8 smart podcasts to get you through Serial withdrawal

Serial is a highly addictive podcast in which a reporter investigates a murder case over the course of 12 episodes. Since this is a post in which I recommend podcasts I will start by saying that if you haven’t listened to Serial, you should. However, if you are already one of the millions of Serial fans, I have recommendations for more podcasts that tell true stories in compelling ways.

There is nothing else quite like Serial, but there are a lot of smart and interesting podcasts that are worthy of your non-Serial-filled time. If you need more dramatic true stories to overcome Serial withdrawal, here are eight great podcasts to put in your earholes:

This American Life – Serial is technically a spin off of This American Life. Serial set out to do a hyper-longform version of the sorts of stories told on This American Life. As a result, This American Life can be viewed as a shortform version of Serial.

The Memory Palace – I hate choosing favorites, but if I had to choose a favorite podcast I’d probably say The Memory Palace. The stories shared on The Memory Palace are unknown or forgotten details from history. You never quite know how they are going to end. The podcasts are short and vary in length (often between 4 minutes and 15 minutes) depending on the story. Added bonus: Nate DiMeo’s soothing voice that makes Sarah Koenig’s lilt sound like crumpling aluminum foil by comparison.

Radio Lab – I don’t want to tell you that Radio Lab is a podcast about science because then you may think it’s boring. Radio Lab is a podcast about humans told through the lens of science. It’s full of weird facts and personal stories. Serial fans will find the audio looping in the intro similar to Serial’s MailChimp promo (without the mispronunciation).

Re:Sound – Re:Sound’s tag line is “It’s radio you can’t hear anywhere else, unless you live everywhere else.” Re:sound is the podcast and radio show arm of the Third Coast International Audio Festival. They find great radio stories and audio documentaries from other shows and websites then share the best of what they find. The stories are always fascinating and well produced.

The Moth Radio Hour – If you have ever been to a storytelling event by The Moth you know that they feature incredible true stories told live by the people who lived them. The Moth Radio Hour features recordings of some of the best stories from their live events. Some of the stories will make you laugh; some of the stories will make you cry. All the stories will have you listening intently for the end.

The next three podcasts are not purely storytelling, but they are too good not to mention.

Under the Influence (and its predecessor The Age of Persuasion) -This podcast explores advertising techniques and the history of advertising. It’s like Mad Men without the philandering, drinking, fashion, and set dressing. Okay, that sounds sort of boring, but Under the Influence is a really interesting show. Terry O’Reilly knows his stuff and a provides a lot insight on how advertisers try to get us to buy things.

Studio 360 – Studio 360 describes itself as a “guide to what’s happening in pop culture and the arts,” but that seems about as accurate as calling Radio Lab a science podcast. Studio 360 is smart and interesting people talking about smart and interesting things. It is hosted by Kurt Anderson, who has one of the sexiest intellects on radio.

Dinner Party Download – I don’t only include the Dinner Party Download on my list because Rico Gagliano once wrote a guest post for my blog, but it helps. If Studio 360 is smart and interesting people talking about smart and interesting things, the Dinner Party Download is often smart and interesting people talking about silly and irrelevant things. It’s also a great source for overly complicated cocktail recipes inspired by historical events and incredibly simple clean jokes (a.k.a. “ice breakers”) told by famous people.

What’s your favorite podcast to get you through Serial withdrawal?


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