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Episode 21: "His American Dream died. His town got over it" by Robert Samuels

In this episode, I talk with Robert Samuels about his story for the Washington Post: “His American Dream died. His town got over it.” The story explores what he found when he went to Granger, Indiana one year after a popular local restaurant owner was deported. Robert Samuels is a national politics reporter for the Washington Post. His official bio says that he “focuses on the intersection of politics, policy, and people.” It also says that Robert “travels the country to chronicle how the...


Episode 20: "This Is How They Saved Me" by Neda Semnani

“This is How They Saved Me” is writer Neda Semnani's narrative story about how she escaped Iran with her family in 1982, and how close they came to not making it at all. In this episode, I talk with Neda about the unique challenges of reporting her own family history and piecing together what really happened 36 years ago. Neda Toloui-Semnani is a journalist and writer whose work has appeared in various online and print publications, including the Washington Post, New York, LA Review of...


Episode 19: "The Making of a Mexican-American Dream" by Sarah Menkedick

“The Making of a Mexican-American Dream” looks at how one young woman faces the challenges of assimilation, identity, and acceptance in modern American culture. In this episode, I talk with author Sarah Menkedick about her story and what it says about America in 2017. Sarah Menkedick's writing has been featured in Harper's, Pacific Standard, Oxford American, Aeon, The Paris Review Daily, Guernica, Amazon's Kindle Singles, and elsewhere. She is the founder of Vela, an online magazine...


Episode 18: "How's Amanda" by Eli Saslow

I talk with Washington Post reporter and Pulitzer Prize winner Eli Saslow about his story, “How’s Amanda,” which ran in July 2016. The story takes a close, personal look at a woman fighting to overcome drug addiction, and what that struggle means for her mother. Eli Saslow writes for the Washington Post, where he covered the 2008 presidential campaign and has chronicled the president’s life inside the White House. He won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Reporting for his...


Episode 17: "Truther Love" by Sabine Heinlein

In today’s show, I talk with Sabine Heinlein about her story, “Truther Love,” which appeared at in November 2016. Sabine Heinlein is the author of the narrative nonfiction book Among Murderers: Life After Prison. Her work can be found in The New York Times, The Guardian, Psychology Today, Poets & Writers, Longreads, and many other publications. She has received a Pushcart Prize, a Margolis Award, a Sidney Gross Award for Investigative Reporting, and fellowships from Yaddo,...


Episode 16: "Telling JJ" by John Woodrow Cox

On this episode, I talk with John Woodrow Cox about his story, “Telling JJ,” which appeared in the Washington Post in September 2015. "Telling JJ” is the story of a 10-year-old girl who is about to learn that she has been HIV positive since birth. The story explores the critical juncture she has reached in life as she is about to learn the truth. John Woodrow Cox is an reporter at the Washington Post. Prior to joining the Post, he worked at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida and at the Valley...


Episode 15: "Fear of the Light" by Amanda Pertrusich

On this episode, I talk with Amanda Petrusich, author of “Fear of the light: why we need darkness.” The story appeared in the Guardian in August 2016. It explores the cultural impact of our increasing inability to see the night sky. It asks questions about what it means when generations of people live in places where they can’t see the stars. Amanda Petrusich is a contributing writer for Pitchfork and a contributing editor at The Oxford American. Her music and culture writing has appeared...


Episode 14: "The Tamir Rice Story" by Sean Flynn

On this episode, I talk with Sean Flynn, author of “The Tamir Rice Story: How to Make a Police Shooting Disappear” The story appeared in GQ Magazine in July. The story looks at the aftermath of the tragic shooting of Tamir Rice in Cleveland on November 22, 2014, and how the system failed to hold police accountable for his death. Sean Flynn is writer for GQ. He has also written for Boston Magazine, the Boston Herald, and Parade. Up next week: Fear of the Light by Amanda Petrusich,...


Episode 13: "13, Right Now" by Jessica Contrera

This week, we look at “13, Right Now,” written by Jessica Contrera for The Washington Post in May 2016. “13, Right Now” explores how teenagers use social media and the mobile web, focusing one 13-year-old girl who lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. It’s part of a series of stories in the Post — “The Screen Age” — which focuses on kids today who “have never known a world without smartphones and social media… what it means to grow up in an era where learning, flirting and hanging out...


Episode 12: "The Minecraft Generation" by Clive Thompson

On this episode, I talk with Clive Thompson, author of “The Minecraft Generation,” which appeared in the New York Times Magazine. It explores the phenomenon of the third-best-­selling video game in history — a game that has more than 100 million registered players. Thompson looks at the cultural, intellectual, and psychological meaning of Minecraft’s popularity. He and I talk about how he approached the task of understanding and explaining the massive impact of this game on millions of...


Episode 11: "My Autistic Brother’s Quest for Love" by Danielle Bacher

This week, I’ll be talking with Danielle Bacher about her story for Esquire: “My Autistic Brother’s Quest for Love." She explores her brother's challenges in finding a relationship that can last. Danielle Bacher has written for Rolling Stone, Esquire, Vanity Fair, Maxim, Men's Journal, GQ, Billboard, and LA Weekly.


Episode 10: "My Son’s Mystery Medical Condition and Our Family’s Brave New World" by Taylor Harris

This week, we take a look at “My Son’s Mystery Medical Condition and Our Family’s Brave New World“ written by Taylor Harris for Narratively. Taylor Harris is a writer and stay-at-home mom living in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Toast, Babble, and other publications. Next week: We stay focused on family with a look at “My Autistic Brother’s Quest for Love” by Danielle Bacher for Esquire. A great read — check it out.


Episode 9: "Coyote Bros" by Flinder Boyd

“Coyote Bros” by Flinder Boyd is about three hard-partying young men from Corpus Christi, Texas who made a small fortune smuggling illegal immigrants into the United States. Flinder and I talk about how he found this story and put it together for Rolling Stone. Flinder Boyd is a former professional basketball player who played 10 years in Europe. His writing has appeared in The Classical, Sports on Earth, Fox Sports, Newsweek, and BBC online. His story "20 Minutes at Rucker Park" appeared...


Episode 8: "The Revolutionary Routine of Life as a Female Trucker" by Jessica Ogilvie

This week we look at “The Revolutionary Routine of Life as a Female Trucker," written by Jessica Ogilvie for BuzzFeed in March 2016. She profiles Melissa Rojas, a third-generation trucker who drives thousands of miles every week. We talk about how it went and what she learned along the way. Jessica Ogilvie is a regular contributor to LA Magazine, Playboy and LA Weekly. Her writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, VICE, The Hairpin, Complex, Conde Nast...


Episode 7: "Crowd Source" by Davy Rothbart

This week, we're taking a look at “Crowd Source," written by Davy Rothbart for The California Sunday Magazine, and published in March 2016. The story looks at a company that provides crowds to clients. For a fee, it can deliver a mob of cheering fans or a noisy crowd of angry protesters. Davy Rothbart is a bestselling author, Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, contributor to This American Life, and the editor/publisher of Found Magazine. Up next week: "Rambln' Woman: A Week on the Road with...


Episode 6: "Fight" by Dan Barry

This week, we look at “Fight," written by Dan Barry for The New York Times in March 2016. “Fight” tells the story of two fighters who faced off for their first professional boxing match, and the tragic result that followed. We talk about what it took to put together the story of what led both men into that ring, and what happened to the one who survived. Dan Barry is a longtime columnist and an award-winning reporter for The New York Times and the author of four books. For next week:...


Episode 5: "The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous" by Gabrielle Glaser

"The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous" looks at AA (and related treatment programs for alcohol and drug addiction) and asks tough questions about whether it works as well as many believe, and if there are better, more effective alternatives. I talk with author Gabrielle Glaser about the challenges of reporting and writing about this controversial topic. Gabrielle Glaser is an author and award-winning journalist who writes about issues of addiction and mental health. She specializes...


Episode 4: "A Million Little Boxes" by Oliver Roeder

"A Million Little Boxes" looks at the 39th Annual American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and the battle between two of the greatest puzzle solvers of all time. I talk about the story with writer Oliver Roeder from Oliver Roeder is a senior writer at FiveThirtyEight. He's written about interesting corners of culture and competition, including The Westminster Dog Show, Rubik's Cube competitions, and the best Scrabble player on Earth.


Episode 3: "The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck" by Lane DeGregory

This week’s episode looks at “The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck,” by Lane DeGregory for the Tampa Bay Times in January 2016. The story looks at the life and tragic death of Phoebe Jonchuck, a five-year-old girl, murdered by her father, who dropped her from the side of a bridge. I talk with Lane about the challenges of exploring this difficult story. Lane Degregory is a feature writer for the Tampa Bay Times. She has won dozens of national awards, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for...


Episode 2: "The Wreck of Amtrak 188" by Matt Shaer

This week’s episode looks at “The Wreck of Amtrak 188,” written by Matt Shaer for the New York Times Magazine in January 2016. The story examines one of the worst rail disasters in American history, which occurred just north of Philadelphia in May of 2015. It looks at the accident, the victims, and Brandon Bostian, the man who was driving the train that night. Matthew Shaer is an author and award-winning magazine journalist based in Atlanta. He has written for The New York Times...