This American Life

Built around the innovative vision of Ira Glass, this program documents and describes contemporary America. Using radio monologues, mini-documentaries, “found tape,” and unusual music, it is radio storytelling at its best.


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Saturday, 12 p.m. – 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. – 7 p.m.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014 Permalink

This American Life: 129 Cars

We spend a month at a Jeep dealership on Long Islandas they try to make their monthly sales goal: 129 cars. If they make it, they'll get a huge bonus from the manufacturer, possibly as high as $85,000 — enough to put them in the black for the month. If they don't make it, it'll be the second month in a row. So they pull out all the stops. Photo gallery hereNOTE: the Internet version of this episode includes un-bleeped curse words.Bleeped version here.


PROLOGUE: It’s mid-October, 2013. Freddie Hoyt tries to rally his sales staff to sell 129 cars and trucks by the end of the month. Freddie’s the General Manager atTown and Country Jeep Chrysler Dodge Ram in Levittown, NY, on Long Island. Problem is, the customers are not cooperating.


ACT 1 Web Extra: How we found this car dealer. (This story was not in the radio broadcast of the show.)


ACT 2 A quick primer of who’s who, and how the place works. 


ACT 3 Salesman Bob Tantillo has the fewest sales of anyone at Town and Country this month. Robyn Semien spoke to him.


ACT 4 Salesman Jason Mascia has the most sales of anyone this month, as usual. Sean Cole spent a week with him watching how he does it. 


ACT 5 The next-to-last day of the month. Deals fall apart, but not all of them.


ACT 6 The last day of the month begins. They have to sell nine cars by the end of the day. "God help us," Freddie says.


ACT 7 Web Extra: Joe Monti’s real name is Joe Montalbano. But when he started in the car business, he didn't want to lose a sale because a customer couldn’t keep his name straight so he simplified it for the job. He's one of the managers of the used cars department at Town and Country. Sarah Koenig reports on what it'll mean if he doesn’t make this month’s goal. (This story was not in the radio broadcast of the episode.) 


ACT 8 The last day of the month continues and the truism is accurate: some people get great deals because it’s the end of the month and they have to hit their goal. When you look at the numbers, the average car they sell in the last two days actually loses money.


ACT 9 Salesman Manny Rosales keeps to himself in the showroom, with his own sales philosophy. He explained it to Brian Reed.


ACY 10 The last day of the month ends.