It was a great year for listening to podcasts. From twisty true crime stories to internet deep-dives, here are some of the best new podcasts of 2023.
On “Search Engine,” audio journalist PJ Vogt tracks down the answers to the questions he always has on his mind. Should we not be drinking airline coffee? Where do you find good music? What’s it like to go blind? Fans of the now-defunct podcast “Reply All” will recognize “Search Engine” as its spiritual sequel.
Why are so many self-help books full of such bad advice? From threadbare research to bizarre philosophies, Michael Hobbes and Peter Shamshiri break down the bestsellers of pop nonfiction. These books, though mostly bunk, speak to the cultural attitudes of the times they were written, and the implicit biases of their authors. Plus, they’re also pretty funny. Hobbes and Shamshiri delight in exposing the flaws of these books and use them as a jumping-off-point to discuss issues that are still relevant today. Not interesting enough? Just wait until they get to your favorite book.
“The Retrievals” is a podcast from Serial Productions and the New York Times that tells the story of women who went to a Yale fertility clinic for egg retrievals. When the procedure is unusually, excruciatingly painful, the patients are left wondering what happened, and what was wrong with them. Eventually, it’s discovered that their fentanyl had been surreptitiously replaced with saline. But who would do such a thing? And why did it take so long for the patients to be taken seriously about their pain?
What if you bought a DNA kit and unlocked something that was supposed to stay hidden? “The Gift” is a podcast from BBC Radio 4 that follows the stories of people whose lives were changed forever after receiving unexpected news from an at-home DNA kit. Once they learn their own secrets, there’s no way to unlearn them. This podcast will keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting for each revelation.
Amanda is dying. Or is she? “Scamanda” follows the tale of Amanda C. Reilly, a wife, mother and blogger who told everyone that she had been diagnosed with cancer. Amanda built an online empire dedicated to following her cancer journey. But was it all an elaborate hoax? And if it was, who was in on it? Truth really is stranger than fiction, especially when you can’t tell the two apart.
After breaking up with her boyfriend, Bob Bierenbaum, Carole Fisher seeks community in his other ex-girlfriends. As the women bond over Bob’s many shortcomings, they start to notice that some of his stories about his ex-wife, Gail Katz, don’t make sense. This podcast, hosted by Fisher herself, tells the story of how Bierenbaum’s ex-girlfriends banded together to solve the mystery of his ex-wife’s disappearance.
For more podcast recommendations, check out the full Podcast Pulse archives.
Do you listen to podcasts? Do you have any favorite new shows? Tell us about them in the comments below.