EACH EPISODE is 20-to-30 minutes, and the stories unfold with drama and suspense. The storytelling is not dogmatic, rather, the political context of problems that have emerged after decades of Communist Party rule is implied.

One episode, titled ''My Cousin Squandered His Family's Fortune to Buy Four Wives for an Average of 13,000 Renminbi Each,'' dives into the story of a rural man's struggles to find a wife.......... 

KOU AIZHE, the creator and host of one of China's most popular storytelling podcasts, has only one criteria for selecting stories.

''Any subject can work,'' he said, ''as long as it surprises me.''

What emerges are unusual stories told with an authenticity rarely heard in the country's tightly scripted, propaganda-heavy state-run media.

A worker for a Chinese construction company describes a harrowing escape from war in Libya in an episode titled ''I shot an AK-47 at them.'' A young man recounts accompanying his ailing father to Switzerland to die by assisted suicide. A lesbian tells of her decision to enter a marriage of convenience to a gay man.

Taking inspiration from American public radio programs like  ''This American Life'' and ''Snap Judgement,'' Mr. Kou's ''Gushi FM,'' or ''Story FM,'' features stories told in the first person by ordinary Chinese.

The show highlights stories from both the margins and the mainstream of society. They are tales of loneliness, heartbreak, adventure, betrayal, love, loss and the absurd.

Since Mr. Kou began broadcasting ''Gushi FM'' in 2017, it has become one of the most successful audio programs in China's small but growing podcast movement. In a country of more than a billion people, the program has attracted nearly 600,000  listeners. Each month, it gains about 35,000 new listeners, according to Mr. Kou.

''These days, I feel like it's so rare for the media and people around us to speak very honestly,'' said Su Da, 35, a researcher at Shanxi Province. ''But 'Gushi's FM' is different. The storytellers bring out the authenticity of our lives. That authenticity is complicated, and it may make us feel uncomfortable, but it is genuine.

In recent months, the Chinese authorities have cracked down on investigative journalists, social media celebrities and seemingly innocuous independent bloggers, part of a broader effort to impose control over China's information ecosystem.

''Gushi FM'' rarely touches on political or newsy topics, but it often deals with social themes that have been subject to media censorship in the past. in one episode, a woman describes learning about sex only after her elementary schoolteacher molested her - a nod to the #MeToomovement.

Other episodes have dealt with  L.G.B.T.Q issues, forced relocation and the black market for surrogate childbearing which is illegal in China. Of more than 200 episodes, censors have erased only one : a story about a family that went bankrupt because of a peer-to-peer lending scam, which was a  fraught topic at the time.   

''We are very cautious,'' Mr. Kou said.

The honor and serving of the latest global  operational  research on Podcasts, Societies and Technology, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Amy Qin.


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