Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Communication Studies

Document Type



Over the past decade, the practice of podcasting—both producing and listening—has migrated from a niche form of audio entertainment into a media phenomenon with a central role in popular culture. Surveying the development of the podcast medium and through a case study of the podcast S-Town, this dissertation looks at how sound, narrative, and frames of reference rhetorically operate and create a unique platform for long-form narrative journalism. I address how narratives have a prominent role in the journalistic endeavor and how frames of acceptance and rejection are used in nonfiction narrative podcasts. Through rhetorical criticism and close textual analysis of the popular nonfiction narrative podcast, S-Town, I unpack the journalistic, entertainment, and political potential of podcasting and discuss how it provides an intimate approach to nonfiction storytelling through self-reflective metanarratives, sonic persuasion, and discursive frames of acceptance. In doing so I argue that the podcast is the reinvigoration of audio storytelling and one of the most fertile grounds for narrative nonfiction. I also argue for the need to understand the often-overlooked moral and ethical implications of fact-fueled, story-driven media.



Committee Chair

Grey, Stephanie Houston



Available for download on Thursday, November 01, 2029