Well I did it. It took me 1 year and 4 months, but I have listened to all 402 hour long episodes of This American Life.
What started this OCD mess? 20 Acts in 60 Minutes did in December of 2008. I accidentally caught this show while driving on a Saturday afternoon and then I started listening most weekends on 89.9 WJCT. Then I found them online and it was on!
I listened to every episode in reverse order. I think that was the coolest part of it all. I could listen to stories regarding the election of a new president (15 years covered Clinton, Bush, Bush, Obama) and then I could listen to the stories following up to it. The most interesting pieces I believe took place right around 9/11. Starting in December of ’01 and working backwards into August it was like walking through a fog and then all of a sudden daylight when the event hadn’t happened yet. I tried to explain this in a previous post.
Great episodes to start with:
- Episode 241: 20 Acts in 60 Minutes
- Episode 293: A Little Bit of Knowledge
- Episode 111: Adventures in the Simple Life
- And pretty much every single one after that…
Scott Carrier is the one producer I really loved listening to. He has a mono-tone, but it doesn’t matter…his stories hook you. The first one I list below is a story about him and his brother testing a theory about how Native Americans ran down their prey instead of using advance weaponry. The second one is a compilation TAL put together.
Favorites of Scott Carrier:
My other favorite producers are: Sarah Vowell, Nancy Updike, Starlee Kine (best episode she has is 339: Break Up…she talks with Phil Collins about writing her own break-up song), and of course the stories of David Sedaris.
The TV Show: This American Life also has a TV show that is available to watch on Netflix. There is currently only 2 seasons, but they do a great job of making their radio shows come to life on the television.
I hope anybody that reads this actually takes the time to listen to an episode or two. Get lost in it…and really listen.