis live for more than a year. To leave a record for his wife and their two children, Selman began an audio diary.
The steel drum was first created in Trinidad, hammered from biscuit boxes, brake drums and oil barrels. One of the biggest “steel pan” bands of the 1960s gained worldwide fame when an unlikely patron heard their act and took them on tour.
Starting in 1931, C. Israel Lutsky took to the air daily for more than 30 years with listeners seeking advice. He replied with a mixture of folk wisdom and abuse. Charlatan or sage, Lutsky was one of the most beloved figures in the golden age of Yiddish radio.
In her last book, Joan Didion contemplated how her life was fundamentally altered after her husband’s sudden death. The book was published just months after Didion’s only child, her daughter Quintana Roo, died at age 39. Didion says she was unable to start mourning her daughter’s death until she started writing again.
Most sperm banks provide all sorts of information about their donors. They even have videotaped interviews and recorded answers to essay questions. But not all clients take advantage of this information. In fact, lots of women choose to avoid it.
The reporter was unexpectedly chosen to be the PC in those Apple commercials. He tells the story of what happens when celebrity hunts you down and finds you … on your living room couch, pushing 40, and a couple sizes larger than you want to be.
For Alec Baldwin’s inaugural show, the actor invites him into his apartment to discuss what makes a great director, a smart producer, and why playing a villain is wonderful.
Thunderbolt’s business card is a little mysterious. It reads, “Thunderbolt – Party Naked” and gives a phone number. Call the number and he’ll invite you to a private strip club at his bungalow in a working-class neighborhood in east Detroit.
A garage near Pittsburgh is considered the birthplace of modern broadcasting. And 94-year-old Harry Mills may be the only surviving person who heard those broadcasts.
In 1946, a psychiatrist named Walter Freeman launched a radical new era in the treatment of mental illness. One of his patients, at age 56, embarked on a quest to discover the story behind the procedure he received as a 12-year-old boy.
Shirley Diaz’s life has been shaped by her mother’s murder, and the difficulty of growing up in six different foster homes, separated from her younger siblings.
Thousands of miles apart, two families notice their toddler sons gravitating toward toys and clothes associated with girls. Each family decides to go with radically different approaches, as directed by their therapists (here’s the second part of the series, too).
If you’ve read any 19th century literature, England seems to be an island made up entirely of people with submerged, often misplaced passions for other people. This particular affair, even years after it ended, wasn’t much discussed.
A brush with death turns into a full blown nightmare when the police report is so poorly filled out that somehow Mike winds up owing a drunk driver 12,000 dollars — not because it’s fair, but because he can’t get anyone to listen to him.
With alleged mob boss James “Whitey” Bulger back and behind bars, trouble is just starting for the rest of his family. Gone is the protective bubble that once insulated former Senate President William Bulger from anyone asking about his brother.
The story of a small town production of Peter Pan, in which the flying apparatus smacks the actors into the furniture and Captain Hook’s hook flies off his arm. By the end of the evening, all normal boundaries between audience and actors have dissolved.
The reporter took a job working for a network correspondent he refers to as “The Friendly Man.” Every story was supposed to be upbeat, a tale of people coming together. And every story they sent him out on turned out to be a sham.
Adrian Leon LeBlanc was 85 years old and in the end stage of lung cancer. With his blessing, his daughter documented his final months in an intimate audio essay.
Laura Buxton, an English girl just shy of ten years old, didn’t realize the strange course her life would take after her red balloon was swept away into the sky. What happened next is something you just couldn’t make up.
Asked to perform at Robert DeNiro’s birthday party, the comedian is in over his head.
The story of how the insatiable millionaire John D. Rockefeller turned an eye to the untapped market of the American South and ended up eradicating the hookworm. And, we’re introduced to Jasper Lawrence, a modern-day entrepreneur whose passion for hookworms stems from lifelong battles with allergies and asthma.
Will a lost TV remote ever be found? Can you successfully fake the sound of call waiting? Will our hero ever get to see Yentl? Maybe the show’s funniest ever episode.
The producer asks his friend Sam how he would eulogize him. The answer is a startling reminder that you can’t necessarily count on your friends.
Stu Rasmussen, of Silverton, Oregon, is an avid metalworker, woodworker, and electrician — and in 2008 became our country’s first transgendered mayor. News of his election swept the country, but what was it like at home?
A very different kind of lost and found. A college student, Alan Lundgard, falls hopelessly in love with a fellow art student, Emilie Gossiaux. Then a devastating fork in the road leaves Emilie lost in a netherworld — but Alan isn’t willing to let her go.
The people who pick up our trash don’t call themselves garbagemen. They’re san men. The host follows a couple of New York city san men around for a day to find out what 4.8 pounds of trash per person per day looks like from street level.
Trouble in the Town of Bedrock. Barney accidentally runs over and kills a dinosaur that belongs to his neighbor and best friend, Fred. In the ensuing series of phone messages, the two friends air some long-simmering grievances in their friendship.
One percent of the general population tests as psychopath. Four percent of corporate leaders do. With that in mind, the reporter pays an unforgettable visit to a former Sunbeam CEO. Plus, Jon Ronson talks more about psychopaths with Jesse Thorn.
Lilly and Thomasina have a lot in common. They’re both 8 years old. And they were both born boys, but it became clear early on that they’d prefer to be girls.
The radio producer quit his job at a low moment in his life. His wife left him and took the kids. And he got a job interviewing schizophrenics for research. After doing it a while, he began to wonder if he was a schizophrenic himself.
It was a cold December day in 2008. Harry Markopolos was at a karate studio, where his twin boys were getting lessons. His phone buzzed with voicemails from friends. That’s when Harry found out his fight was over and that his nemesis — the man he’d always called Madoff — had surrendered. But Harry had failed.
A man who’s lost everything, Clive Wearing has what Oliver Sacks calls “the most severe case of amnesia ever documented.” With Clive’s wife, Sacks tries to understand why, amidst so much forgetting, Clive remembers music and love.
In the wake of a break-up, the reporter finds so much comfort in break-up songs that she decides to try and write one herself—even though she has no musical ability whatsoever. For some help, she goes to a rather surprising expert.