09 February, 2013

Favourite Sites: Slew of Podcasts II

There is no place better to find stories and storytellers than in the Internet. There are countless podcasts out there to fill your life with good stories. I've have "gone through" many over the last 10-12 years and here are some of the podcasts that have stuck to my subscription list like Velcro and I listen to faithfully.

Eleanor Wachtel is a champion interviewer. She generously sets a stage for storytellers to tell their stories every week, in Writers And Company . Ms. Wachtel's questions writers about their work and their lives. Her interviews are well-prepared, probing, prodding, expansive journeys. The writers are give a large berth to explain and explore how their personal biographies or life experiences contextually influence their writing.

One of the interviews I have listened to countless times is titled the Irish Panel,

"This week, the magic of the Irish short story, then and now - with Roddy Doyle, Claire Keegan and Kevin Barry."

If you delight in lively banter and the discourse of master storytellers, this is a good place to start.

Michael Ondaatje interviews Eleanor Wachtel on the occasion of the show's 20 anniversary. It turns out that Eleanor Wachtel can give as good as she gets.

Next on the list of my Top 5 Favourites is, This American Life.

"The radio show and TV show follow the same format. There's a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It's mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There's lots more to the show, but it's sort of hard to describe. Probably the best way to understand the show is to start at our favorites page, though we do have longer guides to our radio show and our TV show. If you want to dive into the hundreds of episodes we've done over the years, there's an archive of all our old radio shows and listings for all our TV episodes, too."

This is the trailer to a fantatic show they did in NYC and live-streamed across the US, Canada, and Australia. Sure wish I had been there, but watching the video is also fun.

Last fall, my daughter and I met up with my mother (from Grenada), my sister (from Santa Cruz), in Toronto. Coincidentally, Ira Glass was giving a show on the future of radio during this time. My daughter and I not only got to attend this fabulous show, but we also got to meet Mr. Glass in person.

When we went to pick up our tickets at the box office, we followed a line of people into the theater, not knowing it was the back stage door. Once we were in the theater, we realised we had made a mistake and explained this to the next security guard we met. Somewhere in the explanation I said, "We are here to see Ira Glass...", and the security guard translated this to "meet Ira Glass". Subsequently, he escorted us into a closed bar area that turned out to be where all the CBC VIPs were taken to so they could chat with Mr. Glass before the show.

I did manage to gather the nerve and introduce my daughter and myself and thank him for producing such a wonderful show. The whole encounter was thrilling, awkward, and embarrassing all at the same time.

Here are three other podcasts telling great stories for you to explore as well:
Please leave the names of your favourites storytelling podcasts as a comment. So, there you go. Start listening.


  1. GAH! I love your Ira Glass story. It sounds like something he's have on the show. :) Did you hear the episode a little while ago about his dog? That one freaked me out.

    I don't know that I have favorite storytelling podcasts, beyond TAL, but I absolutely adore "Wait Wait, Don't Tell Me" every week. HILARIOUS. I download TAL, WWDTM, Smiley and West, and To The Best of Our Knowledge. Oh, also Planet Money. I then go for long walks and listen to my iPod. I love it.

  2. J, thank you for your comment. Glad to hear there is someone out there that plans their walks around the weekly podcasts. I always think of it as the pursuit of high-end entertainment during low end activity (walking, taking the train, ironing, cutting vegetables).