The Best Podcasts of 2018

PodStuff Writers Pick Their Standout Podcasts of 2018

It’s the last day of the year. Time for some final reflections on 2018 and a roundup of all the podcasts the team here at PodStuff have enjoyed throughout the year. In no particular order, here are Podstuff’s Best Podcasts of 2018.


Rachel O’Neill’s Picks


1. The Teacher’s Pet (The Australian)

True crime podcasts were always going to appear high on any list but The Teacher’s Pet stands head and shoulders above them all. Lynette Dawson disappeared in 1982 never to be seen again. Her husband, rugby league star Chris Dawson, was always suspected of having something to do with her disappearance. It’s a story that grips you and refuses to let go as journalist Hedley Thomas takes you through the days and weeks leading up to Lyn’s disappearance and reveals an underworld of teachers seducing their students in Australia in the 1970s and 80s. A must listen.


2. Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez & Football Inc. (The Boston Globe & Wondery)

The Spotlight Team in the Boston Globe aren’t a team you associate with podcasts but their first endeavour is a sure sign that they should continue. Aaron Hernandez was an NFL player on the up and up. Signed to the New England Patriots in 2010, he was a tight end with a lot of potential. He was also a man with a lot of problems. Arrested and convicted of the murder of Odin Lloyd in 2016, Hernandez subsequently took his own life in prison in 2017. The Boston Globe obtained his phone calls from prison and set out to explore what happened to Aaron and how it all went so wrong for someone who, it seemed, had it all.


3. This Sounds Serious (Castbox)

Every genre needs a good parody and This Sounds Serious is here to provide the antidote to the many, many terrible true crime podcasts that were released in 2018. Journalist Gwen Radford is on the case of the murder of Chuck Bronstadt, a Florida weatherman murdered in his waterbed. By listening to the 911 call, Gwen comes across Chuck’s slightly mad twin brother Daniel who definitely did it. Or did he? Told over 8 hilarious episodes, This Sounds Serious was an absolute joy to listen to this year simply because of how clever it was. Capturing every trope of a bad true crime podcast and making it ten times funnier, This Sounds Serious was, in my opinion, the best podcast of 2018.



And a Few Other Standouts:

Sexy Beasts (Headstuff)

30 for 30’s BIKRAM (ESPN)

The Gateway: Teal Swan (Gizmodo)

Slow Burn (Slate)


Evan Coughlan’s Picks

1. The Teacher’s Pet (The Australian)

Focusing on the disappearance of Lynnette Dawson in Sydney in 1982, The Teacher’s Pet investigates Lynette’s disappearance and if her husband former rugby league star Chris Dawson was involved in her disappearance. The Teacher’s Pet has gripped listeners throughout the world in 2018 and with recent developments in the case, it will continue to do so for over the coming months.


2. Happy Face (How Stuff Works)

While many crime podcasts focus on the victims of murder cases, Happy Face was a bit different, as it instead focused on Melissa Moore, the daughter of the Happy Face killer Keith Hunter Jesperson. What makes this podcast unique is the journey you go on with Moore as she continues to try and come to terms with the crimes of her father, over 20 years ago. There’s a full review of the show here.


3. The Assassination (BBC World Service)

While many of us were aware of Benazir Bhutto and her fight for power in Pakistan throughout her life, this podcast delves into Bhutto’s extraordinary tale, her assassination at the hands of Pakistani Taliban and her family’s search for justice. Owen Bennett-Jones blends together old interviews with Bhutto and interviews with the people apparently responsible for her death, to create a podcast that makes you feel like you’re right alongside him as you discover more and more about Bhutto’s rise to power and her ultimate demise.



Conor Reid’s Picks

1. A Very Fatal Murder (The Onion)

The Onion’s true crime satire, released in six parts in early 2018, brilliantly and lovingly mocks the true crime genre and shows like Serial and S-Town in particular. It’s both funny and very entertaining, and the over-the-top ending even manages to be quite thought-provoking. It’ll be very interesting to see what comes next from the Onion team.


2. How Sound (Transom & PRX)

Rob Rosenthal’s podcast about podcasting is an absolute must-listen for anyone making podcasts, especially of the narrative storytelling variety.  This year featured, as always, numerous great episodes on recording techniques, storytelling structures, interviews with professionals, and outstanding student audio. There are few other podcasts that are so reliably instructive and beneficial.


3. Mothers of Invention 

An entertaining, excellently produced, and thought-provoking podcast on one of the biggest and most pressing issues of our time. You can read my full review of the show here.


4. Everything is Alive (Radiotopia)

A hugely original, quietly hilarious and always fascinating interview show with a difference. You can read my full review of it here.


Three quick picks from Nat Newman

Everything is Alive (Radiotopia)

Ear Hustle (Radiotopia)

Farming Today (BBC)

Ciara Walsh’s Picks

1. 30 for 30’s Bikram (ESPN)

This is an exceptional piece of investigative journalism into the absolute nutcase namesake of the ever-popular Bikram Yoga. The cultish nature of his training programmes, complete with sexual assault allegations and all manner of misconduct, is laid bare in this stunning and horrific expose.


2. The Dream (Little Everywhere & Stitcher)

This is another incredible deep-dive investigation into the murky underbelly of multilevel marketing companies. The levels of shadiness run so deep with these pyramid scheme companies, and the victims are often poor, and frequently women who have been displaced from the workplace after having a family.


3. Heavyweight (Gimlet)

My podcast of the year, equal parts hilarity and pathos. Host Jonathan Goldstein takes one person on a journey to fix a problem from their past that has been weighing heavy on their minds.


4. Surviving Y2K

A brilliant storytelling podcast that takes the moment in time that was the turn of the millennium, and tells the story of different people whose lives were irrevocably changed as the clock struck 12: from doomsday cults, to coders, to the host himself.


5. The Gateway (Gizmodo)

An investigation into YouTube ‘spiritual guru’ Teal Swan, her brand, her followers and her weird, occasionally dangerous/terrifying, recommendations, advice, meditations and exercises. The controversial YouTuber specialises in ‘counselling’ people who are suicidal, and having lost some followers, she gained a lot of negative attention.


6. 99% Invisible series : Articles of Interest (Radiotopia)

99% Invisible, the wonderful show about design, presented this long-form series on the history and story behind the clothes we wear. Tearing apart the fashion industry lack of sustainability, and asking why the hell women’s clothes don’t have pockets; it’s a must listen for anyone with even a passing interest in fashion and design.