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Storytelling Podcasts for fans of ‘Throw Me On the Burnpile and Light Me Up’

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Playwright/performer Lucy Alibar in “Throw Me on the Burnpile and Light Me Up” at the Kirk Douglas Theatre.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

There is nothing quite like a gifted storyteller, and Lucy Alibar—onstage now at the Kirk Douglas Theatre—is one of the best of America's newest generation. Whether she is penning an Oscar-nominated screenplay like Beasts of the Southern Wild or telling tales from her childhood in Throw Me On the Burnpile and Light Me Up (playing the Douglas through October 2, 2016), she is a true master of her craft. In honor of her stories—which are told in a style she’s said is influenced by everyone from Mark Twain to David Sedaris—we’ve put together a list of some of our favorite podcasts that explore the special power of a good story told well.

The Memory Palace
The Memory Palace is the brainchild of the current artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Nate DiMeo. It combines stories from history with the sensibility, sensitivity, and linguistic flourish normally associated with poetry. But make no mistake, DiMeo’s tales are expertly researched and magically crafted. Some of our favorite episodes include “Harriet Quimby” and “Local Channels.”
Criminal
Criminal is a podcast about crime for people who want more from true-crime than the usual fare of solved and unsolved murders. It is a podcast about the first woman to create a marijuana empire. It is a podcast about a tiger in a gas station in Louisiana. It is a podcast about people who have ventured outside the bounds of the law and have touched (or been touched) by the darker side of life. Some of our favorite episodes include “The Editor” and “The Brownie Lady.”
You Must Remember This
A storytelling podcast about Hollywood’s first century, You Must Remember This explores everything from the midcentury blacklist to MGM’s star-making machine. All the while, film critic Karina Longworth populates her stories with some of the silver screen’s most famous and infamous characters. Learn about Arthur Miller’s life during the time he wrote A View From the Bridge, or open your ears for the liberated life of Joan Crawford. Some of our favorites include “After the Fall: Arthur Miller” and “Monsieur Verdoux: Charlie Chaplin’s Road to Hollywood Exile.”
StartUp
StartUp was the pilot podcast for Gimlet Media and began as a self-referential look at what it takes to start a business. Season one chronicles former NPR producer and journalist Alex Blumberg’s successes (and failures) as he attempts to launch a new podcasting company. However, since its success, StartUp has turned its storytelling lens on other companies wrapped in both the revelries of success and the throes of defeat. Our favorite episodes include “Dear Music Fans” and “Gaming the System.”
Lore
Lore is a history podcast for horror aficionados. In each episode, Aaron Mahnke explores the real-life origins of some of the world’s most beloved tales of terror—from the possibly American origins of the vampire to the world’s earliest accounts of haunted lighthouses. Lore is a fantastic journey into the stories that go bump in the night. Some of our favorites include “They Made a Tonic” and “Take the Stand.”
Limetown
Limetown is a podcast for lovers of radio dramas and NPR journalism alike. The six episodes contained in season one explore a science fiction mystery centered around a small southern town—told in the style of investigative journalism. The voice acting is top-notch, and the writing has more plot turns than an Agatha Christie novel. This story is sequential so make sure to start with episode one, “What We Know.”
Accused
Accused is a true-crime podcast for anyone who loved Serial. This new podcast from the Cincinnati Enquirer focuses on the 37-year-old unsolved murder of Elizabeth Andes. Just like Serial, this is an impeccably crafted long-form narrative that only gets better with every episode. The best part? Accused only started a few weeks ago, so the end is still very much unknown. As with Limetown, this is a podcast that must be heard from the very beginning, so make sure to start with “Chapter 1: The Crime.”
The Moth
No list of storytelling podcasts would be complete without mentioning The Moth. This celebration of the raconteur invites real people to tell stories from their lives without notes, in front of a live audience. Sometimes hilarious, other times heartbreaking, The Moth not only celebrates the power of a good story; it celebrates the confounding beauty of the human condition. Recent episodes of note include “LA Confidential” and “Pagan Fundraisers, Blue Haired Boy, Autism, and Oscar.”
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