Storytelling, With A Beat: Interview With Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington : NPR Extra Before Saturday's event at Sidney Harman Hall in D.C., get to know Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington
NPR logo Storytelling, With A Beat: Interview With Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington

Storytelling, With A Beat: Interview With Snap Judgment's Glynn Washington

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Snap Judgment host Glynn Washington


Snap Judgment, one of NPR's newest shows, is coming to D.C. for a live show this Saturday. Snap on stage, like on the air, is unlike anything you've experienced from NPR. This is storytelling, with a beat: the stories that make you stop, think, and change your life or your direction. Snap's raw, energetic, and musical style captures real stories from real people and compels the listener to walk a mile in someone else's shoes.

We caught up with host Glynn Washington in his Oakland, CA studio as he and the Snap team were preparing for Saturday's event. Glynn gave us a glimpse into the process behind the show and what to expect on Saturday. Get your tickets now!

For someone who's never heard the show, describe Snap Judgment in a sentence (or two):

Snap Judgment is "storytelling, with a beat." For our live show, the nation's best storytellers rock their narratives onstage with an amazing live band. It's intimate, sexy, intelligent, surprising, musical, revelatory storytelling.

How did you come up with the concept?

I was trying to answer the question, "How do you get to the heart of the story quickly?" I found that if you are serious about sound, music, and performance, you can just get rid of the boring parts and drop audiences directly into the world of the storyteller.

Snap is rooted in the modern art of storytelling. Where do you find your stories?

Our live stage-show is just one part of the Snap Judgment storytelling project. Snap creates stories for radio, TV, film and the web. Regular people, amazing tales. In fact, most of our stories come from folks who would never get anywhere near a stage.

When I first started Snap Judgment, Ira Glass said, "I hope you have some interesting friends. Cause it's gonna be their stories that get you started."

Well, Ira was right. And thankfully, both myself, and our Executive Producer Mark Ristich, are lucky enough to have an array of incredible, crazy, magical storytellers in our lives. They gave us the narrative support to get started.

What's the most important thing you've learned from the stories presented on Snap Judgment?

That you never know which action, choice, or decision will be the one to change your life. Choose wisely!

What's on your iPod? Your biggest inspirations?

I'm a huge audiobook fan. How else can you turn washing clothes or raking leaves into an adventure?

I just started reading this guy, Daniel Alarcon, amazing stuff. I dig stories that sit on the razor's edge of race, class, and gender, so I keep going back to Junot Diaz, Tariq Shah, and Zadie Smith. Nick Harkaway just blew me away with his book, 'The Gone Away World.'

On the graphic novel tip, 'The Prophet' series may be the most interesting, ridiculous, disgusting, and absurd piece of genius I've thrown out of a window.

And cause I've got a little bit of nerd hidden deep down, I'm listening to R.R. Martin's 'Song of Ice and Fire' series.

What's next for the show?

Snap exists to push narrative boundaries. I'm lucky to be working with a bunch of geniuses who think nothing of holding a film camera one minute, and a radio recorder the next. We're chasing the story wherever she leads us.

What can people expect on Saturday?

Expect to go somewhere you have never been. Expect magic. Expect to put on someone else's skin. Expect to feel. Snap storytellers don't just tell you a tale; they drop you into THEIR world. And our band! Alex Mandel and the Snap Judgment Playaz know how to rock a crowd.

We can't wait to come to DC...if you want an early taste of Snap goodness, check us out at

WHAT: Snap Judgment Live!, a rare evening with the NPR series that delivers storytelling, with a beat

WHO: Host Glynn Washington, joined by dynamic storytellers and Snap's house band

WHEN: Saturday, November 12, 8:00PM (ET)

WHERE: Sidney Harman Hall, 610 F Street NW, Washington, DC 20004.TICKETS: $30 for orchestra; $20 for mezzanine. Purchase at or at the Box Office, tel: (202) 547-1122