How to download EVERY ‘This American Life’ episode for free and download new shows early!

So I was obsessing over ‘This American Life’ this weekend and my love for Ira Glass has compelled me to download EVERY TAL episode in existence. Perhaps I’m lazy but I hate having to got to the website every week to download the new episode. So in digging around I found that there is a way you can download the episodes from the same source of the streaming player. Additionally it would appear they release the NEW Episodes sometime Friday and you don’t have to wait till Sunday evening to go download them.

So I’ve developed a perl script to go download EVERY TAL in existence. Additionally if you setup the script to run in your cron you can pickup new episodes automatically.

tal_download script

Read through the comments it should explain how to use the script. ¬†And I HIGHLY suggest you donate to ‘This American Life’ if you choose to use this script as it will download almost 12GB from their servers.

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This entry was posted on Sunday, June 26th, 2011 at 8:11 am and is filed under Blogging, OSS, Technology. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “How to download EVERY ‘This American Life’ episode for free and download new shows early!”

Nick Urbanik January 6th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thank you. I really just needed the URL, so I could write this into
my ~/.bashrc:

# See tal_download:
function tal {
local episode=”$1″
if [ -z “$episode” ] || ! echo “$episode” | grep -Pq ‘^\d+$’;then
echo “Usage: tal episodenumber”
echo episodenumber is an integer, which is the number of the
echo This American Life episode. There is no extension.
return 1

Ashley June 16th, 2012 at 2:57 pm

This sounds too good to be true. I just don’t know how to use perl, or what cron is. Would I just copy all of the text on the page with the script and then paste it somewhere? Thanks!

Sean June 16th, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Technically you don’t need cron to run this script. And perl can run on Windows machines if you know what your doing. However, in general this is targeted towards people who can use Linux.

I could build a web interface to download these episodes but I’m fairly certain TAL might get upset about such a thing. So I’m not really willing to make it any more user friendly. I suggest you perhaps find a friend who knows Linux or is an IT guru who can help you out.

the sneak October 25th, 2012 at 3:38 pm

If one were clever, one could use the url nick posted above and substitute the episode number dot mp3 for the dollar sign. Sneakily.

Joe Emenaker November 4th, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Even easier, if you go to github and search for TALMirror, you’ll find a repo for maintaining a cache of the episodes and (most importantly) updating an XML file for using in iTunes or in podcast player apps.

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