Now of course, I hope you know him. He's the voice of This American Life. I stumbled upon this program while waiting for a soccer game to get over one Saturday afternoon in the 90's. I was hooked. It's the best....wait THE BEST...radio program I listen to. The stories are riveting. They are the kind where you pull into your garage but you can't get out of your car because you are too hooked into what is going on. You can't possibly leave until the story is resolved. You may be completely bawling your eyes out and need cold compresses applied before you go inside to greet your children. It's happened, trust me. And woe is the the heart-wrenching story when your on a long drive to the cape and your eyes are brimming with tears or your laughing so loud at a Sarah Vowell piece you are sure that you'll pee your pants.
It's hard for me to describe the show. Simply- it's an hour show that's loosely based on a theme - they stretch it at times I admit - but that's what makes it great too. The segments may be true stories told in a first person account, interviews with groups, poetry, fiction....whatever. They're just random and great.
I think there are about 100 ways to listen to this show now. Back in the day, I'd just have to make sure I was near a radio that had my NPR station at 2pm on Saturday. But now, you can stream it live from your computer, listen to it from you ipod or ipad device, subscribe to their podcast, ah the conveniences!
I've shared my love of TAL with many friends over the years. I love when I'm talking to someone and we both are listeners and we can go off on a show we hear 3 years ago and remember all the details of the story.
Here are some of my all time favorites to get you started.
For real, it's worth the listen.
Babysitting One of my favorites is the third segment in this episode. This link will bring you to the whole show, but it's the 3rd piece that really shines. I could listen to this five times and not get tired of it.
Getting and Spending - The second peice about the the down and out folks in Chicago. WOW!
SWITCHED AT BIRTH - if you are going to listen to one riveting radio program this year. Let it be this one. It is fascinating. A one hour show dedicated to two mothers and their two daughters who were accidentally switched at birth. One mother knew instantly and one you will hear how she is still coming to grips with it. Such a raw unobstructed look into these women's lives. A life can be completely thrown off its axis. How to recover and move on when your foundation has been stripped away. Can a life be put back together again?
This is a little bit of a departure from a typical show because its ONE story for the entire hour. But how amazing, one child claimed by two mothers. And how one truth (that is truly "YOUR TRUTH") can be so far removed from another person's truth!)