We’ve got a New Year’s resolution suggestion for 2022—try as many new podcasts as you can! I’ve done all the heavy listening so you can get your year started off right. These selections cover wild animals, Las Vegas glitz and internet catfishing. There’s also true crime, the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, Playboy’s Hugh Hefner and politics. Explore the history of cancel culture, reality shows, opioids, bank robbers and more. The world of podcasts has something for everyone. Happy listening!
1. Wild ThingsThere’s already so much that is fascinating about Las Vegas magician duo Siegfried and Roy. What’s behind the glitz, glamour and big cats? This new podcast series starts out by recalling the 2003 horrific tiger attack on Roy Horn and delivers more of the story. Why did this happen? Could someone in the audience be responsible? How were the animals treated? What do people in Vegas really think of them and this entertainment disaster. You’ll be hooked from the minute you start listening with all the details that were supposed to stay in Vegas. Thankfully journalist Steven Leckart is letting them out with a roar.
2. Sweet BobbyJournalist Alexi Mostrous was researching the consequences of online porn when he stumbled across a bizarre catfishing story. Kirat Assi was terrorized in an online web of deceit for 10 years as she thought she had found her true destiny in Bobby. The conversations became intimate and, of course, his story is not what it seemed. The reveal is absolutely unexpected and wild. You’ll want to binge the whole thing for answers. Most importantly Sweet Bobby looks into why there are few consequences for people who commit this kind of online psychological warfare.
3. HookedTony Hathaway was a Boeing engineer who seemed to have it all. A great family and job living in the Seattle suburbs. After being injured playing hockey in a company league, he was prescribed OxyContin. This led Hathaway to the depths of the American epidemic of opioid addiction. To feed his destructive habit he turned to crime, becoming one of the most successful serial bank robbers in history. Host Josh Dean (Chameleon) interviews him at length, along with family and law enforcement to discuss what, why and how everything went down. Addiction drives people to do crazy and terrible things. You’ll have empathy and outrage with all sides of this story.
4. American RadicalThis is a January 6th story that hits close to home, literally. MSNBC host and journalist Ayman Mohyeldin got a call from his old high-school buddy asking to cover his sister in law’s death. She was one of the victims at the capitol riot. American Radical takes you through how Rosanne Boyland got entrenched in conspiracy theories that led her to that fateful day. The family, led by sister Lana, is seeking the truth as to what happened to her. But also to find closure on why she headed down that path in the first place.
5. Things Fell ApartWhat are the origins of cancel culture? How did we become such a divisive society? Jon Ronson does a brilliant job of rewinding topics like abortion, sex education, gay liberation and school curriculums. This series finds the strange and sometimes heartwarming examples of how things came to be. People who were on the front lines tell their stories. Whether you agree or disagree, Things Fell Apart takes you through what we can learn from these monumental moments that have shaped our culture. It’s a beautiful learning experience.
6. Power: Hugh HefnerThis series takes you through the ups and downs of the Playboy enterprise. On the one hand, Hefner was an innovator and champion for free speech. On the other hand, he was controlling, stubborn, manipulative and frankly, a little weird. Journalist Amy Rose Spiegel chronicles the early days of Playboy with interviews from former playmates, employees and family members. You find out all kinds of behind the scenes dirt from the infamous Mansion. Power examines Playboy’s role in society and popular culture.
7. Carrie Low Vs.In May 2018, Carrie Low reported to police that she had been drugged, taken from a bar and sexually assaulted at another location. After a year of police inactivity since she reported her rape, Low filed complaints against them. The CBC investigates how law enforcement horribly botched her case. Low, even through her trauma, took meticulous notes through the whole ordeal. The trials and tribulations of her story are heartbreaking. Especially with the true-life unexpected twist at the end. Low’s mission is to shine a light on corrupt police work pointing to why so many rape victims don’t report.
8. America’s GirlsIn the ’70s and ’80s the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were as much a pop-culture phenomenon as Saturday Night Fever or The Love Boat. Texas Monthly journalist Sarah Hepola presents a revealing audio documentary explaining the squad’s origins, how the cheerleaders evolved and why people seem to have different takes on them. From the strict rules to the iconic uniform, some feel it is an honor to be a part of this elite team, while others are more focused on equal pay, rules and respect. Which side will you cheer for?
9. Lost Hills, Season 2In 1981, a horrific drowning incident rocked this exclusive town of Malibu, Calif. Before this sleepy town became the premiere destination for A-list celebrities it was a close knit community engaging in health food, hot tubs and self help. Verna and Doug Roehler died just off the coast of Malibu under mysterious circumstances. The Roelers seemed like the family who had it all, and Fred was left to pick up the pieces of this devastating loss. But everything is not what it seems, as Fred’s checkered past is revealed. Journalist Dana Goodyear seeks to find out the truth all these years later. What she uncovers is truly shocking.
10. Harsh Reality: The Story Of Miriam RiveraIn the early 2000s, reality shows dominated TV, and some tried to outdo each other for shock value. Enter the British show There’s Something About Miriam. As the star, Rivera was stunning and appeared to have a huge future in modeling and music. When everything unfolds, the producers reveal that Miriam is trans. Then things get weird and go horribly wrong. Host Trace Lysette dissects the complicated life of Rivera and the attitudes towards trans people in general. Harsh Reality digs into societal misconceptions of being transgender through Miriam’s story.
11. BonaparteAn unsolved death is revisited after 25 years by prominent New York City attorney Anne Champion. Her best friend Laura Van Wyhe was mysteriously killed and found on the side of the road in Bonaparte, Iowa. Strangely, no one was charged with her death. Champion, along with journalist Jason Stavers, travel to Iowa to talk to the family and all those involved in Laura’s life. They try to see if they can put the pieces together. Interesting angles are uncovered, but even after all these years, people still don’t want to talk. It’s still an active, open case.
Mara Davis is a media personality based in Atlanta, Ga. In addition to hosting the VoteHer podcast with Senator Jen Jordan, she also is a senior talent booker for various television networks and podcasts.