Marie Tanksley’s podcast recommendations for January 24


Marie Tanksley, Podcast Director

Check out some of the best podcasts this week, curated by KCSU’s podcast director. As always, no spoilers!

“Wicked Deeds”

“Wicked Deeds” is my favorite true-crime podcast right now! I think I love it so much because it gives you exactly what you want from the genre. Hosts Brittney and Jon bring you a new story every week, including some that were completely new to me and others with details I hadn’t heard before. I dug for more information about the hosts, but their online presence, much like their show’s content, is very topic-focused instead of being about them.

Apple Podcasts has 5 out of 5 stars, 17 ratings and six written reviews. The pod is relatively new, with the first episode published in the fall of 2021. Even so, it has been featured on both Pocketcasts’s discovery page and Podbean’s featured page.

There are currently 18 episodes plus a trailer, and new ones come out every Tuesday. On average the show is 37 minutes long and can be found on all major platforms. There aren’t yet enough episodes for OwlTail to determine the most popular, but the most interesting to me have been “Ebby Steppach” and “The New Bedford Highway Serial Killer: Part 1.”

I really like that the episode descriptions let you know what sort of case it’ll be without spoiling anything. The content is very scripted, which isn’t a bad thing but something to note.

There is a warning for mild language as well as the usual triggers associated with a true-crime: violence, murder and sexual assault, to name a few. While these crimes are mentioned because of their importance to the cases, they aren’t described in detail at all. I think this show is going to be really big, and I’m excited to see more episodes from it. Be sure to check it out!

Similar Pods: “Seriously Mysterious,” “Stolen Lives True Crime” and “Criminology”

“Bad Bets”

Every 20 years or so a new poster-child for what not to do in finance comes along. “Bad Bets” by The Wall Street Journal covers the 90’s energy corporation that made a name for itself in the fraud section of textbooks.

The brand-new eight-part miniseries is not focused on being shockingly gruesome like other crime podcasts but still gives thought to how the story is unraveled and told. It is created by John Emshwiller and Rebecca Smith, who originally reported the story, and features first-hand accounts of those involved with Enron.

There’s even a whistleblower that recounts the events that rocked the investment community for the first time ever on record. Not only is it an inside peek for those less-involved in the financial world but a good refresher for those who are.

Apple Podcasts has 4.7 out of 5 stars, 529 ratings and 44 customer reviews. Episodes are about 34 minutes long, and the language used in the podcast suggests we can expect more seasons. Music is minimal at the intro/outro and of a jazz nature.

Similar pods: “Bad Blood,” “Swindled” and “Scam Goddess”


Had I listened to “9/12” just a few days earlier, it would have made my top 10 of the year. It is phenomenal. There are no other word for it.

As with any mention of 9/11, there are some intensely sad moments, but most of the podcast looks at stories adjacent to what happened rather than the event itself. There’s a reality TV crew set in the middle of the ocean who heard the news after everyone else, the regrets of the creator of the documentary “Loose Change,” which started one of the biggest conspiracy theories ever, and a ton of other accounts that look at the aftermath of that day.

I never thought anything about 9/11 would make me laugh out loud, but there were a few times this podcast did just that in the most surprising ways. Every part of the show builds on the argument that, while we should never forget, maybe how we are remembering is wrong.

From Amazon Music, Wondery and Pineapple Street Studios (what a combo), this seven-part series is hosted by Dan Taberski, the award-winning host whom most might know from shows like “Running From COPS” and “The Line.”

Apple Podcasts has 3.6 average stars, 903 ratings and 133 written reviews. That rating may seem like a red flag, but I think it’s the result of people who are dedicated to the original narrative of 9/11.

If you listen all the way through, there won’t be any question of what the show is trying to say. You might not agree with it, but I really appreciated listening to a perspective that I had never heard before. It was certainly a sensitive and honest approach to looking at the tragedy differently.

It’s rare that I can sit down and write out a whole review without looking at my notes on the show, but for this one, I just have so many good things to say about it. Definitely consider checking it out.

Similar Pods: “Long Shadow” “Confronting” and “My Gothic Dissertation”

“Class Act”

College scandals aren’t rare news, especially considering the 2019 admission bribery case that dominated headlines for months. The investigative podcast “Class Act” from the Herald Sun looks at a teacher-focused con that went on for over 20 years in some of Melbourne, Australia’s, highest-ranked schools.

From 1976 to 2000, Neil Lennie pretended to have a variety of degrees and, with the help of his late father’s teaching certificate, taught countless children. He bullied peers and worked his way up to a principal position. The catch? He was, by almost all accounts, excellent at it.

Several former students came forward to credit his teaching with giving them the motivation and confidence to advance in their own careers. Some of those included now doctors and scientists. Hosted by Genevieve Alison, this show looks at whether Lennie should be held responsible for this long con or if the large holes in Australia’s education system mean no crime was truly committed.

The six-part series follows the story all the way from the beginning of Lennie’s career through the drama of school shutdowns and finishing with the community wrestling with whether or not anyone could be held responsible. It’s perfect for those looking for crime podcasts without murder.

Each episode is about 20 minutes long and should be listened to in order. Apple Podcasts doesn’t have enough ratings to produce an average, but I gave it 5 stars.

Similar Pods: “Swindled,” “The Drop Out” and “Criminal”

“Ear Hustle”

Created in 2017, “Ear Hustle” is a show about life in California’s San Quentin State Prison and is produced by its residents. It was originally started by visual artist Nigel Poor with Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams who were, at the time, both incarcerated. After being pitched to the open-call competition Podquest, it was picked up by Radiotopia and has now finished up its eighth season with more to come in March 2022.

The hosts’ dynamic, much like the content of the show, is a perfect balance. Poor brings a journalistic curiosity that is both caring and calm, while Wood gives commentary and perspective of someone with experience being an inmate. Even when they don’t explicitly say it, there is a constant reminder that one of them is allowed to leave at the end of the day and the other is serving a 31-year sentence.

Williams is the show’s producer and is in charge of sound design. The show is recorded and produced in San Quentin’s media lab. In 2019, Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, who has been in prison since 2000, became an additional co-host. Currently, the team is made up of both incarcerated and post-incarcerated folks.

For the most part, the episodes are made up of a collection of stories based on a topic. In the past, those topics have included parenting from prison, forgiveness and solitary confinement. The stories come mostly from interviews with fellow prisoners, but we also get to hear from loved ones and employees of the prison.

Apple Podcasts has 4.9 average stars, 18,734 ratings and 1,973 written reviews. Those numbers are exceptionally rare and are more than justified by the unique perspective the show gives of those almost entirely absent from media creation.

It’s easy to listen to crime shows and be fascinated by a world that seems so far from your own. This show makes the incarcerated folk, the victims and the gravity of the crimes real. It’s a delicate balance of humanity and reality.

One of the greatest attributes of the show is the glimpse it gives of the rarely seen and complexly-natured justice system. Whether you believe the American justice system is on the right track or not, it is impossible to deny that the questions it seeks to answer are tough and elaborate. Instead of examining the current approach directly, “Ear Hustle” looks at the big picture by addressing all the preconceptions most people have about it.

Over the years the show has won and been nominated for several awards, including a Pulitzer Prize, a Peabody and honors from the Webby Awards. So far there are 82 episodes that are on average about 37 minutes long.

OwlTail has the most listened-to episodes listed as “The SHU” and “Tell Christy I Love Her.” While those episodes are both very good, I also really liked “Crew No. 7” and “Snack Money.” The music and other art featured in the show come from the inmates.

There are quite a few trigger warnings throughout the show, and specifics for each episode can sometimes be found in the show notes. Many of the episodes are funny and insightful, but there are also quite a few heavy-hitting topics covered. Please listen with care.

Similar pods: “Radio Diaries,” “Suave” and “The Secret Life of Prisons”

“Nightmare Next Door”

The 2011 true-crime show “Nightmare Next Door” is produced by the ID network and is an audio version of the television show by the same name. Every Friday, the show looks at an unexpected murder from a friendly and seemingly safe neighborhood.

You would think by the title of the show that it would be easy to figure out the murderer every time, but it is surprisingly more complicated. It’s hard to realize how many people we have in our everyday lives until it is pointed out, and that makes each episode interesting. It also gives a glimpse into how difficult even simple cases can be to solve because of all the different possibilities.

Apple Podcasts has four stars, 53 ratings and eight written reviews. There aren’t enough episodes to generate the most popular from OwlTail, but so far the show has 12 episodes.

The most interesting of the pod for me has been “Death in Robert’s Court” and “North Main Street Mystery.” They have all been 43 minutes long, and commercials are fairly short. Very much an ID product, there are those cheesy but classic puns so often found in these types of true-crime shows. I chalk them up as part of the genre, but I can see the argument that this show isn’t the time or place for jokes.

The cases are told narratively with help from the host and interviews with investigators and family. The show may be recycled television, but I think it’s a great alternative for those interested who don’t have the time to sit down and watch it. These sorts of shows are also often source material for other podcasts, so it’s nice to hear where that information was gathered from.

Similar Pods: “Unsolved Mysteries,” “Strange and Unexplained with Daisy Eagan” and “Generation Why”

“Anything You Say”

“Anything You Say” is a 2020 true-crime podcast that provides a fresh approach to the genre by examining both famous and lesser-known police interrogations. With the help of expert guests, host Eric Flack presents each case through a mixture of original interrogation audio and analysis.

History, psychology and common police procedure are all covered, as the podcast looks at everything that goes into the who, when, where and why of interrogations. There’s not really another pod like it in terms of content, although the “Jim Can’t Swim” YouTube channel is close if you’re looking for something similar.

The podcast covers mostly cases when the police did well. However, it does look at false confessions and shady tactics like lying to suspects (which is legal) in episode 5. The show was extremely well-received, much like Vault Studio’s other works.

Apple Podcasts has 4.8 out of 5,338 ratings and 50 written reviews. It appears to be a stand-alone series with 11 episodes and no word on if/when we can expect more. Unlike other themed series, each episode can be listened to in random order and are on average about 25 minutes long.

The most interesting episodes to me were “You Have Not Shed One Tear | The Interrogation of Christopher Watts” and “You’ve Got the Wrong Guy | Catching a Killer.”

Trigger warnings for tense police situations and violent crimes.

Similar Pods: “Still No Justice,” “Number 1500” and “Forensic Transmissions”

Marie Tanksley, the podcast director, can be reached at