How to Rock a Funky Story: Glynn Washington at the Lair

Lair of the Golden Bear campers recently buckled up to attend a virtual campfire talk with master storyteller Glynn Washington, titled “How To Rock a Funky Story.” Washington is the creator, executive producer, and host of Snap Judgement, a radio show and podcast that offers a raw, immersive, and musical take on storytelling. His unique, cinematic style of storytelling draws listeners and grips them until the end of every one of his shows. Washington’s connection to Berkeley runs deep; in addition to being a Lair camper, from 2007 to 2010, he was the director of Young Entrepreneurs at Haas—now known as Boost—a program at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.

During his talk, Washington discussed the importance of seeing the world through others’ eyes, and how his belief in the value of perspective-taking guides and informs his work: “The idea behind Snap is that it’s hard to hate someone if you know their story, and I think now, more than ever, what’s missing from our national dialogue is a sense of empathy. Even if you don’t agree with what a person did, at least maybe you come away with an appreciation of why they did it.”

“Storytelling, at its heart, is distilled life​…It’s about doing something that moves people.

The hardest part of storytelling, Washington revealed, is opening up to listeners and being emotionally vulnerable with them: “The best stories that I‘ve ever told were oftentimes stories that I shied away from telling at first, stories that made me reveal something about myself that was less than heroic, less than noble, less than beautiful. I had to, in effect, stick my neck out, and no one wants to stick their neck out. I’ve been telling stories on the radio for 10 years and I still recoil at the idea of telling certain ones, even though I know better. I know that by leaning in, exposing myself, I’m going to in fact bring more people with me and they’re going to feel what I felt.”

“Storytelling, at its heart, is distilled life…It’s about doing something that moves people and being open to the fact that nobody makes the right calls all the time; everyone has regrets, and those are always the best stories.”

Full recordings of the Lair of the Golden Bear’s 2020 Guest Speaker Series, including Glynn Washington’s talk, are available on the Lair’s YouTube channel. Learn about the speakers and their topics.


From the Archives

Storytelling with Swagger

Radio host Glynn Washington in conversation with novelist Daniel Alarcón, host and cofounder of the Spanish-language podcast Radio Ambulante, about his show Snap Judgement and the art of radio storytelling.
Interviewed by Daniel Alarcón
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