Audio Fiction Is Back, Baby. Here Are Eight Podcasts To Get You Started.

Audio fiction has a long history. But its recent resurgence is due to an inclusive, uplifting culture among its creators and fans.

By Morgan Givens

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Even though the medium has waxed and waned in popularity, audio fiction and audio drama are coming back strong. And that’s because these podcasts find space for the stories that are typically overlooked by Hollywood and the publishing industry.

And they’re flourishing as independent black, brown and LGBTQ+ creators craft stories that center their voices and experiences.

People asked for recommendations about where to start with audio fiction after the conversation I produced about it for 1A aired. And I’m a bit of an audio fiction nerd. Let me rephrase. By a “bit of a nerd,” I mean I’m ridiculously in love with the medium and the creativity bursting from the audio drama community.

So, here are a few of my favorites.

Radio Drama Revival

If you’re looking for a podcast that offers a variety of audio fiction and audio dramas — and I know you are — this is the show for you! Featuring a variety of shows, this is the place to go if you want to expand your fiction listening. It’s currently hosted by David Rheinstrom, who also masterfully interviews the creators of some of the best indie audio fiction around the world. Listen to their shows, and then hear from the folks behind podcasts like Love and Luck, Harlem Queens, What’s the Frequency and hundreds more.

The Weeksville Project

There’s room in audio fiction for history buffs too. Acclaimed audio producer and educator Keisha “TK” Dutes is behind the historical fiction podcast The Weeksville Project.

It explores the history of Weeksville — a community of free black people that existed before the Civil War. The writing is incredibly well done. The sound design transports you back in time, and you’ll fall back into history, wrapped in the warm voices of the actors. TK has been a producer to watch for quite some time, and this project shows us why.

Meteor City

Meteor City comes from creator Madelyn Grace and Wrightwood Studios. This alternate-history and science fiction podcast follows a vlogger, Bianca Diaz, as she returns to her native Detroit ten years after a meteor shower struck the city. Thousands of people died, and many were quarantined for radiation exposure. Diaz’s mission is “to tell the stories of the dead, the missing and the remaining citizens of Meteor City.” You’ll want to make sure you stick with her through this tale.

Kalila Stormfire’s Economical Magick Services

Lisette Alvarez is the creative force behind Kalila Stormfire, an urban fiction podcast that follows a witch who has been kicked out of her coven, as she works to start up her own business. But things get a bit tricky for our heroine when a strange saboteur enters the arena. Produced, written and voiced by Alvarez, this podcast shows what happens when creators are in complete control over their stories. “I was into diving into my experiences in a fictional frame,” Alvarez told 1A about their show, and you’ll want to dive right in along with them.

Moonface

Created by James Kim, Moonface follows Paul, a twenty-something Korean American as he navigates the relationship between himself and his mom. It’s a difficult relationship, due to the language barrier that exists between the two, and Paul’s desire to come out to his mom. The relationship between Paul and his mom is tender and it showcases an experience that will be familiar to many, but new to many more. Kim told 1A, “I wanted to tell a story that I could relate to, that I just wasn’t seeing in Hollywood.” He’s certainly accomplished that.

This is a podcast you’ll want to listen to while cozied up beneath a blanket, with a warm cup of tea.

One note: Moonface contains some adult themes.

Timestorm

Timestorm follows the Puerto Rican Ventura twins, who are “yanked into another dimension where they meet a distant cousin who gives them an extraordinary mission: travel through time to preserve their culture’s true history…in the twenty-first century, Alexa and Beni navigate school, friendship, and family while keeping their time-traveling quests a secret,” according to a show preview on their website. Created by showrunner and head writer Dania Ramos, and co-hosted with Michael Aquino, Timestorm’s audio engineer, sound designer and composer, it enthralls and captivates kids and the young at heart.

Caravan

From the Whisperforge network, Tau Zaman is the magic behind the Caravan podcast as the show’s creator and writer. This podcast will be unlike anything you’ve ever heard, so much so that any more than an in-depth preview will spoil what Zaman has created.

From the show’s website, here’s a bit of a teaser anyway. “First rule of Wound Canyon: No one who gets in, ever gets out. So when a brilliant, ghostly specter flies through the sky amid the rain and lightning, Samir stumbles off a steep cliff and into a hidden world, one in which demons, vampires, and all other manner of paranormal creatures take sanctuary.” Wonderfully written, and beautifully sound designed and acted, make time to lose yourself in the world created by Zaman. You won’t regret it.

*Caravan also has adult themes.

Flyest Fables

Flyest Fables is a fiction podcast that centers young black kids as the heroes of their own stories. And it’s created by yours truly, so I’ll let someone else take it away.

Podcast critic and journalist Elena Fernández Collins had this to say about the show:

“This hopepunk-connected anthology fiction podcast is a shot to the heart of the Narnia, Middle Earth, and The Never-Ending Story atmosphere of storytelling. Starting with the discovery of a magic book bearing the name of our first protagonist Antoine, Flyest Fables tackles magic and quests alongside growing up and conquering fear with honest and excited design. Morgan Givens has a gift for sound design and for performance, and has clearly communicated a vision that engages young and adult audiences in empathetic stories.”

Now that you’re hooked, you can keep up with all things audio fiction by signing up for Elena Fernández Collins’ Audio Dramatic newsletter. It’s bi-weekly with a specific focus on audio fiction.

Podcast critic and journalist Wil Williams does amazing work in the audio fiction industry, as well. And you can keep up with their work, and their audio fiction recommendations here.

And for all these podcasts, fiction and nonfiction, there’s always the Bello Collective — “a newsletter and publication about audio storytelling and the podcast industry.”

Happy listening!

P.S:

1A is also a podcast. You can find my conversation about audio fiction and other segments of our show wherever you subscribe.

1A is the midday news show from @WAMU885 and @NPR. Find the podcast at npr.org/1a.

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