#44 The Best Podcasts for Storytellers

Diving in to new perspectives

We’re lucky enough to be living in a new era of media and storytelling. The world is a different place in both wonderful and awful ways as a result of it. One of the things I LOVE about this new era is podcasts. They are a gift from the soundgods. Basically radio for the digital native but produced in new, engaging ways and tapping into our curiosity and interest in things outside of ourself and what we know. At least that’s how I think of them.

I wanted to share some podcasts that have sparked my imagination as a storyteller over the past year and encourage you to explore the medium for entertainment, but also for the new perspectives that come with it.

My (current and evolving) List of Podcasts for Storytellers:

Unlocking Us

Host: Brené Brown

I think you must have figured out by now that I am a Brené Brown super fan and this podcast has reinforced that position. I’ve shared episodes with you in the past, but I would honestly recommend just starting from the beginning and working your way through the catalogue. At its core, it’s a podcast that explores what it means to be human. The newest episodes are only available on Spotify, so I’d recommend going there. You’ll also get access to all the guest’s playlists, which is another kind of story experience. For those of you asking yourselves what you’ve done since George Floyd’s murder to contribute positively, she has some great episodes on the racial reckoning of 2020 and returns to it often.

Binge Mode

Hosts: Jason Concepcion & Mallory Rubin

If you like fantasy stories, this podcast dives DEEP and unpacks what about them makes you love them. The hosts binge popular fantasy stories from the Harry Potter series to Game of Thrones. It is a masterclass in understanding storytelling and has definitely made me a more considerate and purposeful storyteller just by listening. Start with whichever series interests you most—you’ll dive into the others just to get Jason and Mal’s take on them too. It’s like re-watching or re-reading in a whole new way. (They’re currently on the MCU, but scroll for other stories)

How to Save a Planet

Hosts: Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson & Alex Blumberg

This one provides hope in the conversation around the climate crisis. Hosted by a journalist and a scientist, it asks the big questions: what do we need to do to solve the climate crisis, and how do we get it done? It’s beautiful journalistic storytelling and reminds me of old-school radio features with a bit more personality. Dive in anywhere. I started in the middle then went back and listened to most of the episodes (I’m currently avoiding American political news so none of those hyper focused episodes).

Reply All

Hosts: Alex Goldman & Emmanuel Dzotsi (and formerly PJ Vogt)

Currently on hiatus as they sort through the future of what the podcast will be in the face of a serious internal reckoning this is a podcast I have heart and hope for. Listen to all the “Yes, Yes, No” episodes, but also just turn on a random one and be delighted by a view into the murky workings of the internet. Start as far back as feels good for you and just dive in. My all time favourite episode that is a feat of journalistic, investigative and storytelling prowess is Episode 158: The Case of the Missing Hit. Their recent upheaval and re-evaluation may become a lesson in how to handle serious criticism and learn and evolve in the face of it.

Bodega Boys

Hosts: Desus Nice & The Kid Mero

I plan to write an entire newsletter about branding through the lens of these two. Again, a super fan. I will note though that it is a very SPECIFIC brand of humour and approach to podcasting (you may find yourself offended). This is a podcast for 23-year-old boys that for some reason I find fascinating and engaging. Proceed with that in mind. What I like about it is their consistency and commitment to their brand of humour as well as the brief moments of true insight amidst the (legit) nonsense. I’ve inadvertently learned a lot as these two spend a couple of hours in my ears just shooting the shit and chatting about the state of the world (warning: there is a lot of swearing). It’s a lens into culture that I otherwise wouldn’t have. Only listen to the latest few—it’s pretty hard to go back with this one as it’s so grounded in the moment.

Still Processing

Hosts: Jenna Wortham & Wesley Morris

A New York Times culture podcast that attempts to work through and understand cultural phenomenon with somewhat of a lens on race and the impacts of it on culture. Also, reflective of the current moment with a news of the week feel (mainly because NYT), but I’d encourage you to dive in where you see a title that interests you. It provides an interesting Black American perspective in some episodes while simply being smart and thoughtful about what’s happening in culture in general.

A Story Well Told

There are SO many more podcasts out there telling amazing stories. I’d encourage you to google “best podcasts on [insert a subject you’re interested in]” and dive in. Call Your Girlfriend—another great one on friendship; Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness—the title says it all; Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard—interview style show; Design Matters with Debbie Millman—one of the longest running podcasts of all time, great for marketers. There is so much out there and just a wonderful way to be immersed in a story. Try a few and let me know what you think. And PLEASE share any that you love in the comments, I’m always looking for new podcasts.

Thanks for reading and I’ll “see” you next week. Whatever the world may bring, there will always be important stories that need you to tell them. I’ll be here to help.

If you know someone who has a story to tell and may need some help crafting it, please share this newsletter with them and encourage them to subscribe.

Also, if you’re enjoying this or if there’s something you’d like me to cover in a future letter—an element of your storytelling you may be struggling with, please let me know by leaving a comment below. I’m here to help.

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