By Dana Ray

Stories for Your Ears

Grad life can mean many hours alone, whether we are waiting in-between tasks or commuting or alone in our apartments after the workday. For me, it’s the commute. I spend my life alone and in transit between my home and the university over an hour away. How do I redeem the time?


In particular, I love storytelling podcasts, the programs that take you into another world and weave a magic spell before your, ears. It’s an immersive experience that makes the hours I spend alone a pleasure rather than a waste.

In recent years, podcasting has made an artistic leap forward, no longer defined by the odd rambling of white guys in the basement with their laptops. Women’s voices are defining the artistic and storytelling choices in our culture, from Sarah Koeing’s work with Serial to Hannah Joffrey Walt recently hosting This American Life. And it is a wonderful thing. The remaking of an old form has become a dynamic space for change and challenging content.

Podcasts range from half an hour to an hour, making it an easy substitute for a television show in the middle of your day. And (if your mind can handle it) you can work and listen at the same time. (I can’t but kudos to you if you can!)

Below are some of my favorite shows and for some, a recommended episode to start your journey.


Science and Tech

Radio Lab
Bringing science (all science) to life with stories

Start Up
Go with CEO Alex as he fumbles his way through starting his own company. This is the real story of how entrepreneurs get started in all the rough and tumble moments.

Questioning and exploring the invisible forces in our lives. This is the first official This American Life spin-off and is hosted by Alix Spiegal and Lulu Miller.



Snap Judgment
This is storytelling with a beat, hosted by Glenn Washington, multicultural voices combining fiction and nonfiction storytelling. Start anywhere!

Meet the Composer
I’m not a musician but I love profiles of what makes people the creative beings they are. And these are a great listen.



The Moth
Everyday people telling the wondrous stories of their lives at live stand up storytelling events called Story Slams.

  • Say Yes. The story of a young Mormon in New York City, navigating love of life and faith.

This American Life
The oldest and, in many ways, best of the new radio journalism and storytelling. A three act radio hour around the theme of the week.

Radio journalism extended beyond an hour. Sarah Keinig brought the attention of the world to Adnan Sayid and the question: did he do it? Start at the beginning.


Christian Narrative

A Beautiful Trench It Was
The personal narrative of Christian writer and mentor to wilderness leaders Sam Van Eeman. Beautiful storytelling chronicling the early faith of a young  man and his relationship with his father.

Pray as You Go
Not narrative in the way the other podcasts are, this one centers us within the narrative we are already living through the daily liturgies of scripture reading and guided prayer. Elegantly and tastefully done for a contemplative space within your day.

Are there podcasts you enjoy? We’d love to hear about them!
About the Author

Writer. Dancer. Tea Drinker. Idea Wrangler. A happy resident of State College, Pennsylvania​,​ and a graduate student in English and Creative Writing at Bucknell University where she is working on a book about her year in Bulgaria. You can find more of her writing and consulting work at

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