They should give these guys an award. Oh yeah, they have: three Peabodys, the George Polk Award, the Edward R. Murrow Award, two Emmys (for their TV show) and many others. This American Life, from WBEZ Chicago, is a weekly radio show that has mastered the art of storytelling. The stories they tell are drawn from every facet of life, from the absurd to the enchanting to the terrifying. Having been at it since 1995, they are amazingly good at what they do.
So it should come as no surprise that when TAL produces shows on two of the dominant issues of our day — the economy and health care reform — listeners are able to grasp the concepts behind these difficult subjects, often for the first time. I am providing links to these shows (play them right from this page or download them for later) because I believe that if more people heard these stories, we would be having a much different conversation about these two critical issues. Also as an example of what storytellers, particularly those in new media, can aspire to.
The Giant Pool of Money
A special program about the housing crisis produced in a special collaboration with NPR News. We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money. [Aired 5/9/08]
Return to The Giant Pool of Money
In which we mark the anniversary of the economic collapse and the anniversary of Planet Money: recapping some of the original episode, The Giant Pool of Money, and finding out what’s happened to all those guys in the year since. [Aired 9/25/09]
More Is Less
An hour explaining the American health care system, specifically, why it is that costs keep rising. One story looks at the doctors, one at the patients and one at the insurance industry. [Aired 10/9/09]
Someone Else’s Money
This week, we bring you a deeper look inside the health insurance industry. The dark side of prescription drug coupons. A story about Pet Health Insurance, which is in its infancy, and how it is changing human behaviors—for example, if you have the pet health insurance, you bring your pet to the vet more often, and the vet makes more money and…well, you can see the parallels. And insurance company jargon, frighteningly decoded. [Aired 10/16/09]
Keep the Stories Coming
If, after listening to these programs, you agree with me about the incredible informational and entertainment value of This American Life, please support them by making a donation.
Show descriptions courtesy of This American Life.