• Erin Zaranec

February Favorites: Podcasts

Happy February, y'all! To kick off the month of love, I wanted to share with you some of the podcasts I've listened to the past few months that truly captured my heart.

I'm a storyteller at heart and all of these podcasts dig deeper into an issue, from drug addiction to the oil industry, and will leave you wishing your commute was a bit longer.

America Dissected, Crooked Media

I stumbled upon this podcast after doing some research on my health care company and, wow, is it amazing.

Abdul El-Sayed, former Health Commissioner for the city of Detroit and current physician, epidemiologist, public health expert, and progressive activist, takes listeners on a 10-part series dissecting America's healthcare industry.

El-Sayed connects the relationship between science and government, exploring everything from the science of loneliness to the state of the healthcare system - all in language that is SUPER relatable and easy to understand... no jargon here.

Boomtown, Imperative Entertainment

I started listening to Boomtown because my best friend began working in the oil industry and I wanted to understand it all a bit better. I didn't have high hopes for a podcast about oil booms in West Texas to be entertaining, but host Christian Wallace proved me wrong. Wallace takes listeners to the Permian Basin, from the first oil boom to the collapse of the industry and into present day.

Wallace covers every aspect of what a boom brings to Texas, from wildcatters to sex workers, new life, death, money, and more.

Bardstown, Vault Studios

I'm not a huge bourbon drinker, but if you are - maybe you've heard of Bardstown, Kentucky. It's named both the 'Most Beautiful Small Town in America' and the Bourbon Capital of the World. But, behind both of these titles is a dark truth.

The town of 13,000 residents has seen multiple murders, including the ambush of a police officer and the disappearance of a young mother. While the city attracts plenty of tourists each year, host Jessica Noll shares the facts that the resident's want everyone to know: there are unsolved crimes spanning a six year history in their town.

In the Dark Season Two, APM Reports

I found In the Dark after doing research on cases similar to those of Bryan Stevenson's clients and fell right into the story of Curtis Flowers. At the recording of the podcast, Flowers had been tried six times for the same crime. He had continuously won appeals on those charges - but one prosecutor held the keys to Flowers' fate.

Host Madeline Baran walks listeners through a horrible crime that led to the charging of Flowers, and then talks through every detail of the case - from evidence to all six trials. There have been plenty of updates since the podcast came out - but I won't spoil them for you! Check for constant updates here.

Last Day, Lemonada Media

No one wants to think about it, but we'll all have a last day. This podcast explores the things that are killing us and deep dives into that topic. The first season is personal to host Stephanie Wittels Wachs, as she reports on the heroin epidemic. Stephanie lost her brother, Harris Wittels, to a drug overdose and felt so at odds with the brother she knew and loved and the addiction that killed him.

Her reporting is amazing, every episode is targeted, honest, and insightful. From treatment options to children impacted by addiction, this podcast doesn't shy away from any of it.

Mysterious Mr. Epstein, Wondery

Honesty hour, I knew the bare minimum about Jeffrey Epstein when he was murdered as part of a conspiracy theory to protect other predators (oh, shoot - I meant to just type died) in his cell. I knew that he was influential in Hollywood elite circles and was known as a predator, but couldn't have told you more than that.

As a loyal Wondery listener, I was intrigued to see this podcast explain everything from the rise of Epstein in society to his first victims and the creation of his global trafficking ring.Trigger warning: if you are a survivor or victim of sexual assault or violence, this podcast may be difficult to listen to. I had a few reservations going into it myself, but I do believe that this is a story that needs to be heard. Epstein was just the tip of the iceberg to a larger, global problem that needs to be exposed and addressed.

Have any podcasts I should be adding to my list?! Let me know on Instagram at @RatherbeReadingCLE.


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