There are 660,000 podcasts and 28 million podcast episodes. Here are 5 worth your time.
There are eight million true crime podcasts out there. It’s overwhelming. My favorite one is not about serial killers, organized crime, or heists, it’s focused on a far more nuanced and insidious threat than these overtly heinous acts. The Dream is about multi-level marketing companies like Avon, Amway, and Thirty-One Gifts, and the myriad ways they’ve infiltrated and exploited the lives of countless people (predominantly women) across the country. “Destination Amazing” is the standout episode from the first season, following one of the show’s producers as she travels to Limelight Palooza, a convention organized by the hugely popular MLM Limelight, featuring clips from various training sessions and several insightful, often heartbreaking conversations with convention attendees. It’s an endlessly frustrating listen, shining the spotlight on this especially offensive wing of the late capitalist hellscape. -Matt Byrne
The story of Elizabeth Holmes and her fraudulent healthtech company Theranos is, at least on the face of it, not unlike something you’re probably familiar with if you’ve fallen into 2 a.m. Wikipedia hole researching ENRON or Bernie Madoff. And while Holmes’ story is rife with financial deception, technological manipulation, and threats against anyone questioning Theranos’ legitimacy, The Dropout creates a riveting narrative that also explores the ugly compulsive nature of Silicon Valley. Over the course of seven episodes (the last one will be released on February 27), ABC News chief business, technology and economics correspondent Rebecca Jarvis structures a riveting narrative of how and why Theranos was able to exist and flourish despite being built on a house of cards. It is a tale of deception and greed spurred on by our delusions of the role of technology to change our lives. -Ruben Gzirian
Like the best episodes of Hollywood Handbook, this episode introduces a format (they’re making their own documentary about Fyre Festival) and then it immediately goes completely off the rails. Sasheer Zamata (SNL) is a complete delight and has an instant rapport with Sean and Hayes. The episode ends with musical improv for some reason? Anyway, it’s really fun. -Tommy McNamara
One of the most seminal pieces of longform writing I’ve ever read is Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s “A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylan Roof.” A deserved winner of the the National Magazine Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Ghansah’s essay is a testament to the power of writing, and a shining example of why so many of us latch onto the written word as our outlet of expression. The podcast is built upon this premise and explores the act of writing through candid interviews often focusing on the psyche and motivations of a given writer. The Longform podcast has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember mainly because it effortlessly approaches the act of writing not as a chore, but as a form of art, as a form of expression. -Ruben Gzirian
You know how a lot of podcast interviews with musicians are painfully stilted and awkward? Where the host and guest can never fully get a feel for each other’s deal and one ends up sounding swaety and desperate and the other comes off overly aloof and chilly? Talkhouse found a workaround for this, by forcing musicians to talk to each other instead. That way you end up with compelling and charming conversations between musical legends and the contemporary artists they inspired, having wide-ranging conversations about their art form. One recent standout is a live conversation between the visionary proto-punk band The Raincoats and the hyperliterate shit starters in Protomartyr. Listening to both bands fan out on each other as they discuss lyrical influences, band dynamics, and Kurt Cobain. It’s a really fun and charming listen, a must for fans of either or both acts (or neither! Start listening to both of these bands please!). -Matt Byrne
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