True Crime/Investigative Reporting:
Serial. An investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, narrating a nonfiction story over multiple episodes.
In the Dark. The series produced two full seasons, each focusing on a high-profile case and the actions and conduct in the policing or prosecuting of those cases — the kidnapping/murder of Jacob Wetterling (Season 1) and the quadruple homicide case for which Curtis Flowers was tried 6 times (Season 2). In the Dark's hallmark was focusing not so much on a crime itself but more on the behavior of law enforcement and prosecutors in their investigation of those crimes, as well as how such behavior affected the accused and their families, the victims' families, and surrounding communities.
Other cool investigative reporting podcasts that have a fixed number of episodes and almost feel like a book include:
Sold a Story. Why the US is facing such a stark reading gap
The Improvement Association. Allegations of voter fraud in N.C.
The Trojan Horse Affair. A letter sent to a school in Britain about an Islamist plot
Other podcasts that come out on a weekly basis or so include:
Criminal. Different famous crime cases in the US and abroad.
Wait Wait Don't Tell Me. The weekly news comedy quiz show.
Gastropod. A podcast about the science and history of food.
99% Invivisible. A podcast about the hidden elements of design that dictate our life (earlier episodes are generally better. Things like how Chinatowns became a thing or why daylight saving time exists)
You're Dead To Me. A history podcast featuring different famous people whose lives are retold by a historian and a comedian.
This Podcast Will Kill You. Each episode is about the epidemiology and science behind a different pathogen
Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. This podcast has set out to re-examine the whole Harry Potter series again from the beginning with even more rigor, demonstrating that loving a text responsibly means acknowledging the places where it falls short. Working with others in the Harry Potter fandom like Jackson Bird and Jolie Doggett, Harry Potter and the Sacred Text strives to counter JK Rowling’s transphobia and build a community that is anti-racist, supportive of gender diversity, safe for vulnerable people of all kinds, and actively working toward creating a more just world.
Slow Burn, which is a podcast produced by Slate. Each season investigates a different political or social scandal. There are seasons on Watergate, the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the murders of Tupac and Biggie, the history of David Duke, the decision to go to war in Iraq, and Roe v. Wade.
Good Assassins: Hunting the Butcher. This podcast tells the story of Mossad (Israel's intelligence service) hunting down Herbert Cukurs, an infamous Nazi known as the Butcher of Latvia. This true story takes place in 1965, just before the statute of limitation on bringing Nazis to justice was set to expire.
This Land hosted by Cherokee journalist Rebecca Nagle. This Land focuses on indigenous peoples' stories and rights. The first season explored the issues surround the Supreme Court case McGirt v. Oklahoma, and the second season focused on the as yet unresolved case Brackeen v. Haaland, which will decide the future of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Nagle explores all sides of the questions underlying these cases.
Dissect. This podcast analyzes albums (mostly hip hop). Some of the albums have visual guides as well. Not only is this podcast interesting, but it models the exact kind of analysis that you need to do as a student at WA and beyond.
Sports Wars. Epic rivalries and long-anticipated showdowns are a massive part of the enduring appeal of sports, and this slick production homes in on them. Rivalries like Federer vs. Nadal in tennis and Tyson vs. Holyfield in boxing are unpacked over a few episodes apiece by host Dan Rubenstein, who digs into their backgrounds to understand why some face-offs get so highly charged.
The Happiness Lab. You might think you know what it takes to lead a happier life, but you’re probably dead wrong. Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale — the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history — The Happiness Lab will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness.
S-Town. John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of the mysteries of one man’s life. Gripping.
Your Undivided Attention. Tristan Harris talks with Aza Raskin about the dangers of living your life online. Cofounders of the Center for Humane Technology, they delve into the ethics of Big Tech, unpack the potential pitfalls, and try to imagine ways to harness technology for the good of humanity.
The Moth. True stories, told live and without notes, to standing-room-only crowds worldwide. Moth storytellers stand alone, under a spotlight, with only a microphone and a roomful of strangers. This one has been around a long time, and there's a reason for that.
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