January 11, 2002

Recordings for Someone

All the stories in this week's show center on personal recordings that one person made for just one other person.


We hear a tape that a man named David Cossin made for a woman in Italy, who he'd met during a week he spent there. In the tape, he tries to convince her to visit him in New York. Host Ira Glass explains that hearing this tape—made by one person, for one other—is different than other things you hear on the radio. There's something unusually emotional and direct about it. Most radio stories are for an audience of many. This week, an audience of many listens in on tapes intended for an audience of one. (2 minutes)
Act One

Buddy Picture

Producer Jonathan Goldstein with a story about friendship, mothers and sons, and what some have called the greatest phone message in the world—it circulated at Columbia University in New York City, and had something to do with the Little Mermaid. (19 minutes)
Act Two

Special Effects Story

Kevin Murphy is a college student in Idaho who stutters. Using the power of radio editing, he and the production staff of This American Life removed his pauses, stutters and repeats so that he could record a message in which he doesn't stutter at all. This allowed him to tape a message about something that's been bothering him, to send to one man...a pizza guy, in Idaho. Visit the National Stuttering Association website. (6 minutes)
Act Three

War Story

During the Persian Gulf War, John Brasfield was an army scout. He went on dangerous missions, in which he was exposed to enemy fire with little protection. On most missions, he took along a cassette recorder and taped the action for his wife. He did it so that if something did happen to him, she'd at least know what happened, and he might get a chance to say goodbye. And then, on February 27, 1991, he accidentally recorded an incident that haunted him for years...an incident in which Iraqi soldiers may have been unnecessarily killed. (18 minutes)