Whenever I am disheartened by watching the news or scrolling through piles of cynicism and hatred on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, I find myself turning to...podcasts.
Storytelling podcasts, specifically.
There's nothing like a true crime drama that leaves me feeling a little bit better about my life. Or a modern day love story that makes my heart swell. Then there's the stories of paranormal encounters that get my adrenaline pumping and the hilarious anecdotes of comedic legends when I just need a laugh.
Listening to real, ordinary people tell their stories has a way of restoring humanity. It reminds me that we share more in common than our polarizing media would have you believe. Each and every one of us belongs and has a story to tell.
Whether you're looking for the motivation to tell your own life story, inspiration for the next chapter in your memoir, or you just want something nice to listen to on your daily commute–– we've got you covered.
Modern Love is a weekly New York Times column that explores love in its many forms, not just romantic. One of my favorite episodes is actually about the love a woman has for the doorman at her apartment building. Modern Love: The Podcast has celebrities read essays written by ordinary people featured in the newspaper column. At the end of each episode they bring the author on for a quick Q&A. The stories are poignant and swoon-worthy.
Ever wonder what it would be like to live on Mars? Well, in this podcast you can listen to six volunteers recount their experiences of spending one year as imitation astronauts in an imitation Mars environment. Come again? It's true. NASA wanted to know what life might be like on Big Red before we potentially head there for reals one day. Host Lynn Levy chronicled the participants' journey and created an addictive true story of a fake planet.
Have you ever stumbled upon diaries from your youth and cringed at every entry? Now, can you imagine reading those diary entries to the public? Well, that's what people on The Mortified Podcast do. And they don't even get paid to do this. When it isn't your diary being read, it is incredibly entertaining, though. If you visit their website, you can find categories of audience favorites, celebrity guest appearances and episodes curated by mood.
The Moth is a superstar amongst storytelling podcasts. They hosts live 'Story Slams' all over the country (sometimes the world) and select the best material for their podcast. Each episode has a theme and stories are capped at 5 minutes, which makes this podcast great for getting a variety of tales and perspectives in a short segment. The Moth website is an incredible educational resource for those wanting to develop their storytelling skills. They also post behind-the-scenes material for each story online so you can view photos, videos, and interviews with the storyteller if there's one that really captured your attention.
Other People's Problems
While not storytelling, per se, Other People's Problems is a fascinating podcast where the bounds of patient-therapist confidentiality are broken (with consent, of course). You get to listen to real people discuss their real problems in a real counseling session. You can search episodes for a topic that piques your curiosity or one so relatable you might heal an old wound vicariously. Other People's Problems exposes the fact we are not alone in the problems we face, and what is more comforting than that?
News from Lake Wobegon
An oldie, but goodie. Comedian and storyteller Garrison Keillor began telling the stories of his life in the small, rural town of Lake Wobegon back in 1972. His public radio show, A Prarie Home Companion went on for over 42 years. Enjoy signature stories from the town where "all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”
Presented by Snap Judgement (another great storytelling podcast), Spooked features real-life stories about encounters with the paranormal and supernatural. The stories are told as first-hand accounts by the people who lived to tell the tale. If you kind of love the feeling of being scared or you were the kid always telling ghost stories around the campfire, this one is for you. If you know someone who doesn't believe in "all that stuff", this is for them, too.
Brought to you by NPR, StoryCorps is a podcast where normal, everyday Americans share life-defining memories and moments. Each episode is set up as a purely candid, unscripted conversation between two people. StoryCorps covers the things that matter most in life: love, loss, family and friendship. If you're thinking about interviewing a loved one to capture their life story, StoryCorps is a great resource for interview tips, question prompts and more.
To say you'll run the gambit of human emotions while listening to S-Town is an under statement. The producers of Serial and This American Life tell us the true story about the time a man called John B. phoned the producer, Brian Reed, and began telling him about the small town in Alabama that he calls home, but despises. He wants Reed to investigate the son of a wealthy family who has allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. Reed chronicles his visit to Alabama where he begins to uncover more about this mysterious figure. Then, someone else ends up dead and chaos ensues. Enjoy every twist and turn in this unexpected, real-life, true crime podcast.