July 24, 2009

Fine Print

Stories where the fine print changes everything, whether you read it or not.


Host Ira Glass talks about the infamous line in the band Van Halen's contract insisting that the groups' dressing room include a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown M&Ms removed. Ira used to think this request was just petulant rock-star behavior. Then he talked to John Flansburgh, from the band They Might Be Giants—who are beginning their 40-city tour this October—and he explained why the M&M clause was actually an ingenious business strategy. (6 minutes)

Act One

Side Effects May Include...

In Tehran in 2004, Omid Memarian confessed to doing things he'd never done, meeting people he'd never met, following plots he'd never heard of. Why he did that, and why a lot of other people have confessed to the same things, is all in the fine print. This American Life producer Nancy Updike tells the story. (22 minutes)

Act Three

Restrictions May Apply

Ira goes to one of the nation's great manufacturers of fine print: The U.S.Congress. He reports on a recent House subcommittee hearing on a practice in the health insurance industry—buried in that industry's own fine print—called rescission. (14 minutes)