Marie Tanksley’s podcast recommendations for February 6


Marie Tanksley, Podcast Director

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

“13 Hours Inside the Nova Scotia Massacre”

“13 Hours Inside the Nova Scotia Massacre” is a true-crime podcast about the very recent crime of the 2020 Nova Scotia Massacre, which happened in April of 2020 and was a mass shooting. But it is unlike any others I’ve heard of. I say this not to sensationalize it but to highlight how differently the shooter went about the crime as well as how unusual the shooter himself was.

Here in America, we hear a lot about young kids committing mass shootings in schools, but this crime isn’t anything like that. The show takes you through the 13-hour shooting spree that left 22 people dead, three injured and 16 locations on fire.

Solo host of the 13-part miniseries Sarah Ritchie, a reporter for Global News Halifax, tells the confusion of the quiet community of Portapique as it erupted into gunfire and flames, and she tell what about the perpetrator caused the scrambled initial response of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

It opens up an interesting discussion about what led up to the shooting and what could have been done to prevent it in the middle of a pandemic lockdown in a place where the weapons used were already banned. It’s one of the saddest thorough accounts of a mass shooting I’ve heard, on par with the account of the Pulse Nightclub Shootings.

About half of the 13 parts have been released, with the latest one coming out on December 21, and on average their length is about 37 minutes long with no commercials. New episodes come out twice a month. All voices, including the host and guests, have been recorded in good quality, and the music isn’t overpowering but complementary.

Trigger warnings for domestic abuse, mass shootings and mental health.

Apple Podcasts has a solid 4.5-star average rating with 77 ratings and 11 written reviews.

Similar Pods: “Dateline,” “The Piketon Massacre” and “Canadian True Crime”

“Before Breakfast”

Self-help podcasts and books can be hard to interpret into small steps that are manageable in everyday life. “Before Breakfast’s” episodes are 5-6 minutes and aim to give you a bright start to your day with feasible productivity tips you can immediately put into action. It’s a quick reminder to be aware of how you’re spending your time and that we are in control of how much we make the time count.

Host Laura Vanderkam is an efficiency specialist and consultant who believes most people can benefit from rethinking our view of what time is so that we can have more of it to spend doing the things we enjoy. If you’re looking for a podcast to help you feel ready to have your best day, this is it. It always gives me one thing to focus and work on throughout the day that requires hardly any time at all to listen to.

One of the biggest complaints about the pod and its host is that she works from home most of the time and has a nanny. While I understand her advice can come off as out of touch, I still think the tips can be useful to pretty much anyone in any lifestyle.

I work 40-50 hours per week for minimum wage and have been able to incorporate almost all of the suggestions into every day. Even just being reminded daily to think about how productive I am being is a huge boost in helping me feel confident and in control.

Apple Podcasts has a 4.5 average star and over 1,000 reviews. New episodes come out daily, and so far there are over 900 episodes! The show’s most popular episodes according to OwlTail are “Busy people need hobbies” and “Plan your exit.” I really enjoyed “The one habit that can revolutionize your time” and “Wasting time.”

There is no time for filler or fluff, and the show occasionally has other expert guests with their best advice. The music is extremely brief but calming. No trigger warnings for this one.

Similar Pods: “The New Corner Office,” “The Lazy Genius Podcas‪t” and “Do The Thing, with Whole30’s Melissa Urba‪n‬”

“The Crime Shack”

Airing in November 2019, “The Crime Shack” is an independent true-crime podcast that belongs on the list of best true crime podcasts and is more than worth it to support on Patreon. There are few cases I hear that can make me stop what I’m doing and throw my hands up, but this podcast has had me doing it regularly.

Solo host Michelle Pense has a brilliant radio voice that she couples with professional sound quality and editing. You might recognize her from her very successful TikTok, @????????????????, where she covers crime in short videos.

The podcast is the perfect blend of facts and the tiniest bit of commentary. It covers a range of crimes including recent ones I hadn’t heard of. No tangents and completely possible to spend a weekend lost in bingeing this show.

So far there are 22 episodes, with new ones coming out monthly. Episodes include chilling 911 calls as well as audio from interrogations with investigators and on average are about 40 minutes long.

OwlTail’s most popular episodes according to the number of listens are EP06: “Geza de Kaplany ‘The Acid Doctor'” and EP05: “Christy Sheats and Cynthia Kessler Collier: Maternal Instincts.” I also found episode 5 to be especially intriguing as well as EP15: “The Strange Murder of Robert Eric Wone.”

There are some mispronunciation of names in the Murdaugh episode, but it didn’t bother me at all. That’s the only episode I heard anything wrong with. The sponsors of the podcast are personal safety companies like alarms and pepper spray, which is fitting.

I love the website! It includes a blog with pictures from each episode, sources, transcripts, a place for case suggestions and the merch store. The retro sweatshirt design is iconic, and we love to see sources and transcripts.

Apple Podcasts has 4.6 stars, 107 ratings and 16 written reviews. Music is short and inquisitive.

Trigger warnings are included in the show but often cover crimes against children as well as sexual violence.

Similar Pods: “CASEWATCH True Crime Podcast,” “Carolina Crimes” and “Body Bags with Joseph Scott Morgan”

“Like a Version”

The weekly music podcast “Like a Version” is actually a recorded segment that is performed live on the Australian radio station Triple J. It was created by Mel Bampton for his show “Mel in the Morning” in 2004. Every set has artists, both international and local, play two songs: one of their own and a cover of someone else’s in their own style (or version). It’s similar to BBC’s Radio 1 “Live Lounge” sets and Irish Today FM’s “Even Better Than the Real Thing.”

The name is also said to be a play on “Like a Virgin,” Madonna’s 1984 album. Originally these performances were acoustic, but the style has developed to include all sorts of music. The show’s wide popularity has led to CDs as well as some of the covers making it onto the Triple J Hottest 100. It is also listed as a podcast on most podcast players, but it’s a playlist on Spotify.

While most sets can be found on Triple J’s website as well as their YouTube channel, the online archive doesn’t go back further than August 2006. Like most cover songs, you have to take the good with the bad. While there are some incredibly well-done songs, there are also some misfires. I really enjoy it when bands cover a song in their own style instead of as close as they can to the original. It is a new version after all.

Apple Podcasts has 4.6 stars and 33 ratings. So far there are 577 episodes currently available with new ones coming out every Thursday. On average they last about 20 minutes.

OwlTail’s most popular isn’t up for this podcast, but my favorites are almost too hard to pick. I adore the CHVRCHES cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “LOVE” (their “Do I Wanna Know?” is also amazing), and Meg Mac’s “Let it Happen” originally done by Tame Impala. Those are just two of the many stunning songs. Seriously, all episodes are worthy of checking out, but again, some are better than others.

No swears for this one, but the nature of songs can vary.

Side note: Triple J does another brilliant segment called “Bars of Steel” that features rappers and is worth checking out. (I recommend A.Girl’s set)

Similar Pods: “Tiny Desk Concerts,” “Live Lounge Uncovered” and “Headliners”


“Cowper” is a 2019 podcast that could be pegged as true crime, but it listens more as an investigative journalistic piece. Looking into who could be culpable in the second-worst road disaster in Australian history, the show by the Daily Examiner is a six-part series.

Thirty years ago near the small town of Cowper sometime between 3-4 am, a semi-truck carrying pineapples drifted onto the opposite side of the road and collided with a commuter bus carrying 45 people. This caused the entire right side of the bus to be sheared off, passengers to fall out onto the roadway and the vehicle to flip into a roll.

Twenty one of the passengers were killed, and the incident led to calls for upgrades to the road that would take three decades and hundreds of lives to make. This pod’s intimate details of the last moments of the victims’ lives as well as those following the crash is something I had to hear to get the gravity of what happened.

This podcast is the brainchild of Jenna Thompson and is narrated by Mary Gardiner with interview help from Kathryn Lewis and Lesley Apps. The scriptwriting was done by Michelle Gately. I love when all involved with a show are credited both in audio and written somewhere. Not only is it easy to give them the credit they deserve in reviews like these, but it makes for a searchable text on the internet.

Apple Podcasts has 5 out of 5 stars but only one rating, which I cannot believe. Episodes are all 29 minutes, and commercials are average.

One thing I do like about the breaks in this show is they have mental health hotline PSAs, which with the topic covered is needed. The music is fitting, and there’s only one instance of the host seeming to use heavy emphasis for dramatic effect (just once).

Trigger warnings for descriptions of injury, suicide, fear and hopelessness. It’s a hard listen but worth hearing the stories told of those affected.

Similar Pods: “Where’s William Tyrrell?,” “Black Box Down” and “On The Frontline.”

“Paul McCartney: Inside the Songs”

Did you know The Beatles’ song “Yesterday” (widely regarded as one of the greatest pop songs ever written) shares history with Doctor Who? How about who the woman behind the song “Eleanor Rigby “really is? In “Paul McCartney: Inside the Songs” master storyteller Paul McCartney relives for the first time what was really happening when he wrote some of the most popular songs of the 20th century, and nothing is left on the table.

Drugs, love, and the band’s breakup are just a few things covered in these candid, short-form, off-script narratives produced by BBC Radio 4 in promotion for McCartney’s upcoming book, “The Lyrics.”

I’m not even the biggest fan of The Beatles, but I adored this podcast from a music history perspective and appreciated the unique look into the making of 10 famous songs by the group.

Apple Podcasts has 4.8 stars, 37 ratings, and only 1 written review. It’s also only available for one year from its original air date which was October 25, 2021. Let’s hope the Internet Archive squirrels this gem away for generations to come.

The script is done in the style of some of my favorite podcasts where the interview questions either don’t exist or have been edited out. It leaves a seamless recount that gives context to the culture and history of the time.

All episodes were released the same day and are ready for a listen, which can be done within an hour because the length of each one is only 4-9 minutes. I was amazed at how captivating each could be at such a short length. No commercials and surprisingly almost no music, with only a few clips of each song used throughout the series.

Trigger warning for drug use and murder.

Similar Pods: “I am the EggPod,” “Like a Version” and “Dissect”

“Word Matters”

“Word Matters” is a show by and for English nerds. The four hosts: Emily Brewster, Neil Serven, Ammon Shea and Peter Sokolowski are all editors of Merriam-Webster and tackle all things English language, including grammar rules, word origins, new trends and so much more.

The NPR podcast has 205 reviews and an average rating of 4.9 stars. It is recent, having put out its first episode just this past August 2020 with new ones coming out every Tuesday. The average episode length is 20 minutes with 76 episodes already out.

OwlTail has the top episodes being “Sorry, but Shakespeare Didn’t Create That Word” and “In Defense of Like.” However, my favorites so far are “Why Are American and British English Different” and “How ‘Not’ to Start a Sentence.”

Avid readers of my articles (if there is such a thing) might pick up that English was never my best subject, but this podcast makes me feel a bit better about it. If you have any insecurities or curiosities about the language, this pod is for you. The script is light with the show having a conversational feel among all the hosts. The music is okay, and what I would describe it as folksy, although it is only present at the beginning and end of the pod. Voices are at a good volume and production quality.

No trigger warnings.

Similar Pods: “Ted Talks Daily,” “Duolingo Podcasts” and “Every Little Thing”

The podcast director can be reached at