Indian legends, women-centred anthems, wellness charlatans and #MeToo investigations
While oral storytelling is a tradition as old as time, podcasting has breathed new life into the spoken word. Here we shortlist our favourites for spring, from Indian legends and women-centred anthems, to wellness charlatans and #MeToo investigations.
1. Asking For It
This is a bingeable fiction show from Kaitlin Prest’s Mermaid Palace. Goldie escapes a chaotic childhood only to go from a partner who starves her of love to a partner who nearly drowns her in it. Combining Prest’s sonic flair with the cinematic writing of film director/musician Drew Denny, and a lush original soundtrack by Denny’s band HIPS; Asking For It is dark, immersive and raw. Sounds are expertly, richly, layered on top of one another to sink listeners into the world of the story. This is not an audio drama sign-posted with creaking doors, bringing doorbells and clinking glasses, it’s delicately and deliciously made.
2. The Catch & Kill Podcast
For the past two years, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow has been following a trail of clues from his investigation of Harvey Weinstein to uncover other blockbuster stories about the systems that protect powerful men accused of terrible crimes. But he didn’t bring that information to light on his own. A compelling cast of sources – from brave whistleblowers to shadowy undercover operatives – decided the fate of these investigations, sometimes risking everything in the process. The Catch & Kill Podcast brings you these stories in vivid, captivating detail. These are remarkable accounts that need to be heard.
3. The Daily – The Jungle Prince
In this short, but magnificently atmospheric mini-series, the New York Times’ exemplary daily news show investigates a story that’s been passed down for years from tea sellers to rickshaw drivers to shopkeepers in Old Delhi. A prince, princess and queen – said to be the last of a Shiite Muslim royal line – have hidden themselves deep within a forest, in a palace cut off from the city. After four years of reporting in India and Pakistan Ellen Barry discovers the strange and tragic truth behind the mystery of The Jungle Prince.
4. The Other Latif
Radiolab reporter Latif Nasser always believed his name was uniquely his own, that was, until he discovered Detainee 244 at Guantanamo Bay. The US government paints a terrifying picture of ‘The Other Latif’ as Al-Qaeda’s top explosives expert, and an advisor to Osama bin Laden. Nasser’s lawyer claims that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time, and that he was never even in Al-Qaeda. What results is a gripping, years long investigation which explores American values, religion, identity and how two nerdy, suburban Muslim kids can travel such strikingly different paths.
Produced by multi-award winning audio-maker Hana Walker-Brown, alongside Jaja Muhammad and Bea Duncan, Anthems is a collection of 31 original manifestos, speeches, stories, poems and rallying cries written and voiced by exceptional women, that celebrate and contemplate what it means to be a woman today. The series features bite-sized, beautifully scored essays by Booker Prize-winning author Bernardine Evaristo, Syrian poet and activist Lisa Luxx, chef and author Ruby Tandoh and Milena, Tolly T and Audrey of The Receipts Podcast to name a few.
6. The Dream
In the same month that Goop debuted a new Netflix series and announced plans for a forthcoming ‘wellness-at-sea’ experience (read: cruise), former This American Life-alum Jane Marie launched the second season of her critically acclaimed podcast, The Dream. Moving on from the mysterious and manipulative world of multi-level marketing schemes, this new series probes the murky depths of the wellness industry, uncovering stark truths behind the tinctures, powders, oils and crystals that claim to make us healthier, happier and more at one with ourselves.
7. Homo Sapiens
Alan Cumming and Christopher Sweeney have light, fun and occasionally touching interviews with a host of well-known guests including Margaret Cho, David Sedaris, Mykki Blanco, Troye Sivan and Rebecca Root among others. It makes for irreverent and entertaining listening.