Updated on Sep 10, 2019. Posted on Aug 31, 2019

    15 Podcasts To Take To The Beach

    For when you want to listen to something other than the waves at the beach.

    You’ve heard of beach reads, but what about beach listens? Here are some podcasts to dive into before summer ends. In summer the term “beach read” is thrown around with abandon. Everyone—from authors to publications—questions its meaning, unable to reach a consensus. In the same vein, asking what makes a podcast fit for the beach is futile. Instead, we’re recommending 15 outstanding podcasts that range in subject and style, from investigative journalism to narrative fiction, meaning there’s something for everyone… even if you like elaborate video game conspiracy theories. The only catch is that they’re capsules, but that makes them perfect for a weekend at the beach.

    1. 16 Shots

    WBEZ

    16 Shots humanizes the harrowing information surrounding the shooting of Chicago’s Laquan McDonald by police officer Jason Van Dyke. Pushing past crime statistics to offer an in-depth look at “the shooting, the fallout, and the trial,” the podcast provides daily updates and audio clips from the trial itself, leaving the listener in the jury box.

    2. BIKRAM

    ESPN

    ESPN’s 30 For 30, the popular documentary hub known for producing sports stories “too dramatic not to be real,” brings it in the podcast arena as well. Take BIKRAM, for example, an enthralling five-episode investigation of Bikram Choudhury’s controversial yoga practices from his boom in the ’70s to his current-day bust amid sexual assault allegations.

    3. Arden

    Arden

    This fictional mystery-comedy subverts tropes by turning the Dead Girl narrative on its head. Enter missing starlet Julie Capsom who ran her car off the road a decade earlier, leaving behind a male torso in the trunk. Journalist Bea Casely and detective Brenda Bentley are on the case, cracking wise and tracking down bad guys.

    4. Articles of Interest

    Radiotopia

    A mini-series from 99% Invisible, Articles of Interest defines itself as a “podcast concept album… on clothes.” Digging deep into design, the podcast tackles tough questions like why womenswear doesn’t have pockets and why kid’s clothes are doused in dangerous chemicals. It also investigates timeless wardrobe staples from Hawaiian shirts to blue jeans with flair.

    5. Bronzeville

    TateMen Entertainment/ Cinema Gypsy

    Directed by and starring Laurence Fishburne and Larenz Tate and scripted by Academy Award-nominated writer Josh Olson, Bronzeville is historical fiction at its finest. Set in the titular Chicago neighborhood once nicknamed the “Black Metropolis,” it chronicles “the lives of players in the lottery games while illuminating the self-sustainability of the community’s African American residents.”

    6. Bubble

    Maximum Fun

    Welcome to fictional Fairhaven—“a literal bubble of corporate utopia.” Bubble goes from satire to sci-fi with the abrupt appearance and killing of a reptilian monster. It’s a cutting and comic look at millennial misadventures that is as addictive as it is absurd, and will have you rooting for a small band of monster hunters.

    7. Cover-Up *

    Meredith Corporation

    Chappaquiddick has become shorthand for the death of political campaign specialist Mary Jo Kopechne. On People magazine’s first podcast, the publication goes back nearly 50 years to the discovery of her body in Ted Kennedy’s car, which the senator and presidential hopeful had safely escaped from 10 hours before he alerted authorities to the accident.

    8. Dr. Death

    Wondery

    A clear spiritual sequel to podcast-turned-tv show Dirty John, Dr. Death takes you on a spine-tingling journey as it unfolds the story of neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch and the profoundly flawed medical system that allowed him to get away with madness. It’s a masterclass in investigative reporting that follows every terrifying turn of malpractice.

    9. Gay Future

    Gay Future Productions

    Purporting to be an “adaptation of a recently discovered, never released YA novel by Mike Pence,” Gay Future is a subversive snack. In a tight six episodes, it brings you to the year 2062 in which (almost) everyone is gay, and the fate of humanity rests on the shoulders of the sole and secret straight.

    10. The Grift

    Panopoly

    It’s always scammer season. The Grift, “a show about con artists and the lives they ruin,” investigates all sorts of swindlers—from card sharks to cult leaders—while trying to find out why we keep falling for it. It’s an intriguing look at the history of con artists filled with tips—er, tricks—of the trade.

    11. The Habitat

    Gimlet Media

    The Habitat is a “true story of a fake planet.” Following six volunteers in an “imitation Mars habitat where they will work as imitation astronauts for one very real year,” it’s secluded setting, and mission-oriented focus is reminiscent of Survivor, and it’s just as addictive. Tune in in preparation for the day we blast off.

    12. Mogul

    Gimlet Media

    Documenting the life and eventual suicide of Chris Lighty, the wildly successful hip-hop honcho, Mogul acts as a biography for both the man and the music. It shines a stark light on the price of pursuing the American dream while working to humanize Lightly as much as it honors him and his contributions to the genre.

    13. The Polybius Conspiracy

    Radiotopia

    This is an epic and elaborate video game conspiracy theory. Polybius, the mysterious ’80s arcade game “whose alleged existence in the Pacific Northwest is fueled by myth and an obsessive online fan base, and which may have factored in the abduction of two teenage boys” anchors this deep-dive into the enduring power of urban legends.

    14. Seeing White

    PRX

    Scene On Radio is doing some of the best cultural explorations out there, and Seeing White is no exception. Posing the pertinent question, “just what is going on with white people?” it aims to “[explore] whiteness in America—where it came from, what it means, and how it works” by centering and supporting people of color.

    15. She Says

    NPR

    Through interviews with detectives, forensic scientists, and survivors, She Says offers an in-depth look at the criminal justice system’s approach to sexual assault cases. Focusing on “a Charlotte-area woman who was sexually assaulted by a stranger in 2015… and is still struggling to find answers” years later, the podcast traces the long and winding road of resolution.

    Contact Becca James at wreckaflames@gmail.com.

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