For quality and consistency, I can't really go past This American Life. I was introduced to this podcast via the first series of Serial and quickly became hooked. Described as "a story in [two/three/four] acts", This American Life is a one-hour radio programme that centres around a theme. The show's format is slick, well produced and features punchy writing. It doesn't ramble or go over time and you know that what you're going to get will be good, even if the subject matter is unfamiliar. Episodes are often told in first-person narrative and approach themes from personal viewpoints that you wouldn't necessarily expect.
This week, This American Life celebrates 20 years and fans are encouraged fans via Twitter to name their favourite episode. Being 19 years late to the party, I'm not in a position to nominate my favourite episode. There are a few episodes that stand out for me:
- Episode 555: The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind. A fascinating look at the pop psychology of changing a long held belief.
- Episode 571: The Heart Wants What It Wants. A story of preying on the vulnerabilities of lonely men by master manipulators.
- Episode 547. Cops See It Differently. This is a two-part podcast about racism in the police force.
If you're new to This American Life, I'd suggest choosing a few episodes by diving into the archive then subscribing to future podcasts. You'll be hooked in no time.