I never struggle to wake up on Thursday mornings, and it’s because I know new episodes of two of my favorite podcasts —
and Reply All — are waiting for me. Each episode feels like a hang-out session with my old friends, who happen to share my strange and particular interests. That’s one of my favorite things about podcasts: They’re unabashedly Who? Weekly specific. Whether you’re obsessed with true crime or makeup or , you’ll find your podcast community.
Here are the best new podcasts of 2018. We're including entirely new endeavors, as well as new seasons of shows that change dramatically between seasons.
(NPR) Believed Out October 12 Over the course of his career as a Olympic gymnastics doctor, Larry Nasser sexually abused hundreds of gymnasts. How did he get away with it for so long? This timely podcast looks at the infrastructure that protected Nasser for so long, and the chorus of women who brought him down by winning one of the largest serial sexual abuse cases in U.S. history.
Start to Sale
Premieres September 27
Calling all ambitious women: You have to add this round-up to your queue. Erin Patinkin and Natasha Case found, as women founders, they could understand each other better than anyone else could (Patinkin runs the New York bakery Ovenly and Case the founder of Coolhaus). Recognizing they had a good thing going, Patinkin and Case decided to let us in on the conversation. The co-hosts bring in other founders (including
Refinery29's own Piera Gelardi
) for intimate chats about the joys and challenges of growing a business.
(Radiotopia) Articles of Interest Out September 25 Fans of the famed design podcast 99% Invisible, rejoice! Longtime 99PI producer Avery Trufelman is spearheading this six-episode miniseries entirely. Articles of Interest is a show concerned with clothing — how it's made, and what it says about us. As with 99% Invisible, we expect this podcast will mine the mundane and overlooked for fascinating stories.
(The Truth Podcast) The Off Season Out October 1 Fiction podcasts — they're all the rage. The Off Season is a gripping four-part fictional podcast that casts an incisive lens on our current moment. After popular television host Bruce Alvarez is ousted on air for sexual harassment, Alvarez removes himself from the public eye and retreats to his beach house. An aspiring journalist meets him there and sees a chance for her big break. She sees his chance for a comeback. VS
(WBUR and Last Seen The Boston Globe) Out September 17 Can't get enough of heist dramas? Welcome to the world of the heist podcast, which combines high-stakes drama with well-researched fact. Last Seen looks at the robbery of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990, when thieves made away with 13 artworks valued at $10 million.
(The Poetry Foundation) VS Out August 2 Want to become a smarter person? Read a poem. Want to become a super smart person? Listen to poets discuss ideas on a podcast! That's where Franny Choi and Danez Smith, the hosts of VS, come in. In each episode, they have lively discussions with lively friends and colleagues about poetry and other things that matter. .
(Radiotopia) ZigZag Premieres June 14 Have you ever considered quitting your job and forging your own path in the world? Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant not only choose to quit their jobs and start a media company — they decide to document every step (and every anxiety) along the way. ZigZag's 12 episodes are must-listens for women with ambitious dreams.
(Gizmodo) The Gateway Premieres May 30 Teal Swan, an elusive YouTuber, is at the center of this compelling podcast from Gizmodo. Swan's feed is full of strangely hypnotic videos that explore mental health. We mean "hypnotic" almost literally — she's amassed a following of supporters who translate their appreciation from the screen to the real world. Many have followed her to the spiritual startup she founded in Costa Rica. The Gateway looks at the intersection of influencer culture and dark charisma.
(The New York Times)
Premieres April 19
Michael Barbaro of the
New York Times
' morning news podcast,
, introduced his new project,
, as a surprise to listeners. The podcast begins with a shocking introduction: A man describes how ISIS trained him to kill people.
will focus especially on the religious reasoning behind ISIS. “I think you can get a lot of clicks online just by doing the black and white ‘look how savage these people are,’ but why exactly are these people doing what they’re doing?" creator Rukmini Callimachi explained to
. "To me, ISIS is like this dark underground room, and I see my job as trying to fill it with light.”
is essential and uncomfortable listening.
(Gimlet) Sandra Premieres April 18 After listening to Sandra, you'll never interact with your Amazon Alexa the same way again. In the scripted fictional series Sandra, Alia Shawkat plays Helen Perera, a woman who gets a job providing the voice for a virtual assistant, Sandra. Unbeknownst to Sandra users, Sandra is actually controlled by thousands of human operators like Helen — not by an algorithm. Sandra is a star-studded endeavor: The voice of Sandra is provided by Kristin Wiig, and Helen's boss is played by Ethan Hawke.
(WABE) Buried Truths Premieres March 26 Buried Truths isn't a true crime podcast in the usual sense. The first episode gives away all the details of the tragedy the six-part series is building towards. Buried Truths, instead, goes into the "why" — the racial tensions that surrounded and motivated the event. In 1948, three Black farmers in rural Georgia decided they wanted to vote, despite the various roadblocks put in place by white local politicians. One of the men, Isaiah Nixon, is killed by white supremacists as a result. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Hank Klibanoff goes back to the town in Georgia where this all took place to retell the story.
(audioBoom) Night Call Premieres February 12, 2018 Night Call is like if your smartest, most plugged-in friends got together to talk about everything that interested them, and chose to include you because they think you, too, are interesting. Writers Emily Yoshida, Molly Lambert, and Tess Lynch freely discuss their obsessions, as well as field calls from listeners who want to ask for advice or join in on the fun. For a taste, on the first episode, the hosts seamlessly transition from talking about naked mole rats to debating the pros and cons of Black Mirror. If you like freewheeling talk podcasts, then Night Call will introduce you to your three new favorite hosts.
(Radiotopia) This Is Love Premieres February 14, 2018 Phoebe Judge and Lauren Spohrer, the co-creators of the hit podcast Criminal, wanted to cover more than just the world of murder and illegal activities, so they turned to a topic we all can relate to: Love, in all its messy, beautiful entanglements. This Is Love is the warm, story-based podcast to listen to when the news is too much to bear. You'll feel instantly pulled into the subjects' lives, and loves.
(HowStuffWorks and Tenderfoot TV) Atlanta Monster Premieres January 5 In 2014, Serial inspired a trend of true crime podcasts that just keeps getting better. Currently number one in the Apple Store charts, Atlanta Monster is poised to be the next object of our collective fascination. The chilling podcast looks into the disappearance and murder of 25 African-American children between 1979 and 1981. The Atlanta Child Murders, as this period is called, is being explored in Season 2 of Mindhunter and the upcoming FX series No Safe Place. But only in Atlanta Monster will you hear first-hand accounts from family members, witnesses, and police. The story will unfold week by week.
Self Service with Jerico Mandybur
Premieres January 14
checking your horoscope
the first thing you do in the morning? Then
, the second original podcast from Girlboss Radio, will definitely become another fixture of your daily routine. Host Jerico Mandybur walks listeners through different physical and spiritual techniques for tuning out of the world, and tuning into yourself — including on-the-spot meditation. Each weekly episode also features a segment devoted to horoscopes, brought to you by
' resident star-gazer and astrologer, Jessica Lanyadoo.
(WBUR) Endless Thread Premieres January 12 Reddit has long been called the "front page of the Internet." But for those of us who don't spend much time on Reddit, we can feel like we're missing out on cutting-edge internet chatter. That's where Endless Thread comes in. The podcast highlights the best stories floating around Reddit. Endless Thread will appeal to people who already love Reddit, and also to those who have only vaguely heard of the website. Ultimately, Endless Thread is a story-telling podcast — and a good one.
(Radiotopia Showcase) Secrets Premieres January 12 Radiotopia Showcase is a gift to the podcasting world. The show, essentially, is a platform for creators to present short series about a whole range of subjects. The last season centered on a video game conspiracy that originated in 1980s Portland. This six-episode series, Secrets, is about a far broader topic. It's about the secrets that have haunted individuals throughout their lives.
(Panoply and Six to Start) The Walk Premieres January 18 In 2017, Naomi Alderman came out with The Power, an incendiary work of speculative fiction that imagines a world in which all women suddenly gained deadly supernatural ability. In The Walk, Alderman applies her amazing imagination to crafting a story that unspools in 31 episodes. This time, the main character is you, a walker who must walk the length of a war-ravaged United Kingdom to ensure an important package is delivered. The podcast, created by the same folks behind Zombies, Run!, is designed to be an immersive experience: Listeners get active and walk along to Alderman's story. Each episode constitutes a 1-2 mile walk.
Premieres February 6
is like if
collided with the art world. In this podcast, Lance Reenstierna and Tim Pilleri dive into one of the
great unsolved museum mysteries:
How were 13 priceless paintings stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston 28 years ago, and where are they now? Will Lance and Tim be able to uncover those Vermeer, Rembrandt, and Degas paintings? You'll have to listen to this
treasure hunt to find out.
Premieres February 8
Until 1996, the town of West Cork, Ireland, had
gone almost a century
without a single murder. Then, a few days before Christmas, a 39-year-old French film producer named Sophie Toscan du Plantier was found dead outside her vacation home. The murder remains unsolved. The 13-part episode explores the events of the murder and investigation chronologically, featuring interviews from the local villagers who remember it like it was yesterday. The hosts also speak to the perplexing, unpredictable suspect of the crime, who was more than happy to spend hours with the producers.
(WBEZ Chicago) Making Obama Premieres February 9 This podcast looks into the formation of Barack Obama, from his time as an idealistic community organizer in Chicago, to his decision to apply to law school, and finally to the ladder of his political career. In addition to hearing from Obama's friends, former bosses and formative figures in his life, you'll hear from Obama himself. It's quite a remarkable journey.
(NPR) Invisibilia Premieres March Each season of Invisibilia, a podcast about storytelling and the human mind, feels like a brand new show. The episodes in the third season explored a different aspect of the season's overarching theme: Emotional reality and the lies we tell ourselves. This season's theme will be — wait for it – moral ambiguity. Hosts Hanna Rosin and Alix Spiegel will explore the topic through stories about heists, spies, and internet public shaming.
(Stitcher and Marvel) Wolverine: The Long Night Premieres in the spring This spring, the Marvel universe will overtake our earbuds with its first scripted podcast. It was bound to happen. Wolverine: The Long Night finds Logan/Wolverine in a remote town in Alaska in the year 1974. He's trying to escape from society, but the authorities disrupt his solitude after he becomes the primary suspect in a serial murder case. The podcast is set to take the template of a true crime podcast, and fill it with dashes of Wolverine lore. What more could we want?
Adventures in New America
(Night Vale Presents)
Premieres in the spring
The producers of
Welcome to Night Vale
have created a sprawling ecosystem of fictional, absurd, and sidesplittingly clever podcasts. The latest is called
The Adventures in New America
. According to
, the official description of the podcast is, "A wild blues- and afropunk-tinged ride through the New York City of New America, a country not so different from our own, where jobs and healthcare are hard to come by and bad news is a constant presence...except that it’s also populated by vampire zombies from outer space.” So, it'll be like an updated and improved version of our own reality, right?
(The Public Radio Alliance) Rabbits Premieres in the spring In the first season of Rabbits, podcast producer Carly Parker's best friend, Yumiko, goes missing. For weeks, Yumiko had been investigating a strange game called Rabbits. Yumiko would spend days immersed on her computer, sure she was now part of a global conspiracy. The more Carly investigates Yumiko, the more she gets pulled into the same underground game. The thrilling first season ended with quite a twist; the second, with any luck, will pick up where the first left off. No one would blame you for thinking Rabbits and its sister shows, The Black Tapes and Tanis, were completely real. Instead, these shows mimic the format of podcasts, but have way more supernatural twists.
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of celebrity news, fun takes on pop culture, and trending stories on the Refinery29 Entertainment Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!