While there are podcasts for just about every subject imaginable, sometimes what you really want is to hear a great story. (Who said story time was just for the little ones?)
From chilling tales of murder and deceit to the untold stories behind the historic events you thought you knew, the 15 best story podcasts we’ve listed below are sure to keep you entertained and on the edge of your seat.
The 15 Best Story Podcasts
These 15 story podcasts will take you on an adventure while you cook, clean, drive, or simply sit back and enjoy the show.
From the creators of This American Life comes Serial, which unfolds one true story every season. Host Sarah Koenig doesn’t know what will happen at the end of the story until she gets there, and her dedication to uncovering the truth behind each story makes the listening experience all the more fulfilling.
Each week Sarah delivers the latest chapter, unveiling a captivating story, whether it be a murder mystery or a veteran’s sudden fall from grace in the eyes of the American public.
2. This American Life
What started as a weekly public radio show is now a podcast downloaded by 2.5 million people every week. Each week’s episode of This American Life has a theme, and usually features several “acts,” or different stories related to that theme.
Stories are often told as first-person narratives, and can range from thought-provoking to humorous. Many episodes examine current events (like “After the Storm,” following Hurricane Katrina) or human nature (like “Kid Logic,” which examines the thought processes of children.
Peabody award-winner Lea Thau features the true stories of the people we meet, the connections we build, and the heartaches we suffer in Strangers. The idea is that listeners will be able to feel connected to people they’ve never met before thanks to the universality of these themes.
Hear stories of a person whose parents control their dating profile, a Somali refugee family who moved to Vermont, and many more tales of humanity.
4. Welcome to Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale is somehow both creepy and soothing at the same time. Hear bi-monthly community updates from Night Vale, a small desert town where every conspiracy theory is true.
Tune in for tales of hooded figures, glowing clouds, and more supernatural lore, in the form of a traditional local radio news program that feels eerily real.
5. Ear Hustle
Ear Hustle is the first podcast to ever be created entirely inside a prison, offering listeners a firsthand and often harrowing look at life behind bars. The series is produced by San Quentin State Prison inmates Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, as well as volunteer artist Nigel Poor.
The podcast features interviews with inmates who open up about incarceration, as well as their opinions on solitary confinement, race, religion, and current events.
6. Snap Judgment
Snap Judgment is based off a live storytelling show and adds musical accompaniment to its stories. Each episode is composed of narrative pieces that revolve around a common theme. The real stories, mixed with great beats, are often moving and touch listeners’ hearts.
Hosted by Glynn Washington, episodes include stories of aid workers held hostage in Iraq and loan sharks who crusades against the dark side of the payday industry.
7. Modern Love
The Modern Love podcast features the popular New York Times column with readings and updates from the essayists themselves. Some of film and television’s best actors performing true stories of loss and love, including Kate Winslet, Uma Thurman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Angela Bassett, and more.
Listeners will find these stories relatable, comforting, and even more familiar with some of their favorite actors narrating each scene.
8. This Is Love
Although it comes from the same creators of Criminal, the This Is Love podcast couldn’t be more different in its subject matter. The podcast combines interviews, music, and narration to tell real stories about love and the crazy lengths we’ll go to in its name.
In a list full of true crime and murder mystery podcasts, Modern Love and This Is Love can provide the little glimmer of hope you might need to restore your faith.
9. The Truth
The Truth tells a variety of short stories, interwoven with narration and sound effects to make them cove alive. Some tales are frightening, while others are funny and heartwarming.
If you want an idea of what one episode can offer, just check out the logline of one recent episode: “A missing phone. A cabin full of suspects. A search for the truth.”
Unexplained is a biweekly podcast about mysterious real life events that seem to evade explanation. The show mixes spoken-word narrative, history, and ideas about what we think of as “reality.”
Some of their spookiest titles include episodes like “Outside the Darkroom,” “The Under Weight,” and “Echoes in a Shallow Bay.”
11. Myths & Legends
The Myths and Legends podcast delivers the stories behind the tales you thought you knew, and it turns out your favorite fairy tales are probably way more bizarre, ridiculous, and fascinating than you ever imagined.
Discover the stunning origins of popular myths, legends, and fairy tales, and uncover a few you might not have heard of. New episodes are released each Wednesday.
12. The Bright Sessions
The Bright Sessions is a science fiction podcast that follows a group of therapy patients, each with a unique supernatural ability.
The show traces their struggles and discoveries, as well as the motivations of their mysterious therapist, Dr. Bright.
The Longform podcast features weekly conversations with nonfiction writers about how they tell stories. Writers not only reveal their writing process, but also recall some of their personal experiences that led them to where they are now.
Uncivil reveals true stories that were left out of the official history of the Civill War—stories about resistance, covert operations, corruption, counterfeiting, and so much more.
The hosts discuss these forgotten struggles and connect them to the political climate we currently live in.
15. The Thrilling Adventure Hour
The Thrilling Adventure Hour is a stage show and podcast delivered in the form of an old time radio show. Guest actors include Busy Phillips, Weird Al Yankovic, Sara Watkins, and more.
You can also check out their documentary web series to get a glimpse at all the behind the scenes action and learn what goes into each performance.
The Best Storytelling Podcasts
Storytelling is an art form, but it’s not limited to the printed word. In fact, the first stories were never even written down until generations later.
Listening to a good story can be a great way to unwind or activate your imagination. Try one of the 15 story podcasts above next time you’re looking for some quality entertainment.
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