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iPhone app streams 'This American Life' on demand

Every episode in the show's nearly-400-strong library is now available for listening anytime, anywhere. Plus, you get the blog, audio extras, and more. Awesome.

Give your ears a treat with the awesome new This American Life app. Rick Broida

I'm a giant fan of public radio show "This American Life," and I'm not alone: it's long held the No. 1 spot on the iTunes podcast charts.

That being the case, you might wonder why there's now an app for that. Simple: This American Life, the app, lets you stream or download any episode of the show, not just the current week's as with the podcast.

Suppose, for example, you want to hear the much-ballyhooed episode about the subprime mortgage meltdown, or the classic about the "squirrel cops." The "TAL" app provides access to every episode in the show's history.

You can stream episodes for free or download them for 99 cents apiece. The app also provides summaries, preview clips, and buying options for both seasons of the "This American Life" TV show.

But wait, there's more. A tap of the Share It button lets you e-mail an episode to a friend, post it on Facebook, or tweet it. You can add individual episodes to a favorites list, read the "This American Life" blog, and listen to a smattering of nifty extras (such as "Fresh Air's" Terry Gross interviewing "TAL" host Ira Glass).

The app's Live Stream option shows how many days/hours/minutes left until you can listen to the next live broadcast of the show on WBEZ, and lets you set a weekly push-notification reminder.

Perhaps best of all, the app offers many ways to peruse the "TAL" library. You can scroll through the entire thing in chronological order, browse favorites (your own and various collections of staff picks), and find episodes that have specific contributors (John Hodgman, anyone?).

In short, there's never been a better way to enjoy "This American Life." My one complaint is with the search feature, which is accessible only when viewing the chronological list of shows and doesn't always produce the desired results. For example, I went looking for the aforementioned "squirrel cops" episode and found only the follow-up, not the original.

Even so, this $2.99 app is a no-brainer for any fan of the show, or anyone who enjoys interesting stories well told.