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12 Complete Podcasts to Binge Right Now

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Across all forms of entertainment media, we are living in the age of the binge, and podcasts are no different. Certainly it’s frustrating to be swept away by a captivating podcast episode only to find out you have to wait a week or more to continue the story.

How satisfying, then, to listen to these 12 great, now completed shows from first episode to last, without worrying that a break will cause you to lose the thread of the story. When listened to in one go, they offer you extraordinary (and extraordinarily satisfying) examples of podcast storytelling. We promise you tales of Charles Manson, a real simulated space mission on a Hawaiian island, a Mensa infiltrator, and more.

Bear Brook

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Three boys discover a mysterious barrel in the woods in the explosive beginning to the first season of Bear Brook, a true crime podcast series that explores a string of cold case murders in New Hampshire. Host Jason Moon takes you all over America as police, journalists, and citizen investigators strive to solve the case—and advanced DNA techniques eventually find a solution and reveal a decades-long nationwide crime spree. On Feb. 20, the second season of Bear Brook investigates a very different case: the story of an imprisoned man who now professes his innocence in a brutal murder, even though his confession can be heard on tape.

Minutes: 330 (seven episodes with a few updates)

My Year in Mensa

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At the risk of hyperbole: My Year in Mensa is the perfect podcast. The four-episode series throws comedian Jamie Loftus, who almost accidentally passed the MENSA exam and delegitimized the entire organization in an article for Paste (“Good News, They Let Dumb Sluts into Mensa Now”), into the fire of a Mensa conference. After sending her online death threats via the official Mensa Facebook Group, the toxic members of the big brain social club confront her at the conference and take her on a funny, uncomfortable, vulnerable journey—and this show brings you along for the ride, which gets wilder than you can imagine. This is a reminder that not all podcasts need to be 12 episodes long.

Minutes: 162 (four episodes)

Finding Fred

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When I was a kid, I thought Mister Rogers was boring. I thought I was already perfect, and I didn’t need him to remind me. As an adult, I find myself feeling much less secure, which is probably why Finding Fred, a deep dive into the story of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, to be such a tear-jerker. Cultural critic Carvell Wallace takes us through the most groundbreaking moments of the storied kids’ show (a highlight: Mr. Rogers offering to wash Officer Clemmons’ feet), delves into the personal stories that happened off-camera (Fred’s famous “Helpers” speech), and gives us a peek into the secret life of Fred Rogers (he weighed the exact same amount every day of his life). If you grew up on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, this will be a hit of nostalgia for you. But even if you didn’t, you could probably use a dose of his signature heart-warming affirmation now. Fred likes you just the way you are.

Minutes: 345 (ten episodes)

Root of Evil

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Root of Evil is technically about the murder of Elizabeth Short (The Black Dahlia), which became one of the most infamous murders in American history. But this account of a headline-grabbing story couldn’t be more personal. Elizabeth’s daughters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile dive into their dark pasts to conduct their own murder investigation, tracking the generational trauma that results from being related to George Hodel, a true monster who most likely killed Dahlia. His crimes did not end there. This show is a nail-biting thriller, a celebration of sisterly love, and a thought exercise about the nature of evil.

Minutes: 364, including a four-minute bonus episode


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1619 is essential listening for every American, a podcast that fully commits itself to exploring to the darkness of our nation’s history with honesty and transparency. It’s the story of slavery in the U.S. that didn’t get in school, and about how white supremacy and racism have passed through the decades and can be traced back to the root of it all: the August day in 1619 when 20-30 enslaved Africans landed at Point Comfort, today’s Fort Monroe in Hampton, Virginia aboard the English privateer ship White Lion, forever changing the course of history. Pulitzer Prize-winner Nikole Hannah-Jones poetically outlines the history and context needed to understand it, telling the stories of oppression and pain of the Black American experience we don’t like to hear about, but need to understand. It is a show about our history, and our present day.

Minutes: 201 (six episodes)


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On the day the levees broke—Aug. 29, 2005—the city of New Orleans was submerged, and the media was flooded with stories of government incompetence, cruelty, hopelessness, and the devastating potential of Mother Nature’s wrath. But many tales went untold, and Floodlines uses storytelling, interviews with survivors, and reporting that addresses the media misinformation and government incompetence to reveal the true story of one of the most misunderstood national tragedies in recent history. It’s a harrowing documentary that unfolds like a novel.

Minutes: 262 (eight episodes)

You Must Remember Manson: A Karina Longworth Podcast

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From reading Helter Skelter to absorbing countless movies and true crime documentaries, you might think you know everything about Charles Manson and the infamous Manson murders. But Karina Longworth’s series You Must Remember Manson (originally released as the miniseries “Charles Manson’s Hollywood” as part of her film history podcast You Must Remember This) is the full cigar. In 12 parts, Karina combines superb storytelling and journalistic rigor to tell the real story of the Manson Family through the lens of Hollywood, touching upon Manson’s lust for fame and the California music scene at large. It goes beyond the murder and into the life of the man who orchestrated it, but it also contextualizes the world he was living in that led to the horrible events of the night of Aug. 8, 1969.

Minutes: 484 (12 episodes)

The Dream

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Season one of The Dream, hosted by Jane Marie, focuses on the multilevel marketing industry and the people most deeply impacted by it. We all get nervous when a supposed friend asks us to buy makeup or leggings on Facebook, but who are these people and what drives them to sell? What do they know that you don’t know? Or what do you know that they don’t? Jane Marie tells the story of why MLMs work with empathy, introducing us to women in her hometown of Owosso, Michigan, where 25% of the population currently lives below the poverty line, and people, mostly women, are left with few options to make a living and MLMs give them the dream of becoming a girlboss. Jane Marie doesn’t enter this story with skepticism, but what she finds probably won’t surprise you.

Minutes: 509 (includes four bonus episodes)


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In 2017, the teams behind Serial and This American Life developed S-Town, a story revolving around an eccentric man named John who contacted producer Brian Reed to look into an alleged murder in his hometown of Woodstock, Alabama. The podcast kicks off with John making his way to Woodstock to meet John; soon, Brian falls into a mystery, as John turns out to be stranger than he ever expected, and explores the very human complexities of everyone he meets along the way. John is a character too strange to be true, and a shocking twist in the first few episodes will have you hooked. Assembled from captured audio, traditional reporting, interviews, and storytelling, this is a fully immersive experience that will never fail to surprise you.

Minutes: 376 (seven episodes)

The Habitat

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For The Habitat, six real, human contestants were asked to play the part of a crew of astronauts living on Mars, simulating the experience of a year-long space mission. (Think NASA meets Big Brother.) In reality, they were camped out on a remote mountain in Hawaii, but the emotions, drama, claustrophobia, and romance they experienced along the way were real. Host Lynn Levy is there to set the scenes, stringing together a narrative from the audio diaries the crew members were required to log each day. It listens like a huge philosophical experiment and juicy reality TV show in one.

Minutes: 212 (eight episodes, including one bonus episode)

The Ballad of Billy Balls

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In The Ballad of Billy Balls, we join host iO Tillett Wright and their mother Rebecca as they investigate the death of Rebecca’s former lover Billy, chasing his ghost through the streets and allies of modern New York City. It requires them to confront an uncomfortable history—iO’s brutal childhood, Rebecca’s wild life, and Billy’s footprint on the music scene in the 1970s. What happened to Billy is the point, but what you get is a mother-child detective duo who love each other, can’t stand each other, and are dedicated to leaving no stone unturned to tell the true ballad of Billy Balls.

Minutes: 423 (13 episodes) + 135 minutes (four bonus episodes)


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Now for a little bit of fiction. Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie’s Limetown is presented as an investigation into the mysterious disappearance of the entire population of the titular small town, and it quickly gained a large following for its compelling story, high quality production, and serialized format. The thing is, it was so slick, people were convinced it was a documentary. Confused listeners argued about where the show sat on the fact/fiction spectrum, which generated even more buzz. Now we can look back on it as a case study in how a podcast can blur the lines between fiction and reality. Released back in 2015, it was one of the first podcasts to garner mainstream attention, and helped to pave the way for other fiction podcasts.

Minutes: 441 (19 episodes, including eight mini episodes)



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