At the start of 2019, I decided to begin sharing some of my favorite Twitter accounts and documentaries. I spend a lot of time driving now, so I love listening to podcasts. My favorite genres are true crime and political podcasts. I’m always looking for new recommendations, so if I didn’t include your favorite, please let me know which ones I should listen to next! Here are 13 of the best podcasts you should be listening to now.
13 Of The Best Podcasts to Listen To
*For each of the podcasts, I’ve included the write up from their listings in Italics.
Bits of History: This podcast is available from the North Carolina Museum of History. From a look at early Spanish exploration of the mountains to an overview of the life and times of Jim Hunt to a deep dive into the development of the banjo, our Bits of History podcasts cover a wide range of subjects related to the North Carolina’s history and culture.
As a native North Carolinian, I’ve learned so much, including how North Carolina had an attempt at secession prior to Tennessee’s statehood.
Presidential: In 44 chronological episodes, the “Presidential” podcast takes listeners on an epic historical journey through the personality and legacy of each of the American presidents. Created and hosted by Washington Post reporter Lillian Cunningham, “Presidential” features interviews with the country’s greatest experts on the presidency, including Pulitzer Prize-winning biographers Doris Kearns Goodwin, David McCullough, Jon Meacham and Bob Woodward. Start listening at the very beginning, with the life of George Washington, or jump ahead to any president whose story you want to better understand.
While this podcast has been around for a while, I loved listening to the historians takes on presidents and learning new information. I definitely recommend it for a different (and fun) perspective on former presidents.
Retropod: “Retropod” is a show for history lovers, featuring stories about the past, rediscovered. Host Mike Rosenwald introduces you to history’s most colorful characters – forgotten heroes, overlooked villains, dreamers, explorers, world changers.
This podcast is another from the Washington Post, and it’s synced with Alexa. I listen to it in the morning after the daily while I’m getting ready for work.
News & Political Podcasts
Civics 101: What’s the difference between the House and the Senate? How do congressional investigations work? What is Federalist X actually about? Civics 101 is the podcast refresher course on the basics of how our democracy works.
I usually binge listen to this one but I love the connections to current events as it helps answer questions that may come up with our current political climate.
The Daily: This is how the news should sound. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by New York Times journalism.
I listen to this every morning when I wake up while drinking my coffee. The coverage is timely and I find myself constantly learning something new to research further. There was a recent episode about a local North Carolina hospital that I hadn’t seen in newspapers around here. It’s definitely a great way to start my morning with getting my news and information that I might want to pay more attention to during the day.
Pantsuit Politics: I love this podcast because it’s two women on either side of the political spectrum having a conversation without yelling, insulting, but expressing their views around the current news. I highly recommend.
This American Life: This American Life is a weekly public radio program and podcast. Each week we choose a theme and put together different kinds of stories on that theme.
I am a huge fan of their themes and stories, but I cannot possibly keep up. I love their quirky stories, their risk taking journalism, and their ability to incorporate (appropriate) humor into tense stories.
We the People: This podcast is from the National Constitution Center and brings together people from both sides of the aisle to. have conversations around constitutional issues that affect our lives. I usually binge listen to this one as well, but I also like to check the topics to see if it’s one of particular interest. For example, there was a recent one about the North Carolina gerrymandering case that I listened to on my way to work that morning.
True Crime Podcasts
Criminal: Criminal launched January of 2014, and is based in Durham, North Carolina. New episodes come out twice a month, always on Fridays.
It is so good, y’all. If you love true crime podcasts, this one is a must!
Dark Water: Dark Water Podcast is an investigative podcast exploring the mysterious depths of a Carolina community plagued by civil unrest, economic hardship, natural disasters – and a potential serial killer.
This podcast is shedding light on a string of mysterious murders in a small southeastern North Carolina town. There is a lot of question around the murders, and the hosts/producers are also taking tips. I am particularly interested because of the North Carolina connection.
Dirty John: Debra Newell is a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. Reported and hosted by Christopher Goffard from the L.A. Times.
I cannot get enough of this story. I watched the mini-series on Bravo and had a really hard time identifying Connie Britton as Debra based on her previous characters. However, the story was so twisted and bizarre, I followed it up with the podcast.
The Dream: What if we told you that with zero experience and only a few hundred dollars down, this podcast could change your life? Well, we’d be lying. This season on The Dream, Jane Marie dives into the world of pyramid schemes, multi-level marketing, and all the other businesses that require their members to recruit their nearest and dearest in hopes of a commission. Join us as we trace the path of get-rich schemes from Jane’s roots in rural Michigan all the way to the White House.
I have been fascinated with the whole idea of MLM and the history of these businesses, the gendering of it, and the affects of it in small towns had me binge listening.
Serial: Serial is an investigative journalism podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig, narrating a nonfiction story over multiple episodes. The series was co-created and is co-produced by Koenig and Julie Snyder and developed by This American Life.
I particularly loved seasons 1 and 3 of Serial. I a binge listener to this one, too. Sarah does a great job with her reporting and I thoroughly enjoy listening to her. This is the podcast that initially got me hooked.
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.
This one took me a little while to get into, but it ended up being such a dark tale that I couldn’t stop listening. Definitely recommend.
Up next for me to listen to are: Believed, Crime Junkie, How I Built This, and Root of Evil. Vivian Howard just recommended all these, and if Vivian recommends them, then they must be good. I also have This Land and Gladiator on my list.
I also loved S Town and Dirty John! And Seasons 1 and 3 of Serial were great- I skipped season 2 after hearing so many bad reviews.
Rebecca Lately says
I loved Serial. You might like Up and Vanished. I just started it yesterday and I’m already hooked!
Ali karVer says
I second up and vanished! Also to live and die in LA is addictive! Its a true crime podcast that kinda plays out in real time. Love serial but had to skip season 2 also!
How I Built This is so good! And obviously Up and Vanished. I’ve been following the Tara story since 2005…so tragic.