One of my favorite things in the world is the radio show This American Life, which I only discovered when I moved to Boston in 2006. So, as with any good thing that you discover late, I had a good run of binge listening for a long time. The show introduced me to David Sedaris (who I knew about but hadn’t heard, which I think is key to falling in love with him), Mike Birbiglia, Tig Notaro, and a host of other funny, insightful people I now adore, including Ira Glass himself.
Amazingly, Public Radio International (PRI) has decided not to renew TAL’s contract, after a relationship that has lasted for seventeen years. PRI has explained that their vision for the future of the show is different than the vision expressed by the TAL creators. Since the show brings in 2.2 million listeners every week and is the most downloaded podcast on the internet, you’d imagine they would be willing to roll with the show’s evolution, right? Guess not.
This American Life has made it clear that they’re not going off the air; they’re just not going to be syndicated by PRI any longer. But I think this is a good wake up call for those of us who love the program. This show, which has opened my eyes to so many facets of the world, explained things that I would never otherwise understand, and made me laugh even when laughter has seemed impossible — it needs continuous support. We all hate public radio fundraising, but we need to contribute to the things we love. So I’m making a donation to TAL today. If you love the program, I hope you will too.
Here are a few of my favorite episodes:
And to end on a bright note, the one of the funniest stories from TAL came from this live show featuring Tig Notaro: