Locally produced podcasts offer diverse storytelling options

Ellen Airhart

Austinites looking for a good story needn't look beyond the city limits. These locally produced podcasts offer listeners stories about topics as diverse as film, sex and murder from storytellers in Austin.

For an insider’s view of visual storytelling, check out “The On Story Podcast.” In 20- to 30-minute episodes, the hosts of this podcast interview filmmakers and panels from the Austin Film Festival. Listeners learn about how Paul Feig, producer of “Bridesmaids,” makes his audience uncomfortable, or how Ron Howard, director of “A Beautiful Mind,” communicates the human journey in his films. The podcast’s mission statement is to “get to the heart of the matter and present the stories behind the storytellers, revealing the real magic of movies.”

For a more intimate kind of storytelling, listen to “BedPost Confessions.” The podcast focuses on sex and relationships and is recorded during a live show that meets monthly at The North Door on East Fifth Street. The four hosts, Rosie Q., Julie Gillis, Sadie Smythe and Mia Martina, run the show and talk about their own experiences with sex and relationships.

The hosts encourage audience participation by asking attendees to pass notecards around and write down their confessions at the beginning of the night. The hosts choose the best stories, which are then read aloud later in the evening.

Reviewers of the show warn that “BedPost Confessions” might not be appropriate for children or easily embarrassed grandmothers. Sign language interpreters at the live show add a raunchy flair to their translations with enthusiastic gestures. Austin culture writer Katie Friel wrote, “‘BedPost Confessions’ is about testing the boundaries of sexuality, only to find that nothing is clearly defined.”

For those looking for something more macabre, “The Year That Broke Austin” is a walking tour that follows the story of the “Servant Girl Annihilator,” a serial killer who terrorized Austin in 1885. The tour was created as an episode of the local podcast Radiolab.

To access the tour, download the app “Detour.” Walk to the location the app lists as “Start,” around the intersection of San Jacinto Boulevard and East Fifth Street.

The narrator, with her thick Texan accent, guides the listener through a tour around Austin, stopping in locations relevant to the “Servant Girl Annihilator” story. The listener ends up on top of a parking garage with a breathtaking view of Austin.  

Click here for a more in-depth look at “The Year That Broke Austin.”

To hear storytelling for a good cause, turn to the Austin Bat Cave’s “Story Department.” The Austin Bat Cave is a non-profit organization that gives kids ages six to 18 a chance to develop their writing skills. “Story Department” is the group’s monthly fundraiser that takes place at Home Slice Pizza. Proceeds from entry fees and drinks support free writing programs for kids. The 21+ event features stories from local comedians and performers. The stories center around a single theme — last month’s was “stage fright.” Select stories from the event can be found on the Austin Bat Cave website.

Whether listeners are looking for an earbud companion on their jog or a reason to laugh, Austin’s storytelling scene provides an appropriate accompaniment to the rich culture of the city.