A Short Story (Podcast) for Every Day of the Week

It appears that I have met my Irene Adler. After last year’s failed attempt to read 365 stories in a single year, I have been forced to change my ways. Goodbye, wide-eyed short story admirer; hello, clear-sighted steward of the short story form. As with any countdown thriller, time was my biggest enemy. It did not always permit me my preferred method of poring over stories with my eyeballs. So this year, I’ve curated a workaround: a short story podcast for every day of the week, just in case.

Monday

LeVar Burton Reads

Host: LeVar Burton (of Reading Rainbow and Star Trek)
Genre: Various Contemporary (but plenty of speculative fiction)
Frequency: Weekly on Mondays
Duration: 30 – 60 min

Excellent stories, curated from all over the genre spectrum, read by LeVar Burton himself. Each episode begins with a little introduction and a deep breath, then finishes with LeVar’s thoughts on the story or its theme. The pieces he selects are mostly contemporary (with a few older goodies) and sometimes only available in the collections they come from (yay, sneak peeks!). He is careful to choose stories from a variety of authors writing about diverse characters, cultures, and themes, and they almost always land a four-star rating and above for me. I only wish new stories came out every week of the year, but I suppose the man needs a break.


Tuesday

The New Yorker: The Writers Voice Podcast


Host: New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman
Genre: Literary Contemporary
Frequency: Weekly, usually on Mondays
Duration: 20 – 60 mins

Modern literary fiction read by the author. Each episode begins with a tiny introduction from Deborah, then gets right to a recording of one of the authors from the latest issue of The New Yorker reading their own story. At the end, she lets you know where you can find more of the author’s stories, and it’s over—no muss, no fuss. I enjoy hearing an author bring their own work to life, and I love being able to read along when I’m subscribed. A little warning: Due to The New Yorker’s literary leanings, this podcast can be a little heavy.


Wednesday

1001 Classic Short Stories

Host: Professional podcaster Jon Hagadorn
Genre: Various Public Domain
Frequency: Twice weekly on Wednesdays and Sundays
Duration: 15 – 45 mins

The first of three classic podcasts I listen to regularly. Jon selects stories that are fast-paced plot-wise and short in length. He begins with a teaser about the story (I skip this to avoid spoilers) and ends with a little bit about the author. I warn you that once you fall in love with Jon’s voice, you’ll also need to subscribe to his other podcasts (including 1001 Sherlock Holmes Stories & The Best of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and 1001 Ghost Stories & Tales of the Macabre, etc. and they all include novels—I’m sorry in advance).


Thursday

Classic Tales Podcast

Host: Voice actor BJ Harrison
Genre: Various Public Domain
Frequency: Weekly on Thursdays
Duration: 40 – 60 mins

BJ chooses classic stories from the public domain—from authors like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, PG Wodehouse, and O Henry—and brings them to life with great voices and accents for each character. He has created a real community around his work over the years, and usually starts the podcast with a little about what he’s up to before diving into the story. His podcasts are available for download, and he creates audiobooks of his recordings to sell also. Warning for the die-hard short story fans: he sprinkles in the odd novel amongst the short fiction, but he makes them palatable (or drives you crazy) by breaking them into parts.

Lightspeed Magazine: Science Fiction and Fantasy Story Podcast

Host: Producer and radio host Jim Freund
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Frequency: Weekly on Thursdays
Duration: 15 – 70 mins

In case you’re tired of the classics, another of my weaknesses is science fiction. Lightspeed magazine releases four of the eight stories it publishes each month, weekly, usually on Thursdays. The episodes start with a short synopsis of the story (when will people learn that you can’t synopse without spoiling?!) and a bit about the author, then jumps into the story. The podcast is beautifully produced and cozy for the ears.


Friday

Backstage at the Vinyl Café

Host: Jess Milton (the late Stuart McLean’s long-time producer)
Genre: Humour
Frequency: Weekly on Fridays
Duration: 45 – 60 mins

This one might be a controversial addition, but when Stuart McLean died in 2017, we lost not only a very dear storyteller but the world of the Vinyl Café. Of course, we have Stuart’s books and recordings, but the thought that I would never see Dave and Morley grow old and Stephanie and Sam grow up, broke me a little bit. The CBC has been consoling us every year since with a few replay recordings during the summers, but I’ve been missing my regular dose of wholesome Canadiana. Finally, in 2023, Jess Milton started putting out weekly episodes, each containing two of Stuart’s stories and some of her own behind-the-scenes tidbits. Maybe bring tissues.


Saturday

LitReading: Classic Short Stories

Host: Radio host and voice actor Don McDonald
Frequency: Randomly whenever he durn well feels like it
Genre: Classic Public Domain
Duration: Usually 10 – 30 mins

Like The Classic Tales Podcast, LitReading tackles the classic works of the fathers and mothers of the short story form. Dan begins each episode with a little synopsis (*side eye*) of the story before he gets down to the reading and ends with a little about the author. His voice has that crisp resonant quality that radio advertisers love, and each episode is edited with precision. I have sensitive ears, so I dial the reading speed down to .9 for optimum enjoyment.


Sunday

Escape Pod

Hosts: Author Tina Connolly, editor Mur Lafferty and others
Genre: Sci-Fi
Frequency: Sometimes weekly, sometimes more
Duration: 20-60 mins

If you love science fiction and like hearing from up-and-coming writers, Escape Pod is great. (Who knows, you might be inspired to submit your own!) The Pod begins each episode with an introduction of the author and the narrator, a content warning, and then jumps right into the recording (Yay, no synopsis!). Afterward, the host shares a bit from the author about the piece, which is a great follow-up to the reading. The production value is a little more raw than Lightspeed or Uncanny, but that only adds to the sci-fi-ness of it all. Escape Pod releases at least one episode per week and sometimes more, but there is always something out by Sunday.


Monthly

And in case those don’t quite fill the void, here are a couple of honourable mentions that release monthly:

The New Yorker: Fiction Podcast

Host: New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman
Genre: Literary
Frequency: The 1st of every month
Duration: ~ 60 mins

Each episode of Fiction does double duty by delivering the story and an analysis. After a little introduction from Deborah, a recent contributor to The New Yorker reads one of their favourite stories from the magazine’s archives. Then the two of them collaborate on an analytical deep dive into the story. Extremely satisfying and one of my faves to listen to while working on my latest LEGO build.

Uncanny Magazine Podcast

Host: Uncanny editors Lynne M Thomas and Michael Damian
Genre: Sci-Fi and Fantasy
Frequency: Monthly on the first Tuesday
Length: ~ 60 mins

As a magazine podcast, each episode starts with this week’s news, then includes a selection of one piece of fiction, one poem, and an interview. Each reading comes with its own author intro and synopsis (I can’t). Some folks might not love all the digging you have to do to get to the story, but the rest of the show is pretty relevant if you are a sci-fi writer.


Is your favourite podcast missing from my list? Do you host a short story podcast? Throw it in the comments so we can all check them out!

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