Snap Judgment

Snap Judgment

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“Snap Judgment (Storytelling, with a BEAT) mixes real stories with killer beats to produce cinematic, dramatic, kick-ass radio.  Snap’s raw musical brand of storytelling dares listeners to see the world through the eyes of another.”

Alongside This American Life, Snap Judgment is the other big name in storytelling podcasts/radio shows wherein a given theme is chosen for an episode, and several stories are presented on that theme (read that in Ira Glass’ voice, please).  Full disclosure: Snap Judgment was the very first podcast I ever listened to, and so I have a lot of nostalgic feelings toward it. 

Each episode of Snap Judgment begins with a brief story from the life of the smooth-voiced host, Glynn Washington.  There are so many episodes of Snap Judgment that one might wonder how he’d be able to provide an original story for each one, but the fact is, Glynn has really seen some shit in his time.  Just by way of example, he grew up in a racially segregated, apocalypse-centric, white supremacist Christian cult.  But he’s black.  So as you can imagine, he’s got a pretty deep bag of experiences to reach into simply from that.  After Glynn’s story, the theme of the episode is announced, and several additional stories are presented.  Ostensibly, they’re presented on that theme, but it can be kind of hard to follow the common thread between them.  In that sense, it doesn’t quite have the cohesion of This American Life.  That said, each story is generally excellent and fascinating, so it almost doesn’t matter.  I’ve personally listened to almost every single episode in the back catalog, and there’s rarely a dud.  

Honestly, what Snap Judgment does, it does well, but it’s not exactly an original idea for a podcast.  I don’t want to call Snap Judgment derivative, because that would hardly do justice to how great of a listening experience it actually is, but at the very least it’s formulaic.  Its claim to fame, or at least its claim as to what separates it from other storytelling podcasts, is that it tells the stories to a (musical) beat.  This is fine and fun, but it’s actually really not that big a part of the show.  It doesn’t change the qualitative experience much, is what I mean.  What is a big part of the show is the high-calibre level of the production team, both in the quality of the stories they find for each and every episode, and in the way in which those stories are told.  If you’re already a rabid fan of This American Life, Snap Judgment really is the only other storytelling podcast I’ve listened to that approaches the level of excellence and consistency demanded by Ira Glass of his team.  If you’re not already overloaded on storytelling, this one is a must-subscribe.

Excellent, as is expected from NPR.

High.  You generally can’t go wrong even if you just shuffle through random episodes.

Glynn Washington is a fascinating man who’s lived an exciting life, and his drive to tell both his own stories and those of others is what makes the show as good as it is.

Driveway Moments:
Chock full.  

Future Potential:
High.  I don’t expect Glynn and his team to run out of stories anytime soon.  They just have to make sure to get there before This American Life does.

Episode Length:
Just under an hour

Overall Score: 7.9/10

Notable Episodes:
You really can’t go wrong just picking a random episode and hitting play!

If you like this podcast, you’ll probably like: 

  • This American Life
  • Love + Radio
  • The Mortified Podcast
  • Criminal
  • Heavyweight

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