With Chicago possibly on the verge of a return to Phase 3 COVID-19 restrictions, it’s more important than ever to stay home and stay safe. With the weather getting colder, staying home isn’t a bad idea anyway. So get some hot chocolate, fix the pillows in bed and get ready to binge these podcasts recommended by some of The Phoenix opinion staff.
Opinion Editor Rylee Tan: “Behind the Bastards”
My roommate recommended this podcast to me a few months ago and I’ve been listening to at least an episode a day ever since. “Behind the Bastards” is a podcast by Robert Evans, a journalist and former editor at Cracked.com. In it, Evans explores — at length — the history and effects of some of the world’s worst people whom he affectionately calls “bastards.” He presents the stories of these “bastards” with a different guest each week in a lighthearted and palatable way that makes it easy to keep listening.
Some of the episodes cover more well-known horrible people including Adolf Hitler, Paul Manafort, Alex Jones and L. Ron Hubbard. Others go over lesser-known figures or events such as the School of the Americas, a U.S. run military academy that’s trained multiple war criminals, and Erik Prince — a businessman and owner of Blackwater Inc., a private security firm responsible for a three week battle in Fallujah during the U.S.’s occupation of Iraq.
Given the subject matter, some episodes might not be suitable for a day of light listening. Each episode is thoroughly written and researched, so some subjects have multi-part episodes, with each episode about an hour long. Go for a walk — while the weather permits — and listen to the stories of some of the worst people in the world.
Opinion Contributor Alexis Hodo: “Crime Junkie”
Murder and mystery have always been interests of mine, so you can only imagine how excited I was last year when I discovered this podcast. “Crime Junkie” is hosted by Ashley Flowers and co-hosted by Brit Prawat and has more than 150 episodes to date. The Indiana duo explores murders, conspiracy, missing persons, serial killers and wanted cases dating as far back as the 1940s. Crime Junkie fans also take a deep dive into more recent and well-known cases such as the Laci Peterson case or the Golden State Killer.
While I love the well-known cases, the podcast is full of crimes I haven’t been made aware of, especially the ones in Indiana, my home state. Occasionally, Ashley and Brit will update fans if more information has developed in a case or if a killer has been captured.
What I find different and most entertaining about the podcast is the input and opinion added from Ashley and Brit — I find myself agreeing with them or being exposed to new ideas on the murderer or disappeared persons’ possible whereabouts. A crime reporter covering these crimes as hard news has no place for opinion, only facts about the crime. Telling these stories through Crime Junkies allows Ashley and Brit to insert commentary that viewers can appreciate.
Some of the episodes can get a bit detailed and gruesome, so it’s always best to read the descriptions before listening. Personally, my favorite time to listen is at the gym but only the cases where the murderer is caught or the family has some sort of closure. Otherwise, the episodes are the perfect length for car rides or days when you’re running errands but need your crime fix.
Opinion Contributors Mia Ambroiggio and Sonja Anderson: “My Favorite Murder”
Despite its large fanbase, My Favorite Murder (MFM) is always deserving of a shout-out. Hosted by Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, MFM dives deeply into historical and current true crime cases ranging from notorious whodunits, such as the JonBenét Ramsey case to lesser known stories from eerie small towns. While there are many true crime podcasts, MFM stands out with its easily consumable mix of well-researched details, witty comments and off-topic banter.
While MFM records a weekly longer episode diving deep into one or two cases, our personal favorites are the “minisodes.” These minisodes consist of hometown murders that listeners have sent in, which Karen and Georgia record themselves reading to each other. We’ve listened to “badass grandma” stories, stories about treasure found in walls and a story by the son of John Wayne Gacy’s bowling partners. Both the mini and full episodes are padded with conversation between the hosts, who catch up like good friends. You can expect a heavy stream of pop culture recommendations for TV shows, documentaries and other podcasts.
As roommates, MFM is the soundtrack to our collaborative quarantine meals, and always fills our small kitchen with laughter and incredulous glances from one another. Despite the subject matter, Karen and Georgia always leave the listener in an optimistic mood using humor, frankness and empathy.
All of these podcasts can be streamed on Spotify and other streaming services.