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 put down. 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 a string of murders, religion, mental health, and Jeffrey Epstein.
True crime podcast
Bardstown is a small Kentucky town that prefers to be known as the Bourbon Capital of the World or the most beautiful small town in America. Unfortunately, since 2013, a series of murders and one disappearance have marred those more idyllic monikers.
In the Bardstown podcast, hosts and investigative reporters Jessica Noll and Shay McAlister explore this darker side. In 2013, police officer Jason Ellis was ambushed and killed on the side of the road. Less than a year later, someone murdered mother and daughter Kathy & Samantha Netherland in their home. Then Crystal Rogers went missing in 2015. Not long after, her father, Tommy Ballard, was murdered. It is not known how or even whether these deaths are connected, but with a population of around 13,000, Bardstown was shaken by each death individually. Taken together, the deaths and disappearance create an uneasy undercurrent in the close-knit community.
There’s a beautiful, domed building in Wilmette, Illinois that I’ve driven by many times but, embarrassingly, never knew that it is a Bahá’í temple. In fact, I didn’t realize Bahá’í was a religion.
It turns out actor Rainn Wilson grew up in the Bahá’í faith, going to that temple. After leaving the religion behind in his 20s, The Office star returned in the late 1990s. He discussed how he found his faith again with Preach host Lee Hale. Hale is a Mormon in the midst of his own existential turmoil. Instead of reading Kierkegaard (or maybe in addition to?), he’s using the podcast to talk to people who have been through similar struggles. In the second episode, he interviews Snap Judgement’s Glynn Washington about life after the Worldwide Church of God, which Washington calls a cult.
Mental health podcast
As of 2015, only about four percent of psychologists identified as black or African-American, according to the American Psychological Association. The overwhelming majority, 86 percent, are white. The numbers for psychiatrists are similar; only three percent are black.
It’s a statistic Wali White mentions in the first episode of The 730 Podcast. The public school teacher and mental health advocate struggled to find a black psychiatrist after his bipolar diagnosis. Though he eventually found a white psychiatrist he trusted, he believes his doctor can’t understand some fundamental aspects of his life and experiences, the way a black physician would. It’s one of the reasons White thinks African-Americans can be weary of seeking mental health treatment, an uneasiness he helps to ease by talking to others about their experiences with counseling, medication, and other forms of therapy. In the first episode, White talks to L.A. rapper Cashus King, who talks about the death of his father and treating his clinical depression.
True crime podcast
After Jeffrey Epstein’s death in August, a federal judge closed the sex-trafficking case against him. For many of his accusers, it wasn’t really the end of anything. As the recent resignation of the director of the MIT Media Lab shows, those tied to the financier’s money and influence still have to answer for those associations.
In the Broken podcast, host Ariel Levy takes listeners through the many disturbing threads of the case against Epstein and his confidants. She speaks with Julie K. Brown, the Miami Herald journalist who investigated Epstein for many years. As Brown wonders in the first episode, how did Epstein not only manage to get away with his crimes for so long but manage to do so in plain sight? There are more questions, too, like what does justice look like now?
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