My 25 Favourite New Podcasts of 2023

My 25 Favourite New Podcasts of 2023

Trying to stay on top of all the latest podcasts can feel like you’re drinking from a fire hose. Unless it’s your full-time job to listen, you probably completely missed something great. Luckily for you, it’s my full-time job to listen to podcasts; I’ve logged hours sampling nearly every release I could get my hands on. I’m back to report that it was a great year in podcasts. This list could have included more than 100 shows. But I’ve narrowed this list down to the 25 best shows that came out in 2023, which should give you enough to binge until Lifehacker makes this list again in 2024. Happy listening.

Louder Than a Riot

Louder Than a Riot
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It was hip hop’s 50th birthday this year, and we celebrated a genre of music that has allowed artists to express frustration with oppression and feeling unheard. But for Black women, queer people, and others on the margins, that oppression has been coming from inside the house. The second season of Louder Than A Riot, hosted by NPR Music’s Sidney Madden and Rodney Carmichael, examines how hip-hop marginalizes the people who built it, and how misogynoir — the specific racist misogyny against Black women — is baked into its very culture. Louder Than A Riot’s harsh and beautiful storytelling touches upon harassment, queerphobia, and assault. Interviews with Rico Nasty, Saucy Santana, and Megan Thee Stallion give a pulse to this series that makes it a total mic drop. 

The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks

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Jar Jar Binks from 1999’s Star Wars: The Phantom Menace may have been named “the most annoying movie character of all time” by Complex, but behind the character was a real person: Ahmed Best, a Bronx-born actor who got his start in the theatrical production of STOMP. On The Redemption of Jar Jar Binks, Dylan Marron examines how an online harassment campaign against Binks impacted Best, and on a deeper level, how the words we use online can have real impact on the humans behind the screen. Don’t worry if you have no idea who Jar Jar is. Dylan makes Redemption feel friendly and necessary to fans and newbies alike.  

You Didn’t See Nothin

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For You Didn’t See Nothin, Yohance Lacour brings us to a 1997 hate crime that took place on the South Side of Chicago and changed his life forever. The show starts with the day of the attack when Yohance was in his early 20s, writing plays, selling weed, and living with his dad when the terrible media coverage of the attack drove him to take things in his own hands, working with a local neighborhood newspaper to investigate the crime. After a 10-year stint in prison, Yohance is back in Chicago, bringing a new perspective with archival audio and new interviews with those involved. Yohance tells this story in an animated, poetic way that makes you feel like you’re inside a pop-up book. The story is a mix of true-crime investigation, personal memoir, and bold narration. 

Search Engine

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Those of you who have been missing PJ Vogt after his departure from the popular podcast Reply All can take a breath of relief—PJ’s new show Search Engine delivers all of the things they love about Reply All—internet mysteries, boots-on-the-ground reporting, and PJ’s sense of humor and famous chuckle. He’s searching for answers to things you can’t just look up on the internet. Like how sad monkeys are at the zoo, whether or not we should be drinking airplane coffee, and why people don’t eat each other. Search Engine is inquisitive and expertly produced, and will answer questions about humans you didn’t even know you had. 

Free From Desire

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There isn’t a ton of content about asexuality out there, and what’s there is often incorrect. That always bothered Aline Laurent-Mayard, who spent their teenage years feeling alienated from peers because of their own lack of interest in sex. Free From Desire, which won Tribeca’s Narrative Nonfiction Audio Storytelling Award, is an elegant reflection on Aline’s understanding of their asexuality and becoming a single parent. In a storytelling style that feels like a private whisper, Aline opens up about growing up in Paris, The City of Love, in the ’90s, feeling free from desire. They talk to experts, sociologists, and friends about our culture’s obsession with coupling in the most traditional sense. Free From Desire gets asexuality right in a way that’s driven by personal experience, making it triumphant, graceful, and intimate. 


"Foretold" podcast logo
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At 17, Paulina Stevens’ cards had been dealt for her. Growing up in an insular Romani American family, she had left school, married, started growing her family, and joined her in-laws in the family fortune-telling business. Foretold is what happens when Paulina risks everything to step away and chart her own path. Reported by Faith Pinho, who was approached by Paulina years ago as a rookie reporter, Foretold corrects Romani stereotypes with empathy while honestly reporting on the cultural problems that drove Paulina away. It’ll have you on the edge of your seat, rooting Paulina on and wondering how she’ll break free without losing her children. Enter through the neon “Psychic Readings” sign and emerge forever changed.

Let’s Make a Horror

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On the Let’s Make… series, Ryan Beil, Maddy Kelly, and Mark Chavez spend entire seasons writing screenplays for a film, interviewing other directors, writers, and experts in the genre along the way. Season one was all about writing a sci-fi screenplay, season two was all about writing a rom-com screenplay, and the newest season, Let’s Make a Horror, is all about writing a horror screenplay. Just like the previous seasons, they’re talking to film- and spook-makers to figure out what goes into a good horror film, but this time, they’re actually going to film it. Another twist: They don’t know anything about horror, and some of them (Maddy) don’t even like it. They kick things off by talking to the director of The Blair Witch Project, Eduardo Sánchez and trying to pinpoint what makes them scared. (Some things on the list…horses, “being alone in a field and someone comes running,” kidnappings, and being buried alive.)


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Hosted by Erick Galindo, season one of WILD was a time capsule of the kinds of moments captured during a global pandemic that left a lot of us growing up again while stuck at home for more than a year. Season two brought on Megan Tan for a fictional love story inspired by the wildest thing Erick once did for love. This show starts out in Los Angeles and has a strong sense of place as it takes you on a road trip with a woman who stole Erick’s heart. He’s narrating the story to Megan the whole time, and it feels like you’re at a diner, hearing the story shared over brunch with friends. You’ll have to listen to find out if Cupid’s arrow hits—the answer will have your mind blurring the lines between fact and fiction, and will leave you feeling optimistic about love. 


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Jonathan Menjivar was a blue-collar Latino kid who grew up in a working-class family, and found himself as an adult in public radio, alongside people with much different backgrounds. (Like, ahem, Terry Gross.) Classy is a podcast that lets us hear him grapple with the dissonance of living in a world of oysters and cashmere, while remembering a past of food stamps and factories. He’s asking himself, “Am I a class-hole?” Episodes feature intimate looks into Jonathan’s life and background, and explorations into budget shopping and how the military preys on poor people. Every single episode of Classy feels like the best of the series. It’s thoughtful, probing, and personal, forcing us to consider how class shapes our perspectives of the world and how we belong in it.

Weight for It

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Ronald Young Jr. is fat, and on his podcast Weight for It, which was selected in Tribeca’s 2023 Official Audio Storytelling Series, he’s talking about it. Weight for It is part narrative storytelling, part personal memoir—and it gets extremely personal. Every episode is a deep exploration into his own desirability, his shame, and his relationships. He even brings his mic into the doctor’s office, so we can hear the completely insane way doctors often treat fat people.

Keys to the Kingdom

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I was so excited to listen to Keys to the Kingdom that I was nervous to press play. On it, audio power couple Matt Gourley and Amanda Lund take us backstage at our favorite theme parks to hear from surviving characters, performers, and fans, getting the juicy details about what it’s really like, sans pixie dust—perhaps what places like the Disney headquarters doesn’t want us to know. (In fact, this seems like a pretty gutsy move. I think many people are afraid to spoil the magic of Disney—they have been warned not to, with threat of lawsuits.) Matt and Amanda interview ex cast members (Disney lingo for anyone who works there) Deep Skirt, White Glove 1, White Glove 2, and Scott Aukerman about the strange things they’ve had to do to please guests and stay sane. (If a dad is getting handsy, princesses are instructed to hold their arm up and say, “let me pose you like a prince!” which means, get your dirty hands off me your family is watching. This also works if a kid is barfing on your costume or covered in ice cream.) Episode one covers princesses, episode two is dedicated to the cast members in the fuzzy costumes. Matt and Amanda are delightful, funny, and they are not holding back.


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It was so easy to get hooked on Bridget Todd’s series about the rivalry between names like Adidas and Puma, Penthouse and Playboy, and Dear Abby and Ann Landers. Beef feels like a gossipy version of Business Wars—it’s full of tales about how these legends went to battle only to learn that having a little friendly competition is what often drives us to success. Bridget Todd (There Are No Girls on the Internet) reels us in with storytelling and interviews that map out the history of how legends pushed each other to greatness, and all the petty stuff that happened on the way.

The Coldest Case in Laramie

"The Coldest Case in Laramie" Podcast logo
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From the people who brought us Serial (Serial Productions and The New York Times) comes The Coldest Case in Laramie, a story about an unsolved murder that took place 40 years ago in Laramie, Wyoming. It’s hosted by Kim Barker, a journalist who was in high school when the murder occurred. This isn’t so much a whodunnit—there are lots of conflicting versions and unresolved conclusions—but more of a story about the inherent nature of true crime and journalism, how stories are reported, and how we decide to tell them. There is a lengthy segment of interrogation that will freeze you in your seat. When I finished it, I went back to episode one again and re-listened, because the twist made me reevaluate everything I just heard. 

The Retrievals

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The Retrievals is a roller coaster of a story that will strap you in and have you engrossed from the very beginning. It takes us to 2020 to a fertility clinic at Yale, where a nurse was secretly replacing vials of a pain-reducing opioid with saline solution, causing the women to go through painful procedures without any relief. And no one believed them. Poignant, challenging, and thought-provoking, it expertly tells not just a jaw-dropping story, but shares the voices of the women impacted—the very voices that were quieted in the first place. The Retrievals’ excellent reporting and production makes this urgent story that needs to be told one that is so gripping you won’t mind listening, even though there are parts that are difficult to hear.


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Never Told is a show that passes different writers the mic to share strange, surprising, secret, or shameful stories they’ve never heard before. Never Told’s spinoff show Eerie is an eight-episode anthology series of original horror stories, presented by a different writer every time. Listening to it is like pulling out a random book in a spooky, web-covered (possibly hidden) bookshelf—you don’t know what you’re going to get. (The first one was about a researcher alone in the Arctic … but what happened to her crew?) The Eerie team is trying really hard to scare you. (And I think they will.)

Murder on Sex Island

"Murder on Sex Island" Podcast logo
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Jo Firestone had some time on her hands (thanks to the writer’s strike) so she wrote a book called Murder on Sex Islandwhich you can order now—and you can also hear her read it to you on her podcast, also called Murder on Sex Island. A reality TV show’s contestant goes missing, which inspires detective (and obsessive fan of the show) Luella van Horn to go undercover on the show to find him, but she has her own secret to hide. It’s not just packed with hilarious details—the plot is well-crafted. I’d say it’s a perfect bedtime story, but you’ll probably be laughing too hard to fall asleep. If you love comedy and audiobooks, this one’s for you.

Hooked on Freddie

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In 1987 in the British seaside town of Amble, a bottlenose dolphin named Freddie became a fixture in the harbour, and a local celebrity. This bothered Alan Cooper, an animal rights activist committed to freeing captive dolphins, who had been beefing with Peter Bloom, the owner of the nearby Flamingo Land dolphinarium. The podcast Hooked On Freddie is about a particular incident, when Cooper was swimming with Freddie, and Bloom told police that Cooper was “wanking Freddie off,” launching tabloid rumours, a trial, and a complete unravelling of Cooper’s reputation (despite the fact he was found not guilty). The story is reported by Becky Milligan, a reporter who was there and remembers everything. This is probably the only dolphin sex scandal you’ve ever heard, and it’s definitely the best.

Say More with Dr? Sheila

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That “?” after Dr isn’t a typo—on Say More with Dr? Sheila, Sheila isn’t a doctor: She’s a questionably qualified couples therapist played by Amy Poehler. (“For legal reasons, ‘Dr?’ must be said in the form of a question.”) And Say More with Dr? Sheila is an improvised comedy show where Dr? Sheila lets you be a fly on the wall in her couples therapy sessions. Think Where Should We Begin? with zero expertise. Dr? Sheila strives to improve the relationships between her clients, but only makes them worse. (In episode one, she plays a round of OJ-inspired “if you did it” about cheating, which gets “Beth” and “Ryan” revealing detailed accounts of the cheating that they definitely did do.) Huge names like Fred Armisen, Kate Berlant, Rachel Dratch, John Early, Tina Fey, Ana Gasteyer, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson, Jason Mantzoukas, Maya Rudolph, and Paul Scheer play the couples.


"Grapevine" Podcast logo
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Southlake was a wonderful show about a controversy in a Texas town that sparked a national crusade against critical race theory when a video surfaced in 2018 showing Southlake high school students chanting the n-word. It was a sort-of prequel to NBC’s latest. Grapevine takes place in a neighboring Texas town, where a mother of a trans student accused a teacher of grooming her daughter. Mike Hixenbaugh and Antonia Hylton go to the school to look into this mother’s allegations to find a story of a transgender child who just wants to be herself, a mom (her own) hellbent on putting God first, the teacher who kicked this whole thing off by allowing her students to take home copies of a book called The Prince and the Dressmaker, and it’s all somehow tied to a discount phone company? Like Southlake, it’s a high-stakes personal story that uncovers something bigger—this time, a fringe religious movement set on making America great again according to their version of biblical values.

Dear Alana,

"Dear Alana," Podcast logo
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Alana Chen was a high-achieving, friendly, smart and athletic 14-year-old who had an unusual obsession with the Catholic faith—she really wanted to become a nun. At 14, she confessed to a trusted priest that she was attracted to women. That priest convinced her not to tell her family, and for seven years, Alana secretly sought pastoral counsel and conversion therapy. When she was 24, Alana died by suicide, and her family was left with so many questions. So was Simon Kent Fung, the host of Dear Alana, who reached out to Alana’s family immediately when he heard her story, which deeply resonated with him. He, too, sought out conversion therapy for nearly a decade in his efforts to become a priest. He teams up with the Chens, who have two dozen of Alana’s personal journals, to learn about the things that went on behind closed doors and the forces that drove a girl who needed real help to the edge. 

The Puzzler

"The Puzzler" Podcast logo
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A new daily podcast has come to town, and it has such a great premise I can’t believe this type of show isn’t already all over the place. The Puzzler is a short (and daily!) trivia quiz (it’s also a book) hosted by A.J. Jacobs. With fun guests such as Roy Wood Jr., Michael Ian Black, Mo Rocca, and Chuck Bryant, it’s truly something you can look forward to when your alarm starts blaring in the morning. It’s a quick hit of brain caffeine and an absolute delight. 

ODB: A Son Unique

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The first episode of ODB: A Son Unique had my jaw on the floor. The podcast tells the story of Old Dirty Bastard (aka Russell Tyrone Jones aka Ason Unique) the gigantic footprint he made in hip hop, his high highs and tragic lows. Host photographer Khalik Allah has a special tie to ODB—it’s a story about Wu Tang lifting a car off a little girl. It’s a great opener to a lively series about a complicated person who wasn’t taken seriously enough, but was extreme, a jokester, a man who loved babies and once jumped off a building to get a kiss, and lived and breathed the Five Percent Nation. This show is packed with great stories, there is no sagginess—I was skipping back to relisten. You get a lot of hip hop history and the story of Wu Tang, too. ODB is worthy of this thoughtful treatment that has both devastating and joyful moments.

Ghost Story

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Tristan Redman is a serious journalist who doesn’t believe in ghosts … except for the one who may have been living in his childhood bedroom when he was a teenager. Fast forward a decade or so: Tristan is married and discovers that his wife Kate’s great-grandmother Naomi Dancy happens to have lived (and was murdered) next door in 1937. For his podcast Ghost Story, Tristan has started gathering stories from other people who have lived in his old bedroom who report seeing the ghost of a faceless woman. Naomi was stabbed in the eyes, allegedly by her brother, which would make this a grisly true crime story. But Tristan believes the faceless woman is Naomi, and that she has a message: It wasn’t her brother who killed her, but her husband. And so the true crime story turns into a ghost story, or maybe it’s the other way around. Episodes two and three begin to take a darker turn. 

The Heist

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The award-winning podcast The Heist is dedicated to exposing systemic injustices often hidden from the United States public’s eyes. (Season two, “The Wealth Vortex,” won the 2023 Excellence in Financial Journalism Award for best audio reporting and was nominated for an Ambie.) It’s back with a single, very personal story that focuses on America’s Black farmers and ranchers, and how what the U.S. government stole from them. (And continue to steal.) Host April Simpson reports and shares personal conversations with Nate Bradford, a farmer impacted by this heist. You feel like you’re sitting in her pocket as she travels to his home and hear real talk about the hardships of being a Black farmer in America. It’s enraging and eye-opening. The Heist perfectly combines meticulous reporting with deeply personal narrative, to blow open government secrets with a human aspect that makes us feel the pain.

The Girlfriends

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In 1995, Carole Fisher was looking for love, so her friend Mindy introduced to Bob Bierenbaum, a Jewish plastic surgeon who flew planes and spoke several languages. (Mindy dated him and was passing him along.) He was “perfect on paper,” a fact that allowed Carole to dismiss several red flags—like telling her that his ex-wife Gail was missing and presumed dead. Carol and Mindy start talking about him and along with a bunch of other girlfriends, start this sort of armchair detective club where they attempt to track down what happened to Gail. It was a joke. But the dots start to connect. The Girlfriends is true crime at its best, a chorus of women’s voices joined together to uncover a truth the system couldn’t. 

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