True Stories Revealed Through Podcasts

Podcasts and radio have an interesting relationship with one another. When listening to a podcast, some may find similar qualities to radio. Podcasts can have conversational features, advertisements, and interviews. On the other hand, podcasts can have a narration like element to it such as the podcast Strangers.

Strangers podcast is written and produced by Lea Thau, music and music editing is by Paul Dreux Smith. This podcast has 106 episodes, each ranging from 15-50 minutes long published from 2013 to 2017. On average, each podcast lasts about 30 minutes. Its episodes voice the rare and true stories of everyday people.

The relationship between podcasts and radio is discussed in, Podcasting: Considering the evolution of the medium and its association with the word ‘radio.’ Richard Berry argues that there are differences between the two audio recordings including the way that people listen to them.

“While both the podcast listener and the radio listener are seeking aural entertainment and while there may be occasions where both listeners consume the same content, they may do so in different ways and for different reasons” (Berry 11).

In the quote shown above, Berry points out that fans of both podcasts and radio have the same goal, “aural entertainment,” yet the way they listen differs. Radio allows people to tune in at whenever time they want to hear what is currently being discussed. On the other hand, podcasts allow fans to listen to the content of their own choosing whenever and wherever they please. There are various different ways to easily access podcasts such as on mobile phones and laptops.

Strangers in particular offers an interesting relationship to radio. While it inhabits the same features that radio does, such as being an audio medium that delivers content without visuals, Strangers inhabits a different experience for the person tuning in. This podcast is structured in a different way in which it is not an edited recorded episode of people discussing a topic in an interview. Instead, it inhabits various different narrators who read a script. There is no “conversational” element that is added, unless it is within the story and amongst characters. For someone who is not an avid listener of the Strangers podcast it is a podcast that describes someone’s story based on a true event. An example is an episode entitled, Franky Carillo: Life in which a man named Franky Carrillo went to prison for a crime that he did not commit.

Image result for strangers podcast
Lea Thea Stranger’s Podcast writer and producer

Podcasting that includes a narrative and not an interviewing component is more similar to an audio book than it is to radio. Both audio books and “narrative” podcasts include narrators or characters within the story that are reading a certain text or script. There are certain elements that audio books do not contain that podcasts do such as sound effects and music.

Strangers podcast which inhabits the narrative of true lives of people, has created many fans.

“Lea Thau’s stories get under my skin.  They linger, they rearrange the way I think. They are full of observation and wonder. Her honesty, her piercing words, the array of people that I know because she transports me there, her voice that I am mesmerized by…”Strangers” is music you need to hear.”

-Davia Nelson (The Kitchen Sisters)

There are various different reviews about Strangers that are similar to the quote shown above and there is a fan base around this episodic series. That poses the question, what in particular makes this series so favorable? Perhaps it is the series’ main goal, which is to connect people together through true stories.

Works Cited

Berry, Richard. “Podcasting: Considering the Evolution of the Medium and Its Association with the Word ‘Radio.’” Radio Journal: International Studies in Broadcast & Audio Media, vol. 14, no. 1, Jan. 2016, pp. 7–22., doi:10.1386/rjao.14.1.7_1.

“Franky Carrillo: Life: Strangers.” KCRW, KCRW, 10 Apr. 2013, https://www.kcrw.com/culture/shows/strangers/franky-carrillo-life.

“STRANGERS.” STORY CENTRAL, https://www.storycentral.org/strangers/.

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