Audible Feast's Best Podcast Series of 2018

A curated podcast list by Audiblefeast
Creation Date December 26th, 2018
Updated Date Updated July 3rd, 2019
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Here are the best podcast series of 2018, according to a superlistener who listened to at least 2600 episodes this year. You can read my full post / description here: https://wp.me/p6KLiT-1xc

Hard Hitting Reporting

In the Dark
25
Reporter Madeleine Baran examines the case of Curtis Flowers, who has been tried six times for the same crime. For 21 years, Flowers has maintained his innocence. He's won appeal after appeal, but every time, the prosecutor just tries the case again. In the Dark is an investigative podcast from APM Reports. Season One focused on the abduction of Jacob Wetterling.
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Two years ago I said that In the Dark was, hands down, the best podcast of the year. Madeleine Baran's team's sophomore effort was just as excellent and it was again the best thing I listened to this year. The debacle in Winona, Mississippi that put Curtis Flowers on trial six times deserved to be investigated and the team answered the call, literally digging through decades-old boxes to find clues in the case of the Tardy Furniture murders. They didn't solve it, but certainly raised a lot of reasonable doubt and cast a spotlight again on law enforcement officials who don't seem to be held accountable when they don't follow the law. Furthermore, the investigation is actually being cited in Flowers' appeal, which will be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. This is the gold standard for an investigative reporting podcast.
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Someone Knows Something
14
Host David Ridgen joins victims' family members as they investigate cold cases, tracking down leads, speaking to suspects and searching for answers. S1: Adrien McNaughton. S2 Sheryl Sheppard. S3: Dee ...
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SKS put out two seasons this year - that is a phenomenal amount of work. Again, the focus of this "true crime" podcast is not on the gory details of a crime, but the stories of the people who surround the victim whose case has gone cold, and what they might know. David Ridgen's gentle nature when talking with witnesses, people of interest, and even potential suspects is so disarming - you can hear people get comfortable with him so easily.
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Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo
Where is Cleo? Taken by child welfare workers in the 1970’s and adopted in the U.S., the young Cree girl’s family believes she was raped and murdered while hitchhiking back home to Saskatchewan. CBC news investigative reporter Connie Walker joins the search to find out what really happened to Cleo.
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A heartbreaking story about a young indigenous girl who was separated from her family at the suggestion of the government and adopted by a family in the United States. There is mystery surrounding her death as a teenager, but there's a deeper story here, of the multi-generational consequences faced by indigenous people in Canada because the government thought it was "doing the right thing" for them. Phenomenal, caring, relentless reporting by Connie Walker.
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Reveal
From prisons to protests, immigration to the environment, Peabody Award-winning Reveal goes deep into the pressing issues of our times. The Atlantic says “the experience of each episode is akin to a spoonful of sugar, even when it’s telling a story about Richard Spencer’s cotton farms or a man’s final days as a heroin addict.” Reveal is a project of The Center for Investigative Reporting and is co-produced with PRX. The show is hosted by Al Letson and partners with reporters and newsrooms around the world, including The Washington Post, ProPublica, APM, The Marshall Project and The Investigative Fund. Reveal is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and has won many broadcast journalism awards, including a duPont and three national Emmys.
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Reveal, hosted by Al Letson and reported by dozens of reporters around the U.S., represents another gold standard when it comes to investigation. Episodes are usually about an hour (except for the shorter, excellently irreverent Al Letson Reveals segments) and uncover at best, leaders who don't follow procedures and policies in government, companies, and organizations. At worst, criminals are getting away with dangerous crime due to those leaders' incompetence. An excellent example of this is the two-part series called Case Cleared.
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The Assassination
1
The award-winning inside story. An investigation into the death of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Includes interviews with those accused of her murder.
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Benazir Bhutto was killed in 2007, but no one has been convicted of her murder to date. Owen Bennett Jones reported on Bhutto during her tenure as Prime Minister of Pakistan and knew her personally. The podcast definitely suggests a cover-up, which is fascinating to unfold.
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Last Seen
2
It remains the most valuable — and confounding — art heist in history: 13 artworks stolen from Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. Twenty-eight years later, not a single piece in a haul worth half a billion dollars has surfaced. The art, and the thieves who made off with it, remain at large. With first-ever interviews, unprecedented access, and more than a year of investigative reporting, "Last Seen" takes us into the biggest unsolved art heist in history. A joint production from WBUR and The Boston Globe.
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The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum was robbed in 1991, and the 13 pieces of art that were stolen have never been recovered and no one has ever been arrested in connection with the case. I was fortunate enough to interview Kelly Horan, the host, earlier this month, and we talked about the emotional connection people feel when they can hear someone's voice that they've read about in print - it adds so much more to the story. There was a tremendous amount of reporting done to inspect the many angles of this case.
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The Dream
20
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. 
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This hit show is about multi-level marketing: how it started, why it has thrived for so long, and the emotional mind-f**ks played within the pyramids. Episode 8, where the team reported from a MLM conference/training, was particularly outstanding.
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All the Feels

Terrible, Thanks For Asking
You know how every day someone asks "how are you?" And even if you’re totally dying inside, you just say "fine," so everyone can go about their day? This show is the opposite of that. Hosted by author and notable widow (her words) Nora McInerny, this is a funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast about talking honestly about our pain, our awkwardness, and our humanness, which is not an actual word. From American Public Media.
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Terrible, Thanks for Asking has been consistently making me feel all the feelings since it came out. The show is about how sometimes, life is really shitty and it's okay to say that and feel that way. I really loved the episode about stuttering from this fall.
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This is Love
From the makers of the award-winning podcast Criminal, This is Love investigates life’s most persistent mystery. Stories of sacrifice, obsession, and the ways in which we bet everything on each other.
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This show has the greatest hit rate on my Delicious Ingredients list of any show I listen to, meaning its production and content are just outstanding nearly every episode. No surprise, as this is from the women who brought us Criminal. This is Love reminds us that love takes so many forms and is tender and lovely wherever and whenever it appears, whether you are Prince or a snail.
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No Feeling Is Final
Usually when we talk about suicide we say those four magic words: "just ask for help". But Honor Eastly knows it’s not that simple. At times heartbreaking, and desperate – but also darkly funny, and charming, No Feeling Is Final is a story of difference, identity, and why we should stay alive.
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Mental health awareness and improvement starts with talking about it. No one wants to feel like they're totally alone, that they're the only person feeling the way they do, that there isn't hope for them. This podcast explores that so honestly and gently.
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Alone: A Love Story
Alone: A Love Story is an award-winning memoir by Michelle Parise. With candour and humour, Michelle delves into the deepest, darkest aspects of her divorce and her new life as a part-time parent, part-time partier.
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In the second season of Alone: A Love Story, host Michelle Parise gets her sexiness back and has a very therapeutic time exploring being "alone." Parise's audio journal is full of extremes, though - there is sadness in this season, too. It's an excellent binge listen for a day when you can be alone with yourself, contemplating what love means for you and what it means both to be in and out of a relationship.
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Making the World a Better Place

Scene on Radio
5
Scene on Radio is a Peabody-nominated podcast that dives deeply into issues central to American society, exploring who we were and who we are. Recent many-part series include Seeing White, looking at the roots and meaning of white supremacy, and *MEN, *exploring the past and present of sexism and patriarchy. Produced and hosted by John Biewen, Scene on Radio comes from the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University (CDS) and is distributed by PRX.
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Scene on Radio's experiment with a multi-part extended series on one topic (Seeing White in 2017) was repeated again this year with a series on masculinity, simply called "Men." Host John Biewen was joined by the exquisite Celeste Headlee this year to present a series of investigations into our societal appraisals of masculinity, sexual harassment, violence, and raising boys. I loved the Himpathy, American Made, and Juggernaut episodes.
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Other Men Need Help
Welcome to Other Men Need Help - an award-winning podcast about the emblems, habits, and struts in the male performance. Hosted by Mark Pagán.
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Other Men Need Help is about masculinity, told in short playful documentary or narrative pieces. It examines some of the problems with how men view and handle their manhood, but always in a warm, enjoyable way - there's no man-hating here. I loved every single episode I heard this year; it was one of my absolute favorite shows of the year.
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Ladies, We Need To Talk
2
Want to know how to close the orgasm gap? Riding your hormonal rollercoaster blindfolded? Can’t find contraception that works for you? You’re not the only one. Ladies, We Need To Talk is a show for women, by women, and dives head first into the tricky and taboo topics we often avoid talking about. Join host Yumi Stynes as she tears open the sealed section on life. Or contact us at ladies@your.abc.net.au
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Yumi Stynes and her guests talk about things women should be talking about, but don't, because we're too afraid that we might be the weird outlier or that other women will judge us. Whenever I listen to the show, I think, I'm not alone and I'm not a weirdo for thinking some of the things I'm hearing these other women say out loud. Ladies, We Need to Talk explores questions like is it okay to "settle" for average? And what the hell is perimenopause? Multiple perspectives are always shared, meaning you're bound to identify with something at least one person says each episode.
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Inflection Point with Lauren Schiller
Hear stories from women who have risen to a challenge, stepped up to create change and are ready to share their experiences. Get tools and ideas for how women rise up that you can apply to your own life. New episodes every other Wednesday. From KALW 91.7FM in San Francisco and PRX. inflectionpointradio.org
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Lauren Schiller has great guests on who have all risen up and changed their workplace, community, or organization for the better, with regard to how women are treated. These are courageous women who step forward at times when others would stay put, allowing injustice or mistreatment to replicate and proliferate. This is the podcast that I find myself nodding my head to vigorously because I'm agreeing with so many of the things I hear. Check out the episode with Erin Maye Quade about how she spoke up about how she was treated in the Minnesota state government.
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Bodies
“What’s wrong with me?” Each episode of this documentary series begins as a medical mystery. But once you peel back the layers, more questions emerge.
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Terrific new show from KCRW and Alison Behringer about questions we have about our bodies that have been difficult to answer. For example, why does sex hurt? What is an abnormal amount of period bleeding? Women are often gaslit by doctors who shame them into feeling like they're crazy for bringing up a medical concern. This show is so empowering and can help women own their bodies, because we know better than anyone when our bodies aren't working correctly.
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Learning While Laughing

The Allusionist
18
Adventures in language: TheAllusionist.org. A proud member of Radiotopia from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
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Host Helen Zaltzman spent quite a bit of time this year in the hospital, so I'm very impressed that she was able to keep the show going on a nearly normal schedule. Luckily she is enjoying some time off before The Allusionist restarts in a short while. For those who haven't listened, The Allusionist is about language and why we use the words we do. There was a great mini-series about the names we have and how some people change their names for a very specific reason. The Allusionist can truly do no wrong, it's a must-listen for me every time there is a new episode.
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Varmints!
12
The Varmints! podcast is an education/comedy podcast that's all about animals! Every week two nerds name Paul and Donna do a whole bunch of research to bring you a mix of science, education, pop culture and comedy about all things that creep, crawl, slither, fly, jump, hop and swim on this planet one animal at a time.
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Varmints! is a show about animals - most often, but not exclusively, ones we'd describe as varmints. The show has several recurring segments with awesome segues recorded by the hosts' family members and fellow indie podcasters. Some of the segments are hilarious - two I look forward to every week is a nominal rating given to each varmint about how smart it is and the pop culture connection for each varmint. Hosts Paul Csomo and Donna Hume dig up some pretty hilarious stuff and they have great chemistry as hosts. This is a family-friendly show, also.
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Ologies with Alie Ward
Volcanoes. Trees. Drunk butterflies. Mars missions. Slug sex. Death. Beauty standards. Anxiety busters. Beer science. Bee drama. Take away a pocket full of science knowledge and charming, bizarre stories about what fuels these professional -ologists' obsessions. Humorist and science correspondent Alie Ward asks smart people stupid questions and the answers might change your life.
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Ologies appeared on my Delicious Ingredients many, many times this year. I would have never thought I could get into some of these topics - kalology, for example, is the study of beauty (seriously?) - but sometimes those are the best Ologies episodes. Alie Ward totally makes the show, it wouldn't be the same with another host. She is very funny and I enjoy all of her dad jokes. I'm sure the interviews with various scientists are cut up and remixed quite a bit, but it always feels seamless to me.
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Pure Entertainment

Season 1: The Sugar Baby Confessionals
1
Each season we tackle a new story. The Sugar Baby Confessionals is a true story unfolding over two years. What if your best friend – your best, married friend – embraced the sugar baby lifestyle – not by necessity, but by choice? Sara-Mae Tuson’s BFF, Ruby, did just that. Sexy? Scary? Judge for yourself. We follow two years of Ruby's life, so it's important to listen from Episode 1. In the Sugar Baby Confessionals, the girl talk gets candid as Sara-Mae and Ruby talk about love, sex and life as a Sugar Baby.
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I am highly addicted to this show right now - I started listening a few weeks ago, so it was a late entry into the 2018 best-of competition, but I just love it. It's about two friends: a sugar baby (someone who has intimate relationships with a rich, usually older, person in exchange for gifts) and her close friend, who asks all the questions you would want to ask a sugar baby, right down to Brazilian waxes and exactly how they are compensated.
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Welcome to LA
Los Angeles is a city carved out of the desert – a conjured image of paradise. These are the stories of people who learn what lies beyond the dream – yacht parties with theremin makers that end on the rocks, low-budget filmmaking that blurs the...
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This one flew under my radar when it first came out, and at first I wasn't sure if I could relate to the L.A. I had seen in most media - glitzy, rich, not me ... but this podcast is about the back alleys and random parties and grifters of the real L.A. I love stories from the fringe, the periphery, and these were very well told and highly entertaining.
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Between Us Girls
1
Join BUG host Michel as she takes on her life's new direction by producing engaging interviews with strangers and friends on Course Correction, and Course Notes. Coming Soon: 54 & The Cork
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These are my hometown ladies from Houston who I have been lucky enough to get to know personally. Sometimes they get serious, like in an episode from this year about co-parenting, and there's always an empowering message to be found within, but most of the hour-long show is full of laughs and real talk about stuff we should be talking about more with our friends. Oh, and there's lots of swearing.
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PLAYLIST
PLAYLIST brings together some of your favorite podcasters to curate and review a playlist. Each week is a new theme, with a new roundtable of curators.
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PLAYLIST has introduced me to tons of good music. It features a rotating panel of podcasters who each pick two songs on a theme that they recommend, and the other panelists usually either lambast the selection or ooh and aah over the amazing new addition to their library. Host Josh Hallmark also continues to do an excellent job engaging his listening community on social media by polling listeners after each episode about which songs they liked the most.
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Audio Fiction

Exeter
10
A veteran detective (Jeanne Tripplehorn) must face the errors of a past case when the woman she convicted of murder is exonerated after 10 years in prison. Our heroine struggles to keep the trust of her department as a series of grisly murders rock her decaying South Carolina town, which puts her at odds with her ambitious partner (Ray McKinnon) and the department at large. Exeter was created by Ronnie Gunter, written by Ronnie Gunter and George Ducker, and stars Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ray McKinnon.
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I listened to this as an audio-only podcast, but apparently there is also additional content available to Sundance Now subscribers, called "dynamic captioning, a process by which visual elements are added to underscore emotion and enhance the tension of this gripping crime mystery." I don't need that, because I thought the story was excellent without any visual cues or additions. Jeanne Tripplehorn was excellent, right down to taking a drag on a cigarette so subtly. The pacing was excellent, making it a great binge listen.
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Everything is Alive
10
Everything is Alive is an unscripted interview show in which all the subjects are inanimate objects. In each episode, a different thing tells us its life story--and everything it says is true.
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Radiotopia is known for taking risks on shows that don't necessarily fit in to a traditional, NPR-ish network, and I love that. I found myself laughing out loud many times while listening to creator Ian Chillag interview inanimate objects - especially Maeve Higgins as a lamppost. Can you imagine pitching this show? "I want to interview a subway seat. No, really, that's the premise of the show." It's weird, but it really works.
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600 Second Saga
Escape the world every week – listen now for 10 minutes of sci-fi and fantasy. Every kind of science fiction and fantasy from epic fantasy, space opera, hilarious aliens, surreal moments, time travel romances, political espionage, and so much more! Flash fiction that fits your life and lets you explore a new world weekly. Find more including submissions on 600secondsaga.com
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Mariah Avix reads sci-fi short stories from around the world. Each story is less than 10 minutes and many are uncomfortably closer to real than fantasy. It's a great escape for just a few minutes a week and I enjoy Avix's calm, warm voice deliberately narrating these tales. I also love that anyone can submit a story for consideration through the website.
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My Dad Wrote A Porno
Imagine if your Dad wrote a dirty book. Most people would try to ignore it and pretend it had never happened - but not Jamie Morton. Instead, he's decided to read it to the world in this award-winning comedy podcast. With the help of his friends, James Cooper and BBC Radio 1's Alice Levine, Jamie reads a chapter a week and discovers more about his father than he ever bargained for.
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I'm so late to the party on this one but I had so many laughs from season 4 of My Dad Wrote a Porno that I am going to have to go back and listen to the two seasons I missed (2 & 3). I am not surprised at all that the show is being adapted into an HBO special. I have to listen to the three-part Christmas special soon. I don't think anything else made me laugh as much as MDWAP this year - there were tears running down my face several times as the trio described threesomes, bathroom stall sex and masks being ripped off old lady faces to reveal (of course) yet another person Belinda should have sex with. And the fact that the pots and pans company is still the backdrop just makes it that much more hilarious.
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Staying in the Loop, or "What the Hell is Going on in This Insane World?"

Still Processing
Step inside the confession booth of Wesley Morris and Jenna Wortham, two culture writers for The New York Times. They devour TV, movies, art, music and the internet to find the things that move them — to tears, awe and anger. Still Processing is where they try to understand the pleasures and pathologies of America in 2019.
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I don't know why I didn't listen to Still Processing before this year, and I'm thrilled it's about to return in January. There was a great two-part series on Asian Americans and racism earlier this year. Hosts Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris have great chemistry and keep me in the loop about culture from their unique point of view.
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Today, Explained
News comes at you fast. Join us at the end of your day to understand it. Monday to Friday. All killer, no filler. Hosted by Sean Rameswaram. Featuring the finest explainers from Vox and more. Produced by Vox and Stitcher, and part of the Vox Media Podcast Network.
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I do listen to more than one "news" podcast, but this is usually my go-to, because as it's probably been established, I enjoy laughing while listening to pretty much any podcast genre. Today, Explained isn't funny often, but I feel like they are talking to me when they break down one big story of the day, like they've read my mind that I was fuzzy on the details of Scott Pruitt's indiscretions or what the hell was going on with Facebook this year. I even semi-enjoy the ad reads on Today, Explained.
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Latino USA
Latino USA offers insight into the lived experiences of Latino communities and is a window on the current and merging cultural, political and social ideas impacting Latinos and the nation.
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Latino USA is very similar to This American Life, sharing documentary-style episodes focusing on one person, place, or story - sometimes it's real-time news-ish, and other times I've learned about general Latino culture. It's extremely well done and I will be a subscriber for as long as I listen to podcasts.
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Reply All
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"'A podcast about the internet' that is actually an unfailingly original exploration of modern life and how to survive it." - The Guardian. Hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, from Gimlet.
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Reply All had a really good year. Although the show is becoming less about the internet than ever, our lives are so entrenched with the internet that I don't mind the shift in focus from deciphering what internet terminology means and what these crazy apps or online forums are about. INVCEL, The Crime Machine, and The Snapchat Thief were standout episodes this year.
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Storytelling Excellence

Nocturne
A storytelling show that explores the night, the landscape of the unseen, and how thoughts, feelings and behaviors transform in the dark.
Carruth
The "miracle" began Nov. 16, 1999, when Cherica Adams was shot four times in Charlotte, N.C. A hitman tried to murder Adams, the girlfriend of NFL star Rae Carruth, and their unborn son, Chancellor Lee. But the hitman failed. Now, a year-long investigation exposes stunning new details of the crime that shocked the sports world—and the impacts still being felt years later. Hosted by Charlotte Observer reporter Scott Fowler, who has covered this saga for 19 years.
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This podcast was just excellent as a binge listen - it was about Rae Carruth, an NFL football player who was convicted in connection with his girlfriend's death. His girlfriend was pregnant at the time, and the baby survived the shooting. That baby's grandmother is central to this story of loss and forgiveness.
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How to Be a Girl
How to Be a Girl is an audio podcast I produce about life with my six-year-old transgender daughter. It stars the two of us -- a single mom and a six-year-old "girl with a penis" -- as we attempt together to sort out just what it means to be a girl.
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This was a big year of change for Marlo Mack and her daughter, as they moved in with a new person and to a new location. Moving to a new location means the question comes up often - should the family tell people Mack's daughter is transgender? Or leave it unspoken?
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30 For 30 Podcasts
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Original audio documentaries from the makers of the acclaimed 30 for 30 film series, featuring stories from the world of sports and beyond. 30 for 30 offers captivating storytelling for sports fans and general interest listeners alike, going beyond the field to explore how sports, competition, athleticism and adventure affect our lives and our world. Sports stories like you've never heard before.
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ESPN does sports storytelling very well, no doubt in large part due to Jody Avirgan's involvement. You don't need to love sports to love this show. I wanted so badly to write a review of the Bikram season this year, but I didn't have time - I thought it was fantastic. The personal connection to yoga was evident but not overdone. All In and Juiced were two excellent standalone episodes from the fourth season, which debuted this fall.
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Criminal
Criminal is a podcast about crime. Not so much the "if it bleeds, it leads," kind of crime. Something a little more complex. Stories of people who've done wrong, been wronged, and/or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. We're a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX, a curated network of extraordinary, story-driven shows. Learn more at radiotopia.fm.
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Criminal continues to be outstanding. It tells stories about crime in a completely non-crime-y way - it's just Phoebe Judge, the person she's talking about the crime with, and you. Just having a casual conversation about the witness protection program or death by lethal injection. This is storytelling at its finest.
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Rumble Strip
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On Rumble Strip you\'ll hear from taxidermists, soccer moms, criminals and waitresses. You\'ll hear about what people love, hate, fear...and what makes them more like you than you\'d realized. Rumble Strip gives you extraordinary stories about ordinary life.
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I loved the spotlight shined by Erica Heilman on mental health and the ways we treat it (or not) with public health resources: there was a standout episode in January called Emergency, about ER nurses and how they deal with mental health cases, and a seven-part series this fall called They Are Us, about people who really are just like us who have mental health concerns and who struggle with how to get help.
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Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.
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Football star Aaron Hernandez went from the bright lights of the Super Bowl to a convicted murderer in a few years. The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team, best known for its investigation of the sexual abuse scandal inside the Catholic Church, takes a hard look at the crisis facing football through the lens of Aaron Hernandez’s life and terrible crimes.From Wondery, the podcast team that brought you Dr. Death, Spotlight asks: Did a brain badly damaged by football contribute to Hernandez’s violent behavior? Did he keep secrets about his sexuality that collided with a hyper-masculine football culture? Did elite coaches and teams look the other way as Hernandez was spiraling out of control?Spotlight uncovered new documents, audio, and interviews to go deep into the story of what happened to Aaron Hernandez, and what it means for those of us who cheer on a violent game. 
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Another sports-related binge listen recommendation - Gladiator was a pointed indictment of the NFL and the role it played in ignoring and enabling Aaron Hernandez's behavior off-field. I couldn't believe all that Hernandez went through and the blind eye turned by the Patriots organization. Great chronological storytelling of who Hernandez started out as and some clues as to how he became the person who ultimately died of suicide in prison.
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HumaNature
1
HumaNature is the podcast that explores where humans and our habitat meet. The show tells real stories about human experiences in nature. Along the way, we’ll meet people whose encounters help us reflect on our own place in the natural world.
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These are stories about our connection with the outdoors. They're sound-rich, beautifully told in first person, and edited to just the right length with perfect pacing. Junk and The Hunt were standout episodes for me this year.
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Neighbors
Lean in and get an intimate foray into the lives of your neighbors. "The Heard" podcast collective cofounder Jakob Lewis produces artful stories about the people we pass every day—showing that we have more in common than we might think. From barbers to improv comedians, from shoe shiners to street musicians Jakob invites you to get to know your neighbors.
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Neighbors has just ended after four years, but I appreciate the care that went into sharing the neighbors of Nashville with the audience. The three-part series Matt Got Shot, about a man who was shot and then went to a bar to get help, was lovely, as was Back Home on Short Mountain, which featured a man whose land was seized by the government but who returned to live on it and see it flourish in an all-new way.
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The Leap
From a doctor’s controversial LSD treatments to a mother’s high-risk efforts to recover her abducted child to a punk rock pioneer’s radical career reinvention, these are stories of people making dramatic, risky changes—and the big and small decisions that change the course of lives. Hosted by award­­­-winning journalist Judy Campbell.
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The Leap is a storytelling show about people who take big leaps in life - each episode is a self-contained story. Her Double Life was one of my favorite episodes, about a woman who keeps her true personal life from her parents for many years and then ultimately decides to open up.
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The Promise
The Promise is a limited-run series about life in public housing, smack in the middle of a city on the rise — stories of a neighborhood in flux, a community defined by its struggles and the growing divide threatening its very existence.
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The Promise was a short, limited-run series about the projects in Nashville and a plan to renew and refresh the area. The rich meet the poor and they embark on an amazing journey together to revitalize the neighborhood - and there's an unexpected twist midway through the series.
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Creative Geniuses

Showcase from Radiotopia
1
Showcase, from PRX’s Radiotopia, features original podcast series of all stripes, from emerging and leading producers around the world.
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I've declared my love for all things Al Letson many times before, so this should be no surprise. Errthang is his variety show that was featured on Radiotopia's Showcase series this year. I loved that Letson took a risk and produced episodes from multiple genres, all within one season of a show - there was fiction, music, personal reflection, and more.
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Love Me
1
Love Me is a CBC original podcast about the messiness of human relationships.
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Audiblefeast

Love Me has been really intense this season (which just started in the fall). The producers release that tension by using poetry, music, and short pieces between longer narratives, and it works so well - I feel like I'm totally in the zone throughout the whole episode. Excellent work.
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Dear Young Rocker
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This is a podcast for the weirdos - those of us who've felt out of place and found a home in music. It's part young adult memoir of my awkward, anxious, angry teenage self and also a series of letters from adult me telling young me all the things I wish she knew. It deals with aggression, anxiety, loneliness and body issues of adolescence, and finding an outlet for those feelings by playing in a rock band. It's also about being the odd-girl out in a boy's club.
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Audiblefeast

What a lovely little hidden gem. Dear Young Rocker is a personal diary/advice podcast about the insanely awkward years of a teenage girl growing up and not really fitting in, but finding solace in a rock band. Original music and great sound effects are interspersed throughout the show, and each episode ends with a "dear young rocker" letter to anyone who's ever been in that awkward phase of life.
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Here Be Monsters
A podcast about fear, curiosity and the unknown. Unusual audio documentaries produced by Jeff Emtman, Bethany Denton and other independent producers since 2012.
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Audiblefeast

Here Be Monsters is another of my long-standing favorites. It is about things that make us feel uncomfortable - taxidermy, insects, things that happen in the night. The premise alone is creative, but then producers Jeff Emtman and Bethany Denton mix in a great soundtrack. Feed the Queen was my favorite episode this year. 
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Interviewers Who Ask the Best Questions

How To Be Amazing with Michael Ian Black
In this in-depth interview show, Black takes listeners into the minds of some of today’s most fascinating celebrities and newsmakers to discuss the process of how they became, well, amazing. Brought to you by PRX.
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Audiblefeast

Long-time readers will know I've been listening to and featuring Michael Ian Black's How to Be Amazing since I started writing the blog back in 2015. Its quality has stood the test of time. Black interviews  with a playful, fun style that makes the guests feel at ease. His interview with Terry Gross in December of this year was a standout.
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Latina to Latina
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In this interview series, host Alicia Menendez talks to remarkable Latinas about making it, faking it, and everything in between. In often-hilarious and always-revealing episodes, Alicia and her guests take on the challenges of existing, and then thriving, as women of color.
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Audiblefeast

So many of Latina to Latina's episodes have ended up on Delicious Ingredients lists this year - I am really impressed by host Alicia Menendez's interview style. She asks such insightful questions that often make the subject pause just a bit, after which I feel I as the listener am getting the most honest answer.
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Sooo Many White Guys
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Phoebe Robinson is tired of being the token black woman in an ocean of white dude comedians. So in this podcast, Phoebe’s calling the shots. She’ll host intimate, funny and super honest conversations with musicians, actors, writers and comedians who are killing it in their fields — AND who aren’t white dudes! Stay tuned for the one token white guy (it’s only fair), cameos by Phoebe’s ball-busting executive producer Ilana Glazer, and a whole lot of hijinks. WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy, On the Media, Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin and many more. © WNYC Studios
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Audiblefeast

I think SMWG gets forgotten on some end-of-year lists because it usually airs in the very beginning of the year. I'm not sure whether it's coming back for another season due to host Phoebe Robinson's enormous success in the last couple of years, but it's always been one of my favorites. Robinson interviews non-white guys (mostly) and the questions she asks are meant to showcase the realness of some of the funniest and most interesting celebrities. This year I particularly loved the interviews with Buck Angel, Zoe Kravitz, and Awkwafina.
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