Starter episode: “The Real Thing”
Image this: you lease a video from a video retailer, again when these have been a factor. The next day, you go to return the video solely to find that the shop is gone. You’re not misplaced or confused — the shop has genuinely vanished. This “Twilight Zone”-esque expertise is simply one of many actual life mysteries that Starlee Kine investigates in “The Thriller Present,” an early hit from Gimlet Media. After the homicide thriller “Serial” modified podcasting without end in 2014, there was an onslaught of copycat reveals attempting to money in on the identical formulation by re-examining chilly circumstances. Kine, although, focuses on low-stakes puzzles that contain no true crimes, however are nonetheless totally charming.
Starter episode: “Case #1: Video Store”
Mixing the old-school pleasures of a radio play with a distinctly trendy premise, ‘Passenger Listing’ is likely one of the finest fictional podcasts of latest years. After a flight from London to New York disappears with no hint someplace over the Atlantic Ocean, the dual sister of one of many doomed passengers (performed by Kelly Marie Tran) units out to uncover the reality about what actually occurred. Enjoying on well timed anxieties surrounding occasions just like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines 370, the present from PRX’s “Radiotopia” is each an addictive popcorn thriller to your ears, and now an unexpectedly nostalgic deal with for these lacking air journey.
Starter episode: “Traffic”
You don’t need to be into nation music usually, or Dolly Parton particularly, to be pulled in by this Peabody-winning exploration of how the multifaceted star grew to become such an everlasting icon. Though a lot of the present from WNYC Studios is taken up with conversations about simply how beloved Parton is by everyone who is aware of her, “Dolly Parton’s America” avoids hagiography by taking its title significantly, exploring the Dollyverse towards a broader nationwide backdrop. The host, Jad Abumrad (“Radiolab”), begins the collection by explaining his personal connection to the star — he hails from Tennessee identical to Parton — and the second in 2016 that made him see her as a unifying pressure in an in any other case divided nation. That includes interviews with musicians, historians, followers and with Parton herself, that is the form of nuanced and intimate profile that audio does finest.
Starter episode: “Sad Ass Songs”
Final yr noticed the discharge of two buzzy rival documentaries concerning the intercourse trafficking cult Nxivm, whose chief, Keith Raniere, was lately sentenced to 120 years in prison. However lengthy earlier than both present, CBC Radio was the primary to delve into the horrifying and deeply peculiar world of Nxivm, whose members famously included the “Smallville” actress Allison Mack and the liquor heiress Clare Bronfman. In “Escaping Nxivm,”, the primary season of CBC’s ongoing “Uncover” podcast collection, the journalist Josh Bloch interviews Sarah Edmondson, a former key member of Nxivm who has now change into its most well-known whistle-blower. An actress by commerce, Edmonson makes for a compelling central determine, her voice vividly emotional as she remembers the nightmarish methods Raniere and his chosen leaders steadily chipped away at her sense of self. A troublesome pay attention that showcases the distinctive intimacy of podcasting.
Starter episode: “The Branding”
Many podcasts have discovered success by re-examining well-known political scandals by way of a recent lens (most notably Slate’s “Sluggish Burn”), however this gem from MSNBC pulls off the identical trick with a scandal that just about no person remembers. That’s as a result of Watergate was dominating headlines on the time, however in “Bag Man,” Rachel Maddow pulls again the curtain on an adjoining 1973 investigation that noticed vp Spiro Agnew accused of brazen political corruption. Maddow doesn’t hesitate to level out what she sees as parallels to President Trump — Agnew angrily dismissed the investigation as a “witch hunt” in a single instance — and for anybody lacking the juicy palace intrigue tales that got here out of the Trump White Home, it is a must-listen.