As a society, we still maintain many ancient traditions and practices relating to the care of our dead. We invest tremendous resources and energy in maintaining cemeteries and sacred ground for the bodies of our beloved. In the face of death, we dig and scrape through dirt, mixing our emotions in with the earth. We create a grave–a hallowed space carved out for sadness and pain, but also for warmth and joy. We lay down what we carry from the person we’ve lost–the good and the bad. It doesn’t matter what we bury–a body, a feeling, or an object–we expect it to stay buried. We put it aside, and bid it farewell. And yet, when so much has changed, why do we still rely on this physical process? How can digging a hole–metaphorically or literally–help us to make sense of our loss? And what happens when things go awry? We may not like to admit it, but sometimes the grave is not a final resting place. In today’s episode, we’ll be investigating why we bury–and what happens when our attempts fail.

Host: Eileen Williams
Producers: Eileen Williams with help from Noelle Li Syn Chow, Kate Nelson, Yue Li, Jackson Roach, Nicole Bennett-Fite, Cathy Wong, Katie Lan, Reade Levinson, Christy Hartman, Jake Warga, Jenny March, Jonah Willihnganz
Featuring: Naveen Kassamali, Xochitl Raine Rhodes Longstaff, Janet Voight, Barbad Golshiri, Magellan Pfluke, and the staff of Pet’s Rest Cemetery. Thanks also to Sofi Filipa, Charlie Gibson, Ben Cady, Ivy Sanders Schneider, Jackie Langelier, Kim McElwee, Marlon Antunez, Skye Mooney, Tudi Roche, Chris Gerben, Caroline Spears, Stephen Aman, Adnan Khan, Jim Yount, Milan Mosse Phil C’de Baca, Teresa Hernandez, Carlos Yuen, Ganbat Namjilsangarav, Christine Murphy, Tsogbadrakh Banzragch, Tuya Banzragch, and Keith Bildstein
Show music: Podington Bear
Image via Wikimedia

Release Date: 18 January 2017


Intro Story: Unburying

When Bathsheba Smith’s family buried the body of their beloved daughter, they hoped that she would finally find peace. However, when bodysnatchers exhume her corpse, more than just Bathsheba’s body is unearthed. What happens when what was meant to stay buried becomes unburied?

Producers: Noelle Chow and Kate Nelson
Featuring: Magellan Pfluke
Special thanks: Xochitl Raine Rhodes Longstaff
Music: Response Data, Standing Like a Tree – Part II, Doomflaffsonoria (Whale Mix by Eisenlager)

Image via Flickr


Story 1: Vanishing Remains

Braden Grant Recipient Reade Levinson travels to Mongolia in hopes of witnessing a practice known as sky burial, in which the bodies of the dead are prepared for the afterlife. But as Reade learns on her journey, in Mongolia the forces of urbanization, modernization and environmental change may be threatening this sacred ritual. “The scene would be not very nice, when you look at a dog running around with someone’s hand in his mouth.”

Producer: Reade Levinson
Featuring: Ganbat Namjilsangarav, Christine Murphy, Tsogbadrakh and Tuya Banzragch, and Dr. Keith Bildstein
Special Thanks: Christy Hartman, Jake Warga, and Generation Anthropocene
Music: All ambient recorded by Reade Levinson, sound effects downloaded from FreeSound.

Image via Thinkstock


Story 2: Pet Cemetery

The bond between humans and pets run deeper than the eye can see. But what happens when the pets pass away? In this story, take a step into a pet cemetery and listen to stories of people’s heartfelt relationships with their pets.

Producers: Yue Li, with help from Jackson Roach
Featuring: Lackie Langelier, Ben Cady, Skye Mooney, Sofi Filipa, Milan Mosse (voice over for Ben Cady), Phil C’de Baca, Teresa Hernandez, Carlos Yuen
Music: Alex Finch – Seeking Clarity Pt. II, Ketsa – Far From Home, Ketsa – Clear and Present, Podington Bear – Lonesome, Podington Bear – Pink Gradient

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Story 3: The Cryonicist’s Wager

As a young man, Jim Yount was introduced to cryonics, the idea that you can freeze your body in liquid nitrogen, until the day doctors are able to revive you. It seemed so natural to him that he’s devoted the majority of his life to making sure as many people as possible have access to cryonics services. For Jim, acceptance of death is simply cultural conditioning, and he’s not interested in buying into it. He thinks we can do better than an “after”life. As he says, “we’re not going to heaven we’re going to the future.”

Producers: Nicole Bennett-Fite, Jake Warga, and Eileen Williams
Featuring: Jim Yount, Acting President of the American Cryonics Society
Music: Karma Ron

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Story 4: Anger Box

There are some stories that feel too painful – too huge, too impossible to change – to ever be said out loud. We box those stories up, keep them buried down deep. Naveen Kassamali, an art therapist, talks about a group of people who have a lot of practice keeping those kinds of stories inside, and what happened when she tried to dig them up again.

Producers: Cathy Wong, Jenny March, Jake Warga
Featuring: Naveen Kassamali, Adnan Khan
Music: Thread of Clouds – Blue Dot Sessions, Migration

Image via Pixabay


Story 5: Unburying Iran

Imagine Iran’s beautiful history completely erased by oppression. Barbad Golshiri, an artist from Tehran, simply won’t let that happen. His art is surrounded of motifs of cemeteries and burial grounds, but he doesn’t seek to bury the past. Instead, he finds his own creative way of portraying burials as the only way to preserve the past. “Remembrance does not need a corpse. That’s why you have a cenotaph. You don’t need corpses.” With this, Golshiri has set off on a quest to memorialize all who were forgotten after the Iran-Iraq War

Producers: Katie Lan, recorded with the help of Jackson Roach
Featuring: Barbad Golshiri
Music: Dropped Ticket by Podington Bear, Isolate by Moby

Image: Collage by Katie Lan from Wikimedia Commons , Pixabay, and New York


Story 6: Through the Deep

We join Dr. Janet Voight on a journey down to the bottom of the ocean in an effort to discover some of Earth’s buried biological treasures.

Producer: Kate Nelson
Featuring: Dr. Janet Voight
Music: Chris Zabriskie (We Were Never Meant to Live Here, Remember Trees?, The Oceans Continue to Rise), Podington Bear

Image via Wikipedia Commons


Story 7: Time Capsule

For over a century, students at Stanford have been leaving a tiny trinket underneath the tiles of the Main Quad. These items represent significant life events or just silly things. This story explores how leaving even the smallest memories can be so significant.

Producers: Yue Li and Reade Levinson
Featuring: Leslie Winnick and voices of Stanford’s class of 2016
Music: Trellis , Golden Era, Dryness (by Podington Bear)

Image via Wikipedia Commons


The mind’s ability to envision more than what is physically present in the world is an astounding fact of life. We’re always imagining, thinking, and living in our heads. Our thoughts and our imaginations shape how we see the world, they shape our words and our actions. This is nothing new. We’ve been doing this for all our lives. as far as we can remember. But that’s why we take a closer look and ask the question: how do our imagined lives shape our reality? What happens day to day at the frontier between the worlds we imagine and the worlds we inhabit.


Host: Justine Beed

Producers: Justine Beed and Natacha Ruck with help from Louis Lafair, Amabel Stokes, Alec Glassford, Tamu Adumer, Joshua Hoyt, Austin Meyer, Claire Schoen, Christy Hartman, Will Rogers, Albert Gehami, Jonah Willihnganz, and Jake Warga

Featuring: John Rick, Tamu Adumer, Louis Lafair, Terry Root, Louie Psihoyos, WonGi Jung, Austin Meyer, Amabel Stokes, Alec Glassford, Max Whitmeyer, Nina Donaldson, Maria Doerr, Liam Bhajan, Jeffrey Abidor, Emma Fisher, Natacha Ruck, and Jackson Roach

Music and Sounds: Car Door Slam, Car Door Opening, Train Sound, Car Starting, Inside Car Raining, Car Horn, Start Engine, Truck Passing, Country Highway Ambience, Inside Car Ambience, Crossing Tracks, Rain on Pane 1, Jingling Keys, Changing Radio Stations, Turning on Car with Radio, Car Start, Radio DJ Jingle, Pure Imagination, Backing Out, Rain On Car, Light Rain, Waterfall, Radio Off, The Tallest man in Idaho Soundtrack, Snow, Birds in Park, Walking on Pavement, Car Horn, Parking the Car, Walking Alongside Road, Park, A Peaceful Day by The Kyoto Connection, Paris by Johnny Ripper, Paris Street Sounds, Stillness by Blue Dot Sessions, Weathervane by Blue Dot Sessions, Looks and Smiles

Image via Flickr

Release Date: 20 April 2016


Story 1: Birth of Imagination

The Acheulean Handaxe is the first record we have of humans using their minds to invent technology to shape their reality. Three million years ago our ancestors took a rock and imagined it could be something more. And then they made it. In this story, Tamu Adumer takes us on a trip through time with Stanford archaeology professor John Rick. This is as close as we can get to where imagination began.

Producers: Tamu Adumer and Natacha Ruck
Featuring: Professor John Rick

Image via Wikimedia


Story 2: One Quinoa Burger At A Time

We often think of imagination as a way to solve all the big problems. Stanford sophomore Louis Lafair tries to imagine his way through one the biggest problems of our time: climate change.

Producer: Louis Lafair
Featuring: Terry Root and Louie Psihoyos

Image via the Stanford Review


Story 3: My Imaginary Girlfriend

In this story, WonGi Jung travels the roads of Europe with an imaginary girlfriend. Find out what happens when he has to break up with her.

Producer: WonGi Jung with help from Justine Beed
Featuring: WonGi Jung

Image via StoryNight


Story 4: Double Banded Dream

This fiction piece explores one man’s failure to share his dreams. Sharing the products of our imagination, that is our dreams, hopes and fears, with others is one way to cope with our realities. What might happen, though, when we fail to share our dreams, particularly the nightmares?

Producers: Austin Meyer and Joshua Hoyt
Featuring: Austin Meyer
Music: “Nothing Lasts” by Alexandre Desplat and “Gnossienne No. 2: Avec étonnement” and “Gynopédie No. 1”by Erik Satie
Music: Original Scoring by Christina Galisatus

Image via Wikimedia


Story 5: The Periphery

In this fictional radio drama a people-watcher uses her imagination to meddle with reality. We all break down what we see in the world around us so that we can put it back together in our heads. Sometimes it doesn’t fit together easily. Sometimes it’s a puzzle. This last story is about someone trying to put together that puzzle. For better or for worse.

Producers: Amabel Stokes, Justine Beed
Writer: Amabel Stokes
Featuring: Amabel Stokes, Alec Glassford, Max Whitmeyer, Nina Donaldson, Maria Doerr, Justine Beed, Liam Bhajan, Jeffrey Abidor, Emma Fisher, and Jackson Roach
Music and Sounds: Room Tone Empty Classroom, Windy Room Tone, Door opening, Street Sounds, Sipping Coffee, Plates, Squeaky Chair, “Netherland” and “Three Colors” by Podington Bear, Fast steps, Sirens, City Sounds, Twinkle Toes, Chimes, Single Chime, Film Static, Whispers, Plate Sound Effects, People Mumbling 1 & 2, Menu Flip, Page turn, Café Boursalt, Walking Indoors-Waiter, “Wake Up” by Kai Engel, Glasses Clink, Laughter, Coins, Fast Walking, Chair Scrape, Chopping and Frying, Frying, Just Chopping, Sitting Down, Men Laughing, Plates, Chewing, Eating Eggs, Coffee Steamer, Running, Dialing, Hang Up, Car Door Slam, Gravel Walk, Short Police Siren, Coffee Steamer 1 & 2

Image via Unsplash


Teaching seems pretty straightforward: one person knows something better than someone else and teaches it to them. But there’s something important that happens to the teacher themselves. In this episode, a 3-year-old teaches his parents what he’s made of, a student defies expectations and becomes a teacher himself, teachers are surprised to learn what makes them tick, prehistoric people have to teach one of life’s hardest lessons (hint: there are llamas involved), a professor regrets a missed opportunity, and the cover of a Ghanaian newspaper does a whole lot of teaching. This week, we’re exploring how teaching shapes the teacher.


Host: Kate Nelson and Hadley Reid

Producers: Kate Nelson, Hadley Reid, Christy Hartman with help from Jake Warga, Will Rogers, Nina Foushee, Claire Schoen, Natacha Ruck, Joshua Hoyt, and Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Chris Andrews, Andrew Nelson, Gabe Lomeli, Madonna Riesenmy, John Kleiman, John Rick, Linda Paulson, and Emily Polk.

Music used during transitions: Nick Jaina, Podington Bear, Broke for Free, Alex Fitch, Gillicuddy

Image via Flickr

Release Date: 10 February 2016


Story 1: Training Wheels

When Kate’s parents set out to teach her and her brother how to ride bikes, they expected to take it step by step, using every precaution: helmets, kneepads, training wheels. What they didn’t expect was a lesson of their own.

Producer: Kate Nelson
Featuring: Chris Andrews and Andrew Nelson
Music: Podington Bear (Ice Cream Sandwich, Bit Rio), Alex Fitch

Image courtesy of Kate Nelson


Story 2: See Me After Class

Gabriel Lomeli didn’t look like your typical A+ student. Problem was, he was getting A+’s. In this story, we follow Gabe as he reconciles others’ expectations with his own ambitions and achievements.

Producers: Eileen Williams and Emmerich Anklam
Featuring: Gabriel Francisco Lomeli, Junior
Sounds: 76288__timbre__dramatic-violin-stab-long-decay
Music: Kai Engel; Broke for Free (Golden Hour, Heart Ache, Something Old, And And, Something Elated)

Image via Flickr


Story 3: The Power of Teaching

Professor Madonna Riesenmy was curious about what motivates teachers and decided to investigate. But other teachers weren’t too happy to hear about her findings. To be honest, we’re not quite sure how we feel about them, either.

Producer: Emma Heath with help from Christy Hartman, Hadley Reid, and Brian Cohen
Featuring: Jonathan Kleiman, Madonna Riesenmy
Music: Podington Bear (Caravan, Jettisoned), The Losers

Image via Flickr


Story 4: Expulsion of the Yearlings

Stanford Anthropologist John Rick takes us to the highlands of Peru to discuss the impact of teaching at it’s most fundamental level.

Producer: Jacob Wolf, Tamu Adumer, and Natacha Ruck with help from Hadley Reid
Featuring: John Rick
Sounds: blouhond, 15050_Francois, kurono01, damiananache, felix.blume, JohnsonBrandEditing, sardan1972
Music: Original Scoring by Christina Galisatus

Image via Wikimedia


Story 5: Tales from the RF Apartment

Linda Paulson is a Stanford faculty member who lives with eighty-eight teenagers in a freshman dorm. A late night knock at her door takes on new meaning years later.

Producer: Vanna Tran with help from Kate Nelson
Featuring: Linda Paulson
Music: Alex Fitch (We Call this Home, Secret Place), Chris Zabriskie (Cylinder Six, It’s Always Too Late to Start Over), Broke for Free (Love is Not)

Image courtesy of Kate Nelson


Story 6: Just a Little Bit of Sweat

Emily Polk went to Buduburam refugee camp to teach journalism. But one newspaper photo ended up teaching the most memorable lesson of all.

Producer: Hadley Reid
Featuring: Emily Polk
Music: Gillicuddy (Fudge, A Garden and a Rose ) Martin R, Original music by Man of Suit (Breathing Rhythm, Diagnosis)

Image courtesy of Emily Polk

Secret Keeping

Nearly three decades ago, Psychologist James Pennebaker discovered a shocking correlation between secrets and health outcomes – that people who kept more secrets were dealing with more health issues. Today, secrets are generally considered bad. But in today’s episode, we’re going to discuss creative secret keepers. These people use secrets to form relationships, to explore worlds they wouldn’t otherwise be able to access, even to build new lives for themselves until – well – the secret’s out. Today we’ll explore what opportunities open up when someone keeps a secret, and what happens when that secret is revealed.


Host: Chelsea Davis

Producers: Rosie La Puma, Eileen Williams, Will Rogers, Claire Schoen, and Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: James Pennebaker, Jackie Chan and Justin Krasner-Karpen. Thanks also to Preet Kaur, Natacha Ruck, Joshua Hoyt, Tess McCarthy, Alexander Muscat, Lilly Gill, Shara Tonn, Dustin Dienhart, Christy Hartman, Jake Warga.

Music used during transitions: Podington Bear, Revolution Void

Image via Flickr

Release Date: 21 October 2015


Intro Story: Unhealthy Secrets

Decades ago, James Pennebaker found that adults’ health problems are correlated with sexual trauma in early childhood. This wasn’t a surprise: everybody knows it’s not a good thing to be traumatized as a child. What surprised Pennebaker, though, in the health outcomes he saw, was how long people had kept these experiences secret, and what happened when they found ways to open up.

Producers: Preet Kaur, Natacha Ruck, and Will Rogers

Featuring: James Pennebaker

Music: Chris Zabriskie

Image via Flickr


Story 1: Call in the Night

Anonymity is a dangerous thing. Studies of online comment sections have confirmed what we all know: people are meaner when they are anonymous. One study even found that just wearing dark sunglasses resulted in people behaving less generously. But sometimes anonymity can foster intimacy rather than boorishness. Two Stanford students signed up for an experiment in talking to strangers. They were paired to receive a middle of the night phone call. What happened on the call was up to them. The call shows how keeping one’s identity secret makes it easier to share other secrets, and secrets, after all, are the currency of intimacy.

Producer: Joshua Hoyt

Music: Bensound (Jazz Comedy), The Suger Puckin Ganstarers (Cozad), Revolution Void (Scattered Knowledge)

Image via Flickr

Link: Documentary Theatre performance about the same story, written and directed by Xandra Clark


Story 2: Rescinded

Ashley Hart endured a rough childhood with an abusive mother after her father died. A tough upbringing turned into a dark nightmare when a judge found her guilty of manslaughter in the case of her mother’s death. As a minor, Ashley had the right to keep her name unconnected from the incident. No secret is truly safe though, and her fight to turn her life around is haunted by the secret of her past.

Producers: Tess McCarthy and Eileen Williams, original by Tess McCarthy, Lilly Gill and Alexander Muscat

Featuring: Tess McCarthy

Music: Kevin Macleod (Colorless Aura, Pepper’s Theme, Water Lily)

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Story 3: Frankly Emma

Since the day she was born in 1841, Emma Edmonds has felt betrayed by her gender. Inspired by a cross-dressing heroine in a novel, Emma decides to leave behind everything she’s ever known at the age of 17 and take on a new secret identity. Adventure with us through her amazing true life story – complete with pirates, romance, battles and spies – while Emma tries to determine exactly what it means to be herself.

Producers: Rosie La Puma and Shara Tonn

Featuring: Eileen Williams and Justin Krasner-Karpen

Sounds: Jury Duty (“Howling Wind”), Rosie La Puma (Birds at Munger), Mike Koenig (“Sniper Fire Reload”), TheMSsoundeffects (“Warfare sound effect 9 – Civil war battle – close”), The Best Thing Since Twinkies (“Record Scratch”), fws.gov (“Peeper Frogs Near Lake”) Music: Chris Zabriske (Cylinder Two, Is That You or Are You You), Jason Shaw (Running Waters, Back to the Woods, Hoedown), Podington Bear (PrettyBuild, Climbing the Mountain, Hearts Affluter), Gillicuddy (Adventure Darling), Rosie La Puma & Deborah Wicks La Puma (“Military March”)

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Research References: The Mysterious Private Thompson: The Double Life of Sarah Emma Edmonds, Civil War Soldier by Laura Gansler and Memoirs of a Soldier, Nurse, and Spy: A Woman’s Adventures in the Union Army by S. Emma E. Edmonds

Additional Notes and Fun Facts:

You may have noticed in the story that Emma’s last name changes from beginning to end. Emma was born Sarah Emma Edmondson, but after she left the army, took on the name Emma Edmonds.

Like any biography, this portrait of Emma is far from complete. Interested in learning, for example, why Emma was labeled a deserter and denied a pension? Check out Emma’s page on civilwar.org.


Story 4: A Change of Heart

A star student attributes his high school success to a friend who inspired him to change his entire life. The catch? He’s kept it a secret from her the entire time.

Producers: Chelsea Davis

Featuring: Jackie Chan

Music: Podington Bear (The Window, Kid Is Frangin Tight, Kingbeat 9, Tribe, Old Skin, Odyssey, Hearts Aflutter)

Image via Flickr


When you lose something, there’s a hole where that something used to be, and you have to figure out how to live with that loss. The emptiness will always be there, but what can you gain from trying to fill it? What can be gained from losing? This episode has four stories about people who lose something, and then seek new things to fill the emptiness. A lifelong dream gets derailed by a butterfly knife, an athlete’s passion for her sport crumbles after an injury, a girl searches for something she isn’t really sure she wants to find, and a woman slowly loses her ability to hear.


Host: Jackson Roach

Producers: Jackson Roach, with help from Jonathan Kleiman, Will Rogers, Nina Foushee, Jake Warga, Christy Hartman, Claire Schoen and Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Owen O Súilleabháin, Gabriel Lomeli, Amabel Stokes, Julia Berkson, Mitch Berkson, Olivia Berkson, Claire Richards, Daniela Roop, Jody Louise

Music: All music in this episode originally composed by Owen Ó Súilleabháin

Image via Flickr

Release Date: 20 January 2016


Story 1: Hole-Hearted

When a policeman stopped Gabe Lomeli on the street, he thought he had nothing to hide, but that one interaction would shift the course of his dreams.

Producer: Maddie Chang with help from Will Rogers

Featuring: Gabriel Lomeli

Image via Flickr


Story 2: Getting Off Track

As a successful track athlete, Amabel Stokes has crossed many finish lines. In this story, she learns to move beyond the red tape.

Producer: Justine Beed

Featuring: Amabel Stokes

Image via Wikimedia Commons


Story 3: An Eventful Brunch

A lovely meal in a small mountain villa is interrupted by a stumbling man with his hand tight against his stomach. Everyone spends the rest of the morning frantically searching for something they’re not sure they want to find.

Producer: Maddy Berkson with help from Nina Foushee, Jackson Roach, and Jonathan Kleiman

Featuring: Julia Berkson, Mitch Berkson, Olivia Berkson, Claire Richards, Daniela Roop

Image via Flickr


Story 4: Forgiveness

Dr. Fred Luskin, founder of the Stanford Forgiveness Project, shares his story of loss, and how he learned to move forward.

Producers: Jake Warga, Emma Heath, Jon Kleiman

Featuring: Dr. Fred Luskin

Image via Geograph


Story 5: Sound by Sound

In her twenties, Jody Louise started to lose her hearing, and her doctors couldn’t figure out why.

Producer: Jackson Roach with help from Maya Lorey

Featuring: Jody Louise

Image via Wikimedia Commons


We’ve come to think of healing in mechanical terms, as repairing something broken, like fixing a flat tire. But for most of human history healing has meant more than repairing the body. Healing has meant restoring a sense of wholeness to a person—or even a relationship or community. In today’s show we’ll hear two stories that explore this older sense of healing. First, a Bay Area woman diagnosed with breast cancer finds healing through a complementary medicine modality at Stanford Hospital called Healing Touch. Second, a Stanford student living with an incurable disease finds healing in an encounter with the ocean and one of its creatures. How do we heal when our bodies are irrevocably changed?


Host: Preet Kaur

Producers: Bonnie Swift, Christy Hartman, Taylor Shoolery, Preet Kaur, Alka Nath, Will Rogers, Julie Morrison, Mallory Smith, Natacha Ruck, Claire Schoen, Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Preet Kaur, Carolyn Helmke, Catherine Palter, Melissa Anderson, Rosa Fuerte, Marilyn Getas-Byrne, Anne Proctor, Laura Pexton, Margot Baker, David Wolf, Maggie Burgett, Maria Cacho, Katie Talamantez, Elizabeth Helms, Diane Wardell, Sue Kegal, Jim Batterson, Margaret Schink, and Mallory Smith

Release Date: 22 April 2015

Image via The Archeological Museum of Piraeus


Story 1: It Slows Way Down

When two of Carolyn Helmke’s friends got cancer, she knew she had to get a mammogram. We follow Carolyn’s journey through cancer treatment and her experience of Healing Touch at Stanford Hospital’s Center for Cancer Supportive Care Services. How does Carolyn find healing, not just from cancer, but from the trauma of fighting it?

Producers: Christy Hartman, Bonnie Swift, Taylor Shoolery, Preet Kaur, Alka Nath, Will Rogers, Julie Morrison, Claire Schoen, Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Carolyn Helmke, Catherine Palter, Melissa Anderson, Rosa Fuerte, Marilyn Getas-Bryne, Anne Proctor, Laura Pexton, Margot Baker, David Wolf, Maggie Burgett, Maria Cacho, Katie Talamantez, Elizabeth Helms, Diane Wardell, Sue Kegal, Jim Batterson, Margaret Schink

Special Thanks: Nina Weil, Nina Foushee, Josh Hoyt, Rachel Hamburg, Mallory Smith, Natacha Ruck, Eileen Williams, Rosie La Puma

Original Music: Man of Suit

image via flickr


Story 2: Salted Wounds

Mallory Smith was born with cystic fibrosis, an incurable disease with a median life expectancy in the late 30’s. The most serious complication of the disease is a vicious cycle of chronic infection, inflammation and scarring in the lungs that often leads to respiratory failure. As Mallory battles her illness through college, she comes to realize that, metaphorically speaking, the planet is diseased too. But nature speaks out through its own set of symptoms, unsettling signs that grow louder and clearer by the year.

Producer: Mallory Smith

Music: The Album Leaf (Blank Pages, A Day in the Life, Perro, Summer Fog, Shine), The American Dollar (Anything You Synthesize), This Will Destroy You (I Believe in Your Victory), Maneli Jamal (Us Against Them), Antoine Dufour & Tommy Gauthier (Solitude), and Josh Woodward (Together on Our Own)

Image via One Love

An earlier version of this piece aired on Green Grid Radio


In this show, we are talking about a very special kind of belief—belief in something. Often considered a defining human characteristic, like language, belief shapes our lives. We put our confidence in something that is unseen; we understand the world in terms of a bigger, unknowable framework. This ability may not be unique to humans, but it does appear to be a very special talent. Today, we want to find out what this specific type of believing means for our lives. How are we changed by belief? What does it do to us? Spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically: what can believing do?

Host: Eileen Williams

Producers: Eileen Williams, Rosie La Puma, Will Rogers, Claire Schoen, and Jonah Willihnganz

Featuring: Beth Duff-Brown, Krista Tippett, and Carol Dweck. Thanks also to Lora Kelley, Louis Lafair, Sonia Gonzalez, Natacha Ruck, Madeleine Chang, and Lisa Hicks.

Music used during transitions: Broke for Free (XXV, A Beautiful Life)

Image via wikimedia


Intro Story: The Secret to Survive

Viktor Frankl lived through one of the worst atrocities ever perpetrated by mankind. He survived when most did not. How and why was he able to persist? What made him special? As a psychologist and psychiatrist, Frankl himself has written on the subject extensively–according to him, he lived because he believed.

Producer: Eileen Williams

Music: Podington Bear (Minor Stretch)

Image via wikimedia


Story 1: A Journey of Belief

As a reporter, Beth Duff-Brown learned to rely on verifiable facts and scientific data to make sense of the world. She’s traveled through war-torn Africa and contracted Malaria. She’s written many important and well-received articles. But despite her academic success and accomplished career, she always felt that something was missing. This all began to change in a tiny village called Camponde. It was there she began to open her heart to belief, and the results were astounding.

Producer: Lora Kelley

Featuring: Beth Duff-Brown, Caitlin Duff-Brown

Music: “Muad’dib” by Greater Than or Equal To, “Nostalgia of an ex-gangsta-rapper” by Deef, “Village Party” recorded by Beth Duff-Brown, “Long White Cloud” by Krakatoa

Image courtesy of Beth Duff-Brown


Story 2: On Krista

In this story, we hear from a woman whose career has been largely dedicated to belief. As Krista Tippett tells her story, she explains what she learned growing up–and how her belief system has evolved. This is a story about how beliefs can change, and how this change can profoundly impact the way we live. In Krista’s case, it allowed her to form personal connections to help her through hard times.

Producer: Eileen Williams

Featuring: Krista Tippett

Music: Podington Bear (Blue, Dramamine, Gentle Chase, Solidarity, Sry, Dark Matter, Light in Branches), Timbre (Hammerklavier Gospel)

Image via flickr


Story 3: Belief vs. Action

Are humans driven by our need to believe or our need to act? Producers Maddie Chang and Rosie La Puma battle their way to a better understanding. Along the way, they explore the forces that motivate their own lives and share stories that bridge the gap between belief and action.

Producers: Maddie Chang and Rosie La Puma

Special Thanks: Lisa Hicks

Image via wikimedia


Story 4: Malleable Mindsets

In sixth grade, Carol Dweck’s teacher arranged her classroom according to IQ. The teacher believed that everyone is born with a set number of capabilities. But are we? Or do we develop through hard work and perseverance? Carol Dweck has spent her life exploring what she has termed “Fixed Mindset” and “Growth Mindset”: how our belief in potential affects our potential.

Producers: Louis Lafair, Sonia Gonzalez, and Natacha Ruck

Featuring: Carol Dweck

Music: Podington Bear (Button Mushrooms, Deep Pools, The Window, Orange Juicer, By Grace)

Image via flickr


Story 5: Finding a New Rapture

As a teenager, Will stopped believing in the rapture, the idea that Jesus could come back at any moment. In the absence of this belief, doom and gloom set in, and Will moved to an ecovillage in the mountains to reconcile his life with this new worldview. It was there that he encountered a new belief, something very different from and very similar to his belief in the rapture, and it’s this belief that he carries with him today. This story was told at a gathering of friends.

Storyteller: Will Rogers

Editor: Eileen Williams

Links: True Story Podcast

Image via wikimedia


Promises can be made about almost anything. From promising to be a knight of God, to promising to talk about sex… to promising to stay together until death do us part. In this show, eight different promises are made. Some are kept, many are broken. But even when broken, these promises changed something. Because even a failed promise has the power to change the world.

Host: Nina Foushee

Producers: Nina Foushee, Hadley Reid, Christy Hartman

Featuring: Nina Foushee, Will Hamilton, Liz Matus, Professor Jorah Dannenberg, Hadley Reid, Don Reid, Holly Russell, and Matt Rothe

Release Date: 16 July 2014

Music used during transitions: Chris Zabriskie, Kevin MacLeod, A Smile for Timbuctu, The Kyoto Connection

image via flickr


Intro Story: Nina, from Tucson

Nina tells the story of a promise she made to remember where she comes from, Tucson Arizona.

Producers: Nina Foushee and Christy Hartman

Featuring: Nina Foushee

Music: Chris Zabriskie

Image courtesy of Nina Foushee


Story 1: Knight of God

At the age of 13, Stanford Junior Will Hamilton made a promise to Pir Vilayat Khan. He’s the former spiritual leader of Sufism.

Producer: Nina Foushee

Featuring: Will Hamilton

Music: Arizono Kazuhiro, The Chicago Modern Orchestra Project, Marty Erlich, and Kei Engel

Image via wikipedia


Story 2: A Cold Walk

Stanford Senior, Liz Matus makes a promise to herself after a cold winter walk across her hometown of Cedar Rapids.

Recorded at Activist Story Night at the Haas Center for Public Service in March, 2014

Featuring: Liz Matus

Image courtesy of Liz Matus


Story 3: Ella

Stanford Philosophy Professor Jorah Dannanburg reveals a promise he made to care for an enormous dog named Ella– A mastiff who likes to eat shoes and couches.

Producer: Nina Foushee

Featuring: Jorah Dannenberg

Music: Podington Bear


Story 4: ‘Til Death

Hadley Reid tells us about a time when wedding vows were only the beginning of another promise.

Producer: Hadley Reid

Featuring: Don Reid PhD 1981 and Holly Russell 1978

Music: Chris Zabriskie, Edoardo Romani Capelo

Image courtesy of Holly Russell


Story 5: How the Tractor Ruined Farming

Matt Rothe, a lecturer at Stanford, shares two broken promises. One’s an unspoken societal promise. The other’s the promise of technology, specifically, the tractor.

Producer: Erik Olesund, MSc 2014

Featuring: Matt Rothe, MBA 2007, Lecturer at the School of Earth Sciences and at the d.school (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design)

Music: Antony Raijekov, Blear Moon, Chris Zabriskie, Mountain Range), Jason Shaw, Arizono Kazuhiro

Image courtesy of Matt Rothe


Control : The Stanford Prison Experiment

In 1971, Dr. Philip Zimbardo created a mock prison in the basement of Jordan Hall, the psychology building at Stanford. Mentally healthy college students were randomly assigned the roles of prisoner and guard. Dr. Zimbardo was trying to test how situations control human behavior, but within days, the situation spun out of control.


In this special episode, Drs. Philip Zimbardo and Christina Maslach tell the story of what ended up being one of the most infamous psychology studies in history – where young, mentally healthy participants turned brutal and desperate in only a few days. You’ll learn surprising details of what inspired the Stanford Prison Experiment and how it ended, and hear how the experiment helped contribute to understanding the relationship between individuals and the situations they find themselves in.

Host: Bojan Srbinovski

Producers: Rachel Hamburg, Bojan Srbinovski, Mischa Shoni, Charlie Mintz, Natacha Ruck, Victoria Hurst

Featuring: Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Dr. Christina Maslach

Additional production help from: Justine Beed, Kate Nelson, Will Rogers

Original Music by Rob Voigt

Other music: Chris Zabriskie, Billy Gomberg, Gillicuddy, Tearpalm

Audio clips of the Stanford and Toyon Prison Experiments are from The Philip G. Zimbardo Papers at the Stanford University ArchivesThe Philip G. Zimbardo Papers at the Stanford University Archives.


Note: The original version of this episode mis-identified the location of the pilot study that inspired the Prison Experiment. The Stanford Storytelling Project regrets this error.


Photo credit: Chuck Painter