In March of 2017, we recommended 50 of the best podcasts for your listening pleasure. Many of those shows continue to do great work, including Heavyweight, Still Processing, The Read, Dear Sugars and Reply All. And two popular pods from last year’s list, 2 Dope Queens and Pod Save America, snagged HBO TV show deals.
But since that list dropped, the medium has continued to evolve. The internet devoured S-Town, and The Daily became mandatory listening during the morning commute. Shows like Ear Hustle, recorded inside a prison, and the musical 36 Questions pushed the bounds of podcasting. Documentary series like Making Obama and Slow Burn began examining history to understand the current political landscape. Just this March, Marvel made its first foray into the podcasting genre with Wolverine: The Long Night.
Between the newcomers and the old stalwarts we missed last year (sorry!),we found another 50 best podcasts you should be listening to right now. Whether you’re a royals obsessive, a true crime detective or a politics nerd, we have a pod for you, listed from A to Z.
30 for 30 Podcasts
Why You Should Listen: If you are a fan of ESPN’s 30 for 30 documentaries, you’ll love this spin-off with host Jody Avirgan. Each episode tackles a new sports saga with the same impressive journalistic rigor of the TV series. The podcast takes listeners behind meaningful moments, like when the Miami Heat players snapped that famous “Hoodies Up” photo, and of more obscure stories like that of an all-female trek to the North Pole.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “On the Ice”
Why You Should Listen: In 2015, a Modern Love essay in the New York Times introduced 36 Questions designed to make strangers fall in love. The essay went viral. Two years later, a genre-bending musical podcast brought those 36 questions into the limelight yet again. Broadway vet Jonathan Groff and newcomer Jessie Shelton star as a couple who try to repair their marriage by taking part in the questionnaire. At turns romantic and heart-wrenching, the innovative narrative represents the future of the musical genre. And it’s just three bingeable episodes.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “36 Questions – The Podcast Musical – Act 1 of 3”
Genre: News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: The documentary podcast aired last summer during the trial of Jeronimo Yanez, the police officer who shot and killed Philando Castile in 2016. Riham Feshir and Jon Collins, two reporters at Minnesota’s MPR News, chronicle the life of the victim, then the officer, before delving into a second-by-second account of what took place the night of the shooting. This is local journalism at its best. The first four episodes in particular add depth to understanding an important case.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “1: The Driver”
Why You Should Listen: “Word nerd” Helen Zaltzman covers her informative podcast with her dry British wit. In each episode, she answers questions about the English language: Why are some swear words way worse than others? What can we can learn about a potential mate who uses a bland “hey” on an online dating app? How has the way we use the verb “trump” changed since the 45th president was elected? Learning has never been more fun.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Hey”
Why You Should Listen: More contemplative than your average music podcast, Alt.Latino explores the whole of Latinx culture through interviews and discussions with musicians, DJs and journalists. Host Felix Contreras analyzes sound and lyrics to broach a larger conversation about identity. Recent topics include the Latin Grammys; sexism and feminism in Reggaeton; and how the success of “Despacito” impacted culture, business and politics.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Reggaeton In The Age of #MeToo”
Audio Book Club
Why You Should Listen: The rotating hosts of this monthly Slate podcast are smarter than even the most scholarly members of your book club. So many culture podcasts rely on snark, but this show flourishes thanks to its earnest criticism, though the hosts are not afraid to call out bad prose. The backlog of episodes is a treasure trove of new literary discoveries like Conversations With Friends and classics worth revisiting like Anna Karenina. This is the best podcast for bookworms.
Episode to Get Hooked on: Depending on your tastes, check out “Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan,” “What Happened by Hillary Clinton” or “The Odyssey, translated by Emily Wilson.”
Why You Should Listen: Last spring, The Ringer’s Mallory Rubin and Jason Concepcion recapped every episode of Game of Thrones in the weeks leading up to the show’s penultimate season. Episode recap podcasts can be hit or miss, often too meandering and dedicated to fan service. But the hosts have created a set format that works, and they are willing to skewer the material they love. Recently the podcast has turned its attention to other pop culture phenomena like Star Wars and, soon, Harry Potter.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “S1E1: Winter is Coming”
Why You Should Listen: Desus Nice and The Kid Mero riff on everything from Donald Trump to basketball to movies in this laugh-out-loud podcast. A lot of comedians force podcasting chemistry. But these two real-life friends have found the sort of easy banter you simply can’t fake. They also stick to familiar territory, cracking jokes about life in New York which succeed because of their specificity. And their impressions are unparalleled. On the strength of their podcasting prowess, the duo now has a Viceland TV series called Desus & Mero.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Ep 100: Splack Mirror”
Buffering the Vampire Slayer
Why You Should Listen: Buffy the Vampire Slayer remains one of the few shows on TV that did justice to a complicated female hero and still feels relevant today. On Buffering, hosts Kristin Russo and Jenny Owen Youngs obsess over how the series upended sexist tropes, analyze the undeniable sexual chemistry between Buffy and Faith and write jingles for favorite characters like Vamp Willow. But they also wrestle with Xander’s problematic one-liners and Joss Whedon’s imperfect portrayal of women. In the process the fun and addictive series has developed T-shirt worthy inside bits, like “Smash the Demon Lizard Patriarchy.”
Episode to Get Hooked on: “3.06 Band Candy”
The Butterfly Effect
Why You Should Listen: Somehow, a podcast miniseries about pornography turns out to be surprisingly sensitive podcast. Journalist Jon Ronson begins by interviewing the German man who popularized free porn and examines how his actions affected porn creators and watchers alike. Ronson’s matter-of-fact approach to an often-taboo topic makes for riveting reporting. He unveils fascinating factoids, like popular searches for “teenager” and “MILF” online has put 20-something female porn actors largely out of work.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Ep. 1: A Nondescript Building in Montreal”
By the Book
Why You Should Listen: On each episode, an enthusiastic Jolenta Greenberg and a skeptical Kristen Meinzer pledge to live their lives according to the rules of a new self-help book for two weeks. The results are often hilarious — especially when they enlist their beleaguered partners to join in — and occasionally life-changing. Come for the hit-and-miss advice of books like The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Stay for the banter between the hosts.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “The Five Love Languages”
Comedy Bang! Bang!
Why You Should Listen: Five hundred or so episodes into its run, host Scott Aukerman still manages to keep Comedy Bang! Bang! completely unpredictable thanks to his mix of improv games and offbeat character work. Nominally an interview podcast, Auckerman’s improv show embraces the bizarre and has built entire databases of recurring characters and jokes in the process. The podcast-turned-television series remains one of the funniest podcasts out there attracting comedians like Patton Oswalt, Nick Kroll and Tig Notaro.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Best of 2017 Pt. 4”
Genre: True Crime
Why You Should Listen: Most true crime series focus on a single murder. Crimetown — a podcast from the makers of HBO’s The Jinx — widens its lens to look at the culture of crime and corruption that can consume an entire city and its government. The holistic approach allows creators Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier to avoid certain true crime clichés, like the red herring or synth-heavy music to cue an interview with the bad guy. The first season was set in Providence, and filled with the sort of characters that would be right at home in a mobster movie. The creators are working on a second season set in an undisclosed location.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Chapter 1: Divine Providence”
Genre: News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: The New York Times’ The Daily is hands down the best podcast of the last year. Each morning, host Michael Barbaro interviews Times journalists and occasionally their subjects about that day’s biggest story in just 20 minutes. Barbaro has commiserated with a coal miner, replayed an uncomfortable interview between Bill O’Reilly and the reporters who likely got him fired and linked the Times’ coverage of the Sochi doping scandal to Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election. Thanks to Barbaro’s straight-forward style and reassuring voice, the overwhelming news cycle feels manageable, and the issues more personal.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Monday, Feb. 12, 2018” (Russian doping at the Olympics)
Why You Should Listen: Daniel Mallory Ortberg is the fourth Prudence to write an advice column for Slate and the first to start an advice podcast. (Ortberg recently announced that he is transitioning.) Ortberg and a rotating group of guests offer empathy and understanding at a time when we all desperately need it, not to mention a fair dose of wit. They solve problems ranging from how to bring up sex discrimination in a work performance review to how to deal with friends that mock your decision to be a stay-at-home dad.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “The Live ‘Cruise-ship Romance’ Edition”
Genre: True Crime
Why You Should Listen: The Los Angeles Times’ entry in the popular true crime genre examines the extraordinary and terrifying tale of a con man and his many victims. This case has everything a noir drama ought to: suspense, deception and plenty of twists. Though Dirty John’s production doesn’t always measure up to that of more established shows, veteran reporter Christopher Goffard pursued the story with a rigor that other true crime podcasts simply don’t have.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “The Real Thing | 1”
Why You Should Listen: Each season of Dissect breaks down a single album with an episode devoted to each song on that album. Host Cole Cuchna tackled Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly in the first season and Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy in the second. Cuchna scrutinizes rhymes, sounds and themes with the academic diligence one might expect from a PhD. He also analyzes the psyche of the artists themselves, like when West almost cut Nicki Minaj’s verse on “Monster” because it was too good — a fact that Cuchna seizes on to examine the rapper’s insecurities.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “S2E8 – Monster by Kanye West”
Why You Should Listen: In a world filled with true crime and chat podcasts, new ideas are hard to come by. But Ear Hustle, a podcast about San Quentin prison life made by prisoners, is something wholly new. Co-founders Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, current inmates, and artist Nigel Poor ask prisoners to share stories about what it’s like inside solitary confinement or how conjugal visits actually work. The stories are intimate and often lighthearted. This is not a podcast that takes on the prison industrial podcast: It’s one that gives a voice to those who are often voiceless. It also won best podcast idea at the prestigious Podquest competition last year.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “The Boom Boom Room”
Why You Should Listen: WBUR has teamed up with Reddit to mine the social media site for gripping stories, beginning with the tale of a flight crew that survived the airplane’s windshield coming detached from the plane mid-flight. Host Ben Brock Johnson and producer Amory Sivertson add new depth to these Internet-famous fables with interviews, narrative arcs and, crucially, their fact-checking abilities. So far, they’ve covered everything from Reddit love stories to the opioid epidemic. The show promises to develop into a worthy rival of Reply All and This American Life.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Kickin’ it”
Why You Should Listen: Soccer fans stuck in the states can tune into this podcast and feel transported across the pond. Twice a week, host Max Rushden (who recently replaced the James Richardson) and his rotating group of guests discuss Premier League and European soccer. The show has a distinctly British sense of humor with the perfect balance of punning and punditry. The Guardian writers also bring a historical context and keen insight to their conversations that’s hard to come by stateside.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Christmas Carrolls and Sid’s ham garage”
The Gender Knot
Why You Should Listen: In each installment, co-hosts Nastaran Tavakoli-Far and Jonathan Freeman pose a question: What can men do to help women achieve equality? Are women too compassionate? Is there a masculinity crisis? They invite on experts and guests — many of whom disagree with one another — in an attempt to untangle these knotty problems. Freeman isn’t afraid to ask questions as the “token white man,” while Tavakoli-Far often pushes back against guests’ mansplaining. Ultimately, the show serves an important purpose: Encouraging men and women to enter a productive dialogue with one another.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Men and feminism: How can men best help feminism?”
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls
Why You Should Listen: Heroines rarely fare well in traditional fairytales: Snow White gets poisoned, Little Red Riding Hood gets eaten by a wolf and Ariel loses her voice. That’s why the book Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, which uses the fable format to tell real stories of heroic women, felt so necessary when it came out in 2016. Now authors Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo have transformed their bestselling book into an inspiring, often tear-jerking podcast: #MeToo founder Tarana Burke narrates the story of Harriet Tubman, journalist Jessica Valenti the tale of tennis legend Billie Jean King and actor Poorna Jagannathan the saga of NASA engineer Margaret Hamilton.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Yusra Mardini read by Diana Nyad”
Genre: Love & Sex
Why You Should Listen: The Heart is currently on hiatus, but last summer’s series about consent is a must-listen. Through a number of very personal stories, host Kaitlin Prest explores the grey areas of consent and how hard it can be to say “no.” Her story is complicated and heart-wrenching. Prest’s candor about her confusion and pain makes this audio memoir all the more resonant for listeners who have experienced something similar.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “No: Advance”
Genre: History, Society
Why You Should Listen: Thirty-nine members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed suicide in 1997, and two decades later the public is left with more questions than answers about this tragedy. Heaven’s Gate manages to tap into two trends: the current wave of 90s nostalgia (I, Tonya, The Assassination of Gianni Versace, Roseanne) and the amateur detective craze that’s made true crime podcasts so popular. But Snap Judgment’s Glynn Washington elevates what could be a voyeuristic affair into a thoughtful show. Washington grew up in a cult — the Worldwide Church of God — so he approaches the Heaven’s Gate story with true empathy. Early on, he argues that anyone could have fallen prey to Heaven’s Gate.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “1: The Seekers”
It’s Been a Minute
Genre: Culture, News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: In It’s Been a Minute, host Sam Sanders, a veteran of the NPR Politics podcast, explores the intersection of pop culture and politics with a panel or interviewee. That approach feels pertinent in a year when more actors are considering political careers and politicians are blaming culture for society’s ills. Sanders’ background in political reporting serves him well: In this year’s best episode, he noted that after the Charlottesville neo-Nazi rally, the burden had fallen on black, Jewish and LBGTQ people to speak out. So Sanders decided to have some hard conversations with white guests about bigotry and how to solve it.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Charlottesville and White People”
Why You Should Listen: Omarosa on Celebrity Big Brother. Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl performance. Rachel Dolezal’s Netflix documentary. These are just a few of the cultural phenomena that The Daily Beast’s Ira Madison III has willed the world to reject on Keep It — meaning, in essence, that we’d be better off without them. But there’s plenty he loves, too, and just a few months in, the podcast (which is co-hosted by Kara Brown and Louis Virtel) has managed to strike a perfect balance between rollicking hot takes and thoughtful, nuanced deep dives.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Wakanda Forever”
Larry Wilmore: Black on the Air
Genre: Culture, News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: Larry Wilmore has picked up right where his Comedy Central show left off, mixing righteous indignation with a dose of humor and his usual thoughtfulness. Lately, he’s been leaning even further into political commentary, which happens to be his sweet spot. Each podcast begins with either a monologue or a casual conversation followed by an interview with a famous guest. Luckily Wilmore is fluent in a wide array of topics and can talk to anyone, from Forest Whitaker to Katie Couric.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Issa Rae on the ‘Hoe Phase’ and Finding Her Voice (Ep. 10)”
Las Culturistas With Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang
Genre: Comedy, Culture
Why You Should Listen: Hosts Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang’s rapid-fire banter will brighten anyone’s day. Each week, the two culture mavens devour the entertainment news of the week and revisit the cultural touchstones that impacted their lives with guests like Rachel Bloom and Phoebe Robinson. The hilarious recurring segment “I Don’t Think So, Honey!” sets this culture podcast apart. During the final minutes of the show, the hosts and guest rip apart something in pop culture. They have even expanded this segment into a series of delightful live shows, during which dozens of guests each get a minute to go off.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “I Don’t Think So, Honey! 4 LIVE (Parts One and Two)”
The Lowe Post
Why You Should Listen: ESPN reporter Zach Lowe watches every basketball game so that you don’t have to, which makes The Lowe Post an indispensable podcast for NBA fans. He fills fans in on trends predictions in a way that still feels accessible to those who don’t pay for NBA League Pass. But what really separates Lowe from his competitors is his access to knowledgable insiders: Players, coaches and the best beat reporters flock to his podcast to talk trade rumors, playoff prospects and — inevitably — LeBron’s future.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Jackie MacMullan, ESPN”
Genre: History, News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: WBEZ Chicago’s three-part Making Oprah series was one of the best podcasts of 2016. This year’s Making Obama is a worthy follow-up. In an era saturated with Obama nostalgia, Host Jenn White sits down with Obama’s colleagues, politicians and the president himself to contextualize the former president’s rise in the greater history of Chicago politics. In the second episode, for example, she recounts the election of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor, whose opponent ran with the racist campaign slogan, “Before it’s too late.” She then demonstrates how Washington — and his grassroots campaign strategy — paved the way for Obama. Even Obama’s biggest fans will learn something new.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Obama 1: The Man in the Background”
Genre: History, Culture
Why You Should Listen: The best biographical podcasts focus not on a person but on what that person represents, and Mogul is the best of the best. The show recounts the life and death of Chris Lighty — who managed Missy Elliott, 50 Cent and Busta Rhymes — and, in doing so, traces the history of hip-hop. Host Reggie Ossé, a former industry lawyer who knew Lighty, boisterously addresses his listeners as “internets” and pulls back the curtain first on private parties, then on his subject’s struggle with mental health issues. The astounding series is also a fitting tribute to Ossé (a.k.a. Combat Jack), who passed away last year.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Part 1: That Beat, That Beat Right There”
Mom and Dad Are Fighting
Why You Should Listen: The chemistry among hosts Rebecca Lavoie, Gabriel Roth and Carvell Wallace is so good that even listeners who don’t have kids will want to tune in. Every week, each host shares a personal parenting victory or failure. They then answer listener questions, like how to handle the anti-vaxxer parents in your kid’s preschool or what to do when you feel your kids prefer your partner to you. Like all parents, they have their own opinions and biases. But they approach each predicament with kindness and honesty you won’t necessarily get from the authors of how-to parenting books.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Chickenpox for the Soul Edition”
My Favorite Murder
Genre: True Crime
Why You Should Listen: True crime obsessives will love this popular podcast that recaps at least one new crime per podcast, sometimes two. The addictive banter of hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark has stirred up some controversy: They break down real deaths like they’re Real Housewives episodes. But in making light of the everyday terror of walking through the world as a woman, they flip the narrative of female victimhood on its head. Their sign off: “Stay Sexy. Don’t Get Murdered”
Episode to Get Hooked on: “1 – My Firstest Murder”
Why You Should Listen: Few podcasts earn both laughs and tears like Nancy does. Each episode of the show about LGBTQ issues focuses on a new story or topic, like whether J.K. Rowling made it clear that Dumbledore was gay when she wrote the Harry Potter books or how gay Republicans reconcile their personal and political beliefs. Hosts Tobin Low and Kathy Tu approach each topic with care, beginning in the first episode when they interview their parents about their own coming out stories. It’s a tribute to the Low and Tu’s range that a podcast has spanned so much emotional territory in just one year.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “#5: There Are No Gay Wizards”
Why You Should Listen: Eric Eddings and Brittany Luse, former co-hosts of For Colored Nerds, created a new show to explore stories of blackness, from the history of grape drink to a character analysis of Lawrence on Insecure. Their ongoing debate about which celebrities and political figures are “good” for black culture is particularly compelling. Recent impassioned arguments for or against people like Drake and Meghan Markle force listeners to reconsider the cultural influence of certain icons
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Drake of the Diaspora”
Genre: True Crime
Why You Should Listen: S-Town quickly pivoted from a Serial-esque true crime series to a much more intimate story about a singular man stuck in what he calls “Shit Town.” The ambitious, novelistic podcast tackles themes of identity, deception and mental health in an engrossing narrative saturated with the sounds of this Southern town. Expertly executed by host Brian Reed and his team, S-Town was a massive hit: Listeners downloaded episodes 16 million times in its first week of release. But Reed’s reporting also prompted many a discussion about the podcast’s journalistic standards: Are stories that dig into fascinating but private aspects people’s lives virtuous or voyeuristic?
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Chapter I”
Why You Should Listen: Slow Burn digs up lesser-known stories from the Watergate scandal, like how the celebrity wife of a Nixon associate tried to blow the whistle on Watergate but was written off as crazy. The show effectively recreates what it felt like to watch President Richard Nixon unravel. Host Leon Neyfakh draws not-so-subtle parallels between the Nixon and Trump administrations, asking whether people realize they’re living through a moment of political upheaval while it’s happening.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “1: Martha”
Stay Tuned With Preet
Genre: News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: A number of political figures have started podcasts. Most are self-promotional and boring. But former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s podcast is both intellectually engaging and entertaining. Bharara, who served under Obama and was fired by Trump last year, uses his new platform to examine social justice and politics. He has a knack for explaining complex legal issues with simple language, a skill that’s come in handy during the Mueller investigation. Every week he talks with a guest — a politician, an activist, a police commissioner — about issues of fairness and answers listener questions.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Taking Trump to Court (with David Cole)”
Genre: News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: Launching a rival to The Daily takes guts. But Vox’s new daily podcast has wisely focused on breaking down complex issues into simple explanations with funnier and saltier language than the Times might use. Host Sean Rameswaram asks questions like, how would Trump launch a nuclear missile? And why don’t we talk about gun-related suicides when we talk about gun control? Overall, Rameswaram’s style is amiable and inviting. One episode even featured a rendition of “We Didn’t Start the Fire” with lyrics about the Mueller investigation.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Mueller 101”
Terrible, Thanks for Asking
Why You Should Listen: Host and “notable widow” Nora McInerny lost her husband, her father and a baby she was carrying within a couple months. On the podcast, she interviews others struggling with grief and gives them permission to answer the question “how are you?” with something other than “fine.” McInerny’s conversations feel refreshingly honest at a time when social media has pressured people to always put on a happy face. The show is moving, surprisingly funny and always cathartic.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “0: Sad Nora and the Secret Baby”
Thirst Aid Kit
Genre: Love & Sex
Why You Should Listen: At first blush — pun intended — Thirst Aid Kit feels like pure escapism. Each week hosts Bim Adewunmi and Nichole Perkins talk about a celebrity crush and why, exactly, they’re thirsting after him. There’s no doubt their duo’s witty repartee will make you giggle. But the hosts are equally as interested in the politics of sex as they are in their fan fiction about John Cho or Chris Evans. Society has historically pressured women to stay silent about their actual sexual desires and instead act out what men think female desire is. The hosts of this podcast help overthrow those notions with an unapologetic discussion of what they want.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Chris Evans (feat. Chris Evans)”
Why You Should Listen: Fans of shows like The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror should tune into The Truth, an often eerie, sometimes funny fictional anthology series. Podcasts that tell a single narrative can get dull, but The Truth conjures up a new story each episode. Director and sound designer Jonathan Mitchell masterfully employ a mix of realistic sound effects and impressive voice acting to immerse the listener in a new environment each episode — Santa’s North Pole, a dystopian mall, a submarine.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “A Drop in the Ocean”
Why You Should Listen: Hosts Jack Hitt and Chenjerai Kumanyika promise to teach you the Civil War history you didn’t learn in school. With debates raging over confederate statues and an HBO show reimagining an America where slavery is still legal on its way, the lessons of that era still feel relevant. One powerful episode explores how Robert E. Lee and his followers spread the narrative in schools that the war was about state’s rights, not slavery, after the South lost — despite the Confederacy’s well-documented focus on protecting the institution of slavery during the war.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “The Spin”
Genre: News & Politics
Why You Should Listen: Last year, a slew of politics podcasts sprung up in response to Trump’s election. Many podcasters have since gotten caught up in trying to analyze Trump’s tweets or the upcoming midterm races. The Weeds is different. True to its name, Vox’s politics show with Ezra Klein, Dara Lind, Sarah Kliff and Matthew Yglesias goes deep on policy, not punditry. Those interested in legislation instead of gossip on the Hill should definitely tune in.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Ask Weeds Anything!”
Genre: True Crime
Why You Should Listen: In 1996, a French woman was murdered near her vacation home in the idyllic town of West Cork, Ireland. The crime has become something of a national sensation in Ireland — which means listeners should resist Googling details until after they’ve finished the podcast. But this podcast doesn’t just recount events: Journalist Sam Bungey and documentarian Jennifer Forde, who spent three years reporting out West Cork, also explore several lesser-known theories. There’s also a major twist that will shock listeners. But the show’s real strength is establishing a sense of place. The hosts beautifully communicate how a tragedy can impact a town and its people in devastating ways.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Chapter 1”
When Meghan Met Harry
Why You Should Listen: Calling all royals obsessives: You can now download a podcast entirely dedicated to the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It’s pure joy to listen to Brit James Barr and American anglophile Kristen Meinzer’s banter about topics ranging from the delightfully trivial — what flavor cake will the couple pick? — to the thoughtful — is the U.K. press’ coverage of Markle racist? They don’t take themselves too seriously, except when they need to. After all, these nuptials will upend centuries of British royal traditions.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “#10: The Royal Hen and Stag Parties”
Where Should We Begin?
Genre: Love & Sex
Why You Should Listen: If you’ve ever wished to be the fly on the wall in someone else’s therapy session, Where Should We Begin? is for you. Therapist and love expert Esther Perel lets listeners inside her office to eavesdrop on anonymous couples’ sessions. Will you will feel guilty for listening in on such intimate details? Absolutely. But the sessions are spellbinding. (If it soothes your conscious, the couples consent to being recorded.) Perel has a talent for asking the right questions to get at the right emotion. She deftly helps couples reforge their connection, or at least begin to do so.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Ep. 3: Speak to Me in French”
Why Oh Why
Genre: Love & Sex
Why You Should Listen: Dating apps promise to connect people, but for some they hinder relationships. On Why Oh Why host Andrea Silenzi examines the romantic lives of strangers— as well as her own. In one episode, guests share stories of ghosting. In another, a journalist argues why women should not date older men. In a particularly heartbreaking installment, Silenzi recounts her own painful breakup. Silenzi exudes empathy for the forlorn. While Why Oh Why is currently on hiatus, you can find Silenzi on The Longest Shortest Time podcast (which made our top 50 list last year.)
Episode to Get Hooked on: “#50: Stop Dating Older Guys”
With Special Guest Lauren Lapkus
Why You Should Listen: In each episode, comedian Lauren Lapkus pretends to be a guest on another person’s made-up podcast. She’s played a longtime caller on Bobby Moynihan’s show about celebrity sightings and an elf being interviewed by Paul F. Tompkins’ Santa Claus. The show is entirely improvised and totally hilarious. Don’t try to even sip a soda even during the faux-commercial breaks because the fake ads are just as funny as the interviews themselves.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Paul F. Tompkins: The North Pod with Santa”
Wolverine: The Long Night
Why You Should Listen: Marvel already dominates the page and the screen. Now it’s making a play for your headphones. In this new fictional podcast, two detectives investigate a series of murders. The victims have been clawed to death, and Wolverine emerges as the prime suspect. Comics are a visual-first format, but the creators of this podcast manage to skillfully communicate action while keeping listeners engaged. At its best, The Long Night is a classic, creepy radio drama in the vein of War of the Worlds.
Episode to Get Hooked on: “Chapter 1 – A Thousand Ways to Die in Alaska”
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the name of a co-host of 74 Seconds. Her name is Riham Feshir, not Riham Feshit.
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