By Karen-Luz Sison, photo by Angela Tilley

The new year is a great time for new beginnings—new starts to new stories. One frequent new year’s resolution people add to their lists is to become more educated. If you’re one of those people, listening to great non-fiction storytelling podcasts is a great way to help achieve that goal.

Consuming stories helps connect us to places and people we otherwise wouldn’t encounter in everyday life, expanding our horizons to new ideas and experiences. Podcasts have a particularly compelling way of capturing stories through music, atmospheric sound, and interview clips.

So educate yourselves, expand your horizons, and download a few episodes of some of these great true-story podcasts for your listening pleasure.

This American Life

A classic, long-running storytelling podcast, This American Life is radio journalism storytelling at its finest. Each episode features both poignant and entertaining stories focused on a chosen theme for each episode. The podcast creators travel all over the world to find stories, from the heartbreaking to the outrageous. One of my favourite episodes is a two-part segment on life in a refugee camp, where you’ll meet a couple who fell in love in a camp and hear the struggles of trying to get asylum through Skype. The stories will teleport you across oceans and continents, and you’ll gain a much deeper perspective on current social issues or you’ll have a good laugh at stories from people whose experiences may resonate with your own.


Produced by podcast company Gimlet Media in collaboration with everybody’s favourite dating app Tinder, DTR is a fun, new, risqué podcast that explores the weirdness of modern-day dating. Through interviews with everyday people and relationship experts, show host Jane Marie looks at the ins and outs of romance in an internet-obsessed world. You could learn how to improve your own online dating profile from experts or even uncover a little more about the mystery of dick pics. Lighthearted and informative, each episode is only about 20-30 minutes long, and the podcast is still in its first season, so there’s plenty of time to catch up.

Stories from the Land

To top off the list, Stories from the Land is a fantastic, independently produced podcast featuring stories of Indigenous people told by Indigenous people across Canada. Thought-provoking, humourous, and insightful, this podcast shares the diverse, little-heard perspectives of people from First Nations communities and their relationship with the land. Headed by comedian Ryan McMahon, the show is just about to kick off its second season after a national tour across Canada to gather stories. You can find episodes from the first season on iTunes or SoundCloud.