Podcasting pros recommend these shows for your next binge-listen

By Leah Goggins
Staff Writer

For fans of bedtime stories, lectures, radio or any other spin-off of the oral tradition, it’s likely that there’s a podcast perfectly suited to your interests floating out there somewhere. But with more than 1.7 million podcasts to choose from, actually locating the perfect pod might be tougher than ever.

Here are a few suggestions from people who have made podcasts a part of their work and leisure.

‘White Lies’

Who killed James Reeb? Over the course of seven episodes, hosts Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley wipe away the layers of dust that have settled over the white minister’s 1965 beating and murder in Selma, Alabama. “White Lies” is a true-crime story about white complicity, generational trauma and the power of a counter-narrative. The podcast began as a joint venture between its hosts and their students.

“We just thought, for the students’ sake and for our sake, that it might be interesting to try and tell a different kind of civil rights story,” Grace said.

All episodes of the show, produced by NPR, are available now.


Hurricane Katrina devastated parts of Louisiana and Mississippi. But it wasn’t Katrina that hurt New Orleans so badly—it was the floods. This podcast from The Atlantic speaks to officials, scientists and native Louisiana residents who experienced the 2005 natural disaster and everything that came in its wake. The eight-part series delves into the mass media myth-making that hurt New Orleans residents after the storm, the lopsided government response and the personal stories of people who trekked to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in pursuit of dry land.

“[The podcast is] so good,” Grace said. “It’s very essayistic, and it does have these historical, anecdotal things throughout that are left there for you as a listener to ponder.”

All episodes are available now.

‘Wind of Change’

Described by Brantley as the “pinnacle of the meaningless search podcast,” this show asks a critical question: Did the CIA write a power ballad to end the Cold War?

Host and writer Patrick Radden Keefe travels to colorful locales and encounters a cast of captivating characters as he investigates a rumor about the CIA and a German rock song called “Wind of Change.” Keefe characterizes himself as a mystery fanatic, a journalist from The New Yorker who can’t stand to let a secret lie. His fascination with the story of “Wind of Change” guides the podcast from New York City to Ukraine, then on to the Cayman Islands and Nigeria.

Find all episodes of “Wind of Change” from Crooked Media.

‘Maybe I’m Crazy’

Hosted by Joy Taylor, the foil to Colin Cowherd’s antics on “Herd with Colin Cowherd,” this podcast breaks down top stories and analysis from the worlds of professional football and basketball. “Maybe I’m Crazy,” which often features a special guest in each episode, is also available on YouTube, which has its perks.

“I like podcasts that have a video aspect to it, which sounds weird,” said Alexander Plant, host of The Pregame Presser. “I really like watching people record podcasts.”

Aside from the visual stimulus, Plant said, those recordings can be helpful for amateur podcasters who want to learn from the pros. Watching Taylor record means seeing her microphone placement, her notes for the show and her rapport with the episode’s guest. It’s a masterclass, Plant said.

Find the latest episodes from Fox Sports.

And, of course, ‘Serial’

“Serial,” which has produced seasons about a suburban murder, a military scandal and a survey of Cleveland courts, was originally a spin-off project of “This American Life.” Now the show has spawned its own production company, Serial Productions, under The New York Times. The podcast’s first season was blue-ribbon true crime, telling the story of Hae Min Lee’s murder and the hazy investigation around her death. As host Sarah Koenig looks into the crime and the trial that followed, she often speaks with Adnan Syed, Lee’s ex-boyfriend who was convicted of her death in 2000. The show follows Koenig’s investigation even as she waffles on whether Syed is guilty or innocent.

“I’ve always been interested in oral storytelling,” Brantley said. “But Serial was my introduction to the idea that you could tell long, suspenseful nonfiction as a serialized podcast.”

Listen to all three seasons of Serial.