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15 podcasts guaranteed to tell you a fantastic story

From nonfiction to science fiction, there are great stories to be found with these 15 noteworthy podcasts.

Podcast studio, microphone and computer.; Shutterstock ID 1086035981; Project Name: ; Requested By: ; Client/Licensee:

Credit: Shutterstock / Branislav Nenin

Whats the magic ingredient of a really great podcast, the thing that makes people tune in time after time? Its simple in theory: Have a really good story. But how?

There are all sorts of ways. TakeSerial, the investigative journalism podcast that launched with the true story of the unsolved murder of high school senior Hae Min Lee. Its been downloaded more than350 million timesas of 2018. Come September 20, it will debut its third season. Or, considerThis American Life, where producers have been sharing good stories since 1995.

However they do it, one thing is for sure: You wont want to stop listening. These 15 podcasts deliver on story-telling like no others.

Serialsfirst season earned its popularity with its strategically timed narrative, quality production, and a dogged attempt to get as close as possible to the 15-year-old murder of Hae Min Lee, for which her ex-boyfriend was convicted dont worry, this isnt a spoiler: Its merely where the story begins before delving deeper into the case.

In Serials second season, the podcast focuses on the true story of U.S. soldier Bowe Bergdah, who returns home from Afghanistan in 2014 after being held prisoner by the Taliban for five years. Bergdahs celebratory homecoming is cut short when the public suddenly denounces his hero status, calling him a deserter and traitor. Bergdah shares the events that lead up to the publics general disapproval of his actions in Afghanistan.

What makesSerialso captivating, whatever the season, is host Sarah Koenigs dedication to uncovering the truth behind each story, and delivering key findings, research, and conversations with the people involved.

TheLongformpodcast is made alongside , which curates some of the best longform journalism, likeAtlas Obscurasoverview of Britains secret nuclear bunkers and theNew Yorkersspeculation of whether or not Facebook has had a direct impact on democracy.

Each episode features an interview with journalists about their most hard-hitting stories, their methods, and their connection to their subjects. Well-known interviewees have includedGay TaleseMalcolm Gladwell, andMichael Lewis. Learning what happens in the making of a story gives listeners a better understanding and appreciation of journalism as a whole.

The Moth has been around for about as long asThis American Life, though not necessarily in audio form. The New York City-based nonprofit started with live storytelling events and contests (StorySLAMs with themes like Saved, Scars and Gratitude), and now has a podcast featuring these short stories.

What makes the podcast so great is its simple format: people sharing their stories. The tales are heartfelt, humorous, original, and sincere, and theyre told by everyone, from comedians to professional storytellers, like Hari Kondabolu and Elna Baker. Youll hear ofexotic dancing, heartbreaking high schoolrejections, and experiences withAustralian wild lifethat will make you laugh, cry, and everything between.

Strangerscomes from Peabody award-winner Lea Thau, former director of The Moth. The podcasts ethos is the notion that you can create a connection to someone despite their being a complete stranger just by hearing their story.

Thau explores heartbreak, the connections we make, and what happens when you realize youre not the person you thought you were. Youll hear about a person whose parents controltheir dating profile, what happened when a Somali refugee familymoved to Vermont, and learn of the enduring career of abank robber.

But what really makes this a great storytelling podcast is when Thau shares her own stories. In the three-part episode Love Hurts, she delves into the difficulty she faces dating. Her vulnerability and openness is emblematic of the series ability to evoke your deepest emotions.

History buffs keen to learn more about the Civil War should listen toUncivil.The 2017 Peabody Award-winning podcast delves deep into lesser-known Civil War history. Youll hear stories about everything from political uprisings to corruption scandals, and wonder why, or how, these stories were left out of the textbooks.

The podcast connects abolitionists stories to the world we live in today, making the past thrilling, and revelatory, for todays listeners.

Snap Judgment, likeThe Moth, is based off a live storytelling show. The difference is thatSnap Judgment, which is produced by NPR and hosted by Glynn Washington, adds musical accompaniment to stories, usually making for an experience more along the lines of slam poetry. Public listening riskspublic tears, thanks toSnap Judgementsmoving and affecting stories.

The aim ofBackstoryis to take the headlines of history, both banal and historic, and make them into stories. Its hosted by three American history scholars, so youll get both accuracy and fun thanks to the hosts undeniable chemistry and interactions.

Sure, you could just read a history book or google events youre yearning to learn more about, but then youd miss out on all the links being made to current events, not to mention the hosts witticisms. Learn about the history ofcollege sportsutopia, andextinctionin America, among many other things.

Radiolabmakes human interest stories out of science and philosophys most difficult questions, interweaving these mysteries with music. Popular recommendations includeFallingNumbersandLimits episodes exemplary ofRadiolabsability to tackle big themes.

The Truthoffers short stories frightening, funny and heartwarming woven through with audio elements, like narration and sound effects, to make them come alive. Subjects include everything fromco-opstomall Santas. Then theres the episode Brain Chemistry, in which a cryogenically frozen man returns to life and finds it is not what he expected.

If you like your stories creepy and soothing at the same time, youll loveWelcome to Night Vale. This podcast blew up with the help of a Tumblr fan base, and has been spinning tales of the weirdest supernatural fictional desert town in America ever since.

The podcast is formatted as if it were a traditional local radio news program, giving its community updates on things like mysterious hooded figures, a sentient glowing cloud, and an old women who lives just outside of town with a bunch of angels.

Watch out for now-renowned one-liners like, Weird at last, weird at last! God almighty, weird at last!

The Thrilling Adventure Houris based on a live production staged in Los Angeles, and it has the nostalgic charm of old radio. Each episode features three unique stories, along with fictional sponsored ads and songs, lending the show an eclectic and whimsical vibe.

With a collection of well-known guest stars and an expanding universe of story arcs, you might want to start at the beginning  and listen to them all.

While many of these podcasts are trying to keep the radio form alive,Were Alivehas been focusing on keeping it undead. Its a serial podcast that tells the story of one group of people surviving the zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles.

Tune in for vivid and dark descriptions of the apocalyptic landscape, the creatures that inhabit it, and the close bonds formed among the main characters. The characters reveal their hardships, fears, and hopes for survival in this emotional drama.

Leviathanis a science-fiction audio drama with high quality audio effects and an original soundtrack. The premise might seem too stuffed a secret race of immortals in a city called Leviathan underneath the Pacific Ocean in the midst of war but it gets a human face with Macallan Orsel, a genetic scientist in New York, who becomes embroiled in a war when she finds out shes descended from the people of Leviathan.

Ever wonder what it would be like to live on Mars? Well, so did the six people who signed up to reside in a concealed, imitation Mars habitat in Hawaii for a year. This podcast documents the true story of what occurred during this NASA-organized project.

The goal of the project was to help NASA gauge what they could expect upon visiting Mars, and the results of the project are fascinating.The Habitatrecounts the experiences of the volunteers, and what life is like on Mars, well, fake Mars, anyway. Youll learn everything about the mission, from the freeze-dried food ingested to the meticulously monitored and curated Mars landscape.

Dirt Johntells the true story of interior designer Debra Newell, who meets and becomes entangled with John Meehan, a handsome doctor who seems to fulfill all of Newells needs. But somethings not quite right with Meehan. Eventually, hes revealed to be a con-artist, and he becomes the menacing center of the story terrifying not only Newell, but also the people who surround her.L.A. TimesChristopher Goffard, who reported the story, also hosts the podcast.

The story was originally published in 2014 and updated in 2018.

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