Great Big Story
A podcast about the delightful, the surprising, and the untold true stories all around us. Hosted by Drew Beebe.
The Neverending Game
The year is 1982. The first compact disc player is released. George R. R. Martin’s book A Game of Thrones is still 14 years from being published. And a teenager named Robert Wardhaugh starts a game of Dungeons & Dragons. Thirty-eight years later, Wardhaugh and his group of friends are still playing the same game of D&D, quite possibly the longest continuous game of the popular fantasy role playing game. Wardhaugh has altered the rules to his liking and created a sweeping storyline that keeps...
Journey to Justice
When Jarrett Adams was 17 years old, he was wrongfully convicted and sentenced to 28 years in prison. Fueled by his desire for justice, Adams set out to prove his innocence from within the prison law library, despite never having opened a legal textbook in his life. After enlisting the help of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, Adams was exonerated and his conviction was overturned, but not after he had already been incarcerated for nearly a decade. Yet his journey didn’t end there. Adams was...
The Hidden History of Hollerin'
Back in the days before electricity, a peculiar tradition rose out of southeastern North Carolina. Over vast swaths of farmland, voices would ring out to say good morning, ask for help, or just to share a ditty. The old timers called this tradition “hollerin’.” Part singing and part yelling, it was the text message of the pre-industrial age with a complicated history. But, just as telephones and automobiles were about to make hollerin’ obsolete, a group of North Carolinians put together a...
One of the Weirdest Crimes in Austin, Texas
In the summer of 1989, someone had tried to kill a beloved resident of Austin, Texas, and the people were demanding justice. The victim was barely clinging to life, as countless well-wishers sent get-well cards and cans of chicken soup. Who was this icon of Austin? A 600-year-old tree named Treaty Oak. And as the lone city forester valiantly tried to save the mighty oak’s life, the police were searching for the answer to the question: “Who would want to murder a tree?” To learn more about...
Once upon a time, a mysterious substance emerged that was so precious, so wondrous to have inspired a kind of worship. That magical object was … a chalk. But not just any chalk! This was Hagoromo: a Japanese brand so smooth, so perfect that some mathematicians wondered if it was made from the tears of angels. But one day it was threatened with extinction, triggering the greatest crisis the world of chalk had ever seen. Pencils down, please, as we tell the tale of a writing implement so...
The Accidental Invention of the Super Soaker
As the dog days of summer wear on, many of us grow nostalgic for the hours spent blasting our friends with one of the best-selling toys of the early '90s: the Super Soaker. This pressure filled water blaster is all thanks to a nuclear scientist who worked for NASA and the Air Force. In 1982, Lonnie Johnson invented the Super Soaker while he was tinkering on something totally different in his basement. But his inventions don’t stop there: Johnson worked on everything from Nerf toys to a...
Running the Marathon on Crutches
An avid runner since high school, Hannah Gavios suffered a spinal cord injury after a horrific attack in 2016 that left her partially paralyzed. But she didn’t let that end her dream of running a marathon. Unable to imagine a life without running, the native New Yorker learned how to run in a different way — what she likes to call “crutching.” In this episode, Great Big Story follows her as she attempts to complete the 2019 New York City Marathon. (This episode contains a description of...
Where Have I Seen That Guy?
Whether you know him by name or not, you’ve definitely seen James Hong before. From movies like “Blade Runner” and “Chinatown,” TV shows like “The Big Bang Theory” and “Seinfeld,” and animated features like “Kung Fu Panda” and “Mulan,” in his over six decades in Hollywood, Hong has become one of the most credited actors in history. Born in Minnesota to parents from Hong Kong, Hong moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. However, he has had to spend his...
Mrs. Comet and the Man on the Moon
All his life, Eugene Shoemaker dreamed of stepping foot on the moon. A geologist and planetary scientist known for his work with craters, Gene worked tirelessly in the hopes of becoming an Apollo astronaut so he could explore the lunar surface. A failed medical test cut his dreams short, but his journey didn’t end there. His wife, astronomer Carolyn Shoemaker, tells us the story of how Gene was always destined to be the man on the moon. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy,...
Hidden in wilderness off the coast of Vancouver Island, Canada sits the magical home of Catherine King and Wayne Adams. 45-minutes by boat to the nearest town, this couple’s sustainable fortress is complete with a dance floor, art galleries, and gardens galore. Every single building is not only built by hand, but is completely floating on the water. In this episode of Great Big Story, we explore this fantastical homemade island and learn what drove Catherine and Wayne to build a home so...
The Most Sampled Loop in Music History
What do David Bowie, NWA, and the theme song to Futurama all have in common? They’ve all used the Amen break, a four-bar drum solo that has become the most sampled loop in recorded music. The six second sample originates from the 1969 song “Amen, Brother” by a band called The Winstons. For years, the solo was buried deep in the musical archives, until hip-hop pioneer “Breakbeat Lou” Flores and his partner featured it on their compilation, “Ultimate Breaks and Beats.” Once producers caught...
Kryptos, the Uncrackable Code
At the heart of CIA headquarters stands an enigmatic sculpture called Kryptos, encoded with a secret message. For over 30 years, it's stumped an entire community of puzzle solvers. Master cryptologist Elonka Dunin refuses to give up on this challenge and today, she may be inching closer and closer to cracking the code. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy
Introducing Great Big Story
This is a great big world we live in, and there are millions of untold stories all around us. Join us as we discover the curious, surprising, delightful side of the human experience. To learn more about how CNN protects listener privacy, visit cnn.com/privacy