Autumn usually brings reflection as we contemplate the year and move into the downtime of the holidays. This fall season is also ideal for catching up on the podcasts from newcomers and old favorites. These are some standout podcasts from this past fall, in case you missed them.
True-crime enthusiasts and horror lovers alike would find journalist Tristan Redman's new podcast, "Ghost Story," binge-worthy. The premise behind the seven-part series from Wondery and Pineapple Street Studios is best described as a "conceptual turducken," said Vulture critic Nicholas Quah: "a secret family history stuffed into a murder mystery stuffed into the titular ghost story." While investigating a haunting he experienced as a teen, Redman uncovers a nearly hundred-year-old murder that is coincidently connected to his wife's family. Her relatives include her father, Jonathan Dancy, a famous philosopher, and actor Hugh Dancy, her brother. What unravels is a twisted mystery that might have been confusing in different hands. "But Redman is a very clear host, and the interweaving of his investigation and his chats with Kate and her family is warm and well done," Miranda Sawyer wrote in The Guardian. Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.
Strike Force Five
All five late-night hosts, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel, John Oliver, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers, joined forces for a short time toward the end of the Hollywood writers' strike. They donated the proceeds from this podcast to their striking staff. The hosts "took some time to figure out the comedic rhythm of the show," but they eventually "found their groove," Eliana Dockterman wrote in Time. Even though celebrity podcasts can be "self-aggrandizing and irksome," this group of hosts "charms with their willingness to humiliate themselves," Dockterman added. Strike Force Five might fall short of fully satisfying your late-night itch, but "the show had a value of its own," Sarah Larson wrote for The New Yorker. It was a treat to hear them "vocally supporting the strike while being mutually warm and respectful and busting one another's chops." Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.
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McCartney: A Life in Lyrics
This intriguing new podcast is based on the hours of interviews Irish poet Paul Muldoon did with Paul McCartney for "The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present," a book co-written by the pair. The podcast offers short episodes dedicated to McCartney's process of conceiving legendary songs by The Beatles. In the 12-part series, the pair "chat in a casual and candid manner about the inspiration behind some of his most influential lines and riffs," Docketerman noted in Time. In the first episode of "McCartney: A Life in Lyrics," Muldoon calls the podcast "a master class, a memoir and an improvised journey with one of the most iconic figures in popular music." Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.
Class of '88
Between a very public altercation at the Oscars and his wife's memoir, Will Smith has spent much of the year on the more salacious side of celebrity news. Still, his podcast "Class of '88", a collaboration from Wondery & Audible, was a bright, light spot for the actor and musician. The show is "a love letter to one of hip-hop’s most foundational periods: the year 1988," Vibe mused. With the help of Smith's singular perspective, the series highlights "the milestone moments, iconic albums and influential artists that shaped the trajectory of hip-hop in 1988," per The Source, "cementing it as one of the genre’s most significant years." Smith's narration adds flair, making the show "an immersive and enlightening listening experience for hip-hop enthusiasts and music lovers alike. Listen on Apple Music or Spotify.
"Hard Fork," New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose's new weekly podcast series for the outlet, "offers a brighter, chattier, more optimistic take on the latest doings in tech," said Vogue editor Taylor Antrim. While more lighthearted than his previous shows for the Times, Roose's latest, hosted alongside journalist Casey Newton, "hits hard too," Antrim added. While "Hard Fork" isn't brand-new, the year-old podcast has become a favorite for tech industry enthusiasts. Roose and Newton are "unsparing on the foibles of Elon Musk at Twitter," "the downfall of crypto" and other industry headlines. Their most recent coverage of the fallout between OpenAi and Sam Altman is noteworthy. Antrim listens to Hard Fork weekly, and comes away "informed, amused, and a bit unsettled by the future we're barreling toward." Listen on The New York Times, Apple Music or Spotify.
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