A mortgage broker named David Philp discovers that his old punk band from the 1970s is hot in Japan. He decides to leave corporate life and revisit his teenage years by going back on tour, playing music for the first time in two decades.
Host Ira Glass speaks with two people who believe they've uncovered behind-the-scenes conspiracies but can't be sure. Attorney Andy Hail has sued the two biggest supermarkets in Chicago (Dominick's and Jewel) because they charge a dollar more for milk than stores around the country, and because their prices seem to change simultaneously, as if orchestrated.
We hear the first part of our story about Archer Daniels Midland and FBI informant Mark Whitacre. In this half, Whitacre inadvertently ends up a cooperating witness—and turns himself into one of the best cooperating witnesses in the history of U.S. law enforcement, gathering evidence with an adeptness few have matched.
Our story about ADM and Mark Whitacre continues. The FBI finds out that their star cooperating witness Mark Whitacre has been lying to them for three years about some rather serious matters.
There is an entire class of consultant who does nothing but help people and companies that are under public attack. Eric Dezenhall is one of them.
Host Ira Glass with Rory Evans, who describes the day her father fired his own mother from their family business, a machine shop called Evans Industries.
The story of Jug Burkett, a businessman in Dallas and a Vietnam vet, who years ago routinely started checking the bona fides of anyone in the news who claimed to have served in the Vietnam war. He says he's found hundreds of fakers, and he says that one of the tricky things about the fakers is that they often seem more like The Real Thing than real vets do.
Host Ira Glass lays out the premise of this week's show.
Becoming a salesman can make you more confident and happy, make you ignore it when someone tells you "no"...and why that might be a bad thing. The story of a man who sold radio advertising.
Reporter Hanna Rosen did an investigation of those new antibacterial products—the antibacterial soaps and lotions, the antibacterial pizza cutter and linen and underwear. In her article, she mocked these products as ineffective.
Camp Lake of the Woods holds a fake Indian powwow during the summer. This kind of fake Native American-ness has been a part of camping in America since organized camping began a century ago.
How the science of radio enabled V103 to become tied for number one in the Chicago market. And how it cost DJ Ida Hackele her job.
Ira and the movie Fast, Cheap & Out of Control. Advertised as wacky, it is anything but.
Ira talks with Josh Glenn, editor of Hermenaut, who explains the difference between Good Wacky and Bad Wacky.
Alex Melamid and Vitaly Komar hired a polling firm to investigate what people want to see in paintings. Then, using the data, they painted what people want.
Will Powers — his real name — decided to try to use all the tools of modern brand marketing to sell himself to his own wife. It turned out to help their marriage.
John Perry Barlow, a founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and former rancher and Grateful Dead lyricist, on an experience that began at the boundary of two conventions. (20 minutes)
Ira visits the lottery stand in Chicago that sells more lottery tickets than any other: Hannah's Finer Food & Liquors. There he meets two men who want to get rich quick.
Chicago playwright Beau O'Reilly goes with Ira to the Scottie Pippen Dodge Store.Then, singer/songwriter/playwright Jeff Dorchen on Niketown.
Navy Pier's renovation was presented as a success in last week's show, but recent press reveals that the pier is bleeding money. WBEZ personality Aaron Freeman and his kids take Ira on a tour of the pier, looking at it from a child's perspective.
Temporary employment agencies' business has exploded in the last few years as corporations lay off their full-time employees, especially technical workers. This American Life "hired" two temp workers, Lee and Tito, to document their experiences as temps. Ira invites Tito and Lee into the studio to spin some music "appropriate" for temp employees.
Ira takes a look at the remarkably successful $156 million renovation of Chicago's Navy Pier. He talks with seven employees working at the businesses on the pier.