Some may think that oral storytelling died with Homer, but they’d be wrong. There is a huge open-mic storytelling scene in cities like New York and LA, places where people congregate to share moments of their lives, both happy and sad, hilarious and tear-jerking. And even better, many of these events are turned into podcasts, so that everyone can listen to the comeback of the oral tradition. As a writer, these are a great way to learn how different stories are told, how each narrative are wander along a different path. And for non-writers, they are still amazing fun.
Here’s a list of some of my favorite storytelling podcasts I’ve found on iTunes.
(Oh, and almost all of these are actively looking for more stories, so check out their contribution pages! Perhaps I could be listening to your story coming from my iPod one day.)
For me, The Moth is the story-telling podcast to end all story-telling podcasts. This is likely because it was the first I stumbled upon, and so it has the dearest place in my heart. The tagline of the show is “True stories told live without notes.” And there is a spontaneous feel to the stories; they have certainly been rehearsed before the live shows, but not to the point of losing emotion. They are funny and heartbreaking and every emotion in between.
I think my favorite part of The Moth is that it is a mix of famous people and ‘normal’ people who simply have fabulous stories to tell.
Each episode is about 15 minutes long (perfect for my commute), and there is a new story every Monday. Keep a special lookout for the episodes labeled ‘storySLAM.’ Those are from The Moth storytelling competitions and they tend to be pee-your-pants funny.
I have been marathoning all 100-ish episodes of this podcast since I found it a few weeks ago. Hosted by comedian and storyteller Kevin Allison (whose voice now narrates my dreams), Risk is a podcast of true stories told boldly–or, true stories you never thought you’d tell. This is a 100% M-rated podcast, with plenty of sex, drugs and rock-and-roll.But there is something truly beautiful about the stories–some are told at live shows, others recorded in studios–that gets at a fundamental truth of humanity: we all take risks.
Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it’s a terrible ordeal, but they always end in a great story.
Risk posts full podcasts every other Thursdays with themed episodes that range from about 45 minutes to over an hour. Even more interesting for a budding storyteller is the EXTRA Risk episodes that pop up on the off Thursdays. These are shorter podcasts (about 30 minutes) where the storyteller gives background to his story and the choices made as to how to craft the narrative for a live event. They have been amazingly informative–and always hilarious.
The Story Collider claims to be a podcast dedicated to stories about how science has impacted people’s lives. I’d say that is true about 75% of the time. The other 25% have only tenuous links to science–and sometimes none at all. But regardless, every story is amazing. Each episode features one person telling their story, and unlike a lot of the other podcasts, these usually cover a larger time frame, sometimes a storyteller’s entire life. I think that is especially difficult to capture in an oral story without details bogging everything down, but Story Collider storytellers usually manage a perfect balance.
The Story Collider episodes have a huge range in length. I’ve seen anything from 15 minutes to about 45. They usually pop up in my iTunes queue around Sunday.
Snap Judgement is called Story Telling with a Beat. Host Glynn Washington has a smooth, ear-candy voice that has almost a hip-hop rhythm to it. The stories presented definitely have a stronger journalism-edge (most are produced or even reported by Snap Judgement staff), but they are a The New Yorker breed of journalism, all narrative and heart.
The episodes are themed and usually contain at least one story that totally boggles my mind. It is another podcast that holds the challenge to live boldy–to go out and discover the world.
Snap Judgement is an NPR show, so you might be able to listen to it on your local NPR station. If not, the podcast is available every weekend.
What about you, canaries? What are you favorite story-telling podcasts?