Voices in my Head: The Pleasures of a Podcast

June 8, 2020

A life without podcasts would be quite an empty existence! The truth is I fill every little gap in the day with a podcast. In the morning, as I head to the shower, I throw on a podcast. When I travel from place to place, whether it takes two minutes or thirty, I throw on a podcast. If my mind is racing, or I’m having trouble falling asleep, I throw on a podcast. And as a podcast connoisseur, I can tell you that there are few audio experiences more pleasurable and meaningful than This American Life, which recently won the first Pulitzer Prize ever awarded for radio journalism.

An hour-long show that airs on public radio stations across the country, This American Life is the gold standard for original, high-quality storytelling. Hosted by the endlessly inquisitive Ira Glass, each downloadable weekly episode of This American Life contains a series of stories centered on one theme. When the show began in 1995, its broadcasts focused on idiosyncratic and sometimes overlooked American characters and their lives. Over time This American Life’s content shifted to include in-depth investigative journalism, which netted the show a 2009 Peabody for its coverage and analysis of the behavior of American financial institutions during the 2008 financial crisis. And that diligent journalism has endured. This spring This American Life won a Pulitzer for its episode “Out of the Crowd,” a powerful breakdown of the real-world impact of President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy.

If you cover your eyes and pick a random episode from the library of This American Life, you can be sure of one thing: you’re about to hear a well-crafted, impeccably produced story that just minutes ago you couldn’t imagine existed. And if you check out This American Life and enjoy it, you might want to take a look at The Moth, RadioLab, Freakonomics or Serial.