This American Life is an award-winning critically acclaimed weekly program describing and documenting contemporary American life. Each week a theme is chosen, and host Ira Glass and a variety of writers and performers share stories in a range of styles: monologues, documentaries, short radio plays, "found recordings," and original works for radio. Music underscores many stories. From PRI.
This American Life
This American Life documents and describes contemporary America, but it is, quite literally, a new kind of radio storytelling. Built around the innovative personal vision of host Ira Glass, the program explores a weekly theme—fiascos, conventions, the job that takes over your life—through a playful 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 distinctive and acclaimed shows. This American Life did an hour documenting life on an aircraft carrier that was flying missions over Afghanistan during the war there. It spent another hour with mercenary soldiers fighting in Iraq. One show followed school reform at a Chicago public school over a decade. 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 an unusual knack for finding writers and performers whose work hasn't been heard on radio, and producing their stories alongside his own disarming commentary in a way that listeners praise as “riveting,” “mesmerizing.” Breakout stars from the show include David Sedaris and Sarah Vowell.