Can’t wait to get on the highway again this summer? Your trip will fly by with hours on end of addicting true crime, music, big tech scandals, cults, psychology, love and the backstories of eighteen-wheel-truck drivers next to you. In preparation for Memorial Day Weekend, these 14 podcasts have been tested and road approved.
If you were a fan of VH-1’s Behind The Music and grooved to jams from Bell Biv Devoe and Boyz II Men this is the show for you. Jacked is the story of the group Guy who started the New Jack Swing sound. It was a major influence on R&B and hip hop in the ’90s. Just like Behind The Music, it has crime, bad record-company contracts, fractured friendships, heartbreak and crushed music-stardom dreams. Actress Taraji P Henson hosts.
After the Berlin Wall fell in 1990 this smash hit was the power anthem. Decades later, journalist Patrick Radden Keefe heard a crazy rumor—the song was actually written by the CIA, not The Scorpions. His investigation takes you down all kinds of rabbit holes trying to find the truth. The best part is when he confronts Scorpions lead singer Klaus Meine in a riveting—and sort of uncomfortable—interview. You’ll never listen to “Wind Of Change” the same again. How does government propaganda make its way into pop culture? This series gives a lot of compelling examples.
Bloomberg news pulls back the curtain on the wild, weird and true stories inside tech companies. There have been a lot of series and documentaries about We Work’s founder Adam Neuman but this one is the most fun. First hand stories that you can’t believe are true from former employees. Outrageous parties, gluttony, kegs in the office, debauchery at corporate events, lawsuits, lies and cover ups galore. Season 2 is all about the rise of Tik Tok and how it’s infiltrated and shaped American teen culture. An overall excellent series on the ever changing big tech business.
Elizabeth Holmes and her start up company Theranos was the darling of Silicon Valley. Her promise of a simple blood test seemed like it could change the way the medical industry works. Holmes’s black turtlenecks and Ted Talks had the media buzzing about this young female prodigy. The Dropout investigates the failed technology and harassment tactics for anyone who would expose them. Also her mysteriously deep voice. ABC News’s Rebecca Jarvis breaks down how the woman once celebrated as the next Steve Jobs found herself facing major criminal charges.
The theme song for this series says it all “you think you know me, you don’t know me at all.” Each season takes you through stories of shocking true-life discoveries about people they thought they knew. From catfishing to munchausen by proxy—the unraveling is fascinating, horrifying and definitely not for everyone. For those who can handle it, host/producer Tiffany Reese will keep you on the edge of your seat wanting to know…..how the hell did this happen?!
This has all the ingredients of a perfect summer binge. The Hamptons, celebrities, parties, power, control and a well known New York City therapist. Well known journalist Joe Nocera meets Dr. Herschkopf because they are neighbors. He learns that he manipulates patients to do unconventional things to benefit himself. When they fall under his spell, they do everything from donate their houses to changing their wills. Heartbreak and family drama ensues for decades—until now. This true story is being adapted into a TV series with Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd and Kathryn Hahn.
Even though this is from the creators of the hit series Criminal, this show is literally the opposite of true crime. Delightful stories of love presented in beautifully crafted episodes. From the passion for food to animals or relationships that tested legal challenges or the test of time. Each episode has an element of surprise and wonder. Sometimes they’ll make you sad, but mostly you’ll feel inspired. When each one ends, you’ll have faith in true love in all forms.
Let comedian Whitney Cummings introduce you to Silvio Berlesconi, the longest-running Prime Minister in Italy. She lays out the history of the media-mogul-turned-politician in the most hilarious way. The two words that brought him down? Bunga Bunga! You just can’t believe what happened at this level of government. There are a lot of parallels to American politics. A man with a bombastic personality who loves semi pornographic situations wins over the attention of everyone. It’s a universal concept.
This series is about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and the sect’s troubling and confusing history. Sarah Ventre and Ash Sanders interview members with stories that will move and haunt you. You’ll feel conflicted, inspired and horrified by the ones who fight back against the atrocities of leader Warren Jeffs. Unfinished goes beyond the headlines to have uncomfortable conversations. This is not an easy listen, but it’s worth it to hear how a community divided is evolving.
One of the most famous news stories of the ’90s, splashed all over the headlines: Mass suicide in a San Diego mansion. Everyone dressed the same, identical haircuts and sneakers. But why did this happen and who are these people? Heaven’s Gate explores the origins of the cult, how they got followers and why they believed a UFO would transport them to the kingdom of heaven. Host Glynn Washington discusses the backstory of why and intertwines his own experience growing up in a cult. He narrates this tough subject in a thoughtful, gentle way combined with ethereal and excellent sound design.
Have you ever wondered what it’s really like to be in the witness protection program? Relative Unknown introduces Jackee Taylor’s tangled story of growing up the daughter of a Hells Angel. Her father committed multiple crimes in the 1970s. She discovers his back story through an unpublished memoir and a transcript of testimony given to the U.S. Senate. There are twists and turns as she gets to the bottom of who her father really is. You always hear about the Witness Protection Program (WITSEC) in movies and TV shows, but as you’ll learn from Jackee’s story, it’s far from what you think it is.
With gun culture and mass shootings constantly in the news No Compromise takes a deep dive on how we got here. This superb NPR series from Lisa Hagen and Chris Haxel investigates extreme gun-group activism. They explore how members put intense pressure on even the most conservative pro-gun Republican politicians. The hosts interview all sides of the powerful gun lobby and attend rallies. The most fascinating part is how the internet community has grown over the years, which led to Qanon and the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6th. Some of these folks make the NRA look like a garden club.
Learn all about the dark secrets of the Dixie Mafia as told through the eyes of Stoney Birt. His dad Billy Sunday Birt was one of the most violent criminals in Georgia history. He trafficked in moonshine, pills, violence and murder. Host Sean Kipe interviews Stoney about the backstory of his father. Horrific incidents combined with touching moments of forgiveness and guilt. One of the worst criminals is also his hero as a dad. In The Red Clay is a slow burn, but you have a long drive. Go for it.
Host and truck driver Long Haul Paul Marhoefer shines the light on what it’s really like being a truck driver with stories from the road, like classic truck stop eateries and anecdotes about radio DJ’s loyal to the community, along with the Punjabi drivers who become activists, the increase in independent women owner-operators, and changing trends like self-driven trucks and how the industry has become computerized. You’ll hear a lot of heart and soul from the drivers who live it. Bonus points that Marhoefer is a musician who adds his own road-trip tunes to the journey.