Podcasts I Listen To & Audio Storytelling
I find people and their stories to be amazing!
I’m going to share some of the podcasts I find compelling and why. If you are a podcast listener, let me know your favorites and why in the comments.
You’ll probably notice a theme here - storytelling. I love the human condition, stories about what might seem banal but are, in fact, fascinating. They are fascinating both because you can see yourself in the story and also because you cannot imagine being in that story.
I’ll provide some context and specific episodes for one or two of the podcasts. Other than that, it is a list and short explanation of why I listen.
Let’s start with the crème de la crème. Ira Glass has done more for radio storytelling than anyone. He is the North star. His voice alone - hearing that first anecdote in an episode is thrilling in its calm and curiosity invoking delivery. I’ll admit it, I have a crush on him - well, on his voice at least.
If you are unfamiliar with This American Life, do yourself a favor and listen to a few episodes. Typically, each episode introduces a theme and then includes anywhere from 2 to 4 stories or audio essays that follow or expound upon the theme.
Episodes to consider:
Mistakes Were Made: The story about an ill-planned and ill-fated cryogenics “lab” - freezing humans with incurable diseases for later re-animation - that ultimately ended up at the Chatsworth cemetery. Especially fascinating because I grew up in Chatsworth and had heard about the lab for a few years but never knew the actual story.
This first time I heard this story my youngest, Sara, and I were running errands in Arizona. It was on the radio so we literally drove around for nearly an hour so we could hear the entire story.
The Parrot and the Pot-bellied Pig: Deb and I just listened to this last night. This first time I heard it, I remember finding the characters weird and oddly affable. Last night’s re-listening confirmed this recollection.
No Coincidence, No Story: Stories of coincidence, submitted by This American Life listeners.
Current and older stories often including vintage audio clips from the past. Recently, the story about Claudette Colvin (Making Trouble Then and Now) caused me to start crying in bed. Don’t judge me… I cry about a lot of things. Claudette was a 15 year old during the Montgomery Alabama bus protest. About 9 months before Rosa Parks, she refused to give up her seat on a bus and was arrested.
True stories, told live, by the people they happened to. I’ve told three stories at The Moth. It was an amazing experience. If you want to catch a pretty entertaining story, watch Famishness by Steve Burns. He was the guy on the children’s show, Blue’s Clues. Another notable mention is Anthony Griffith: The Best of Times, The Worst of Times. This one also made me cry.
My youngest turned me on to this. Allie Ward interviews biologist and other science experts on all sorts of critters and facets of the biological world.
No less interesting: Other podcasts on my list
The Story Collider: Live stories about science.
Snap Judgement: Audio Essays
People I Mostly Admire: Steve Levitt is a University of Chicago economist and the co-author of Freakonomics. He interviews all sorts people and has a dry sense of humor that I love.
Fresh Air: No podcast list is complete without Terry Gross.
The Working Songwriter with Joe Pug: Joe Pug is one of my favorite songwriters/artists and has also created an amazing podcast interviewing both well-known and less well-known songwriters. Even if you are NOT a songwriter, the podcast is a good listen. Behind the scenes to the creative life.
Honorable mention: I believe every US citizen should listen to the story about how the US overthrew Iran’s Democracy in 1953. It colors world events today but is largely swept under the rug. FYI: We continue to do this kind of thing (Syria, Venezeula, Libya, etc.)
I’m not subscribed to Throughline, where I heard this story but I probably should be.
There are other podcast I listen to - Indie Hacker, 99% invisible, The Memory Palace, and more. Time does not allow me to listen to every episode of every podcast. But these are common inputs into my life.
What do you listen to and why? Do we share any podcasts?