The American Life
We’re not really formatted like other radio shows at all. Instead, we do these stories that are like movies for radio. There are people in dramatic situations. Things happen to them. There are funny moments and emotional moments and—hopefully—moments where the people in the story say interesting, surprising things about it all. It has to be surprising. It has to be fun.
We think of the show as journalism. One of the people who helped start the program, Paul Tough, says that what we’re doing is applying the tools of journalism to everyday lives, personal lives. Which is true. It’s also true that the journalism we do tends to use a lot of the techniques of fiction: scenes and characters and narrative threads.
Meanwhile, the fiction we have on the show functions like journalism: it’s fiction that describes what it’s like to be here, now, in the world. What we like are stories that are both funny and sad. Personal and sort of epic at the same time.
We sometimes think of our program as a documentary show for people who normally hate documentaries. A public radio show for people who don’t necessarily care for public radio.
This American Life started in 1995 in Chicago. It went national in early 1996 and in the years since, it’s won a lot of awards—the Peabody, the duPont-Columbia, the Murrow, and the Overseas Press Club, to name a few. Ira Glass, the host of the show, was named best radio host in the country by Time Magazine and received the highest individual honor in public broadcasting, the Edward R. Murrow Award. The American Journalism Review declared that the show is at “the vanguard of a journalistic revolution.”
For more info, visit the official The American Life website.