Nothing is more memorable than a good story, some would say. Human beings are built to take in stories like sponges take in water. It’s the way we work. Life itself is like one big narrative, and each person could probably write a compelling autobiography about their life events.
Stories help us learn, be inspired, cultivate relationships, and contribute to society. Through them, we can build empathy as we step into another person’s shoes and develop good judgement as we see the consequences of others’ actions.
Jesus used stories in remarkable ways. In total, Jesus told 55 parables throughout the Gospels. Although these parables aren’t necessarily true stories, they are vital to the voice of the gospels, and some of the most valuable lessons of the Christian faith lie within the words of Jesus’ parables.
Some people value stories more than others. Chances are, if you are reading this, you are probably enthusiastic about stories. Perhaps you have already tuned in to The Unfolding podcast, or maybe you are curious about this podcast and want to dig deeper into the journey of the host, Meridith Foster. What prompted her to create this podcast? Where did she start?
Meridith’s childhood was filled with stories. In fact, she stated that they were “part of my family DNA.” She remembers how her dad’s side of the family would tell colorful stories at family gatherings. They often had family meals where they would sit around the table to eat and then end up telling stories for hours. Those precious moments grew a fondness in Meridith’s heart for hearing stories.
At first, Meridith didn’t realize that not everyone shared her family’s affection for storytelling. That became clear when she saw how excited her friends were as they listened to her dad’s tales.
There truly is something special about a storyteller. Meridith doesn’t claim to have her father’s storytelling skills, but she pursued stories as a career regardless. She didn’t always want to be on the radio though.
In fact, Meridith started out on a very different path.
Meridith completed graduate school at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and she began a career in researching adolescent behavior. Meridith stated that she was “particularly terrible at it.” She figured that she was meant to not enjoy work and that nobody really loved their job.
The job was funded by a grant, and the funding stopped after some time. Meridith said that this was “by the grace of God,” and it allowed her to figure out what she was really meant to do for her career.
She spent about six months working different part-time jobs as she pondered where she wanted her life to go. She found the book What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard N. Bolles and Katharine Brooks Ed.D. and began to go through the “homework” it provided.
Slowly, she began to sense a new direction for her life, thinking “maybe God wired me and gifted me to … do a specific job.”
But let’s pause here. We need to backtrack to let the most important part catch up: Meridith’s faith.
Although she was raised in a home of believers, Meridith had to make her faith her own. In high school, her relationship with God grew more independent, but it sprouted most after grad school.
Oddly enough—or maybe this isn’t odd at all considering how God works—Christian radio played a vital part in her faith. Christian radio encourages growth and spoke to one of Meridith’s deepest loves: stories.
Christian radio told countless personal stories that inspired Meridith immensely. These testimonies of Christ’s power and work in the lives of others were beautiful reminders of eternity, the gospel, and so much more.
Meridith said, “The more involved I got in Christian radio, the more I heard those stories over and over again.”
And that catches us up.
Meridith’s job search led her to a local Christian radio station called WBGL. She thought she might want to help with Christian music concerts. The book What Color Is Your Parachute? recommended interviewing someone who works in the field you are interested in, and so that is exactly what she did.
She interviewed someone at WBGL who was involved in concerts. Meridith was walking to her car after the interview when the woman she had just talked with came after her, telling Meredith they would soon have an open position at the station. She asked if Meridith was interested in the job, and Meridith was.
“I came out of there knowing I was going to work there,” Meredith stated.
It was clearly God at work.
Several months later, she started her job at WBGL. Throughout the years, her role changed. A series of events and great managers led her into a role that she was best suited for, and she began to use her talents on the air.
As an on-air host, Meridith began to see more and more stories. She would have the privilege of hearing so many more than she could mention on air. Often, she would find herself thinking, “I wish everybody could hear that story.” The desire to share these testimonies became a constant companion in Meridith’s soul.
Thankfully, her coworkers also believed in the beauty of storytelling. As time went on, it began to dawn on her that she could create a podcast about this very topic.
She talked to producer Jason Rackow, and they began to grow the idea in what Meridith said was “literally a conversation that was stretched out over years.”
Meridith started to study how to create podcasts. She researched story structure and developed her skill in defining what types of stories would do best on a podcast.
Then, Faith Radio asked her to host a weekend show, so she presented them her idea, which was called “Epic.” Meridith considered that show to be preparation for launching a podcast.
But when it came to starting her own podcast, Meridith was terrified.
Eventually, WBGL’s station manager, Jeff Scott, told her to launch the podcast. It truly was a leap of faith—no matter how much she had tried to prepare for it.
After countless hours of work, practice, and prayer, The Unfolding launched in May 2019. Meridith doesn’t consider herself a storyteller, but through every episode, she has enabled so many to tell their stories and so many others to listen. Now, her podcast has 1.5 million downloads.
It is an honor to reflect on the “incredible God who created the universe, who enters into our lives and does the miraculous—literally.” And Meridith has truly found a beautiful piece of her identity within God’s unfolding story.
If you are interested in diving deeper into The Unfolding podcast, you can read more about the podcast.
You can also listen to Meridith and her guests share amazing stories on each episode of The Unfolding.