In my opinion, narrative non-fiction is the ultimate podcast style. You get the entertainment of storytelling with the rawness of reality and the simplicity of a single voice. What’s more, the stories are usually told by the writers themselves, given us lived experiences from the horse’s mouth.
If you’ve heard one narrative non-fiction podcast, my bet is it’s probably The Moth – a podcast so massive it is often found at the top of the charts. Recorded in front of a live audience, each episode is short, well-crafted and you’re never quite sure what you’ll get – I’m not going to lie, I have both cried and laughed out loud at stories whilst shopping!
If you’re after a change from the interview format, here are 5 great narrative non-fiction podcasts like The Moth.
If I could have a favourite podcast (which is really difficult in this job!) it would be Out There. Out There explores big questions through intimate stories in the great outdoors, and those stories range from the biggest hikes across continents, the to smallest moments of feeling sand on your feet. There are some interviews and in-depth reporting, but the narrative episodes are really immersive, with interesting music and stories from the heart. Listen now >> (and why not start with my episode!)
TED TALKS DAILY
Okay, you’ve probably heard of this one! But if you like The Moth, TED Talks Daily is a great choice. Whilst The Moth tends to focus on one part of a person’s life, TED Talks often do big overviews. Some of the episodes cover topics at a more societal level, but many stem from a person’s own story and the emotions are often obvious. Running as a daily show for several years, there are literally hundreds of big subjects and narratives you can choose from. Listen now >>
The Anthropocene is the time in which humans live a.k.a. now. The Anthropocene Reviewed is monologue podcast where writer John Green reviews anything and everything from the world in which we live, and gives it a 5 star rating. His topics have be literally anything, from ‘The Plague’ (1 star) to ‘Scratch ‘n’ Sniff Stickers’ (4 stars). The reviews are like a literary commentary and often include personal anecdotes, and he is a harsh critic who rarely gives 5 stars – but it has been known. You’ll have to listen to find out what for! Listen now >>
A MILE IN MY SHOES
Another reason I love storytelling podcasts so much is how it can make us empathise with the storyteller. A Mile in My Shoes comes from The Empathy Museum, which tours with an interactive shoe shop. The live project has people wear a pair of the shoes, and walk a mile in them whilst listening to the old owners telling their life story. The podcast uses the same stories, but explains what the shoes look like at the start – it’s incredible how often the idea I get from the shoes is completely different to the story told. Proof you can’t judge a person by their shoes – and shouldn’t until you’ve walked a mile in them! Listen now >>
Last up is a Pod Bible favourite. Anthems from Broccoli Productions is not dissimilar to A Mile In My Shoes – but perhaps with a bit more edge. With different themes to different series, we hear from underrepresented groups – Anthems Pride, Anthems Women, Anthems Black – as they share real life stories and rallying calls for change. The special lockdown series, Anthems Home, was an amazingly quick response to the Covid restrictions.
Did I miss your favourite narrative non-fiction story? Let us know on Twitter!