My personal podcast review thread

I listen to a lot of podcasts! I listen to a variety and am always looking for more hidden gems. I think I would like to try writing about my favorites (and not-favorites) and give detailed descriptions and specific episodes I find really good, maybe to help someone else find a podcast they like.

There will be a lot of true crime as i write about ones ive listened to, but am trying to move away from that genre.

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Looking forward to this! Podcasts help(ed) me a lot with a bunch of things. A lot of rubbish out there but so much good stuff as well! Pod on!

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Swindled

True crime, white collar crime, scammers, corporate crime.

I like listening to this podcast because its narrative is well structured storytelling, the narration itself is in a calm, even voice, and the research shows a lot of attention to detail. Each episode begins with a “prelude”, a shorter story that in some way connects (directly or thematically) to the main case. It adds a lot, and I can remember more from this podcast than others.

This podcast was one of the first podcasts to cover the “tinder swindler,” and of all the coverage of that case i have seen, this was among the best handled when it comes to reporting on the actual deliberate violence of that scam, and not the sensationalized romance of it. He has covered other cases that have gone onto be netflix documentaries (i cant bring myself to listen to the revenge porn site story but he covered that early on)

The cases are not sensationalized (they really dont need to be sensationalized they are just wild). The stories are told with empathy.

Other strong episodes (idk if theyre my favorites but they are the ones that come to mind) include:

The Ivy Leaguer -the story of con artist Esther Reed who used stolen identities to attend 2 prestigious colleges and “be someone else”

The Inferno - the story of the station nightclub fire where 100 people died, and how it happened, and who was culpable

The Association: I know nothing about soccer but this is a broad summary of FIFA that fascinated me. Corruption, cheating, international politics.

The Patriarch - a family murder in the dystopian Disney town of Celebration, Florida

There is a wide variety of more “light” scammer and absurd con episodes to coverage of murder and atrocity. the Kids for Cash scam where 2 judges accepted kickbacks to send kids to private prisons is covered and cant get through the episode for my blood boiling. He also covers the Flint water crisis and other environmental devastation.

Cant agree with all the analysis and sometimes wish he would be more direct about the root causes of these white collar problems, but I recommend this podcast! I listened to it while painting a huge house this summer.

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Scam Goddess

Hosted by comedian Laci Mosley

Comedy, Scammers

This is a conversational, lively, funnier podcast about scammers! I like to listen to it when I am driving or want to feel like Ive got friends around when I am cleaning. It doesnt go as in depth as something like Swindled and is usually kept pretty light. I do learn, though!

Laci and her weekly guest talk about their personal relationship with scams, read and discuss a fan email with a scam story, and then spend their longer segment going over a scam from recent or long ago history. She is “along for the ride,” with her audience, reacting in real time to the scammer research/article shes reading aloud.

They go on a lot of tangents, but the stories she selects are good.

Some of my favorite episodes are:

The Famous Femme Fibber w/ Oscar Montoya, talking about Mina Chang, the beautiful woman with false qualifications who scammed her way into a high security clearance u.s. government job - seriously, seriously funny. And i didnt know this happened!

The Queen of Cons with Miranda Cosgrove and Nathan Kress. (I think they were all on iCarly together! Its been a decade since i watched that show.) They talk about an accomplished con woman from the 1900s, Cassie Chadwick. She claimed to be Andrew Carnegies illegitimate daughter.

The Shaun King episode with Ashley Ray-Harris - there are 2 parts to this one! They go in depth into this well known internet figure who has been accused many times of raising money for “civil rights” causes and instead being unable to account for it. Including funds raised for a police murder victims family. Important info about being discerning.

I recommend this podcast! Each episode is a little over an hour.

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The Poet Salon

Hosted by Gabrielle Bates, Dujie Tahat, Luther Hughes

This podcast is great! The 3 cohosts are contemporary poets, and they interview poet guests. They talk with the guest about their style, inspiration, and process, and their most recent work. Then, each guest has a second episode where they select a poem by someone else to read and talk about together.

As a college dropout who always loved poetry classes, it scratches that specific itch of wanting to sit and have in depth discussions of poetry. I love the careful reading and insight into just one poem that can last a while. I have been introduced to a lot of contemporary poets I wouldnt have known about otherwise.

Good episodes include the interviews with:

Jericho Browns interview
Paisley Rekdals interview and selected poem, Brigit Pegeen Kellys “Black Swan”
Amaud Jamal Johnson reads Linda Greggs “The Poet Goes About Her Business”
Ada Limón reads Wanda Colemans “Requiem For A Nest”

I havent listened to close all of the episodes yet, but over time I plan to listen to all 3 seasons!

Fair warning, they do talk about the cocktails they all are drinking and they sound good! But that is not at all the focus.

Hey, I appreciate you posting these. Very well written and informative. I don’t listen to many podcasts but will be doing some ping road trips coming up. Very grateful.

1 Like

Someone Knows Something

David Ridgen

Cold cases, murder/disappearances

My first ‘true crime’ podcast and one of the first podcasts I ever got into. David Ridgen is a CBC journalist who works with families of missing or murdered people to re-investigate cases that have gone cold. Each season is one case. It remains one of the best 'true crime" podcasts I have heard.

Ridgen is a talented writer and works with the families of the missing person for months, describing images and scenes with immersive detail. The pacing is slow because the stories are being treated with care, and time is taken to tell both the stories of the family members impacted over the time it took for the case to be cold, and the cultural context that the violence took place in. The result is impactful and non exploitative.
(you wont ever see me recommend something like “my favorite murder” on this thread :expressionless:)

Season 1 investigates the case of Adrien McNaughton, a 5 year old who disappeared after wandering into the woods alone in 1972. Its been a while since ive listened (twice), the tone was very quiet, soft, sad. I listened in the winter in vermont when I was sad and it was comforting to hear the care in this season.

Season 2 investigates the case of Sheryl Sheppard, a woman who went missing in 1998. The last person to see her alive was Michael Lavoie, her fiance and prime suspect. The family and friends and his other partners are interviewed to create a picture of his relationship. This case is frustrating as hell.

Season 3 investigates the cases of Henry Dee and Charles Moore, 2 Black teenagers that were kidnapped, taken across state lines, and murdered by the ku klux klan. Two klansmen were arrested and then released, and the case was documented by the fbi. Ridgen works with the brother of one of the victims Thomas Moore to obtain the right information, piece together what happened during the murder, and push for some form of justice. This case is sickening and important to remember, and has a relatively satisfying conclusion. There is a film about this also produced by Ridgen, called Mississippi Cold Case.

Season 4 investigates the case of Wayne Greavette, a man who was killed by a bomb in a package in front of his family, devastating them. I actually havent listened to this season yet for reasons i dont know!

Season 5 investigates the case of Kerrie Brown, a teenager kidnapped from an area familiar to her, assaulted, and murdered. The podcast interviews all of the family and this crimes impact, more witnesses, reexamines evidence, and goes into cultural patterns of violence in Manitoba where this took place. This is the first season I listened to, and the case still haunts me.

There are more seasons I havent yet listened to! This journalist is prolific and his work is so good.

Scamfluencers

Hosted by Sarah Hagi and Scaachi Koul

In 2022 the true crime habits a lot of people picked up in the pandemic started to change. People were exhausted hearing about murder after murder. Scam podcasts had been around before then, but swelled in popularity.The scandal and crime are still there, but less gruesome trauma, and in most cases relatively lower stakes.

I went along with the tide. A lot of the most recent podcasts Ive listened to are about scammers. They are interesting. I want to listen to less content that contains violence as I dont want to be desensitized to it.

The same problems in the culture around murderous true crime this content persist, like lionizing and empathizing the criminal, blaming and dismissing the victim, and cheapening peoples lives as entertainment.

This podcast, Scamfluencers, is produced by Wondery, a podcast company. The hosts are 2 writers/journalists in their early 30s. They have a friendly, soft, respectful tone to their conversations.

The hosts alternate being the one to research and share a story about a scammer, usually connected to social media culture in a significant way. The other host reacts and provides commentary. Like many podcasts in this style, it feels like youre listening to a wild story at a lunch with friends. They frequently cover international stories.

Most of the stories come in 2 part series, with some 1 and 3 part stories. Each episode part is about an hour long.

Some strong episodes are:

Brazils Supermom: Mommy Dearest and Bad at Dying
2 part episode. This story is so strange!! They cover Flordelis dos Santos de Souza as she goes from a gospel singer to a public figure who went on tv after adopting 55 children to literal congresswoman to murder suspect. She is very well known in Brazil.

Fake Saudi Prince: Catch me if you Scam/We’ll never be Royals
2 part episode. Covers Anthony Gignac, who is also covered in Swindled. Both podcasts cover this thoroughly, with some details or analysis only in one or the other episode. Anthony Gignac was born in Colombia, adopted in Michigan, and convinced many people that he was a member of the royal Saudi family to live a life of extravagant luxury. I remember laughing at this episode! He is audacious and has a lot of adventures.

The Yoga Hustler: The notorious G.U.R.U./Gurus Gone Wild. Katie Griggs is a white woman who took the name Guru Jagat to become a celebrity yoga instructor and “elite guru” in california. She escalated her cult like activity to outright racism and conspiracy theory. The story is told really well and illustrates how a schools of thought very common in modern wellness culture (in my country and also elsewhere) make people vulnerable to alt right/n@z! radicalization, and how people do get preyed on as they seek to better themselves and grow spiritually. Uncomfortable episodes but worth listening to.