The Dropout (available from 31 August)
The polo neck wearing, deep voice-imitating, Stanford dropout turned entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes – who fell from grace when her billion-dollar blood-testing company was hit by allegations of fraud – is a memorable figure. Her story has reverberated around popular culture in recent years, notably on this gripping and acclaimed show from ABC News, which is now being made into a television series starring Amanda Seyfried. This week, the podcast returns to coincide with Holmes’s upcoming trial, with new episodes released each Tuesday as legal proceedings continue.
Hannah J Davies
“Why do good cops go bad?” So asks This American Life alumna Jessica Lussenhop in this new show from the BBC World Service, a creepily compelling reported series with shades of The Wire. Lussenhop takes listeners into the world of Baltimore’s Gun Trace Task Force, initially set up to deal with the surfeit of illegal guns in the US city and led by a group of “supercops” who managed to get illegal weapons off the streets in record numbers. However, a chance discovery by a fellow police officer would lead to an FBI investigation of the unit’s inner workings. HJD
Chosen by Max Sanderson
It’s a bit embarrassing for someone who has worked in podcasts for over half a decade to only just discover a series that people have been listening to – and writing about – for around the same amount of time. But it also shows how far the industry has come, because the way I discovered Song Exploder was via its spinoff Netflix series.
Having watched their recent episode on the Nine Inch Nails track Hurt, I decided to jump into the original audio iteration and was pleasantly surprised. Their most recent episode also happens to be a favourite – New Slang by The Shins – and nicely encapsulates the simple but effective approach taken by host Hrishikesh Hirway and his production team.
For latecomers,each episode takes a single song and invites the musicians and producers behind it to talk us through its intricacies. Rarely for an American podcast, the host takes a bit of a back seat and lets their contributor or contributors tell their own story, interrupting only when entirely necessary. Add to this the moodboard of audio from early versions of the track – as well as inspirations – and each episode is a wonderfully evolving vignette of how a track is born. Withmore than 200 episodes left to listen to, I’m looking forward to hearing much more.
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