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‘The Mastercast’s’ best finds of July 2021


“The Mastercast” is a podcast recommendation show that consists of seven non-spoiler, binge-worthy reviews of the best podcasts in a short and sweet 2- to 3-minute summary on everything you could want to know, from the number of hosts to on average how long you can expect each episode to be. For more details and more reviews, check out episode one.

Reviews included:

“Just The Zoo of Us”

This is one of my new favorite podcasts. This educational show is all about listening in as couple Christian and Ellen Weatherford review a different animal every episode. The show has a solid five stars on Apple Podcasts, with 67 ratings and 38 written reviews, and starts with each of them weighing the animal on a rating out of 10 on effectiveness, ingenuity and aesthetics.

The disclaimer at the beginning of the show lets you know they aren’t animal professionals but enthusiasts who hold the research of each animal as the most important aspect of the show. I think that is why their hilarious, cute dynamic is so unexpectedly charming.

I never would have thought this adorable couple from Jacksonville, Florida would become my favorite couple of any media. Their knowledge and love for nerdy things like anime and Dungeons and Dragons is something I hadn’t seen in a podcast that wasn’t specifically about those topics.

If you listen to the show in order, you will pick up on some subtle mentions of their private life. It starts with just the two of them, follows in their pregnancy, and then welcomes baby Finley into the world. I adore baby Finley, who can occasionally be heard cooing in the background of some episodes.

Besides being well-researched, cute and funny, they also have good radio voices and production quality. The podcast is made knowing you might listen with little ones, so it does not contain profanity. The episodes do sometimes mention things like reproduction and predatory habits.

I really like that, maybe because they are not experts, the language they use is extremely accessible and easily understood. That way I’m not lost in all the technical terms. Their website is well done and includes transcripts, coloring pages and a message/animal submission/guest form. The couple is active on Twitter and also has an email address you can use to contact them.

So far, the show has 105 episodes, all about an hour in length, and new ones come out weekly, usually at the end of the week. They also have experts come in, usually on a bi-weekly basis to have a deeper conversation about that week’s animal. Expert guest episodes became the most common when the couple took a short break to spend time with newly arrived baby Finley.

Episodes can be found on all major platforms. The most popular episodes according to OwlTail are episode 3: “Praying Mantis & Giant Panda” and episode 7: “Asian Elephant & Immortal Jellyfish.” My favorites were episode 70: “American Bison & Giraffe-Necked Weevil” and episode 1: “American Alligator & Florida Manatee.”

The music is really well chosen and is credited at the end of every episode. The show covers a ton of animals I never thought I would want to know anything about, but hearing these two talk about them as if they were the coolest thing that ever existed changed my mind. And I think it could do the same for you.

Similar pods: “The Wild Episode,” “Herpetological Highlights” and “Nature Guys”

“Searching for Rachel Antonio”

This Australian podcast drops you into a Queensland family’s search for answers in their daughter’s 18-year-old cold case. Rachel Antonio disappeared after being dropped off at the movies. She was never seen again, leaving her family with more questions than leads.

They contacted David Murray, an investigative journalist working with The Courier-Mail in hopes the case would be given new attention or maybe even that he would make developments.

This podcast is short and sweet but expect lengthy news recaps and previews at either end of an episode. There are six episodes, about 31 minutes apiece. I was surprised to see this podcast didn’t have very many listens or reviews..

Similar Pods: “Police Tape: Blue Sirens,” “Unravel True Crime” and “Australian True Crime”

“Dressed: The History of Fashion”

This educational podcast talks about the history of fashion in the streamlined, inviting tone I’ve grown accustomed to from YouTube and “Stuff You Should Know.” It really does an amazing job at looking at fashion through different lenses such as art, history, politics, function and so much more.

The hosts really know their stuff as well, both having master’s degrees in fashion studies. While I could have sworn one of the hosts was from “Stuff You Missed in History Class,” all my research points to that not being the case.

The shows are intertwined with the story of the show’s origin, which come after an appearance April Calahan made on “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” Here’s a pretty detailed account of how it happened from an interview April did for Simon Says.

The show has a little over 1,000 reviews and an average of 4.5 stars. New episodes come out every Tuesday (and sometimes Thursday) on a year-round season, so there’s no shortage of juicy fashion knowledge in the foreseeable future. Currently there are 198 episodes, each about 40 minutes long with a noticeable amount of commercials in them, though I don’t find it unbearable.

My favorite episode is definitely “Smuggled in the Bustle: an interview with Hind Abdul-Jabbar” that talks about how smuggling was actually a big part of fashion back in the day and sometimes still is. OwlTail has its top episodes as “Freeing the Body: The Birth of Modern Dress,” “A Vanderbilt House Party — The Gilded Age, an Interview with Leslie Klingner” and “Holiday Bonus FHM: The History of Glitter” (I really liked this one). This podcast is about as loose on the script as they come without being completely unscripted or unedited.

The background music is noticeable sometimes throughout the earlier episodes, but I really only found it troubling on my laptop, and I’ve listened to all of the episodes though headphones without issue. There are zero trigger warnings. One last note is that I do like the beginning episodes more than the latter, but they’re all good.

Similar Pods: “History of the 90s,” “Crime Culture,” “It Was Simple: The Betty Broderick Murders”

“Tides of History”

This history podcast is my new favorite to listen to as I fall asleep. It’s polished with well-done audio like all of Wondery’s shows, and it’s informative in a captivating way. It covers everything from ancient times to modern perspectives and origins stories on all sorts of things that make up the human experience.

Ph.D. historian and host Patrick Wyman has an amazing voice backed up by subtle sound effects and complimenting music that makes for the best fall asleep soundtrack I’ve heard in a while. For those who don’t know, most platforms and apps have a sleep timer, and for iPhones there’s a “stop playing” option at the bottom of the alarm choices.

ITunes has 4.5 thousand reviews and an average of 4.7 stars. New episodes come out Thursdays, which is a huge plus for me (even though it usually takes me a few nights to get through them) because most of my favorite shows come out at the beginning of the week, leaving me in a bit of a drought toward the end.

There are 171 episodes all on average at about 41 minutes long each with OwlTail’s highest ranking being “The Trials and Tribulations of the Late Medieval Church,” “The Wars of the Roses” and “1492: A Guided Tour of Europe on the Brink.” My favorites have to be “The First Farmers,” and “Who Were the First Americans?” The latest episode came out this week, and the show remains consistent in the type of content (storytelling and interview-based) with the topics of the episodes ranging from modern to prehistoric.

Similar Pods: “Incredible Feats,” “It was Said,” and “American Shadows”

“The Hyacinth Disaster”

The year is AD 2151, and some dozen or so supercorporations competitively mine the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter with a ruthlessness outside the laws governing Earth. Under their manipulation are thousands of mining ships fighting to get their big break.

It’s a normal day for the crew of one of these ships, the MRS Hyacinth — that is until a call comes in that a sister ship, MRS Corvus, has been taken hostage by an opposing company while working in their territory.

With the higher-ups in the corporation deciding to leave the MRS Corvus to the terrible fate its captors describe, the MRS Hyacinth decides to break some rules (all of them really) and mine an unsanctioned asteroid in order to pay the ransom and save not only their fellow coworkers but their friends. However, once they arrive things don’t go as planned, leading to sci-fi emotional audio drama that is “The Hyacinth Disaster.”

I know what you’re thinking: Not another space podcast! While the niche may be oversaturated at the moment, this pod’s ending sets itself apart enough to warrant being added to your listening collection. While a slow burn, the show doesn’t drag on for dozens of episodes. In just seven, half-hour parts it’ll pull you in, make you feel like one of the team and then rip your heart out.

Each episode ends in a cliffhanger, but don’t worry: The 2017 show finished up that same year and is ready to binge. If the self-contained story leaves you wanting more, you’ll be happy to hear that creator David Carlson intends to eventually produce more additions that explore more of the complex worlds we get a glimpse of in this series.

This tear invoking podcast has 4.8 out of 5 stars on Apple Podcasts and 223 ratings. There are some moments of lesser audio quality to fit parts of the story where the crew uses static radios to communicate rather than due to poor recording or producing. It’s not a deal-breaker for me, but it could be for some.

The show has a really extensive website with a database full of non-spoiling background for the story. As a true picture of a team with everyone having a niche and complicated relationships, I think this Shakespeare-esque tragedy would make a great film.

Similar Pods: “Immunities,” “Station Blue” and “Palimpsest”

“They Disappeared”

I found this episodic podcast while looking for pods that covered the Elisa Lam case and really liked the voice of the narrator and the intro music. I love when the intro music is really catchy and leads into the pod well. I have a theory that pods with exciting intros and catchy intro/exit music make podcasts easy to binge because one leads into the next really well.

As the title suggests, the podcast is about people who’ve disappeared or gone missing and is currently releasing new episodes once a month. It’s only just getting started, with its first episode airing in December of last year and with 13 episodes total. The great part about that is that it’s still in the no commercial phase I’ve grown accustomed to from new pods.

All together, episodes are on average about 28 minutes long with the shortest ones being only 10 minutes and the longer ones being almost an hour. To me, this is a sign the pod intends to be straightforward without a lot of speculation, which I like (there’s a time and place for the pod “Down the Rabbit”).

Despite being not well known and episodes being posted roughly every 17 days, the pod can be found on every platform I could think of. The latest episode was also posted on August 5, 2020, a pretty decent sign that we can expect more to come.

I really like episodes “A Secret in the Mountains: The Disappearance of Deorr Kunz” and “The Lost Highway: The Disappearance of Asha Degree,” which are both listed in the top three episodes of the pod by OwlTail.

Similar Pods: “The Day Helen Disappeared,” “Missing Person Cases with Chloe” and “The Abyss Pod”

“Two Girls One Crossword”

It is my proud and humble honor to probably introduce you to the unexpectedly fascinating world of crossword podcasts.

This was my first one, but since listening and falling in love with it, I’ve subscribed to a few others. I really don’t know how I started to listen, but I normally wouldn’t. I mean, who wants to listen to someone read a crossword? But this show isn’t just for puzzlers.

After giving the weekly brief of cultural happenings in the crossword world (say that 10 times fast), each of the hosts presents trivia on a topic they’ve researched. Often during the weekly brief, they will call out clues or answers that are outdated or bluntly sexist or racist (it’s not long, and I think it’s cool they do it).

They often explain the etymology behind some of the puzzles, and it leads to their topical discussions. There are 51 episodes about an hour apiece with new ones coming out usually Sunday or Monday. I listened to and fell in love with episode 49: “Crimes & Tattoos,: 25: “Diamonds Are 5ever” and 24: “Unidentified Fanged Objects.” There are 48 ratings on ITunes, and all of them are 5 stars.

it is loosely scripted like “Morbid.”

Similar Pods: “Stuff You Should Know,” “Stuff You Should Know About Greek Mythology” and “Stuff You Should Know About Therapy”

That’s all for this week, but remember: If you want to see any of the podcasts I’ve mentioned on the show, be sure to check out the show notes or There you can tell us if you have music you would like played on the show or you can submit a podcast to be recommended. You can find my sources in the show notes there as well. Remember to share the show with the pod lovers in your life and to tune in next Sunday.

This week’s music came from Kim Lightyear, Snabisch, and Matthew Pablo of If you would like your music to be a feature on the show, send us an email at Thanks for listening!


Marie Tanksley can be reached at