Who would have guessed that podcasts would become so popular in 2014? This past October, “Serial,” an addictive NPR podcast that delved into a true crime story, gained the attention of millions and reportedly broke iTunes records as the fastest-downloaded podcast in history. Although you can still listen to the entire series, many people are missing their weekly dose of intrigue. But, you’re not out of luck—these five podcasts will keep you entertained until the new season of “Serial” returns later this year.
This weekly podcast is a spinoff of the best-selling book by the same name. The book’s award-winning authors, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, question why things happen the way they do or, as they say, they explore “the hidden side of everything.” Topics have included “Is college really worth it?” “The truth about online dating,” and “How we can save money without even trying.” The tone is smart and sometimes quirky, but each episode will definitely keep you thinking even after it’s over.
If you liked the feel of “Serial,” you’ll definitely enjoy “This American Life” (“Serial” was this program’s spinoff series). Hosted by Ira Glass, each episode of “This American Life” dissects a fascinating true story, ranging from mysterious to light. For instance, a popular episode investigates the true story of two children switched at birth in Wisconsin and interviews all of the family members involved to get their reactions upon finding out the truth. Another episode examines the nation’s top “party schools” and questions what makes these colleges party destinations. Sarah Koenig (“Serial’s” narrator) also narrates many “This American Life” episodes.
If you’re a parent or grandparent of a child age 0 to 3, you won’t want to miss this insightful (and helpful) podcast. Host Ann Pleshette Murphy, a past contributor to “Good Morning America,” interviews a different expert each episode. Listeners learn about many of the most common issues facing parents of babies and toddlers such as establishing self-esteem in the early years or techniques to help your child sleep through the night.
What shapes human behavior? That’s the question this podcast tackles each week. A recent episode asks us to examine our relationship with fear and informs us about one of the only people in the world that is biologically incapable of experiencing fear. Scientists have studied her story and her interview in “Invisibilia” is the first time she discusses her experiences. NPR co-hosts and science reporters Lulu Miller and Alix Spiegel (two of the creators of “This American Life”) narrate each episode. The podcast launched at No. 1 on iTunes and had more than 5 million downloads within the first month of its release. You will be hooked by the first episode!
As this podcast’s website describes, “Criminal is a podcast of a crime. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” With a “Serial”-like reporting style, you’ll zip through each engrossing 20-minute crime story episode. Many call this the real-life version of “CSI” or “Law & Order.”