This American Life: #613: OK, I’ll Do It

“It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it” is a thought that enters my head every time I see a new TAL in my podcast feed.  Don’t know why, but it’s starting to feel like a chore. Maybe it’s because it’s the oldest podcast I listen to. In fact, it’s the first. Started listening to it back in the mid-00s. TAL, and then Bill Simmons, Chris Hardwick, Adam Carolla…I started listening to each of them in heavy rotation when there wasn’t much else in the podcastsphere.  Pretty sure I was even listening to Hardwick and Carolla when their first shows went live.  But slowly but surely, they got demoted from “always listen to every episode” to “look to see who the guest is” as I needed to make room for newer and newer podcasts (or, at least, those that were new to me), Of the original four, only TAL remains as an every episode subscription. Is it because their episodes aren’t archived like the rest, making it much harder to go back and pick among episodes that I’ve missed? Maybe… (Probably.)

As for content: This is about people who take jobs other people don’t want. Sorta. More like it’s about jobs that people who listen to public radio don’t want. Like U.S. border patrol. There are actually a lot of people who want to patrol the border. Some so badly, they are taking the job upon themselves even without getting paid. (But this episode isn’t about those people, though I’m pretty sure TAL has done pieces about them in the past)

This American Life: #612: Ask a Grown-Up

It’s hard to criticize such an esteemed show like This American Life. Even when their segments don’t hit the bullseye, they are produced with such precision and clear intent, there’s almost always something to take away from them.

That said, it’s easier to criticize this week’s episode for their middle section, which is maybe the millionth piece by a (progressive) media outlet to “understand” Trump voters. It’s not that it’s bad, — it’s definitely not bad — it’s just that…I feel like I’ve already heard it before.

This American Life: #579: My Damn Mind

I normally don’t listen to This American Life repeats (this one is originally from last year). But when it started playing, I quickly remembered it was an episode TAL produced in conjunction with the New York Times about a racially infused police shooting. I kept listening because the new Radiolab episode I just listened to prior was also done in conjunction with a newspaper (Tampa Bay Times) about the issue of racially-charged police shootings. It’s tempting to want to compare them further…who did a better job? But they really are quite different. The TAL episode had a long opening segment that dealt with a single case involving a hospital and a schizophrenic patient who got shot in his hospital bed. The Radiolab episode is about, well, everything. It’s the first half of a two-parter examining the entire issue of police officers shooting African-Americans (provoked or not) in the US. One is micro. The other is macro. Each offering a fresh take on a serious issue.