TAL Special Theme List

Apparently there is no end to the awesomeness of TAL. See below for their latest call for stories.


Hello THIS AMERICAN LIFE friends and contributors,

We'll be sending out a traditional Theme List with radio themes-in-progress in the next few weeks but in the meantime, we've got a really exciting new project we're working on and we're coming to you to see if you might have pitches, suggestions or ideas for us.

It's actually a non-radio project. THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE has invited us to guest edit their end-of-the-year obituaries issue, called "The Lives They Lived." The issue has varied a lot over the years but generally has featured small to medium-sized profiles of 20-25 notable people who have died in the past year. For this year's issue (people who died in 2011), we're hoping to change the format and concept a bit. Instead of longer profiles, we're hoping to feature just one story — one anecdote or one day or one moment — for each person's life. We also would like to broaden the scope of the people featured. We'll have fewer notable people and more everyday people. In other words, lots of people who wouldn't normally get an obit in THE NEW YORK TIMES. We're looking for people who haven't gotten a lot of press attention but have extraordinary stories nonetheless.

So this is where we're coming to you. We're looking for stories, anecdotes, suggestions about people who have died this year that are particularly personal, emotional, unbelievable, extraordinary. These stories can be told by friends or relatives, business associates or casual acquaintances. They can even be told by the deceased people themselves, if archival tape, interviews or memoirs exist. They don't have to be long or epic – the story isn’t supposed to tell their whole life – but it’d be great if they're emotional or surprising and evocative of the featured person in some way.

In particular, we'd love stories or suggestions about soldiers who have passed away, firefighters or police officers. Beloved teachers and the big turning points in their lives, or just one amazing teachable moment they nailed. Politicians? Town eccentrics? Someone who died who lived a great love story. A child who died. Also, anyone who left a particularly charming or extensive or simply mindblowing instructions for their memorial service. A funeral "rider" type of thing.

Last, if you’ve read or heard a story about a person who died this year that seemed particularly interesting or fascinating, infuriating or heart-warming, a story that stayed with you but it didn’t get national press attention, could you let us know? Sending a link is fine or even just a vague description and geography.

We're radio people so we've obviously got quite a learning curve when it comes to editing this issue but we're really excited to get started. We're being told that we're already behind schedule (!) so we'd need your pitches and suggestions as soon as possible. We're hoping to have our final list by December 1st.

You can send emails to me and I will write you back within two or three days.

Thank you so much for all of your help. We really appreciate it.

Julie Snyder

Julie Snyder
Senior Producer
This American Life
153 W. 27th Street, #1104
New York, NY 10001
(212) 624-5012

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