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The Best Podcasts of 2017
What a year for podcasts. Storytellers from every background imaginable have added a choose-your-own-adventure element to the medium, experimenting with everything from investigative journalism and political commentary to comedy and dramatic narrative. Ahead, find out which shows made it on EW’s list of the 10 Best Podcasts of 2017.
To listen to all the great shows for free on Apple Podcasts, go to apple.com/EW10BestPodcasts
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10. 74 Seconds
Hosts: Jon Collins & Riham Feshir
Named for the amount of time that elapsed between a police officer turning on his squad car lights to the moment he fired his seventh shot at Philando Castile during a 2016 traffic stop, Minnesota Public Radio's podcast delivered a staggering second-by-second account of the tragic event that added to the nation's growing conversation about race and police violence. – Mary Sollosi
To listen to 74 Seconds for free, click here.
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Host: Reggie Ossé
This gripping look at the life of music executive Chris Lighty, the man who helped shape the careers of artists like LL Cool J, Missy Elliott, and 50 Cent before his 2012 suicide, is also a fascinating examination of the hip-hop industry and the culture of fame, masculinity, and violence that lie at the genre’s center. – Maureen Lenker
To listen to Mogul for free, click here.
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Hosts: Kathy Tu & Tobin Low
At a time when popular portrayals of LGBTQ Americans in the media still feels lacking, this podcast hosted by two real-life best friends is refreshing for its scope. By looking at everything from the policies that shape our lives to the pop culture that gives us life, Nancy offers a rich, 360-degree look at what it means to be queer. – Nolan Feeney
To listen to Nancy for free, click here.
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7. 36 Questions
Performers: Jonathan Groff & Jessie Shelton
Over three hour-long episodes, a couple attempts to repair their relationship broken by an unthinkable betrayal by using a set of personal inquiries designed to help them fall in love. It’s a gorgeously wrought, two-person musical, the best of a new generation of podcasts exploring what the format can be, and its perfectly undone, folksy songs will be stuck in your head for weeks. – Dana Schwartz
To listen to 36 Questions for free, click here.
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6. Dirty John
Host: Christopher Goffard
It begins with a dead body—and what unspools from there could rival any Lifetime Original Movie. The Los Angeles Times mini-series chronicles the many deceits of an Orange County con-man and reveals testimony of those under his slick, slimy grasp. What emerges is more than a murder mystery—it’s a portrait of a family fractured and how they put the pieces back together. – Amy Wilkinson
To listen to Dirty John for free, click here.
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5. 30 for 30
Host: Jody Avirgan
ESPN's acclaimed documentary series joined the podcast world this year and did not disappoint. In-depth storytelling on some of the most engrossing sports moments, from Reebok's "Dan and Dave" campaign flop to the Miami Heat's “Hoodies Up” protest photo, scores big with arm-chair referees and sports novices alike. – Maureen Lenker
To listen to 30 for 30 for free, click here.
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4. The Daily
Host: Michael Barbaro
Delivering all the news that's fit to, um, hear, in around 20 minutes, the New York Times' early morning podcast has become a go-to destination for the day's top headlines. It's a thrilling look inside the practice of newsgathering, with a side of heart, all before your first cup of coffee. – Mary Sollosi
To listen to The Daily for free, click here.
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3. Ear Hustle
Hosts: Earlonne Woods & Nigel Poor
With one of the co-hosts recording while incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, this podcast is unlike anything you've ever heard. Named after the prison slang for eavesdropping, the show's episodes explore riveting topics – like “kites” (a.k.a. postcards) and “The Boom Boom Room” (an unsanctioned place where married couples meet) – that provide a startlingly close, sometimes painful, glimpse into the lives of real people who so often go ignored. – Dana Schwartz
To listen to Ear Hustle for free, click here.
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Host: Brian Reed
The year’s most fascinating binge sensation (from the brains behind Serial and This American Life) chronicled the eccentric life of a 49-year-old Alabama clockmaker named John B. McLemore. Reminiscent of characters from great Southern Gothic literature, McLemore is a true original — and his amazing story, which involves a purported murder and hidden gold, ultimately become a Rorschach test. The more you get to know him, the more you’ll understand yourself. – Joe McGovern
To listen to S-Town for free, click here.
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1. Pod Save America
Hosts: Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor
In 2017’s tumultuous climate, the nascent podcast shingle Crooked Media and its flagship program Pod Save America offered a light in the storm for Americans who at one time or another found themselves wondering, “Is anyone else going as crazy as I am?” Former Obama staffers Jon Favreau, Dan Pfeiffer, Jon Lovett, and Tommy Vietor are wickedly sharp and wildly entertaining, but their brief-yet-instrumental experience inside Washington has turned them into expert conduits to scrutinize and make accessible the most shocking news from the White House. Though they tout themselves as progressives, their commentary is insightful and cutting on both sides of the aisle; it’s their mission statement not to advocate, per se, but to inspire activism in any form for citizens who no longer want to feel powerless as national priorities shift around them. Pepper in shrewd interviews with key politicians and the best podcast-sponsor readings in the biz (you’re welcome, Blue Apron), and Pod Save America has established itself as a vital salve for the particularly, precariously anxious among us. Twice weekly, they analyze possible consequences and tangible fallouts to every major political story, offering realistic answers to the pressing question Americans faced this year: What’s next? – Marc Snetiker
To listen to Pod Save America for free, click here.