Summary: This article examines reactions to Menie Grégoire's radio confession programme (RTL, 1967-1981). The author argues that when biographical suffering is projected into the public sphere the listener's moral engagement needs to be questioned in a specific way, and that such questioning clarifies the different frameworks of participation contracted between the programme and its public. By studying a corpus of listener mail, three forms of engagement in the programme are identified: pity, appropriation and indignation. Each of these experiences introduces a particular way of representing personal problems in the public sphere (consolation, understanding and justice) and accompanies specific descriptions of ordinary uses of the programme. Hence, the question of social learning through the media cannot be understood independently of listeners' emotional involvement and justifications vis-à-vis the programme.