Tear Up Those Note Cards: The Moth StorySLAM is Coming to Houston

If you've been listening to 88.7 KUHF recently, you've probably heard an episode of The Moth Radio Hour, the hour-long program dedicated to "true stories, told live, without notes." On Tuesday, the Moth's monthly StorySLAM launches in Houston. The first slam will take place on 7:30 p.m. at Stereo Live and will continue on the second Tuesday of each month.

Elizabeth Sosa Bailey, community engagement coordinator at Houston Public Media and the new producer of the Houston Moth StorySLAM, said the stories you hear on the Moth Radio Hour, a show syndicated to more than 200 public radio stations nationwide, are curated from stories told at Moth StorySLAM in more than 14 different cities nationwide.

"After each slam, there is one winner, and the 12 winners at the end of the year get together for the GrandSLAM," she said. "The Moth Radio Hour is made up of stories from those GrandSLAM winners in each city."

The Moth was founded in 1997 by writer George Dawes Green, who grew up in Georgia. As an adult, he began to reminisce about the hours of porch-side storytelling and whiskey-drinking that was a tradition of his upbringing. He called his group of storytellers The Moths after the bugs that would swoop towards the lights on those late porch nights.

Bailey said she first reached out to The Moth producers about two years ago to bring the StorySLAM to Houston, but the radio show was not yet airing on KUFH at that time. This time, in addition to Houston The Moth is also bringing a StorySLAM to New Orleans.

Though the stories are told without notes, each reading has a theme. The theme for Tuesday is, aptly, "Firsts." Ten readers will be chosen to tell a five-minute story each.

"If you want to tell a story, you sign a release and put your name in a hat," Bailey said. "It's all left to chance, which is part of the magic. It's not at all like The Moth Radio Hour because the stories were so unpolished."

Judges are chosen from the audience at the beginning of each reading. And the Houston StorySLAM still doesn't have a permanent host. That decision will be made by Moth bigwigs after Tuesday's reading.

Tickets to the slams are only $8 a person -- "That's the whole point. It's easily accessible," Bailey said. She also says that "drinking is a really integral part" of the reading experience, not just because it offers social lubricant, but because it also harkens back to the tradition of those late-night porch sessions.

Bailey said she is excited The Moth is coming to the Gulf Coast.

"I feel like we have a lot of stories to tell, but that we're also really humble," she said. "It feels really special that we beat out Austin and San Antonio."

She also talked about KUHF'S recent programming line-up change, bringing more cerebral shows like The Moth, TED Radio Hour and Dinner Party to Houston.

"Now that we have these shows, I feel like we're really rounding out our programming," she said. "With a national show like The Moth coming to town, I am really excited to see how we're going to evolve as a public radio station."

The Moth StorySLAM starts Tuesday, September 10 at 7:30 p.m. at StereoLive, doors at 6:30 p.m. It will take place the second Tuesday of every month. Tickets are $8.

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