Things I Like Month: Storytelling Podcasts Edition

 It seems like story slams are everywhere these days. As poetry slams were to my last two years of high school (seriously, there was a lot of them), so are story slams to today.

The problem is, of course, what about those stories that are not all that good? How do you avoid those?

Well, you could accept life is a balance of the good and bad, bitter and sweet, quality and lousy. Or you could just listen to these podcasts and say screw you to things like patience, acceptance, and balance.

Here they are, all killer no filler.




Billed as “Storytelling with a beat,” I’d be lying to you if I said that I thought the podcast particularly lived up to that name anymore than, say, THIS AMERICAN LIFE (see below). I suppose you can make the argument that the between segments music here is a bit more beat-y, but…

However, that’s a slogan, not the show and I encourage you not to get distracted by it and miss the quality that is SNAP JUDGMENT.

Overseen by host Glynn Washington and usually boasting a least one story by him, the nearly hour long broadcast is a series of segments that include monologues, live storytelling, interviews, and full blown reports. Washington’s life is pretty fascinating on its own—raised in a church that actively was preparing for the End Times, living and teaching in Japan for a time, composing music in San Francisco, father, winner of a contest to have his own show on NPR (this one) as well as (to steal from his own bio) working as educator, diplomat, community activist, actor, political strategist, fist-shaker, mountain-hollerer, and foot stomper—and he has a way of talking about it all that brings you into his world immediately.

He speaks about his life with a sense of honesty and detachment, simultaneously making it clear how “normal” the things happening around him seemed in, say, his childhood while letting you see how the man now views that child’s life very differently. It’s a hard balance to strike, but he does it with enough ease you are unlikely to notice.

Washington has also surrounded himself with a variety of talented producers who share his sensibilities enough to make the show feel coherent, but with enough difference to not make it feel stale.

Funny, sad, and scary by varying turns, SNAP JUDGMENT manages that difficult feat of sharing people’s lives with you with honesty and without—despite its name—judgment.

Released: Weekly

Twitter handles associated with the podcast:

The Show

Glynn Washington

Stephanie Foo




Typically favoring just one story over an hour or so package, THE MOTH podcast cherry picks from its archive of stories built up from live events. Each live event revolves around a specific theme, although it is clear from the stories chosen, storytellers are encouraged to interpret and push that theme as far as they can without simply telling a story that literally doesn't fit the topic in any way, shape, or form.

Given the single story format of the podcast, it is the easiest to check out because the commitment is almost nil. Typically running only about 15 minutes start to finish, including the pre-show bumper, even if you don’t love the story, it will be over in no time at all. But given that the selections are curated from years (back as far as ’97), the chances that the stories won’t interest you are fairly limited.

Of course that advantage can be a disappointment as well when a story really ignites you interest in hearing more offering from that particular event or based on that theme. Perhaps because of this, every now and again, THE MOTH will release a “full” episode that covers one storytelling event from start to finish.

Overall, the podcast features talent storytellers telling quick burst tales that are worth a listen and that’s a pretty good deal.

Released: Weekly

Twitter handles associated with the podcast:

The Show




This is not, strictly speaking, a storytelling podcast. That said, nearly every episodes contains elements of storytelling and any podcast that boasts frequent content from the likes of David Sedaris and John Hodgman cannot hide from at least being partially about storytelling, even if it is deep in its DNA.

 If you are aware of public radio in any context there are probably three shows you can call out by name: Car Talk, Prairie Home Companion (you might call this one “That Garrison Keillor Thing” though), and this one. And there’s good reason for that.

Although I’m not a follower of every episode, I will certainly take the time, week to week, to check the topic. Each episode I do download is chock-a-block full of stories, think pieces, and investigative reports that hold the attention will providing information. If all that sounds more like homework than entertainment, believe me when I assure you that it is a shortcoming in my explanation, not a true insight into the nature of the show.

Released: Weekly

Twitter handles associated with the podcast:

The Show


Tomorrow: Humor Podcasts