Best 2018 Podcasts: September
Whether you’re craving low-key conversation amid a busy back-to-work-and-school season, or want to be immersed in another perspective to thwart the “summer’s over” scaries, tune in to one of our top picks.
By David Adams
After a stellar first season spent exploring the ins and outs of Richard Nixon’s downfall, Slow Burn returns to chronicle the saga of Bill Clinton’s impeachment. Episodes One through Four, which cover Monica Lewinsky’s first meeting with the FBI and the litany of scandals — Whitewater, Travelgate, Nannygate, etc. — that threatened to bring down Clinton’s presidency in its earliest days, are excellent, and more are on the way soon. Host Leon Neyfakh brings a gumshoe’s doggedness to the subject, puzzling over every clue to piece together the story as it unfolded in real time. Each episode is supplemented with a not-to-be-missed bibliography; highlights include Speedboat author Renata Adler’s provocative essays on Lewinsky and Ken Gormley’s definitive The Death of American Virtue.
This delightful podcast uses Reddit as a launching pad to explore the infinite varieties of human experience. Sound implausible? How about a good-natured debate over the legacy of “the original most interesting man in the world”: Hawaii’s last monarch, King David Kalakaua? Or a report on that eerie feeling you get when you peer over a high ledge and can’t help but think about jumping (otherwise known as “the call of the void”)? Co-hosts Ben Brock Johnson and Amory Sivertson begin each installment with an intriguing post from a Reddit user and add depth, context, and their own insatiable curiosity. Some stories are deadly serious, others are cat videos. In other words, Endless Thread is what the internet would be if every rabbit hole came with expert guides who could get you in and out in under 30 minutes.
Born out of web zine The Morning News’s annual “Tournament of Books,” this podcast has a refreshingly low-key format: Two friends invite a writer over for cocktails and an hour-long discussion about books. It helps that the friends, Christopher Hermelin and Drew Broussard, are as comfortable discussing Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man as they are the FX series Atlanta, and that the writers–including Elif Batuman, Megan Abbot, Jonathan Ames, Teddy Wayne, and Angela Flournoy–feel free to talk about not just their own work, but the books and authors they love (and hate). Did we mention that each episode features a signature cocktail? By the end of the hour, you’re guaranteed to be enlightened, entertained, and pleasantly buzzed on literature.