Each month, Podcast Review’s staff offers recommendations on the best new podcasts to listen to. Here are our favorites for December:
James Acaster is one of the UK’s biggest podcasters. The comedian found success with Off Menu, an irreverent interview podcast centred around food. His new project, Springleaf, is a true(ish) crime podcast that features Acaster as Pat Springfield, an ex-con man who has reinvented himself as an undercover cop. This is where the format becomes novel. We hear Pat and his producer play clips from wire recordings to studio guests, with Acaster playing himself and his criminal alter-ego. It all gets a bit meta. Springleaf will appeal to fans of fiction podcasts, as well as anyone who enjoys listening to an Englishman talk very fast about silly things.
Host Raquel Willis explores the life and death of Layleen Xtravaganza Cubilette-Polanco. Layleen died in solitary confinement at Rikers in 2019. The news of her death spotlighted the inhumane and often illegal practices going on at the facility, as well as the many forms of state violence that face trans women of color. As Willis explains, the goal is to break down the many structural forces that killed Layleen. The first episode shares Layleen’s life trajectory and passions, from her childhood in Yonkers to her times in New York City’s ballroom houses, and features stories from her family, friends, and influences.
Campside Media and Tenderfoot TV are collaborating on a new slate of shows led by an eight-episode series called Radical, an investigative podcast set in one of Atlanta’s oldest neighborhoods. Host Mosi Secret examines these topics through the story of Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, a Muslim leader and former Black Panther convicted of shooting two deputies in Atlanta twenty years ago. Secret grew up in Atlanta’s African-American Muslim community and was previously a reporter for The New York Times and ProPublica, making him an ideal host for a show that covers the nuances of violence in liberation movements and anti-Islamic sentiment in post-9/11 America.
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