SoundCloud is well-known as a place where both established hit-makers and up-and-comers can post new music. And, while SoundCloud is a great site for music lovers, it has just as much to offer when you’re not in the mood to listen to music.
Click on the “Charts” tab and you’ll see top music tracks. But click the dropdown menu to the right and you’ll be able to find a hidden gem of a genre: Storytelling.
SoundCloud files tagged as storytelling tend to be spoken-word selections and podcasts. They touch on a wide variety of themes and topics, all equally entertaining.
Whether you need to take your mind off monotonous work, pass some time stuck in traffic, or just listen to geeky background noise while work around the house, these SoundCloud selections should fit the bill.
Here are 12 of the most compelling storytelling podcasts you can stream right now on SoundCloud.
Hosted by Glynn Washington, this NPR storytelling podcast features a different theme for each episode. Topics range from stories of broken promises and the cultural experiences of women to putting your faith in others. Each episode has a creative title like “Blood Oath,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” or “Leap of Faith.”
The narrative drive behind each episode is what makes this podcast one of the best on SoundCloud’s Top 50 list.
Washington starts off each episode with a personal story that sets the tone for the rest of the episode. The episode is then broken into three or four smaller segments where guest storytellers share their tales with listeners. Every story included is incredibly engaging and enhanced with post-production background sounds and effects.
You can listen to each episode as a whole, or just individual segments. Consequently, the running time for this podcast varies from less than five minutes to as long as one hour.
2. Story Worthy
In this podcast, hosts Christine Blackburn and Hannes Phinney set up real-life stories told by real people. With new episodes released each Monday, the running time varies widely from quick-hitting, 15-minute stories to longer, hour-long episodes.
You can get a good idea of what each story is about from the title. Examples include “I Saved a Lady in the Jungle in Thailand With Dennis Gubbins,” “I Was Accidentally in a Threesome with Kira Soltanovich,” and “Dating Multiple People with Alex Stein.”
This unique podcast follows a fictional desert town in the Southwestern United States where conspiracy theories come to life. Night Vale typically airs new episodes on the first and 15th of each month, with each presented as if it were a local radio show.
Fans of paranormal stories are certain to enjoy this one. While it’s possible to pick up with the most recent episode, it’s worth going back and listening to archived episodes from the beginning.
If you’re into audio storytelling, there’s a good chance you’re already familiar with A Prairie Home Companion. This is a long-running production that was hosted by Garrison Keillor for more than 40 years.
Now hosted by Chris Thile, the public-radio fixture is available on SoundCloud, including scores of older Keillor-hosted episodes. For the uninitiated, A Prairie Home Companion follows the fictional town of Lake Wobegon through a series of music and comedy sketches.
Sometimes a name says it all, and that’s the case with the Criminal podcast. As the title indicates, the podcast focuses on stories about crime — or, in its own words, “stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.”
Any fan of true crime stories will enjoy Criminal, which features nearly 50 self-contained episodes that run between 15 and 30 minutes.
Sift is a weekly podcast produced and hosted by researcher and editor Bishop Sand. It focuses on the way we think about ourselves and the rest of the world. Sand chats with experts on a wide variety of topics, including causation, death, the origin of life, and paradoxes.
These episodes are good for those looking to learn something new or hear a new angle on a familiar topic. The episodes are generally between five and 20 minutes long, with most falling on the shorter end of that spectrum.
Everyone remembers particularly traumatic or embarrassing events from their childhoods, and such events are the topics of The Mortified Podcast. Episodes average about 20 minutes, and each features an adult discussing embarrassing childhood artifacts, such as journals, home movies, artwork, or self-written poems and plays.
Mortified has grown well beyond a podcast and has spawned live events, an independent documentary, a TV series, two books, and an associated website.
In BackStory, U.S. historians Ed Ayers, Peter Onuf, and Brian Balogh take current topics and put them in historical perspective. For example, recent episodes have touched on the history of women in U.S. politics and the history of American political conventions.
Those interested in taking in a bit of the history behind current events will enjoy BackStory. Episodes are on the somewhat longer side, with each running roughly one hour. However, most are also separated into shorter, bite-sized chapters for those with shorter attentions spans.
9. Love + Radio
A monthly podcast from Nick van der Kolk, Love + Radio is known for its deep dive into a diverse range of topics. The program started in 2005 and began regular production in 2014. Over its lifespan, it has earned the praises of the likes of This American Life host Ira Glass, who said Love + Radio has “some of the most emotionally complicated stories and portraits of people that anyone is doing anywhere.”
The show currently has four seasons’ worth of episodes available, with the majority running between 25 and 60 minutes.
10. Radio Ambulante
For the Spanish-speaking contingent, Radio Ambulante is a Spanish-language podcast that tells Latin American stories from all places where Spanish is spoken, including the United States.
Most of the episodes are between 20 and 30 minutes long. While those posted on SoundCloud are in Spanish, interested listeners can find English-translated versions on the Radio Ambulante website.
Many episodes of Longform are indeed on the longer side, with some approaching one hour and 20 minutes. But that’s not where the podcast gets its name. The weekly show features interviews with nonfiction writers on how they approach their craft. Past guests have included Gay Talese, Lena Dunham, Malcolm Gladwell, and Michael Lewis.
Readers interested in how some of their favorite writers come up with their work will enjoy — just make sure you have plenty of time to listen.
Think of The Dinner Party Download as a quirky variety show for your ears. Hosted by Rico Gagliano & Brendan Francis Newnam, the show describes itself as “NPR meets Vanity Fair”. These pods contain celebrity interviews, food and drink recipes, and plenty of bad jokes.
The show boasts a who’s-who list of guests, including Steve Martin, Henry Rollins, Richard Branson, and Dick Cavett.
Be Sure to Browse!
These 12 podcasts are just a small sample of what’s available in SoundCloud’s Storytelling repertoire. As the top storytelling change on a day-by-day basis, you could find something new each day you check the list. You can also click on New & Hot which will bring you to a list of the most recent episodes of a number of podcasts.
So, go ahead. Start indulging in what could become your new favorite binge-worthy media: storytelling podcasts!
Do you have a favorite podcast? If so, tell us about it in the comments section below. Or, if you don’t listen to podcasts, tell us what keeps you from being entertained by them?