Leon Neyfakh is the host of Fiasco and co-creator of Slow Burn. Before starting a production company, Prologue Projects, he wrote for Slate and the Globe. He is the author of The Next Next Level.
A podcast about how much the Supreme Court sucks. The hosts are three funny lawyers, and each week they take on a different case from SCOTUS history that exposes the role of ideology and politics in the Court’s decision-making. Dark humor, lots of swearing, but also, somehow, educational. 5-4 is a production of Prologue Projects in partnership with Westwood One.
The story of Hurricane Katrina. Produced by The Atlantic, this series makes you feel like you’re in New Orleans when the hurricane hits. It’s a masterful work of reporting, sound design, and writing, and a perfect example of history being thrust into conversation with the present through the voices of those who witnessed it.
The misconceptions Americans have about the Civil War could, and have, filled many books. Uncivil tells a new version of the story, and achieves something I would have thought impossible: a sound-rich, vivid audio documentary about a time before there was any news coverage to deploy as archival footage and no survivors to interview.
How to F#€k Up an Airport
Would you believe it if I told you there’s a funny, propulsive podcast about a bureaucratic boondoggle involving the development of an international airport in Germany? There is, and this is it.
The Other Latif
Hard to summarize in a blurb, but here goes: In this series from Radiolab, host Latif Nasser investigates the case of a man who happens to share his name, and who has been locked up in Guantanamo Bay since 2002 – despite being cleared for release in 2016. It’s the kind of story podcasting serves best: personal, digressive, deep.
This Day in Esoteric Political History
A new show hosted by former 30 for 30 producer Jody Avirgan and historian Nicole Hemmer, it delivers exactly what it promises: bite-sized romps through weird and revelatory historical events, excavated on their anniversaries and chewed over with curiosity and verve.
Awkward Celebrity Encounters
You’d think something so straightforward couldn’t possibly feel experimental. In each episode, filmmaker Caveh Zahedi tells the story of a sometimes notable, always achingly specific, interaction he had with a famous person. Subjects include lots of film people, like Francis Ford Coppola, musicians like Brian Eno and Bob Dylan, and philosopher Fredric Jameson.
This one barely needs introduction – it has won the Peabody Award twice – but if you don’t know: Ear Hustle is a podcast about the particulars of life in prison. It’s a collaboration between artist Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods, who was incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison when the podcast started; since then, Woods has been released, but the show continues to find new questions to ask about how human beings respond to captivity.
This is the show I used to host! Even though I’ve moved on to making a different podcast, I remain a dedicated listener of Slow Burn and salute the team at Slate for continuing to find big, rich stories that need a second look. Season 3 was about Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G.; season 4, which just started, is about the rise of KKK-leader-turned-politician David Duke.
A relentless investigative show that finds its own questions to ask about the news everyone is talking about – and sometimes news that no one is talking about, but should be.