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Act Two: Tell It To The Void

We hear a series of letters that originally appeared on the brief-lived, little-known, but well-loved webzine Open Letters. They're written by a woman who signs her name as "X" and are addressed to the father of her adolescent son.

Prologue

Tillie Olsen reads from her short story "I Stand Here Ironing," from her collection Tell Me A Riddle. In the story, a mother reviews all that's gone wrong in the raising of her oldest daughter...and makes a few conclusions about what she should think about her mistakes as a mother.

Act One: She Said, She Said

Producer Alex Blumberg conducts an investigation, perhaps the first ever, into this American subspecies: People who compulsively imitate their mother's voices in everyday conversation, well into adulthood.

Act Two: Are You My Mommy?

When Jessica Robinson was sent to adult prison at the age of 14, the state did such a terrible job taking care of her that several women—an embezzler, a convicted murderer, and some thieves—stepped in to mother her. Alex Kotlowitz reports.

Act Three: Mom Music

Beau O'Reilly and his mother Winifred, who had 14 children, discuss her secret feelings about Johnny Cash and other matters on Mother's Day.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass describes the moment when black single mothers became a national political issue—and a national symbol. It was 1965, when a young Assistant Secretary of Labor named Daniel Patrick Moynihan issued a report calling for action on the issue of African-American single mothers, and black leaders, including the Rev.

Act One

Barbara Clinkscales grew up in Chicago's public housing projects, had her first child when she was 15, and is now—over two decades later—struggling to get her teenage son to finish his senior year of high school. Barbara is a working mom, with a network of close friends who look out for her.

Act Two

Barbara's story continues, as she hears some terrible news about her son.

Act Two: Brothers Of Different Mothers

In this act we hear two stories of people who stumbled upon a place where they instantly and instinctively felt more at home than in their real homes. Stephen Dubner, author of the memoir Turbulent Souls: A Catholic Son's Return to His Jewish Family, talks about an encounter with a Jewish man named Irving that changed his life.

Act One: Sleepless In Seattle

What if you asked people for advice and actually took all the advice that everyone gave you? As an experiment, writer Sarah Vowell tried exactly that, when she recently solicited advice from many different people about insomnia.

Act Two: Advise And Consent

Host Ira Glass talks with his mom—a clinical psychologist—about why people seem to rarely take the advice others give. Then advice columnist Dan Savage, author of the syndicated column and book Savage Love, gives the audience some advice that hopefully might save lives.

Prologue

Host Ira Glass talks with a guy who hit the road after his mother's death, hoping for some experience that would change him and shed light on what had just happened. This never happens to him, or to most of us.