I’m a late arrival on the podcast bandwagon. Last spring, I finally realized that I could load podcast episodes onto my rinky-dink mp3 player, and a new phase of media consumption began. This steady stream of audio content has become especially useful in the past three months. Turns out, you burn through a lot of episodes when campus is a forty-five-minute drive and twenty-minute walk away.

These days, I’m always in the market for new content to binge. So in the spirit of exchange, I’ll pass along a handful of my favorites from the past year. Got any recommendations for me?

Fictional dramas:

  • Limetown: A reporter digs into the shadowy history of a town-sized research facility whose entire population disappeared overnight. The first season ended last December, and the wait has been agonizing. Average length: 25 minutes. Favorite episode: “Episode 5: Scarecrow”
  • The Message: A science-fiction story so suspenseful and well-developed, it’s easy to forget this is fundamentally an 8-episode plug for GE. Don’t let that turn you off. The story is great. Average length: 15 minutes. Favorite episode: “Episode 5”
  • Tanis: A supernatural thriller that explores the allure of a mystery the Internet can’t solve—what on earth is Tanis? Average length: 40 minutes. Favorite episode: “Episode 108: Raywood, WA: Population One”
  • The Black Tapes: A supernatural thriller that explores the allure of a mystery the Internet can’t solve—is the paranormal real? If that description sounds suspiciously akin to Tanis, it’s because the podcasts are developed by the same group and have some overlapping cast members. They’re very similar and very different. Average length: 40 minutes. Favorite episode: “Episode 106: The Devil’s Door”

Crimes and mysteries:

  • Criminal: A crime show that’s less about unlawful acts and more about the people adjacent to them. Average length: 25 minutes. Favorite episode: “Episode 33: Deep Dive”
  • Thinking Sideways: Three friends attempt to explain unsolved murders, mysterious disappearances, and unnatural phenomena. Their in-depth research puts all possible theories on the table. Average length: 1 hour and 15 minutes. Favorite episodes: “Lisanne Froon and Kris Kremers,” “Agatha Christie Disappearance”
  • Mystery Show: The world’s cheeriest unsolved-mystery show. Host Starlee Kine is the sweetest ball of sunshine. Also, one of her mysteries involves meeting Britney Spears. Average length: 40 minutes. Favorite episode: “Belt Buckle”

Telling stories:

  • Reply All: As one friend recently described it, “a bromance disguised as a podcast.” Hosts PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman are a deliciously clever duo with real-life tales that could only happen on the Internet. One of my favorite podcasts of all time. Average length: 30 minutes. Favorite episodes: “Blind Spot,” “Quit Already”
  • The Moth: Personal stories told compellingly in front of a live audience. Average length: 55 minutes. Favorite episodes: “Janna Levin – Life on a Mobius Strip,” “Bethany Van Delft – Light and Hope”
  • The Memory Palace: Slim, gorgeous snapshots that capture moments or individuals lost to history. Average length: 8 minutes. Favorite episode: “Gigantic”
  • This American Life: Do I really need to introduce this one? If you’ve never listened to the dulcet tones of Ira Glass, go do so. Average length: 1 hour. Favorite episode: “The Land of Make Believe”
  • Radiolab: Finding the human side of any scientific question. If you listen to public radio, you’ve heard at least one episode, guaranteed. Average length: 45 minutes. Favorite episode: “Musical Language”

More great stuff: Dear Sugar, Snap Judgment, TED Radio Hour, Invisibilia, Stuff You Should Know

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