Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote this blog post about my favorite podcasts for road trips. I feel like the podcast universe has exploded even exponentially MORE since then, and there are so many great ones that are either new in 2019 or new to me! So I decided it was high time for an updated list.
I’m not listing these in any particular order, but here are some of my favorites lately! Also, if you haven’t read my original post, be sure to check it out because there are some gems that I don’t repeat here.
And as one caveat, this list is kind of true crime-heavy, but I would say true crime in and of itself is not really my favorite podcast genre. I tend to really enjoy true crime podcasts that explore some interesting aspect of society, science, or new technology in connection with true crime (for example, the Bear Brook podcast I talk about below). I don’t think every single one of these podcasts will interest everyone, but overall these are super bingeable, well-done podcasts that I highly recommend. I listen to a lot of podcasts, and the majority of the ones I’ve listened to didn’t make the cut for this list! So you know they’re good :)
Bear Brook - skeletal remains of four people (one woman and three young girls under 10) are found in barrels in Bear Brook state park in New Hampshire. No one knows who they are and there were never any missing persons reports matching their descriptions. Using genetic genealogy, researchers who normally help adoptees find their birth parents are able to track down the killer and some information about the victims. In the process they discover a whole web of crimes stretching across the country. This genetic genealogy process is later used to find the Golden State killer. Best for: anyone who loves a good story. The gruesome/spooky factor is actually not as high as it sounds from the description—I listened to this podcast while going on runs by myself and wasn’t freaked out. It’s told by the New Hampshire Public Radio in a very scientific, straightforward storytelling way.
Uncover: Escaping NXIVM - podcast about the cult NXIVM that was recently disbanded (or at least some arrests were made). Lots of people, including semi-famous actresses, got sucked into it and it's fascinating hearing about how that happened. Best for: anyone with a curiosity about NXIVM. You’ll learn everything you could ever want to know about it and more. Even if you haven’t heard of NXIVM, I think you would find it fascinating. Bonus: Uncover also has two more seasons, about totally different topics. Season 2 is titled Bomb on Board and Season 3 is titled The Village. Both are really good, I think Season 2 is slightly better than 3. But Season 3 is still currently being released as I’m writing this, so I’ll keep an open mind.
Cultivate Your Life - this is probably the most inspiring podcast I have ever listened to. If you’re interested in goal setting and living an intentional life, I could not recommend this podcast more. I look forward to it every week. Best for: it’s definitely geared toward women and anyone interested in a Christian perspective on setting goals.
In the Dark - really good podcast about understanding how wrongful convictions happen (about the death of Jacob Wetterling who was abducted and killed as a kid). Journalistically, I think this is one of the best podcasts out there. That said, the gruesome and scary factor for this one was high for me. It involves a child, and sexual abuse, and is just really disturbing. So please keep that in mind; for some people it might be better for you to not listen to that kind of podcast. Best for: true crime junkies who also love hearing about how the legal system works and factors into cases.
Broken Harts - podcast about a family of 8 (the Harts) that drove over a cliff, killing all of them. At first believed to be an accident, but now believed to be intentional. All 6 of the kids were adopted and it explores how a family with documented child abuse was able to adopt so many children, also has themes of understanding interracial adoption. This one was riveting. Best for: anyone with a particular curiosity about this case, or if you just want a very bingeable podcast for a long car ride. I’d never heard of the case before finding the podcast and I could not stop listening to it.
What We Said - this podcast is two best friends talking about anything and everything. I normally don’t love this style of podcast, but this one is just cute, fun, and lighthearted to listen to while driving or cleaning the house. I look forward to this one every Tuesday when it comes out. Best for: women (and girls) ages high school through twenties. Being 27 I feel like I’m almost too old for it, but nonetheless I love the fluff and fun “girl talk” aspect of it. The hosts are around 24 or so.
The Dream - podcast about multilevel marketing (companies like Amway, Mary Kay, etc) and how they are scams and how people fall for it. This might sound less scandalous than some of these other ones, but it is just as riveting if not more. Best for: anyone interested in learning more about a very murky but huge industry.
The Dropout - this podcast is about Elizabeth Holmes and the crazy Theranos scandal. I listened to it before the HBO documentary came out and it made the documentary a lot more interesting, I think. If you are fascinated by this scandal (or even have never heard of it), this podcast is sooo good. Best for: anyone interested in the Theranos scandal, pathological lying, or anyone who wants a bingeable podcast without any gruesome crime details.
Dr. Death - a doctor who got away with using possibly sadistic (or at least grossly incompetent) surgical techniques; the podcast also explores the way the medical profession is set up to allow this kind of thing to continue happening. Best for: anyone interested in the medical profession and medical ethics; probably bad for anyone who has to have surgery anytime soon because it’s SCARY!
Believed - podcast exploring how Larry Nassar (the Olympic coach) got away with his abuse for so long. Hard to listen to but I always wondered how no one stopped him sooner; this explores the psychology behind it and how the universities and Olympic associations failed. Best for: anyone interested in the Larry Nassar case and/or anyone wanting a bingeable podcast that also has some really inspiring and uplifting moments about survivors’ courage. Probably best not to listen if it would be difficult for you to hear some graphic descriptions of abuse.
The Habitat - I just recently started this one and have almost listened to 7 episodes in 2 days! This is about a recent experiment where NASA put 6 people in a space-like “habitat” for a whole year, in total isolation. The purpose of the experiment was to see how people would cope, because if there is ever a mission to Mars with humans, they will have to be cooped up together in a habitat on the red planet for at least that long. The participants in the experiment had tape recorders and recorded interviews about their time in the habitat. It’s so interesting! Best for: anyone interested in space exploration (the podcast producers also talk with people who have actually been to space), or anyone who has heard about this experiment and wants to know more. I actually wouldn’t necessarily consider myself in either of those camps, but I still loved it!
Who the Hell is Hamish? - this is another one I just recently listened to. I actually went back to edit this post after I had already drafted it and scheduled it to go up to add this one. I personally am fascinated by white collar crime and how people scheme and get away with so much. This podcast is about a guy named Hamish (yes… that’s his first name haha) and his fraud and crimes. Parts are sad, parts are funny, and it’s so intriguing. I flew through it. Also, if you like the sound of Australian accents, this podcast is full of them because it takes place mostly in AUS and is produced by the newspaper The Australian.
I hope this list is helpful to you—happy listening!