The best new podcasts for the week of August 24, 2019: Mob Queens and more

The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: Washing dishes, going for a run, coloring, and especially, driving. But there are so many podcasts these days that it’s simply impossible to keep up. There are new ones debuting all the time, and it’s hard to know whether they deserve a spot in your feed.

Every week, we highlight new and returning podcasts we couldn’t turn off. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or you’re just dipping your toe into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worth listening to. This week, we’ve got podcasts about Donald Sterling, a mob wife, Lyme disease, and National Parks.

Sports podcast

30 for 30, “The Sterling Affairs”

30 for 30 Sterling Affairs Podcast

Why should I listen?  It will make you wonder if the outcome would’ve been the same if this happened today instead of five years ago.               

How many episodes are there and how long are they? Most are around 50 minutes, and there are five total.        

Describe it in one word: Tarnished. 

In June, NBA commissioner Adam Silver told TMZ Sports, “We call our team owners ‘Governor of the team’ and ‘alternate Governor.’” Players like Draymond Green had urged a change, saying the word owner “sets the wrong tone.” 

In his Instagram post, Green explicitly mentioned Donald Sterling, who had bought the Los Angeles Clippers in 1981, when the team was still located in San Diego. Sterling was forced to sell the Clippers in 2014, after his mistress leaked tapes of his racist rant. That rant and its fallout are the subject of 30 for 30’s latest season, “The Sterling Affairs.” Host and ESPN writer Ramona Shelburne digs into Sterling’s past, making it clear that the tape wasn’t a blip in an otherwise spotless history. She speaks with Sterling’s wife,  Shelly, as well as Clippers coach Doc Rivers and other players about the scandal, which had profound effects on the sport.   

True crime podcast

Mob Queens

Mob Queens Podcast

Why should I listen? Well-behaved women seldom made history, and the less demure didn’t get much press, either.              

How many episodes are there and how long are they? There are two episodes so far; one is 25 minutes and the other is 41.        

Describe it in one word: Brassy. 

Sometimes a podcast comes along that just checks all the boxes for me. Mob Queens is one of those. A history mystery! Giddiness over discovering a gem in the archives! The screenwriter of Bring It On! 

That writer is Jessica Bendinger, and she hosts the podcast along with Michael Seligman. The pair have been trying to track down information about Anna Genovese for years. The wife of mobster Vito Genovese, Anna doesn’t even have her own Wikipedia page. But she should. As Bendinger and Seligman reveal, she ran Club 82, a nightclub where female impersonators put on musical performances. This was in the 1950s and ’60s, well before drag went mainstream. At the time, the mafia owned many of New York City’s gay bars. Though much ink has been spilled about Vito, like his friendship with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and the murders carried out on his orders, Anna is a more elusive figure.

Science podcast  

Patient Zero

Patient Zero Lyme Disease Podcast

Why should I listen? You miss the show House.             

How many episodes are there and how long are they? The first episode is 44 minutes, and the second is 53.        

Describe it in one word: Epidemiological. 

Fake friends believe in rumors. Real friends believe in you.” Yolanda Hadid’s Lyme disease was a major plot point on a couple seasons of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Some castmates speculated she was suffering from Munchausen syndrome and that the illness was all in her head. 

About forty years before Hadid became a Bravo star, another woman was struggling to get others to take her and her family’s symptoms seriously. In the 1970s, Polly Murray was living in Lyme, Connecticut. She had ailments, like fevers and aches, that would come and go. Then her husband and children started getting rashes and swollen knees. Doctors thought maybe her son had juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Then other kids in the neighborhood received the same diagnosis. Taylor Quimby hosts Patient Zero, an exploration of a misunderstood disease that despite its bacterial origin, is often treated as psychosomatic.  

Travel podcast

Parklandia 

Parklandia Podcast

Why should I listen? There are all sorts of threats facing our National Parks.  

How many episodes are there and how long are they? There are five so far, each between 29 and 52 minutes.       

Describe it in one word: Roving. 

I’m a little embarrassed to admit I find those gas station commercials about van life oddly charming. I may have been delirious after seeing 8,000 of them during a Veronica Mars binge-watch. 

Parklandia hosts Brad and Matt Kirouac aren’t quite a real-life Gene and Jean, but they are married. Instead of a van, though, they’re traveling around the U.S. in an RV. Their goal is to visit as many national parks as possible. In addition to covering hot spots like Yellowstone and the Petrified Forest, they also explain the history and cultural significance of others, like the Cuyahoga Valley National Park and Mesa Verde National Park. One note: I disagree that bats are not cute. They are very cute. They are like puppies with wings. 

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