This American Life (TAL) is one of those radio shows that is more of an institution than a broadcast. It airs on more than 500 radio stations and reaches around 1.7 million listeners.
No such thing as an average show
Produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International, it has won the most broadcasting awards.
A reassuring fact for the producers is that it is often cited as the most popular podcast in the country, with around half a million people downloading downloading the show each week.
It is said that to describe This American Life is like trying to nail down jelly, as it varies so much from show to show.
As the title suggests, it does cover life in America, and each episode does follow a theme.
The show can best be described as part documentary, part journalism and part fiction.
This American Life was first broadcast in 1995 in Chicago.
The following year, it began to be aired nationally and the host of the show, Ira Glass, was voted the best radio host in country by Time magazine.
There is a TV show that follows the same format, but it is important to note that the TV show was first born on radio.
Today, there can few entertainment outlets that give the rest of a world a better insight into the American life.
Listening to This American Life
How to listen to This American Life
There are several ways to listen to This American Life episodes.
You can purchase a greatest hits collection on CD, tune into one of a multitude of radio stations or stream episodes for your iPhone, iPad or Android.
But the growing popularity of podcast have made this the most common way. The weekly show can be downloaded free from numerous websites, including radio provider NPR, This American Life's own website and Learnoutloud.com. Past episodes are available on itunes and Amazon MP3 for around $0.99 each.
As a foot note, it's worth mentioning that you can also stream radio episodes for free from the This American Life archive. Full explanatory details of all these methods can also be found on the radio show's own website at Thisamericanlife.org.