Serial, This American Life
The sensational podcast that launched a thousand copycats has returned with a third series, with a different focus from both the first powerful narrative about the murder of Hae Min Lee, and the second, less successful, series about the capture of a US soldier in Afghanistan. This time, Sarah Koenig has spent more than a year inside the courthouse in Cleveland, Ohio, pulling together stories about different trials. Episode one considers the fascinating case of a woman who was assaulted before lashing out at a police officer.
Museum of Lost Objects, BBC Radio 4
This boutique podcast was a Radio 4 series in 2016, and each short instalment focuses on an object that has been destroyed or looted in Iraq, Syria, India or Afghanistan. The accounts of their destruction are mournful: the 2,700-year-old winged bull of Nineveh had its face chiselled off by Islamic State in 2015, while Rabindranath Tagore’s Nobel Prize medal was stolen in 2004. Yet the tone of the series is beautifully reflective, aiming to evoke the significance of each lost piece.
Hidden Brain, National Public Radio
NPR’s social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam is the host of this long-running, well-informed and compelling podcast about human behaviour, and how it’s unconsciously—and irrationally—affected by different triggers. Vedantam has also written a book on the same subject, but the podcast is even more wide-ranging and there are some fascinating topics in the back catalogue, including why we believe fake news, why we ignore official warnings, and how Ikea influences the behaviour of unsuspecting shoppers.