When it launched in 2014, the Serial podcast pumped new life into the audio genre. The weekly investigative journalism format was an immediate hit. And listeners couldn’t get enough of host Sarah Koenig’s in-depth reporting into the criminal trial of Adnan Syed.
For many listeners and podcasters alike, Serial is what invigorated their interest in podcasts. Whether or not that’s the case for you, Serial is a great example of investigative journalism in podcasting at its absolute finest.
If you’re looking for similarly well-researched and binge-worthy podcasts — which you can manage using Pocket Casts — look no further than the podcasts below.
In Undisclosed, three hosts investigate wrongful convictions and problems with the U.S. justice system, from investigation through to trial and ending with the verdict. The program is the product of three great legal minds — attorney and author Rabia Chaudry, University of South Carolina law professor Colin Miller, and lawyer Susan Simpson.
Fans of Serial will appreciate Undisclosed because of its analysis of the legal system. Its current season is called “The Killing of Freddie Gray,” while past entries include “The State v. Jamar Huggins,” “The State v. Adnan Syed,” and “The State v. Joey Watkins.”
As you may have guessed from the name, the Missing podcast looks at investigations surrounding missing people. Crime writer Tim Weaver hosts the podcast, and throughout the season, examines the world of missing people and charts the progression of various searches.
Weaver knows his stuff. He’s a former journalist and magazine editor, and he’s also a bestselling crime novelist. In each episode, he talks with experts about various aspects of missing persons investigations, such as forensics, data, psychology, technology, and surveillance.
Fans of Serial will no doubt appreciate the behind-the-scenes look this podcast gives various missing person cases. (If this sounds like your kind of thing you should check out these British crime dramas on Netflix.)
Someone Knows Something, called SKS for short, is an investigative podcast from Canada’s CBC Radio. Like Serial, the first season of SKS looked at an older unsolved case, the disappearance of five-year-old Adrien McNaughton in 1972.
Season two examines the case of Sheryl Sheppard, who went missing from Hamilton, Ontario, in 1998.
Filmmaker David Ridgen writes, produces, and hosts the podcast, mixing his expertise in investigative work with the narrative format. The podcast has led Ridgen and his production company dabble in other genres, such as long-form drama and new media production.
4. The Mind of a Murderer
Unlike Serial and some other podcasts on this list, The Mind of a Murderer doesn’t look at unsolved crimes. Instead, criminal psychologist Michelle Ward conducts interviews with convicted murderers to get at the underlying psychology of how and why the crimes were committed.
The six-episode podcast is from Investigation Discovery, the TV network known for its true-crime programs. Each case is unique. In one episode, Ward interviews Jason Bohn, a Wall Street lawyer who went on to become known as the Ivy League Killer. In another, she interviews Janene Patton, a woman who fatally shot her husband following an evening of fighting.
From the creators of Serial, the S-Town podcast is a must-listen for fans of the investigative narrative format.
Over the course of seven episodes, host Brian Reed looks at an Alabama town after receiving a tip from a man named John, who claims to despise the town.
John says the son of a wealthy family in town has been bragging about getting away with murder. Later, another person is found dead, and the investigation unveils what turns out to be an intense family feud.
Like Serial, the complete Accused series focuses on one murder and the many questions that came up during its investigation.
The Accused podcast from The Cincinnati Enquirer asks, “Was the right guy charged, or did a killer walk free?” The series looks at the 1978 killing of Elizabeth Andes, which at first seemed like a simple case to solve.
Over the course of nine episodes, Accused shows why the case was much more complicated than investigators initially assumed. A 10th episode examines the key players involved in the case, while an 11th episode features thoughts from reporters Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossman, who took a new look at the case for the podcast.
Breakdown is another investigative podcast from a newspaper, this time The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The first season was subtitled “Railroad Justice in a Railroad Town,” and followed the story of a man accused of burning down his own house and killing an elderly woman who lived next door.
Meanwhile, the 17-episode second season of Breakdown looks at Ross Harris, who was accused of murdering his 22-month-old son by leaving him strapped in an overheated car.
The podcast’s third season is called “Predator, M.D.,” and follows a mysterious doctor with a dark side.
Investigative podcasts from newspaper publishers, such as Breakdown, should be right in the wheelhouse of Serial fans, because they take professional reporting on interesting cases and present it in a must-listen audio format.
8. In the Dark
The first season of In the Dark looks at the case of Jacob Wetterling, who was abducted in a small Minnesota town in October 1989. Over nine episodes, American Public Media reporter Madeleine Baran looks at the long-standing case that wasn’t solved until late 2016.
Like Serial, the In the Dark podcast won a George Foster Peabody Award, considered among the highest honors in broadcasting.
What Case Will You Uncover Next?
These are eight solid podcasts containing a wealth of investigative journalism.
Whether you’re looking for podcasts to listen to during your commute, or just need an interesting story to pass the time, you’re sure to find something in this list.
Do you have another favorite true crime podcast that lives up to the investigative journalism in Serial? Tell us all about it in the comments below!
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