Rank #1: 641: The Walls
Stories from border walls around the world, where one place ends and another begins. And the strange ecosystems that arise.
Rank #2: 492: Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde
Dr. Benjamin Gilmer gets a job at a rural clinic. He finds out he’s replaced someone — also named Dr. Gilmer — who went to prison after killing his own father. But the more Benjamin’s patients talk about the other Dr. Gilmer, the more confused he becomes. Everyone loved the old Dr. Gilmer. So Benjamin starts digging around, trying to understand how a good man can seemingly turn bad.
Rank #3: 638: Rom-Com
The one thing you know for sure when you're watching a romantic comedy is that it's going to turn out okay in the end. When you're living one? Not so much. This week, stories that unfold like rom-coms.
Rank #4: 479: Little War on the Prairie
Growing up in Mankato, Minnesota, John Biewen says, nobody ever talked about the most important historical event ever to happen there: in 1862, it was the site of the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Thirty-eight Dakota Indians were hanged after a war with white settlers. John went back to Minnesota to figure out what really happened 150 years ago, and why Minnesotans didn’t talk about it much after.
Rank #5: 204: 81 Words
The story of how the American Psychiatric Association decided in 1973 that homosexuality was no longer a mental illness.
Rank #6: 351: Return to Childhood
Stories of people who try to revisit their childhoods—what they find and what they do not find.
Rank #7: 528: The Radio Drama Episode
Our most ambitious live show ever! We pulled together a massive team of theater pros at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Opera House—nearly 50 singers, actors, dancers and musicians. The result? Journalism turned into a Broadway musical (hear the cast album), into opera. Mike Birbiglia, Sasheer Zamata, Stephin Merritt, Josh Hamilton, Lindsay Mendez, Lin-Manuel Miranda and others. Watch a video of the live performance or download it for $5.
Rank #8: 486: Valentine’s Day
Love makes us do crazy things. But usually not this crazy. This week for Valentine's Day we have stories of people going to extremes to find and pursue their one true love.
Rank #9: 659: Before the Next One
There’s no rulebook on how to handle a school shooting. And no real way to prepare for one. This week, people take what they’ve learned from these tragedies and try to use that knowledge to save others.
Rank #10: 658: The Unhappy Deciders
Making big decisions about other people's lives can feel pretty awful. Zoe Chace followed Senator Jeff Flake as he decided to force the Senate to delay its vote on Judge Kavanaugh. Among her discoveries: Those protestors in the elevator? They aren’t the reason he did what he did.
Rank #11: 667: Wartime Radio
Intimate and personal dispatches from two very different battlefields: A small town in the Syrian war. And the U.S. opioid epidemic. Each came from a DIY radio outfit. (Okay, one’s a podcast.)
Rank #12: 660: Hoaxing Yourself
Stories of people who tell a lie and then believe the lie more than anyone else does. In other words: Stories about people pulling hoaxes...on themselves.
Rank #13: 47: Christmas and Commerce
Stories about the intersection of Christmas and retail, originally broadcast in 1996 when our show was only one year old. Including David Sedaris's story "Santaland Diaries," which first aired on NPR's Morning Edition in a much shorter version.
Rank #14: 661: But That's What Happened
Stories of women in unsettling situations. When they try to explain what’s wrong, they’re told that they don’t understand—that there’s nothing unsettling about it.
Rank #15: 665: Before Things Went to Hell
We revisit those moments of calm before the storm, when things could have gone very differently, but instead, they went to hell.
Rank #16: 666: The Theme That Shall Not Be Named
Satan! In his many surprising manifestations, all around us.
Rank #17: 662: Where There Is a Will
Stories of people who believe there is always a way. And also those who don’t.
Rank #18: 664: The Room of Requirement
Libraries aren't just for books. They're often spaces that transform into what you need them to be: a classroom, a cyber café, a place to find answers, a quiet spot to be alone. It's actually kind of magical. This week, we have stories of people who roam the stacks and find unexpected things that just happen to be exactly what they required.
Rank #19: 663: How I Read It
Documents you don't normally think of, showing you things you didn't expect.
Rank #20: 657: The Runaways
A bunch of teenagers go missing from a town in Long Island. For months, the police treat them as runaways, ignoring the kids' parents, who keep trying to tell them otherwise. They keep trying to tell them that something much worse might have happened.