“We’re not experts.”
It’s a necessary disclaimer that comes, in some form or another, at the start of so many podcasts that dip into beauty or legal or medical advice. The hosts of “Forever 35,” a show that’s more personal reflections on self-care than a WebMD-like lifestyle resource, offer such a caveat before each episode kicks into gear.
“We’re just two friends who like to talk about serums,” they remind their unseen audience.
Some of the best podcasts make us feel like that — like you’re tuning in to a conversation between cool friends who happen to be great at producing regular, compelling content. They don’t have to tackle hard news, and they don’t have to be leading authorities in their fields. But they do have to provide good company.
And hey, we’re not experts either. So consider the following list ― composed of podcast series that began or released new seasons during the 2018 calendar year ― to be a friendly resource created by casual podcast listeners across the HuffPost newsroom. From “Doctor Death” to “Personal Best” to “Halloween Unmasked,” these are the shows that kept us company this year.
“Cover-Up,” which is somehow People magazine’s first podcast, dusts off the scandal that was shoved into a neglected corner of history as Kennedy’s service in the U.S. Senate stretched past four decades. Over seven episodes, journalist Elizabeth McNeil interviews surviving witnesses, law enforcement and family members in an attempt to truly expose this ugly blight on a powerful family’s legacy. Why did it take so long to call police? What were Kennedy and Kopechne doing out together? Did Kennedy try to save his passenger? Did he even know she was in the car? Did she drown … or did she suffocate? — Sara Boboltz
So many of the narratives about Obama tend to focus on the apex of his career. But by documenting some of his lowest points, “Making Obama” provides a fresh and more nuanced take on the man. The podcast’s many engaging interviewees make the biggest one — Obama himself — almost unnecessary. — Marina Fang
The show unravels the case against Curtis Flowers, a black man who has been tried for the same crime, a horrific multiple homicide, six different times. Host Madeleine Baran subjects the prosecutor's case to relentless scrutiny and lays out in painstaking detail how racist, corrupt policing doomed the investigation from the start. If that sounds like just another true crime podcast, it's not. "In The Dark" is never speculative and never treats reporting like a license to gawk at private tragedies. It’s journalism at its best: unflinching, accountable and infuriating. — Molly Redden