The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: 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 get enough of. Whether you’re looking for the latest and greatest or you’re just dipping your toes into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worthwhile. This week, we’ve got podcasts about ignored alibis, TV presidents, Oklahoma land rights, and World War II love letters.
True crime podcast
Why should I listen? The last episode, in particular, proves there’s no such thing as a happy ending.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? The seven episodes are between 13 and 21 minutes.
Describe it in one word: Unjustified.
When They See Us, which recently debuted on Netflix, tells the story of the wrongfully convicted Central Park Five. Unfortunately, their unjust incarceration isn’t unique. If just 2% of the prison population is innocent — the low end of the estimated number — then over 40,000 people are being locked up for crimes they didn’t commit.
That’s the stat Dan Slepian, host of 13 Alibis, introduces in the first episode of the podcast. Then he launches into the saga of Richard Rosario, a man convicted of murder. Two witnesses say they saw him at the scene. But Rosario swears he was 1,000 miles away at the time and told New York City police that 13 people could place him in Florida when Jorge Collazo was shot.
Why should I listen? The next time someone hassles you for binge-watching a show, you can remind them of television’s long history of cultural significance.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? The first five episodes are between 19 and 25 minutes.
Describe it in one word: Examine.
There is one person on the planet who talks about the ‘90s sitcom Wings as much as my husband, and that person is Emily VanDerWerff. I frequently send my husband her tweets, because she also talks about Empty Nest, Ned and Stacey, and other shows barely anyone else still mentions.
It’s that depth of TV knowledge that VanDerWerff brings to Primetime, a podcast about how TV reflects our culture and vice versa. The first season is about TV’s relationship with the presidency. There are episodes about The West Wing, 24, and TV’s women’s presidents. Did you know Sliders had an episode where Hillary Clinton was president? Of course you didn’t. VanDerWerf interviews showrunners, critics, and other experts about what happens when lawmakers start referring to Jack Bauer as if he were a real person. (If you’re wondering why the podcast is listed under Todd VanDerWerff, you can read more here.)
News and politics podcast
Why should I listen? The Supreme Court will be making a decision soon, and there’s a lot at stake.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? The first episode is 28 minutes.
Describe it in one word: Terrestrial.
Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI is a 2017 book about the killing of many Osage people over their lands. The tribe owned not just the land but the mineral rights and had made a fortune leasing it to oil prospectors in the 1920s.
This Land, a podcast hosted by Cherokee Nation citizen Rebecca Nagle, starts with a more recent murder, that of George Jacobs in 1999. Both Jacobs and his killer, Patrick Murphy, are members of the Creek Nation. The murder took place on what was once the Creek’s land, complicating whether the state had jurisdistiction. Murphy was sentenced to death, but his case is now headed to the Supreme Court. Not only is his life on the line, but the case will decide whether all the Creek’s land — much of which was taken over by settlers in the early 1900s — is still tribal land.
Why should I listen? It might inspire you to write more flowery emails.
How many episodes are there and how long are they? There are eight, each around half an hour.
Describe it in one word: Epistolary.
A couple of weeks ago, I attended a wedding for two friends who’d spent the bulk of their nine-year relationship on separate continents. Thanks to video-chatting and frequent-flyer miles, they made it work. Back in yesteryear, of course, people separated by oceans had to rely on letters.
When Sue Mowforth found letters between her deceased parents, Cyril and Olga, she wasn’t sure if she should read them. But she did, and those letters became the basis for Love Letters in WW2. In the first episode, the letters are eloquent, detailed, with hints of longing but also optimism. The war seems far off for Olga (whose letters are read by Amy Nuttal), who’s dealing with wool shortages and missing her husband. Things will get worse for her, as Cyril’s letters (read by Johny Pitts) become more infrequent and as air raids become more regular in Sheffield, England.
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