During times of crisis, Americans used to gather and tune in to the radio. Today, it’s more likely we’ll scatter and listen to separate podcasts; there are just so many amazing ones out there. According to PodcastHosting.org‘s stats, as of March there are over 900,000, with over 28 million episodes — so how to choose?
In this column, we take a look at some of the most worth-your-time pods from the ever-expanding landscape.
Dovetailing with the runaway success of Netflix’s wild true-crime series “Tiger King” is “Cat People,” a new Longreads four-part series from journalist co-hosts Rachel Nuwer and Peter Frick-Wright, the former of whom is a Brooklyn-based wildlife expert. “I’ve written a ton about poaching, but most of what I’ve done has been in other countries,” says the 34-year-old Nuwer. “For me, seeing this in our own backyards was extremely shocking.”
“Cat People” looks at American private owners of tigers, lions and other big cats, whom Nuwer thinks tend to fall within two major groups. “A misplaced love for nature drives a lot of these people,” she says. “They think, well, tigers are endangered, so if I get a tiger, I’m helping to protect the species. Which is not accurate in terms of how conservation works.”
The other group, she says, features types like Joe Exotic, the subject of the Netflix docuseries. “These macho types look at a big cat like they might look at a Ferrari — as something that makes them feel special, makes them stand out from the neighbors. They can be the Tiger Guy, or the Lion Woman.”
While she appreciates the interest her podcast might get from “Tiger King” fans, Nuwer’s offering a deeper dive into this bizarre subculture. “I’m hoping I can provide more substance for those who want to delve beyond the ‘oh, my God,’ in your face details,” she says.
From Wondery.com comes “WeCrashed,” a six-parter charting the rise and cringe-inducing fall of communal workspace company WeWork. Once valued at $47 billion, the company was, as it turned out, more smoke and mirrors than solid foundation, as led by guru-esque CEO Adam Neumann. As a former employee puts it in the series, “One of my colleagues turned to me and said, ‘Oh my f–king God, this is a cult.’ ”
Sports: They’re not just for sports fans anymore. In Crooked Media’s “Hall of Shame,” Fox Sports host and comic Rachel Bonnetta and comedy writer Rachna Fruchbom revisit some of the craziest scandals in sports history, including the Boston Marathon cheater and, as they say, “the biggest sting operation that you’ve probably never heard of.” If you’re feeling bereft about the lack of pro sports to watch, this might be the perfect pod for you.
In the wake of Harvey Weinstein’s conviction, check out “Chasing Cosby,” a Stitcher podcast hosted by investigative reporter Nicki Weisensee Egan, and featuring interviews with accusers, including Andrea Constand, examining in-depth the first big story of the #MeToo era and the horrifying truth about one of America’s formerly most beloved comics.
He made his name doing jaw-droppingly heedless stunts on “Jackass” and “Wildboyz,” then did a stint in rehab and has since become a vocal animal rights activist on YouTube. Now, Steve-O (Stephen Glover) has a pod of his own, “Wild Ride! with Steve-O,” and is hitting the road to interview celebrity guests in his mobile home/studio. His first episode, available on Apple podcasts, features guest Tony Hawk — the retired pro skater who was one of Glover’s early inspirations.
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