There are 5.3 million podcasts on Spotify. By the time you finish this article, there will be even more. It’s impossible to listen to them all, or to even to know which ones are worth listening to. But I can help — I listen to hours and hours of podcasts everyday, and I have tested heaps of new shows with my own two ears to find the ones you shouldn’t miss.
Here’s are 11 of the best new shows that launched this month, from the story of how a murderer terrorised a Belgium community, to a podcast that reviews the unceasing influx of celebrity podcasts, to the personal diary of an adult woman who just learned she has autism. Crimes in book-writing. A twisty terrorist plot gone wrong. Stolen land. Control. Historical crime cases. And some really good vibes.
In 2013, John Nuttall and Amanda Korody tried to place a bomb at British Columbia’s legislature in an attempt to kill people attending Canada Day celebrations. The bombs did not go off. John and Amanda’s story, from homelessness and addiction to being at the centre of a lengthy RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) terror investigation would be wild enough if the story ended there. They weren’t exactly sharp enough to pull it off (imagine Kevin McCallister trying to execute a terrorist plot) but they weren’t the only ones who screwed up: The B.C. Supreme Court ultimately found the police had entrapped John and Amanda, who are now suing RCMP.
Pressure Cooker catches you up on John and Amanda’s backstory, pulling in audio footage from the RCMP. You’ll be a fly on the wall listening to unbelievable conversations between two dimwits trying to carry out their deadly plan, and the police who seem to be coercing them into doing it.
Lauren Ober has always had a big voice in the podcasting space, having previously hosted Spectacular Failures and The Big Listen. When she found out, at the age of 38 that she is autistic, she decided to hit record and document her journey, personal diary-style, for her newest podcast, The Loudest Girl in the Room. We eavesdrop on her conversations with her family and partner, and listen to her share her thoughts about signs that she has been living with autism since she was a little girl getting punished for talking too much in class. This podcast is part intro to autism, which is great — there aren’t enough podcasts telling neurodivergent stories (though EarBuds just had a great issue spotlighting some), but getting to hear the raw moments of Lauren’s new life as someone who knows she’s on the spectrum also feels like an intimate conversation with a friend.
Lemonada turned true-crime on its head with the podcast Believe Her, the story of a domestic abuse victim who killed her husband, and they are at it again with The Letter, an eight-part narrative series telling the story of Zachary Snarr, who was brutally murdered in Salt Lake City on Aug. 28,1996. His girlfriend Yvette Rodier was also shot, but survived. As the gunman, who had never met Zachary or Yvette, sits in jail for his crime, we learn that he has developed a friendship with Sy, Zachary’s mother, who has forgiven him for killing her son.
The show kicks off with a friendly conversation between the two, and host Amy Donaldson gives us the full picture of the murder and its impact on the town, Yvette, Zachary’s loved ones, and the gunman’s family. It’s the kind of redemption story we don’t often see in true crime, and its success out of the gate suggests we’re eager for more like it.
One hundred and fifty years ago, the Osage Nation bought a block of oil-rich land in what’s now Oklahoma, but today, much of the land is owned by white people with no Osage ties. In Trust investigates how the land was stolen, following the trail back to the Reign of Terror, when Osage people were forced to sign away their land. Bloomberg’s Rachel Adams-Heard is uncovering history via dogged reporting, tracking down the descendants of white people who took the land and unpacking the impact of a loss of generational wealth by the Osage people that continues to this day. The show paints a picture of Oklahoma in the early 1900s and uncovers dark truths that were never supposed to be discovered — some of them connected to The Pioneer Woman herself. (See: The shady past of the Drummond family.)
Rebecca Lavoie is one of the co-hosts of a true-crime review show Crime Writers On…, which takes a critical look at the dark stuff that’s on TV and in our headphones. She’s using her analytical skills for a new spin-off project, produced with her son Henry: Celebrity Podcast Podcast, which breaks down, episode-by-episode, a different celebrity-hosted show, pointing out poor audio and production zany editing decisions, and honestly explaining where each show goes wrong — or maybe sometimes right. Rebecca knows her stuff and her conversations with Henry are upbeat and funny. But don’t let their fun vibes fool you: They’re willing to take down anyone, Meghan Markel included. (That’s episode one.)
Sam Sanders (previously the host of It’s Been a Minute, which is back with a new host — Brittany Luse of The Nod / For Coloured Nerds) has launched a new society and culture chat show with Saeed Jones and Zach Stafford called Vibe Check, dissecting news, entertainment, and culture — from Beyonce’s latest single to the battle over LGBTQ+ rights — through a queer, Black lens. This is a fun space; Sam, Saeed, and Zach are warm in conversation and their laughter is contagious. But they’re also taking a scalpel to the culture we’re living every day — examining the way it impacts the lives of Black and queer folk especially, but also, absolutely everyone. Some of the stories might seem trivial — gossip on Twitter, drama happening behind the scenes in Hollywood — but Vibe Check makes you understand why they are worthy of your attention. And their takes on bigger topics like monkey pox or the crisis in Pakistan will give you a new perspective.
Kate Winkler Dawson (host of Wicked Words) and Paul Holes (a retired cold case investigator responsible for cracking the Golden State Killer case) have come together for Buried Bones, a show that revisits cases from the 1700s through the 1960s. On each episode, Kate presents a case and Paul listens, asking questions about the investigation and offering a fresh perspective, as if he were investigating it as a contemporary case. The first story is about Manhattan millionaire and founder of Rice University William Marsh Rice, who was murdered by his own greedy lawyer Albert T. Patrick and valet Charles F. Jones — or was he? Kate and Paul sift through the old evidence and files to see how the case was handled, and Paul weighs in on what went right and what went wrong, and if the resolution (Patrick was sentenced to death at Sing Sing and Jones was sentenced to life in prison but was later freed, only to commit suicide) was just. The money Patrick and Jones were trying to get their hands on went directly to build Rice, giving us a wild murder story and the untold history of a major university in one.
There are a lot of monsters out there in true crime podcast land, but Marc Dutroux, known as “Le Monstre,” takes the cake. In June of 1995 he kidnapped and murdered two eight-year-old Belgian girls, Julie Lejeune and Mélissa Russo, sending Belgian citizens into a panic, and implanting in them a complete mistrust for local and federal authorities after they failed to catch Dutrox before he abducted and murdered three more young girls. Le Monstre is a show about one of the most twisted serial killers the world has seen, and also about a botched investigation that set Belgiums — 400,000 of them — to the streets in protest after Dutrox’s 2004 arrest, leading to reforms of the country’s justice system.
In FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), young people living in the UK take us on audio journeys into the topics they wish they’d learned in school. The first episode gives the mic to 17-year-old Atlanta, who lives in Glasgow but spent the first few years of her life living in Uganda, where her mum is from. Most of her friends don’t know anything about the British Empire, and she uncovers uncomfortable truths about the brutal violence of Colonialism across history. Other episodes explore media reporting on queer communities and how over-policing begins with kids. Even if you already know all the facts, you’ll be swooped up by the dynamic format of storytelling and interviews, and the beautiful production.
Each week on Missing Pages, Bethanne Patrick brings us intriguing, dishy stories pulled from the wacky publishing world, leaning heavily on true crime along the way. The first episode explores the salacious story behind the book The Woman in the Window; in another, a young woman is the pawn in a plagiarism scandal that sparks a conversation about book packaging. A two-part episode about Caroline Calloway will either completely blow your mind or fill you in on surprising things you didn’t know. Bethanne has the complicated scoop but the stories are expertly sewn together with interviews, history, and commentary. It’s for people in love with books and publishing, sure, but it will also satisfy true-crime and scam fiends.
Invisibilia, the show about the “unseeable forces that control our human behaviour and shape our ideas, beliefs, and assumptions,” is taking on the theme of invisible tools of control in its new season — the stories we tell ourselves about the control we have, the loss of it, and the crutches we use to feel like it’s there. After years in lockdown and a pandemic that is still part of our lives, our worlds have been upended. No one has emerged unscathed. (Some are more scathed than others.) What can we learn about getting it all back from a dominatrix who teaches a comic how to get over their power hangup or the tale of a journey into the sea? Invisibilia tells beautiful, personal stories plucked from curious corners of the world in order to prove that while we’re obsessed with control, the loss of it might just help us find freedom.
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