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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – What I’m Listening To Right Now Edition

Kate Rice


Okay, here’s something different — a show on NPR (I listen on Wyoming Public Radio, specifically) called The Moth Radio Hour.

No, it’s not a show about annoying insects; it’s a chance to pull up a chair (or tune in when you’re driving) and just…listen to stories.

Although I believe anyone can contribute, most of the stories I’ve heard seem to be told by writers, actors or other professionals — people who really know how to weave a tale and hold their audience spellbound. Yep — told.

I’ve looked into what it takes to contribute to The Moth Radio Hour, and the rules are clear — you’re not allowed to read your story; you have to tell it. More pressure on the storyteller, I suppose, but definitely more entertaining for the listener. 

The stories are about life, death, childhood experiences, strangers, music — anything. Some are funny, some sad — many hold elements of both.

A story about death can elicit as many laughs as, say, one about trying to train an army of fruit flies. Just when you’re sure you’re gonna need a Kleenex, suddenly you’re angry, amused, or shocked.

You know what I’ve never experienced while listening to this show? Boredom. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached my destination but refused to exit the car until I hear how someone’s story ends. These verbal snapshots of important moments in the tellers’ lives are always told in a fascinating manner. 

Recent stories include “Buster,” the name of the car passed from one owner to the next and the next, and “Where Tomorrow Never Comes” — my favorite of the day, where the author “witnesses a spirited debate on public transit” illustrating why folks might end up seemingly stuck in a particular decade or period of time.

Today’s show also included a story from Norman Lear (yes, that Norman Lear — creator of All in the Family, et cetera) that started with a peek into his unsettling childhood and melted into the revelation that casting a child in a very small movie part decades ago had a very big impact on that little girl. 

If I were to choose a word, one word that all of these stories have in common, that word would be “connection”: storytellers connecting with the listeners by sharing the connections they themselves have experienced.

If you want to experience the Connection of The Moth Radio Hour, just turn the dial to 91.3 (or ask your smart speaker to tune into Wyoming Public radio) Sundays at 2 p.m., check out their podcast on places like Spotify, or visit themoth.org and find all of the stories ever aired in their story library.