This past summer, I had a thirty-five minute or so commute to my internship in the morning. Then, when I would get there, I would plop down at my desk for input data. This was my life five days a week for 8 weeks over the summer. Was it boring? Yes. Was it monotonous? Yes. But in the depths of boredom, I discovered something amazing.
True crime podcasts.
It’s probably not healthy to listen to strangers talk about serial killers, cults, and weird crime stories in my ears for hours at a time, but boy is it addicting. Apparently, a lot of people agree with me because true crime podcasts have been increasing in popularity over the years, and now many popular podcasts have amassed huge fandoms and sell out live shows as if they were boy bands. However, I cannot express enough how important these podcasts are. Yes, they are wildly entertaining, but they also provide useful information for how to stay safe and how to watch out for others.
Navigating the massive world of podcasts can be overwhelming, so I have compiled a list of my tried and true podcasts, awaiting your next workout sesh, walk to class, or long car ride. I also added “where to start” with these podcasts, as some have upwards of 400 episodes.
Okay, this is one of the few podcasts on this list that is formatted like a series. You have to listen to each season starting on episode one and listening in order to understand. However, Serial is the OG true crime podcast. Season 1 is by far the best, following the wild case of Adnan Seyed. Hosted by Sarah Koeing, this podcast follows wildly mishandled criminal cases in hopes of finding the truth. All I will say is that you will not be the same after listening to Adnan’s case. This podcast inspired an HBO documentary, and even revealed enough about the case that Adnan had another trial. I promise, this podcast will spark a True Crime obsession in everyone.
Where to Start: Season 1
My Favorite Murder
Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark are two comedians who run this podcast which they describe as “A True Crime Comedy Podcast”. This is by far my favorite podcast of all time, and the best part is that you can listen to them in any order as each episode has a different story. Each weak they release one episode where each of them go in depth into a story, and one mini-sode where they read listener stories. They are both hilarious to say the least, but still manage to give victims the respect they deserve. They don’t pretend to be experts, and they are so honest and open about everything from mental health to feminism during their podcast that’s like a warm comedic hug (mixed with terrifying murder stories?) from a friend. This podcast is repeatedly on the top of the charts and has inspired a massive cult following filled with inside jokes such as “you’re in a cult, call your dad” and “F*ck politeness”. Their catchy tagline “Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered!” really encompasses the whole show.
Where to Start: Episode 18: “Investigateighteen Discovery” … This one is my personal favorite but honestly all the episodes are wonderful.
Last Podcast on the Left
Okay I’ll admit that this one isn’t for everyone. It is definitely one of my favorites, and probably the longest running podcast on this list, but the humor is very brash and brazen. It is much different than the “warm hug” of My Favorite Murder. It’s hosted by Marcus Parks, Henry Zebrowski, and Ben Kissel, which is a hilariously unexpected trio that works well together. Marcus Parks leads the podcast by doing hours and hours of in-depth research for each episode and episode series. They cover cults, alien abductions, serial killers and other strange things from history and the best part is that they go into the weirdest conspiracy theories on each topic. They push boundaries, talk about Satanism, and honestly just make the jokes a lot of people would be too scared to make.
Where to Start: Episode 331: The Donner Party part 1 OR Episode 310: Rasputin part 1
You can’t talk about true crime without talking about Crime Junkie. Ashely Flowers and Britt Prawat host this #1 trending podcast, and it is a perfect mix of My Favorite Murder and Serial. Ashely Flowers does so much research into each episode, it’s amazing that she has time to actually get it done. They cover mostly murdered and missing persons cases but do so in a very serious tone. Each episode is under one hour, so it feels a lot more manageable than a lot of the other podcasts. They really leave any commentary out of it, and truly focus on the story, making it one of the most straightforward and serious podcasts on this list.
Where to Start: MISSING: Maura Murray Part 1 (or if you listened to Serial listen to their episode about Adnan).
I saved the best for last. This was the first podcast I listened to under the recommendation of people in my internship. This story is wild. It is written in a series format, so you definitely need to listen to all the episodes in order, but it is better than any other TV series I’ve ever seen. It follows a doctor who somehow slipped through medical school in the early 2000’s with basically no training at all and managed to become a neurosurgical attending, despite having only done a few surgeries ever in his life. It is a wild story of drugs, creeps and possibly murder. Definitely worth the time investment.