The sky is the limit these days when it comes to podcasts.
There are just so many great ones out there -- whether you’re just getting started or you need to add some ideas to your queue, we thought we’d compile a list of some of the best of the best: everything we’ve loved and recommended over the past year or so. Some of these might not be brand new, but they might be new to you.
Got a recommendation for us? Leave it in the comments before you go!
Without further ado ...
Raise your hand if you grew up thinking Bill Cosby was “America’s Dad.”
... If only we could have envisioned what was about to unfold. Yes, this podcast is all about Cosby’s massive rise and fall.
Sure, you might have followed some of the court proceedings or remember when Cosby was convicted. But how familiar are you with everything that led up to that point?
This is all about Cosby’s dark, secret life as a predator. It starts and ends with a powerful woman named Andrea Constand, who was the only one of more than 60 accusers whose case could be tried in a court of law. This is her side of the story, along with firsthand accounts from more than a dozen survivors, jurors and prosecutors. Los Angeles Times investigative reporter Nicki Weisensee Egan brings incredible background and perspective. Learn more.
OK, we’ll admit: We just found this pod earlier this year -- during quarantine actually, so it’s still fairly new in the grand scheme of things. But it’s a great concept. The show wants to help you figure out what to cook as the pandemic continues, considering people are eating at home this year, probably more than ever.
In the first episode, they’re talking about “the eternal bean question”: To soak or not to soak? Learn more.
Have you ever gotten a message on social media from someone you haven’t spoken to in years? Maybe you were even excited to catch up with that person, or perhaps you were weirded out as to why they’d be messaging you in the first place, after all this time.
And then … has that same acquaintance ever tried to sell you something?
Is this starting to sound familiar?
“The Dream” season one is all about schemes like that one -- and the world of pyramids, multi-level marketing, and all the other businesses that require their members to recruit their loved ones in hopes of a commission check. The host, Jane Marie, traces the path of get-rich schemes from her hometown in rural Michigan all the way to the White House. It’s a bit of an accidental history lesson at times, but it’s enlightening, informative and an easy listen. Learn more.
If you followed the trial of former Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar and his fall from grace (to put it mildly), then you might have found yourself asking, how in the heck did Nassar get away with abusing hundreds of people for two decades? Seriously -- how was it even possible?
“Believed” is an inside look at how a team of women won a conviction in one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in our country’s history. It’s a story of survivors finding their power. It’s also an unnerving exploration of how even well-meaning adults can fail to believe others, especially those who are younger. The reporting involved here is simply outstanding. It’s what you’ve come to expect from an NPR station, and it truly takes you behind the headlines. Spoiler alert, you might tear up at times and get exceedingly frustrated. Thank goodness Nassar is finally behind bars, where he belongs. Learn more.
‘Uncover (Escaping NXIVM)’
Season one of “Uncover” is so riveting and compelling -- you’re going to binge it in a day or two, just wait. NXIVM (pronounced “Nexium”) is a group that calls itself a humanitarian community. But experts call it a cult. So, which is it? You can make your own judgment once you listen. Hosted by Joshua Bloc, of Canada’s CBC, he takes a look at NXIVM from the inside, thanks to one of his friends from childhood who he happened to run into one day. Former NXIVM member Sarah Edmondson was with the group for 12 years, and she opens the season by describing, in pretty graphic terms, the horrific branding ceremony in which she participated -- and the symbol left behind on her hip. The ordeal served as a wakeup call for Edmondson, who later said she realized that the mark wasn’t “just” a mark; it was initials -- belonging to group leader Keith Raniere and former “Smallville” actress Allison Mack. This is a story about slaves, masters, collateral, money, secrets, betrayal and loyalty. Edmondson’s journey, and Bloc’s handling of the investigation, will leave you with some lingering questions, that’s for sure. Learn more.
In this newest season of “Shattered,” it’s all about Jimmy Hoffa. When you hear that name, you probably think of the former Teamster boss’s iconic disappearance, but his story is much more than a murder mystery. It’s about power, loyalty, betrayal, organized labor and organized crime. It’s about how far people will go to get what they want. Once you start looking into Hoffa, you find yourself down a rabbit hole of dark tunnels.
You look at the Teamsters Union and end up at Richard Nixon, Bobby Kennedy and the JFK assassination. All of these roads lead back to Hoffa’s obsession with power. This season flies by, but you’ll be on the edge of your seat the whole time.
And for what it’s worth, we’ve loved EVERY season of “Shattered.”
Season 1 investigates the 2010 disappearance of three brothers in Morenci, Michigan. Their father said he gave the brothers to an underground organization. All these years later, the boys’ whereabouts are still not known. Season 2 takes listeners through the life of Richard Wershe, Jr., also known as “White Boy Rick,” the youngest-ever FBI informant-turned-drug dealer. And Season 3 investigates the heartbreaking and riveting story about Michigan’s Oakland County Child Killer case that is still unsolved, more than 40 years later. Learn more.
How did the International Space Station get assembled in orbit? What happens to all the space junk? What is a white hole? “Space Curious,” a new podcast, is answering those questions and more.
Hosted by WKMG space reporter Emilee Speck, each episode will address space-related questions submitted by listeners. Speck, a Space Coast native, has been covering stories of spaceflight for more than seven years, from planetary science to the recent return to astronaut launches from Florida’s Coast.
“Space Curious” was created to inspire everyone -- from those with a mild interest in space exploration to the space fanatics. Give it a shot; we think you’ll enjoy. Learn more.
‘The Best Advice Show’
It’s easy to feel helpless as each new day breeds more uncertainty. “The Best Advice Show” exists as a daily reminder that there are weird, delightful and effective ways to survive and thrive in this world. In every episode of the show, a different contributor offers his or her own personal take on what they do to make their life better, healthier, saner and more livable.
Contributors include the poet Hanif Abdurraqib, the journalist Ann Friedman, the author Adrienne Maree Brown, some dude host Zak Rosen found on the internet, his wife, and YOU.
So if you’ve got a tip, “The Best Advice Show” wants to hear it! Go share how you make it through your days. Learn more.
‘The Eyes of Texas’
Every week for 30 years, KPRC hit the road with a mission of finding a good story and sharing it. The station produced a show about the people, places and issues that shaped the Lone Star State -- and it became must-see TV for scores of people.
Houstonians were granted a front-row seat to the state’s culture, history and flashes of everyday happenstance: it was Texas, as told on TV.
Texas’ many treasures were featured: from the rush to mine Topaz, the state’s official gemstone; to historical highlights, this program brought it all, giving sight to stories that underscored life in Texas. And then it went away for a spell, so why are we telling you all of this? Well, because “The Eyes of Texas” came back in 2018 in podcast form. Although there’s only been one season, we endorse this wholeheartedly. Learn more.
‘Florida’s Fourth Estate’
This podcast focuses on the wildly unique state of Florida, a state that catches a lot of flak, yet is home to a booming economy, a fascinating space industry and some of the craziest people on planet Earth.
Co-host Matt Austin said, “Our guests range from scientists who sent a spacecraft to an asteroid, to a high-powered political player (who called the Governor’s Mansion a s---hole on our show) and even a young woman raised as an only child to later find out she has 46 half siblings.”
This one’s a must-listen, for sure. Learn more.
‘In the Dark’
This podcast won a Peabody Award in 2016, so we’re obviously not the only ones who love it. In season one, the hosts dive into the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, which went without any answers for ... wait for it ... 27 years. So, how did law enforcement officials mishandle one of the most notorious child abduction cases the country had ever seen? How did those failures fuel national anxiety about stranger danger?
“In the Dark” gets into all of that, as well as diving into the topics of sex-offender registries and accountability. In season two, you’ll learn about Curtis Flowers, a man who has been tried six times for the same crime. Yes, you read that correctly: six times. And for more than 20 years, Flowers has maintained his innocence. He wins his appeals, but then the prosecutor just tries the case again. What gives? What’s up with the evidence in this case? And how can the justice system keep Flowers on death row? Tune in; you won’t regret it.* Learn more.
And there was just a huge development IRL!
Bonus: ‘Broken Harts’
Ugh. That’s all we can say without giving away the whole thing. You might remember the news coverage tied to this one, as it’s a real-life story about the lives of Markis, Hannah, Devonte, Abigail, Jeremiah, and Sierra Hart — six Black children ranging in age from 12 to 19 — who were adopted by a white lesbian couple, Sarah and Jennifer Hart.
Jennifer made it look as if they were the perfect family, curating her Facebook page to a T.
But in reality, the situation was a bit grimmer. No, a LOT grimmer. You’ll learn about all of that. And then in March 2018, the family’s SUV was found overturned on the rocks below California’s winding Highway 1. The Yukon had crashed 100 feet into the Pacific Ocean. At first, officials thought it was a tragic accident. Now, the case is considered a murder-suicide. The story made national headlines and leaves many people asking if anything could have been done to save the children, seeing as the Hart couple had a history with Child Protective Services. Make sure those tissues are ready. Learn more.
So next time you’re out on a drive, in the midst of a neighborhood run or just killing time around the house, give one of these podcasts a shot. You can listen anywhere, any time.
Podcasts, by the way, are really easy to access -- even if you’re not very tech-savvy. Although podcasting is a relatively new technology, it revives an old art form: pure storytelling.
Let’s say you’ve never listened to a podcast before. You can typically go to the podcast’s website (which are all linked above), hit “play” on the episode of your choosing, and it’s as simple as that.
iPhones even come with a Podcast app where you can subscribe, and if you own an Android, you can download an app -- Stitcher is a good one -- to accomplish the same thing.
Just a note, some of the recommendations above were produced by our parent company, Graham Media. This was originally published in 2019, but has since been updated.