Updated: Jan 7
My list of favorite podcasts is always changing, but right now, THESE are the ones I enjoy listening to while I create beautiful lash sets on my clients, I wash dishes, fold laundry, while my son has a tantrum or do any other number of “mindless” tasks throughout my day.
TRUE CRIME LOVERS THESE ARE FOR YOU
In May 2010, the disappearance of sex worker Shannan Gilbert led investigators in Suffolk County, New York to the grisly discovery of nine other sets of human remains. In “LISK: Long Island Serial Killer,” listeners hear from family members, friends, police and government officials, and others whose lives were affected by those apparent serial killings. The deeply researched and sympathetic podcast, hosted by Chris Mass and inspired by the New York Times best-selling book "Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery," focuses on the victim's stories and examines why it took so long for the murders of those often ignored or discarded by society to be taken seriously.
This wildly popular podcast from HLN looks at the brutal February 2017 murders of teenagers Abby Williams and Libby German in Delphi, Indiana. Over nine chapters, HLN’s Barbara MacDonald and Drew Iden look at the unsolved case, which made national headlines when it was revealed that young Libby managed to capture an image of the suspect and an audio recording of his voice on her phone—saying the cryptic phrase, “Down the hill.” The podcast includes interviews with the families and friends of the girls, some of whom have never spoken to the media.
Season two of Dr. Death, which focuses on Michigan hematologist and oncologist Farid Fata, there seems to be little question about his motive — it’s greed, plain and simple. I’ll avoid too many spoilers here, as there are a couple of early-on revelations that left my jaw dropped, but suffice it to say, Fata’s crimes are unconscionable — and yet another stark reminder of just how truly broken our health-care system is. (As in the case of Duntsch, at least one complaint was filed to the appropriate medical boards with little consequence.) One final warning: If you have a loved one who’s been touched by cancer, I recommend you not listen to episode two in a public place.
Travis Slaughter was 18-years-old when he was arrested for the 1998 shooting death of 13-year-old Maurice Purifie in Toledo, Ohio. In the latest episode of Anything You Say, Vault Studio’s new podcast about interrogation techniques, host Eric Flack, along with William Douglas Woody, examine the 5+ hour questioning of Slaughter, who admitted to being exhausted, hungover, and high. Within the course of the interview, Slaughter went from being indignant that he had had nothing to with the crime to confessing and implicating two other men. Now, after serving a lengthy prison sentence, Slaughter says his confession was false. What happened during that interview? How are false confessions elicited? This episode is a primer on the terrifyingly possible, including facts about interrogation methods that don’t seem like they should be legal, such as police claiming you have evidence against the suspect when they actually don’t. Listen, learn, and be prepared to question what you may think you know.
SELF HELP AND EVERYTHING ELSE
Three outstanding podcasts this year—unrelated but complementary—delved into the pervasive race-correlated inequity of American public schools. In “Nice White Parents,” from Serial Productions and the Times, Chana Joffe-Walt presents the history of a single middle school in Brooklyn, using its story to illustrate the ways in which white parents, often unwittingly and under a cloak of “innocence” or naïveté, have contributed to structural inequality while trying to improve educational opportunities for their own kids. Leon Neyfakh’s “Fiasco: The Battle for Boston,” on Luminary, expertly applies the artful historical-reanalysis approach he honed on “Slow Burn” and previous seasons of “Fiasco” to illuminate the Boston school-desegregation crisis of the seventies; the results are riveting and narratively rich. And the second season of Meribah Knight’s “The Promise,” from Nashville Public Radio, employs the investigative thoroughness she demonstrated in the show’s first season, about inequity surrounding the redevelopment of a Nashville public-housing project, and directs it toward the study of two vastly unequal neighborhood schools. Each series makes excellent use of telling detail, vivid scene-setting, and lively interview tape from parents, politicians, and students. At their most fundamental level, the shows challenge the listeners’ own naïveté—especially, one imagines, white listeners’ naïveté—and help us confront the de-facto relevance of an old term: segregation.
The psychotherapist and beloved podcaster Esther Perel arrived with Couples Under Lockdown at this year’s height of global panic. When mandated quarantining hit much of the world, so too did new feelings about isolation, marriage, moving, safety, and control.
7. Dying For Sex
After being diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, a 44-year-old woman named Molly leaves her husband and starts a new life: one that includes having a lot of sex, mostly by way of internet dating. Dying for Sex, hosted by Molly’s friend Nikki Boyer, follows these adventures. At first blush, the show may come across as gratuitous and possibly in poor taste—Molly indulges a man’s tickle fetish, meets another with a foot-worship kink, and has a romp in the backseat of a car that ends ... prematurely. But Molly is so insightful about her changing body, needs, and perspective in response to having terminal cancer that the show never seems to veer too far into oversharing. Dying for Sex will lure you in with its sexcapades (a truly accurate use of this word) but keep you listening for a raw and touching look at why people so often say “Fuck cancer.”
Sometimes we all think our lives are crazy. But on Wondery’s new series, co-hosts Brooke Siffrinn and Aricia Skidmore-Williams pull back the curtain and dish on someone else’s craziness for a change. Brooke and Aricia will tell the stories of some of the greatest family dynasties in history, from the Murdochs to the Carters (Jay-Z and Beyoncé, that is). Because as none other than Queen Elizabeth once said, “A good gossip is a wonderful tonic.”
Meditative Story combines human stories with meditation prompts embedded into the storylines — all surrounded by breathtaking music. Think of it as an alternative way into a mindfulness practice through story.
Dan Harris is a fidgety, skeptical ABC News anchor who had a panic attack live on "Good Morning America," which led him to try something he always thought was ridiculous: meditation. He went on to write the bestselling book, "10% Happier." In this podcast, Dan explores happiness (whatever that means) from all angles. Guests include legendary meditation teachers -- from the Dalai Lama to Western masters -- as well as scientists, and even the odd celebrity. But the show also ventures beyond meditation, bringing on leading researchers in areas such as social anxiety, bias, creativity, productivity, and relationships. The animating insight of this show is that the mind is trainable. This is what science is showing us. Mental traits such as happiness, calm, generosity, compassion, and connection are not hardwired, unalterable factory settings; they are, in fact, skills that can be trained. On this show, you'll learn how.