We never outgrow listening to stories.
Whatever the mood you’re in, there’s always that story we can relate to or enjoy.
In today’s world, you don’t even need to stop what you’re doing to listen to a good story.
Podcasts make this experience convenient.
The only question is: in the vast audio library begging for a listen, which ones are actually worth your time?
Here we give you 17 of the best story podcasts in varying genres (in no particular order).
1. Dirty John
This is a true crime story about full-scale manipulation and deceit.
Debra Newell, a successful interior designer falls in love with a shady John Meehan. They’d met online and John looked like the perfect husband.
However, Debra’s family’s not convinced and wants her to be rid of him.
Debra carries on with the marriage until she discovers proof of her husband’s true identity.
The reason why he’s called “Dirty John” is revealed. One by one the series of lies unfold before her as people from his past confirm his true nature.
Hosted and reported by Christopher Goffard of the LA Times, this one’s already a winner.
The podcast has had over 10 million downloads within six weeks of its release. You wouldn’t want to miss it!
2. Radio Diaries
Produced by Peabody Award-winner Joe Richman and the Radio Diaries team, this is a classic storytelling podcast.
Listening to this podcast is like listening to a grandparent’s tales – charming and romantic.
It gives you a glimpse of the not-so-distant past. It makes you wonder what it’s like to have lived and seen the world as it was and how much it’s changed.
This podcast is rich with first-person accounts, old voice recordings from the Phono Post Archives – all precious bits of history.
These are amazing stories of people unheard of, who’ve lived in moments worth sharing.
3. Myths and Legends
Are you a sucker for folklores, myths, and fairytales?
Here’s the podcast for you!
All those popular stories we’ve heard of since we were little, aren’t exactly how they were originally told.
Host Jason Weiser, tells the real score about these well-known tales – the dark details that have been changed or omitted. He digs deeper into the origins that will surprise you.
Discover how Sleeping Beauty’s story isn’t fairytale-like at all.
Learn the actual stories behind well-loved characters like Aladdin, Hercules, and King Arthur.
4. This American Life (TAL)
Well-loved by listeners, this show has been airing since 1995 originally as Your Radio Playhouse.
Hosted by Ira Jeffrey Glass, TAL primarily features non-fiction stories of people from all walks of life.
Stories told by astronauts to stories of ordinary people who might just be living across the street.
Listening to these stories will either make you think, laugh, or cry – surely elicit some reaction.
So tune in if you have an hour to spare and want to engage yourself in a compelling story.
5. The Secret Room
Dahlia Beta and Ben Hamm host this riveting podcast about what everyone wants to know – secrets!
Real people reveal the deepest darkest corners of themselves.
You’ll listen to the most outrageous confessions and see that with each revelation, come relief and acceptance.
Maybe there’s really nothing to be ashamed of. After all, who doesn’t have at least one dark secret or two?
6. The Black Tapes
This podcast is written by Paul Bae and Terry Miles as a spin-off of Pacific Northwest Stories.
The story begins with a journalist, Alex Raegan, getting access to some interesting files of her subject, Dr. Richard Strand.
Dr. Strand is a paranormal investigator and has a collection of unsolved mysteries referred to as the “Black Tapes.”
Raegan probes deeper and finds herself caught up in a web of dark, otherworldly presence.
She embarks on a thrilling adventure in the quest to discover the mystery of Strand’s past.
From prophecies to creepy black figures, here’s another hair-raising podcast to keep you nail-biting on dull nights.
When it comes to storytelling, Radiolab always makes it high on my list.
If you love great stories as much as science and philosophy, this is pretty much a hybrid of the two.
For this, Radiolab has received a National Academies Communication Award in 2007.
Suddenly, science isn’t so difficult and exclusive after all!
From horseshoe crabs to astronauts, it gets more interesting.
The background music is remarkable. It could totally transport you into another world – from inside a blood vessel to up in space.
Gimlet Media brings in another notable podcast.
Uncivil is a historical podcast best enjoyed by those who dig Civil War documentaries and history books.
But there’s more – stories left out of the pages of your known history are here.
Journalists and hosts Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika “ransack America’s past” and bring these unheard of stories to light.
If you’re into mind-bending stuff, this thriller from Gimlet Media will mess with your head.
Written by Micah Bloomberg and Eli Horowitz, this podcast got its inspiration from a 1943 popular suspense radio program, Sorry, Wrong Number.
The plot focuses on the main character, Heidi Bergman, a therapist at a secret government facility.
Bergman, together with a young veteran from the facility, an investigator from the Defense Department and Bergman’s supervisor all play a role in this psychological thriller.
The realistic conspiracies will shock you, at the same time make you consider how possible it is to happen in today’s world.
Cliff-hanging episodes are unrelenting and unforgiving.
And a bonus for F.R.I.E.N.D.S. fans – David Schwimmer’s voicing one of the main characters!
This investigative journalism podcast will take you on a rollercoaster ride.
A 2015 Peabody Award winner, Serial takes real crime stories to a whole new level.
Host Sarah Koenig succinctly narrates each story and gets you absorbed.
She shares clips of related interviews and sometimes plays the devil’s advocate, making you constantly change your mind about what you think you know.
As stories unfold episode after episode, you can’t help but play detective as you try to piece things together.
Serial has been downloaded around 175 million times as of June 2017.
11. Snap Judgment
Snap Judgment brilliantly combines dramatic stories with musical elements, enhancing the listener’s experience.
Glynn Washington hosts the show which started way back in 2010.
A thematic compilation of unique narratives follow a quick introduction. The intro, usually an anecdote accompanied by killer beats, is a masterpiece for a start.
Washington will get your head bobbing along with the beats as he smoothly gets started.
It opens you up to a new way of seeing things.
Shocking stories can cause a subtle paradigm shift in how you perceive the world altogether.
Snap Judgment lets you be the judge.
12. We’re Alive
It’s the end of the world, and the zombies are here!
A group of people in Los Angeles survives the horrific apocalypse. Now they must stick together to stay alive.
Created by Kc Wayland, this horror-drama series will make you freak out and cry.
You know how sound is a major element that makes horror films so scary? Well, you’ll get it here.
Unlike movies that show you creepy images outright, this podcast does way better.
It allows you to use your imagination as it describes everything in haunting detail. Enjoy!
13. Alice Isn’t Dead
From one of the creators of Welcome to Night Vale comes another serial thriller podcast – Alice Isn’t Dead.
This is basically a road trip audio diary of a lady truck driver.
She searches for her long dead wife – well, assumed dead that is.
A mysterious spectral murderer, conspiracies and creepy towns – you get the picture.
14. The Truth
The Truth is a collection of short stories that could inspire or make you laugh.
Some stories have a serious tone, others are funny.
It’s hosted by Jonathan Mitchell, with exceptional pieces from different writers, and performed by various actors.
Each episode is unique so you can jump in anywhere. Episodes are short and great for a quick listen.
Make sure you have earphones on, as some episodes are crucially reliant on sound quality to produce the intended effect, like the episode Remember the Baby.
You just can’t miss the music and the voice inflections that carry the story.
“All of the material is from documented stories or historical events. Some are ancient and some are modern, but they are all factual in the sense that people reported these things and believed they were true,” claims Aaron Mahnke, creator of Lore.
Personally, I wouldn’t say it’s scary and therefore wouldn’t classify it under the horror genre.
It’s more of an informational kind of storytelling – much like an audio tour back to the origins of your fears.
Lore attempts to answer the question, “Why are we afraid?”
Lore seeks to explain these fears of dark places, things, people or creatures through the eyes of history, legends and folklores.
Peabody Award winner and former executive and creative director of The Moth, Lea Thau hosts this beautiful storytelling podcast.
These are stories of strangers, who stop being such after you’ve listened to them.
These are the kind of stories that tug at your heartstrings, and are not so different from yours.
Love, pain, frustration, fear and heartbreak – we’re no strangers to these feelings.
17. The Habitat
Ever wonder what it’s like to live on another planet?
This podcast takes us to a simulated Mars mission inside a dome in an isolated part of Hawaii.
Discover what it’s like to live with real people in a very different world, where everything needs to be controlled and precise.
Six HI-SEAS (Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation) IV members, embark on this year-long scientific social experiment.
Observe how people interact in an extremely foreign environment.
See how group dynamics change in different situations and how these changes are essential for survival.
Join host Lynn Levy in an extraordinary expedition that will test human bond and spirit beyond earthly limits.
Get a shot of emotions in your arm, learn something new, or scare the hell out of yourself – any kind of diversion is good.
Get your story fix from only the best story podcasts.