2018 Podcast Roundup

James McKinney
Dec 15, 2018 · 5 min read

Of these 20 podcasts of 2018, I most highly recommend Thunder Bay. For most, I suggest a sample episode to help you decide whether to subscribe.

True Crime

… where the culprit isn’t a person—it’s colonialism.

  • Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo investigates the disappearance of a Saskatchewan girl, revealing the story of one of the more than 20,000 Indigenous children taken from their families in the Sixties Scoop. It won best serialized story at the 2018 Third Coast International Audio Festival (the Oscars of radio). (Connie Walker, CBC) 🇨🇦
  • Thunder Bay: Ryan McMahon spent many months building trust before recording this must-listen first season. “The highest homicide and hate crime rates in the country. A mayor charged with extortion. A police chief who faced trial for obstruction of justice. Nine tragic deaths of Indigenous high schoolers. Why does it all happen here?” (Canadaland) 🇨🇦 🆕

News & Politics

Previously subscribed:

  • MEDIA INDIGENA: Listen to its summer episodes in July and August that take deep dives into Indigenous issues in Canada. (Rick Harp) 🇨🇦

Society & Culture

  • Love Me’s third season is its best yet. If you have to choose between This Is Love and Love Me, pick Love Me — no question. Sample episode: To My Heart. See also the Third Coast Festival’s playlist inspired by the podcast. (Lu Olkowski, CBC) 🇨🇦
  • Ear Hustle’s second and third seasons continue to “bring you the stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it.” Its episode Dirty Water won honourable mention for best documentary at the 2018 Third Coast Festival. (Earlonne Woods, Nigel Poor, Radiotopia) 🇺🇸
  • A Bodies episode is a medical mystery, and also “an intimate, feminist exploration into the forces of history, society and identity that shape women’s health.” Sample episode: Unraveling. (Allison Behringer) 🇺🇸 🆕
  • Other People’s Problems lets you hear real people’s therapy sessions (with their consent), with interspersed explanations about mental health and therapy techniques. Sample episode: Maggie: When good moms need to be bad. (Hillary McBride, CBC) 🇨🇦 🆕
  • Alone: A Love Story is an authentic, unfiltered memoir by writer and narrator Michelle Parise. The first season described her marriage and separation, and this second season describes her new life as a single mother. Sample episode: Adrift. (Michelle Parise, CBC) 🇨🇦

Meat 🇮🇹 and bitchface 🇺🇸 had only one episode each in 2018 — I hope they return in 2019. Meat’s 2017 episode Host’s Fat won the Skylarking Award at the 2018 Third Coast Festival. See my earlier reviews.

Previously subscribed:

Arts & Performance

Ended in 2018:

Previously subscribed:

Audio fiction

  • Within the Wires’ third season continues to play with the conventions of audio storytelling: the first season took the form of relaxation cassettes; the second, museum audio guides; the third, dictated letters. The stories take place in an alternate universe, in which countries and families have been abolished. (Nightvale Presents) 🇺🇸
  • The Shadows is Kaitlin Prest’s latest work, using audio fiction to explore truths about love and intimacy. Listen to the first episode for a better idea of what this story offers. (CBC) 🇨🇦 🆕
  • This Sounds Serious is a true crime parody. (Chris Kelly, Pat Kelly) 🇨🇦 🆕

Kaitlin Prest previously hosted The Heart, whose episodes Man Choubam (I am good) by Sharon Mashihi won silver for best documentary and God + The Gays by Phoebe Wang won best new artist at the 2018 Third Coast Festival. Read Phoebe Wang’s acceptance speech about diversity in the audio industry.

Ended in 2018:

  • ars Paradoxica ended this year, an Audio Verse Award-winning “journey through spacetime and the Cold War.” (The Whisperforge) 🇺🇸


Earlier posts: 12 Canadian podcast recommendations, 8 Canadian podcast recommendations and Non-Canadian podcast recommendations.

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