My Favorite Podcasts of 2017

2017 was a banner year for podcasts.

It seems like everyone and their mother started one.

Quite frankly, if you’re not spending at least part of your commute listening to podcasts, you’re doing it wrong.

Thanks to the breadth of podcasts available, there were times in 2017 when I actually looked forward to the drive to work because I knew my ears would be filled with a fascinating story or interview.

I don’t expect much to change in 2018, either.

Marvel is working on a ‘Serial’-type podcast starting Wolverine, while I’m sure others will pop up that will help propel 2018 to podcast heights we’ve never seen.

But before we get too far into 2018, I want to share my favorite podcasts from 2017. Maybe you’ll discover something worth binging.

Up and Vanished

This is the true story of the unsolved 2005 disappearance of Tara Grinstead, a high school teacher from Georgia.

Host Payne Lindsey is a documentarian-turned-podcaster who came across this story while surfing the Web for a story he could tell. In a result that could only be described as serendipitous, Lindsey traveled to the small town of Ocilla to investigate the case and came away with a truly incredible story.

While there are some aspects of the story that made me throw my hands up in disbelief, it’s a story worth listening to, even if Lindsey tries to insert himself into the story. (Whether that’s okay or not is another blog post for another time.)

Stay Tuned with Preet

Preet Bahara is a former U.S. attorney who was fired by president Trump, along with the rest of the U.S. attorneys who were holdovers from the Obama administration.

Since his firing, he has gone on to start this podcast, where he engages in long form interviews with prominent guests.

If you lean to the left, you’ll probably find this more interesting than if you fall on the other side of the spectrum. But Preet’s interview with Bill Browder around the death of Sergei Magnitsky left me shook, as it should every American, no matter democrat or republican.

Slow Burn

Slow Burn is a new podcast from Slate that I’ve talked about a few times on my Twitter account.

It’s the story of how Watergate went from a burglary to a national scandal, told in a way where the host focuses on the fact that, much like today’s news, nobody knew what was going to happen on any given day.

I’ve listened to only four episodes, but it’s a fascinating look into a period of American history that looks and sounds very similar to present day.

Presidential 

I started listening to the Washington Post‘s Presidential podcast soon after the 2016 election. I figured, what better way to learn why the election turned out the way it did than by examining the motivations of past presidents and their campaigns.

I’m not all the way through the series, but I’ve made it a goal in 2018 to get to the end so that I might tackle host Lillian Cunningham’s next project, Constitutional.

Fun fact: Of all the presidents, John Adams reminds me the most of Donald Trump. Do with that information what you’d like.

The Thread

I don’t remember where I heard about this podcast, but the premise had me right away: Follow the thread of history as it weaves its way from the assassination of John Lennon to communist leader Vladimir Lenin.

Over the course of six (or maybe it’s seven?) episodes, the host examines how Lenin’s rise in the Soviet Union led to a deranged killer standing outside of the Dakota in New York City to snuff out a prominent voice of a generation.

The book “The Catcher in the Rye” also factors heavily into the story. If you’ve ever read the book, it might make you look at it in a completely different light.

How I Built This

I love hearing the story behind individuals turning an idea or a passion into a successful business, and this podcast delivers in spades.

Host Guy Raz talks to a number of people in a wide range of industries to uncover what led them to follow their dreams, what mistakes they made along the way, and if they would do anything differently.

If you’ve ever wanted to start your own business, this podcast will inspire you.

Embedded

This podcast takes a story from the news and goes deeper. They have focused on police shootings caught on video, the past of those involved in the Trump administration, and a town ravaged by the opioid epidemic.

If you want to know more than just what is being reported on the surface, this podcast delivers the goods.

(The Apprentice episode was listed in the Bello Collective’s 100 Outstanding Pieces of Audio list.)

Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on Unsplash