50 binge-worthy podcasts
Millions of people across the country are stuck at home with nowhere to go, and that means there’s some extra time to fill. Lots and lots of extra time. Enter the mighty podcast, which has come a long way since its inception 16 years ago. What was once something of a niche medium has exploded in the last few years. In fact, recent studies concluded that there are now over 850,000 active podcasts and more than 30 million episodes from which to choose.
With the onslaught of podcasting, there’s naturally come a greater amount of quality and variety alike. Production values are higher, writing is sharper, and the landscape is seemingly limitless in scope. Meanwhile, despite the proliferation of advertising, the majority of podcasts are untethered from executive oversight and corporate constraint. That means they run on their terms for as long as they want.
It all makes for a genuinely exciting scene, and a wildly diverse one at that. Picking up where the golden age of radio drama left off, fiction and role-playing podcasts have redefined the art of modern storytelling. On the flip side of that coin are long-form interview podcasts, where guests are no longer confined by time or FCC regulations. Then there is the slew of true crime and investigative reporting podcasts, many of which now stand at the forefront of contemporary journalism. Shows like “Serial” and “Ear Hustle” don’t just deliver a great binge, they might very well change one’s perspective on America’s justice system.
One might wonder: What makes a podcast binge-worthy? The answer usually boils down to consistent storytelling. Whether real or imagined, great stories still retain their power to both entertain and educate. At the very least, they help pass the time during self-quarantine. To ensure results, Stacker compiled a list of podcasts that are both binge-worthy and binge-able. While they all range in content and scope, they have one thing in common: fascinating stories that keep listeners coming back for more.
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You're Wrong About
- Produced by: Michael Hobbes, Sarah Marshall
- Episode count: 74
Journalists Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall peel back the curtain on modern history through the lens of hard data. Listeners receive a starkly different perspective than what the media first reported. Witty banter and occasional digressions keep the atmosphere light.
- Produced by: Slate
- Episode count: 162
Since 2014, host Dahlia Lithwick has covered America’s legal system from a progressive angle. Given the rapidly shifting nature of the current political landscape, virtually every episode is a must-listen. This is law from the top down, and it’s fascinating.
Behind the Bastards
- Produced by: iHeartRadio
- Episode count: 202
History is chock full of "inglourious basterds" and this gripping podcast tries to cover each one. Going well beyond headlines, it takes a deep dive into everyone from Hitler to Saddam Hussein to a number of lesser-known villains. Host Robert Evans injects a deft comedic touch.
- Produced by: Pineapple Street Media, Gimlet
- Episode count: 11
In 2009, April Balascio informed the police that her father was likely a serial killer named Edward Wayne Edwards. So goes this harrowing true-crime podcast, which grapples with Balascio’s past and her present alike. Start from the beginning and don’t skip an episode.
Murder in Oregon
- Produced by: iHeartRadio
- Episode count: 12
The question of who killed corrections officer Michael Francke looms over this true-crime podcast. Francke’s own brother and reporter Phil Stanford remain convinced that the wrong man was charged with the crime. Their decades-long investigation goes from Oregon’s criminal underworld to the top of its political establishment.
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The Murder Squad
- Produced by: Exactly Right Media
- Episode count: 43
Retired investigator Paul Holes and investigative journalist Billy Jensen team up to solve a number of cold homicide cases. In addition to using both modern technology and conventional methods, the hosts encourage listener participation. Thanks to a listener named Jessi, they recently helped solve a 40-year-old cold case.
- Produced by: FiveThirtyEight, 538, ESPN, Nate Silver
- Episode count: 199+
Website FiveThirtyEight takes a strict data-based approach toward politics, economics, and sports. The site’s political podcast makes for essential listening in today’s current climate. Each episode explores current events in terms of what they mean both now and further down the road.
The Adventure Zone
- Produced by: Maximum Fun
- Episode count: 115
Based upon popular role-playing games, this podcast invites listeners into “The Adventure Zone.” Join the McElroy family as they solve puzzles, seek fortune, and slay enemies. No matter how intense the journey, a warm and comedic tone persists.
- Produced by: Maximum Fun
- Episode count: 314
Elsewhere in the Maximum Fun universe, Dr. Sydnee McElroy and her husband Justin take a marital tour of misguided medicine. Equal parts entertaining and educational, the podcast explores various medical mishaps throughout history. Naturally, they cover the coronavirus.
The McElroy Brothers Will Be in Trolls World Tour
- Produced by: The McElroy Brothers
- Episode count: 9
Follow podcast legends the McElroy Brothers as they try to score roles in the “Trolls World Tour” movie. Do they succeed? The only way to find out is to listen...or to check their IMDb credits.
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