Story podcasts are experiencing a cultural moment.
These enormously popular audio shows are only the press of a phone button away.
However, how do new listeners choose a story podcast in such a densely populated landscape?
If you’re looking for your new favorite story, you’ve come to the right place!
This article will take a look at some of the best story podcasts available today, providing 15 examples of the genre’s best while explaining a little more about what listeners can expect to experience.
- The Best Story Podcasts For Adults (Examples)
- What Is a Story Podcast?
- What Is Included In a Story Podcast?
- Types of Story Podcasts
- Best Story Podcasts: 15 Examples
- Similar Podcasts Types to Check Out
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Wrapping Up
The Best Story Podcasts For Adults (Examples)
We’ve included an overview of our top picks below. For detailed information on each pick, scroll down.
Story Podcasts for Adults
What Is a Story Podcast?
Story podcasts are engaging podcasts that draw millions of listeners.
The shows are audio narratives.
Each episode tells a story, either serially or episodically.
Story podcasts can break down as follows:
- A different narrative for each podcast
- One story, spread across multiple episodes per season like an anthology
- One continuously told story spread across multiple episodes and multiple seasons
What Does a Story Podcaster Talk About?
A story podcaster tells a narrative.
They talk about the characters, events, environments, and circumstances necessary to deliver a story effectively.
Story podcasters talk about whatever tale they’re passionate about.
Story podcasts can be fiction or nonfiction, provided they tell a narrative, so often, hosts or narrators talk about true crime or personal histories.
What Is Included In a Story Podcast?
Story podcasts generally maintain momentum by following a three-act structure:
- Act One is the set-up, introducing the characters, central conceit, and building tension.
- Act Two escalates the narrative to its climax, building suspense until the most exciting part of the story.
- Act Three is the resolution, wrapping up the story and bringing it to a conclusion.
While story podcasts with a longer-form narrative, stretched across one or more seasons, may not have the most satisfying resolutions per episode, they still generally follow a variation of this formula to ensure listeners feel satisfied by what they’re hearing and return the next week.
Other Things You Can Find on a Story Podcast
Here are some other things you can expect from story podcasts.
- Advertisements: Podcasters need to pay the bills somehow. Story podcasts often include ads for various sponsors who keep the shows free to listeners.
- Teasers for other podcasts: Some podcasts will feature promotions for other podcasts on the same network or with similar themes.
- Calls for submissions: Some story podcasts invite listeners to submit their own true or fictitious stories that thematically fit the show.
- Information about merchandise: Podcasting isn’t lucrative, so most hosts offer merchandise to fans. During an episode, they’ll usually let listeners know where and how to purchase shirts and other accessories.
Types of Story Podcasts
Just like there are many kinds of stories, there are myriad kinds of story podcasts.
Some story podcasts tell one or more tales per episode.
Some divide a longer narrative throughout several episodes in a season, like an anthology miniseries.
Others tell the same story over multiple seasons, like a long-running television show.
Story podcasts can be fictional or true.
Some of the most popular long-form story podcasts detail a true crime over multiple episodes.
Many fiction story podcasts tell only one story per episode.
Story Podcasts for Adults
Story podcasts for adults tell fictional or non-fictional stories aimed at adult audiences.
These can be true crime narratives or dramatic readings of short stories.
They cover every genre and subject.
These audio tales contain mature subject matter most parents wouldn’t want to share with juvenile audiences.
Story Podcasts for Kids
Story podcasts for kids tell short, child-friendly tales.
These follow episodic formats, basically providing your little one with a bed or naptime story.
While adult story podcasts may divide a longer-form narrative into multiple episodes, many children’s story podcasts include more than one short and whimsical story per episode.
Story Podcasts for Road Trips
Story podcasts for road trips often tell a long-form story broken into multiple episodes across one or more seasons.
The best story podcast for a prolonged expedition is something long so that people can stay entertained.
Best Story Podcasts: 15 Examples
The field of story podcasts has plenty of options.
Choosing the next audio binge often requires some trial and error.
However, this list provides a look at some of the best story podcasts in the various sub-niches.
How Many Story Podcasts Are There?
Podcasts are a great way for storytellers to find an audience and get their work out into the world.
The medium is vast and continuing to boom.
According to Listen Notes, there are 2.96 million unique podcasts in production during 2022.
While a precise breakdown of what portion of those 2.96 million podcasts is story podcasts isn’t available, the form is very popular.
Story Podcasts for Adults
Story podcasts for adults contain mature content.
These shows cover vast territory, ranging from true crime to dark fiction to personal anecdotes.
These series aren’t designed for universal listening, so they often contain violence, profanity, and sexual content.
Listeners looking for adult story podcasts can start with any of the following.
This American Life
This American Life is not only one of the original story podcasts; it’s one of the first podcasts in general.
Each episode features uniquely American stories, some fictional, some truthful, told by gifted narrators.
Each show chooses a theme that links every segment.
Welcome to Nightvale
Welcome to Nightvale is a strange, funny, and poignant science-fiction/fantasy podcast.
The long-form serial follows the exploits of a strange town called Nightvale, narrated by Cecil, the local DJ.
The show provides enough serialized elements to draw listeners back while being accessible to new fans.
Produced by podcasting juggernaut Aaron Mahnke, Bridgewater is a supernatural mystery podcast.
Veteran actors perform the podcast in the fashion of an old-school radio play, creating an engaging and compulsively listenable soundscape.
The Moth Radio Hour
Each episode of The Moth Radio Hour is a recorded live performance of true stories.
Narrators tell personal narratives across various genres and styles; some funny, some heartbreaking.
The enduringly popular podcast appeals to listeners with its sincerity and earnestness.
Dr. Death is a meticulously produced nonfiction story podcast.
The series breaks the tale of a corrupt surgeon into multiple episodes, spreading the full story across multiple segments.
The combination of true-life intrigue and varied story-telling helps Dr. Death draw in listeners.
Story Podcasts for Kids
Story podcasts for kids aim to educate while engaging.
These shows feature age-appropriate material with good production values to hold a tot’s attention.
Some of the best kids’ story podcasts include:
Stories Podcast presents weekly episodes for children.
Each segment features a different tale, some original and others interpretations of classics.
The variety and quality of production draw in fans of all ages.
Circle Round is an award-winning podcast.
Each episode adapts a global folktale using celebrity voices and a meticulously crafted soundscape.
The podcast ends with an activity designed to inspire further engagement between adults and children.
Story Pirates is a podcast for kids made by kids.
The show interprets tales written by children via multimedia and improv comedy.
Story Pirates is unpredictable, silly, musical, and joyous.
Planet Storytime mixes original and classic content in each episode.
The narrators tell two stories, supplemented by music and sound effects.
Planet Storytime includes morals without feeling maudlin.
Aaron’s World is the rare kids’ story podcast with a narrative throughline across episodes.
The series focuses on the time-traveling adventures of the titular Aaron, who comes up against dinosaurs, robots, and various science scenarios.
Story Podcasts for Road Trips
Story podcasts lend themselves well to road trips.
The series often features a story spread out across multiple episodes, keeping both drivers and passengers engaged.
These five story podcasts for road trips are perfect for long car rides.
S-Town initially presents as an investigation into a small-town murder.
However, as the show progresses, the narrative continually shifts, and the true story becomes stranger and stranger.
S-Town is perfect for binging, making it ideal for a long road trip.
Serial ignited many listeners’ interest in podcasts.
Each of the series’ three seasons tells a different true crime story across multiple episodes.
Serial presents its facts like a dramatic narrative, mixing interviews with simple narration.
No Sleep Podcast
No Sleep Podcast is perfect for drivers trying to stay alert.
The series dedicates each episode to telling spooky stories with high-quality production values.
The fiction podcast has many seasons, providing trippers with plenty of episodes to choose from.
Rabbits is a fictional podcast presented like a documentary series.
The show is a serial, building its mystery across multiple episodes and seasons.
Rabbits is a creepy podcast about a woman trying to find her missing friend in a strange alternate-reality game.
King Falls AM
If you like fictional comedy, King Falls AM is the show for you! This show focuses on two radio shock jockeys in the fictional town of King Falls, which is full of supernatural activity and quirky characters.
Along with the show’s 100 standard episodes, there is also plenty of behind-the-scenes and making-of content for those who enjoy the show.
Similar Podcasts Types to Check Out
Podcast listeners hoping to expand their subscriptions beyond story podcasts have many options.
Whether seeking out a show to share with the entire family or something to whet their curiosity, listeners will enjoy podcasts for kindergarteners, interesting podcasts, and fiction podcasts.
- Podcasts for Kindergarteners: Podcasts for Kindergarteners are audio episodes crafted to provide entertainment and education for kindergarten-aged children. Many of these are story podcasts, using the narrative form to teach and engage small children.
- Interesting Podcasts: Interesting Podcasts grab a listener’s attention with exciting narratives and fascinating stories. Like story podcasts, interesting podcasts are carefully plotted and engaging.
- Fiction Podcasts: Fiction podcasts tell a creative and untrue tale. All fiction podcasts are story podcasts, but not all story podcasts are fiction podcasts.
Frequently Asked Questions
While the above sections provide considerable coverage on story podcasts, these frequently asked questions offer further answers.
What is the #1 story podcast?
According to Edison Research, This American Life was the most listened-to story podcast in 2022 and the fourth most listened-to podcast of any genre.
What are podcast stories called?
Podcast stories are also sometimes called “audio dramas.”
This name comes from the days of radio drama, where shows existed solely in audio format on the radio.
Story podcasts are unique, engaging ways to experience a wealth of narratives.
Whether listeners prefer true crime, poignant fiction, or an educational tale for the entire family, there’s a story podcast for everyone.
Each of the 15 story podcasts included in this article uses meticulous production and old-fashioned narrative know-how to deliver an engaging story.
If you’re looking for your new favorite podcast, one of these is sure to hit the spot!