Local storytellers share their “juiciest” Richmond experiences

Eleanor Fialk
Kevin Allison
Eleanor Fialk
Risk! Live podcast founder Kevin Allison and four local storytellers performed at the Broadberry on Sept. 30. Photo by Eleanor Fialk.

Risk! Live, the adaptation of the acclaimed Risk! Podcast came to Richmond, bringing to the Broadberry true, personal stories from the lives of the show’s host and founder Kevin Allison and four local storytellers on Sept. 30.

“Something about telling the truth really strikes people,” Allison said. “It has a different effect in the way people respond to what’s being said.”

According to Allison, in 2009 when he launched the Risk! podcast, it mainly featured entertainers used to speaking in front of a large audience.

“But people started calling the show and submitting their proposals,” Allison said. “It moved towards ordinary people who have lived through extraordinary experiences. It added depth to the show.”

Allison said often before a show, local storytellers will come to him thinking of backing out, believing that their story is too emotional, too personal, or too risky to be told in public. These are often the best stories, he said..

“Doesn’t matter what kind of story. We go all over the map emotionally,” Allison said.“Things people would only share with friends, family or maybe their therapist.”

Three months before visiting a city, Allison said he announces the tour date on the Risk! podcast, along with the topic word for the evening. Richmond’s word was “juicy.” People listening to the podcast will then submit their own stories through the Risk! website.

“A single word can conjure in people’s mind stories,” Allison said. “Emotional triggers.”

According to Allison, he and his staff will normally receive around 15 submissions per city, and from those he will select about half, based around loose criteria.

Allison said this can include whether a similar story has been told recently, what the other pitches are, and whether the storyteller seems to have a good grasp emotionally of the experience.

After selecting finalists for the show, local storytellers will send Allison recordings of them telling their stories and he and his staff will help them shape the story.

“We poke and prod to build the story,” Allison said. “It usually takes two rounds of notes. It’s a bit of a process.”

Ray Christian grew up in Richmond and has told his true stories on Risk! four times, all of them from his experiences growing up and living in Richmond.

“I do it for the opportunity to expose people to the life I’ve lived,” Christian said. “It was an opportunity to spread the idea of storytelling. That’s every storyteller’s goal. To use storytelling to teach.”

Christian said the goal of getting on stage in front of people and telling true life stories and to inspire in them the desire to do the same, and connect with people through real life experiences.

“I’m impressed,” said attendee Megan Cole. “There were surprising twists but I grew to like it more because of it.”

Listen to true stories from Richmond locals, and submit your true-life story pitches at www.risk-show.com


Jesse Adcock. Photo by Julie TrippJesse Adcock
Jesse is a junior print journalism major and Arabic and Middle Eastern culture minor. He has walked in the valley with no water and bitten the heads off of snakes.
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