Like so many others, the podcast Serial
was a game changer for me. Before that came out, I’d heard about podcasts, but I didn’t really understand them and I didn’t really listen to them. Then I heard the first episode of Serial on This American Life. Instantly, I was hooked. So much so that on a road trip the next week, I made my husband listen to it. He became hooked as well.
We developed a routine: we’d listen to episodes together and then spend hours talking about the case and where the story might turn. My husband had just started a new job as a federal public defender which added an even deeper level to our discussions about the criminal justice system. When Serial ended, we turned to Undisclosed — a podcast that takes an even deeper dive into the Adnan Syed case (If you’re a fan of Serial, I highly recommend it — a lot of new information was uncovered, but you can also read about some of that here)
Once Undisclosed came to an end, I wanted more. Specifically, more stories like that. There’s something about the true crime podcast that I find particularly appealing. I think part of it is the narrative nature of so many of them — they have story arcs, reveals and turns and twists. They listen like reading a good thriller. And they often deal with a subject that really matters to me: criminal justice.
I’m a fervent believer that stories can change the world. Perhaps I’m an optimist, but I believe that once people see injustice, once they know about it, they’ll care about it and they’ll want to do something to stop it. The way to get people to care is through story — to make it personal. That’s what I think some of the best podcasts do.
In that vein, here’s my list of “if you liked Serial and narrative true crime stories you’ll like this” podcasts: