The best new podcasts, from Rami Malek to a frightening forecast

The best thing about podcasts is that you can listen to them while you’re doing other things: Dishes, going for a jog, coloring, and, especially, driving. But there are so many podcasts these days that it’s absolutely 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 toe into the vast ocean of podcasts, we’ll find you something worth listening to. This week, we’ve got podcasts about the murder of a priest with some surprising suspects, Rami Malek dealing with a blackout, an exploration of food from many perspectives, and New Mexico’s frightening forecast.

True crime podcast

Unsolved: The Devil You Know

Why should I listen? This cold case has new hopes of being solved, thanks to some recently discovered DNA evidence.  

How many episodes are there and how long are they? There are 10 episodes, most of which are under half an hour.  

Describe it in one word: Hawthornian.

On March 3, 1998, Father Alfred Kunz was murdered outside his room at St. Michael School in rural Wisconsin. A former boxer, the priest had gotten in a few punches before dying, as evidenced by his bruised knuckles. Suspects included a “hunk of burning love” of a teacher, a woman who claimed to have had a vision of the priest’s death, and a thief prepping for an asteroid to hit Earth. “He certainly had his fans, but he also had his detractors,” said one investigator.

Season three of Unsolved follows the case, which, as the podcast’s name suggests, is still open. Gina Barton of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel hosts the show, interviewing investigators, former parishioners, and others connected to Kunz. She also plays clips from his radio show to help illuminate the priest’s complex belief system, which eschewed the reforms of Vatican II and led him to perform exorcisms but didn’t prevent him from breaking his vow of chastity.

Fiction podcast

Blackout

Why should I listen? Well-produced and engaging, this podcast will make you glad your devices are still in working order.  

How many episodes are there and how long are they? The eight episodes last about 25 minutes each.  

Describe it in one word: Dark.

In August 2003, a software bug caused a power outage in eight states and parts of Canada that lasted two days for some people. When TVs blinked off, air conditioners shut down, and lights went off, everyone held their breath. How widespread was it? Was it terrorism? After the glitch was explained, everyone defaulted to a cheerful, party-like atmosphere — though maybe that’s because I was in a college town at the time. Still, I’ll never forget how dark and quiet it was.

Blackout, a new fictional podcast starring Rami Malek, explores what happens when that explanation never comes. Malek plays a radio DJ in a small New Hampshire town, Berlin, that suffers a mysterious power outage. Cell phones stop working, stores shutter, and no one can get gas. All anyone knows is that it’s not just Berlin that’s without electricity. Needless to say, things escalate quickly. The show’s timeline shifts between the start of the blackout and more than 100 days later, when the DJ is still on the air, trying to explain what happened. It soon becomes clear things weren’t right in Berlin even before the lights went out.   

Culture podcast

Voices at the Table

Why should I listen? Aside from the delightful accents, the stories themselves evoke emotions, memories, and hunger pangs.  

How many episodes are there and how long are they? Released every other week, the episodes are between 30 and 40 minutes long.    

Describe it in one word: Tantalizing.

There are a lot of great food podcasts, and they tend to be hosted by people who, well, know a lot about food. But everybody eats, even writers who don’t write about food as part of their repertoire.

The idea behind Voices at the Table is to bring in a variety of people to talk about food. Using audio from live events (which sound really amazing), the series was started by Miranda York and Anna Sulan Masing. Think of it as The Moth for munchies, with writers, chefs, and performers reading short pieces. Some of the people who tell stories, like Kay Plunkett-Hogge, are professional food writers, but others aren’t. Megan Nolan is an essayist who talks about the glory of a greasy burger in the show’s first episode. In between readings, York and Masing chat about London, their upbringings, and snacks. Americans are missing out on some very unique nibbles here.

Science podcast

Hot & Dry

Why should I listen? Climate change is coming, so you might as well get some ideas on how to prepare.  

How many episodes are there and how long are they? The weekly episodes can be anywhere between 20 and 40 minutes long.   

Describe it in one word: Nitty-gritty.

Every day in the summer, I think about the woman from this viral video, because I am also not a toucan and cannot deal with the heat. Frankly, anything over 71 degrees Fahrenheit is too toasty. And as for the sun? I mean, come on!

Climate change is already having some devastating effects, with New Mexico facing some of my most dreaded weather. Hot & Dry features Cally Carswell, a journalist who covers the environment, and Collin Haffey, a fire ecologist. Both live in New Mexico and are concerned about their state’s future. In many ways, New Mexico is behind the curve on environmental policies, but a newly elected government has started making changes. Carswell and Haffey give an in-depth overview of what it looks like to overhaul a fossil-fuel-heavy economy and what will happen if we don’t.

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