The best podcasts of 2022
As 2022 winds down, we're looking back on the year in podcasting, and there was a lot to love this year.
Our producers saw a common thread across genres of shows offering a deeper, more nuanced look into their subject matter. Investigations into social media spats, whistleblowers, modern day pirates and Canada's residential school system all made our list. There were also many stories about the darker side of human nature — hoaxes and scams, conspiracy theories and extremism, serial killers and true crime. But, thanks to the endless creativity of podcasters, there was a lot to cleanse your auditory palate when all that darkness got to be too much. From sex and dating to normal people gossip, to the wonderful world of celebrity memoirs, there was a lot of excellent lighter fare that was no less masterful.
We've gone through our favourites and curated a listening list to keep you engaged and entertained over the holidays. Add them to your queue — these are stories and conversations you won't want to leave behind as the year draws to a close.
The Best New Podcasts of 2022:
Media Circus with Kim Goldman (Kast Media)
I was not expecting to like this show because it's under the true crime genre and I find those stories hard. I know I'm in the minority because they are some of the most listened to shows with the biggest audiences and that's actually what makes me feel uncomfortable or conflicted about listening to them.
But, I realized pretty quickly that's precisely what this podcast is about. Our obsession with these stories and how media reporting can potentially do harm and distort the events they cover.
Host Kim Goldman is the sister of Ron Goldman. His murder alongside Nicole Brown Simpson led to what is now known as the "Trial of The Century." Kim became a victim's advocate as a result and so this podcast describes itself as a behind-the-scenes look into high-profile crimes you think you know, as told by the victims and their families.
- Leah-Simone Bowen, Host
Kim Goldman joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
Loudest Girl in the World (Pushkin Industries and iHeart Media)
During the height of the pandemic, Lauren Ober learned that she's autistic. Her latest podcast The Loudest Girl in the World is about navigating this new revelation in adulthood.
At the heart of it all, I was drawn to this podcast because I also have close people in my life who are autistic. That said, all autistic people are not the same and the podcast does a great job at emphasizing this.
People tend to be familiar with TV and movie depictions of autism, but in real life it presents itself in many different ways. I love that this podcast opens up the conversation of what both autism and neurodivergence can look like.
There's so much to take away from this show — whether it's self acceptance, personal discovery, or navigating relationships.
For me this year, memoirs have provided a window into other people's processes of figuring out how to navigate life. From there, I take the advice that resonates with me. I really admire the vulnerability that it takes to make a personal memoir and Lauren's podcast has made me feel less alone in my own journey of self-discovery.
- Kelsey Cueva, Associate Producer
Lauren Ober joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
True Crime Byline (Postmedia and Antica Productions)
Hosted by our former CBC colleague Kathleen Goldhar, this is another podcast I quickly binged and frankly, couldn't get enough of.
When we read crime reporting, we often don't think about the person behind what we read. How long did they report on the story? What was it like being in the courtroom? Speaking to the families? What kind of lasting impact did the investigation have on them? These are all questions that are addressed in True Crime Byline.
In each episode, Goldhar is joined by a journalist who shares a historic story from their career. National Post reporter Tom Blackwell talks about working on the Paul Bernardo case. Regina Leader-Post reporter Barb Pacholik looks back on the murder of JoAnn Wilson. Each episode is engrossing and has lasting takeaways.
- Kate Evans, Senior Producer
Kathleen Goldhar joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
Kuper Island (CBC Podcasts)
This series is about the Kuper Island Indian Residential School in B.C. and the terrible things that happened there. It's focused on the story of a boy named Richard Thomas, who died at the school in 1966. His death was ruled a suicide, but his family and many of his former classmates believed he was murdered. The podcast sets out to find the truth about what happened to Richard.
Host Duncan McCue spends time with Richard's sister Belvie, who was also a student at the school, as well as classmates who were there on the day Richard died. McCue is an excellent host, bringing empathy and care to his interviews with Richard's friends and family.
This is obviously not easy listening, but it's incredibly powerful. And I think it's probably the best piece of media that I've seen or heard about residential schools. As Canadians, it's important for us to learn about what really happened at schools like Kuper Island and this podcast is a great way to do that.
- Julian Uzielli, Producer
Best Laid Plans (Indie)
For me, and a lot of people I know, 2022 has been a year of introspection. We're at this new phase of the pandemic where it feels like we've come out of the crisis stage when plans were derailed. Now, there's an opportunity to take stock of where we're at and go back to the drawing board.
In a nutshell, Best Laid Plans is an inside look at other people going through that same process. The podcast captures the art of the pivot. Each episode features an in-depth conversation with a professional creative about the moment in their careers when they decided to change things up.
These episodes are little nuggets of gift wrapped wisdom. The production is intimate — like you're at a cozy local bookstore listening to a reading. I love that it centres people who do creative work — from a chef to a screenwriter to musicians — because they're experts in relentless self-awareness and rolling with the punches.
Kind of like with the podcast We Regret To Inform You, there's something helpful about hearing how other people find their way through self-doubt, obstacles and challenges to discover where they can have the biggest impact. It's inspiring.
- Lauren Donnelly, Digital Producer
Hoaxed (Tortoise Media)
Last year's Sweet Bobby offered a unique spin on the "catfishing" genre. That story was so jaw dropping that you seriously couldn't make it up.
Now, host Alexi Mostrous is back and his new series Hoaxed establishes a clear thematic throughline from Sweet Bobby. It's a story that explores the thin line between cyberspace and peoples' ordinary lives and traverses British classism and the strange world of internet conspiracies.
Following false rumours circulating in the wealthy London neighbourhood of Hampstead, stories of satanic cults harming children spread across the globe. Mostrous guides us through this web of a story that spans years. It's truly engrossing, humane and full of twists and turns.
- Oliver Thompson, Associate Producer
Alexi Mostrous joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
Chameleon: Wild Boys (Campside Media)
When I think of the podcasts I loved from 2022, Chameleon: Wild Boys instantly comes to mind. Lately it's the first thing I recommend to people and the story has stuck with me months after first listening to it.
This true story takes place in Canada. It's 2003, and we're in the small town of Vernon, British Columbia when, out of nowhere, two brothers mysteriously emerge from the wilderness. The town rallies together to offer them support, but little do they know that they're in for quite a ride…
I absolutely devoured this series. Without giving too much away, the first half of the podcast unpacks the who of the story, while the second half uncovers the why. And when you think you know where the story's going to go, it'll take turns to places you couldn't even imagine.
If I get any more into this I'll just end up spoiling it for you so please do yourself a favour and listen to this series!
Death of an Artist (Pushkin Industries)
Death of An Artist is the story of an artist couple: American sculptor Carl Andre and Cuban artist Ana Mendieta and her mysterious death in the 1980s.
Andre was arrested and eventually acquitted of a second-degree murder charge in a 1988 bench trial. But, recent interest in Mandieta's work has raised new questions about her death.
Host Helen Molesworth revisits Mendieta's death and the trial that followed. The series interrogates both the years of silence and the protests that have accompanied this story ever since.
This was such a good show. Ultimately it addresses a very difficult question: Can you still like art from people who've allegedly done terrible things?
HeidiWorld: The Heidi Fleiss Story (iHeartRadio)
This podcast tells the story of Hollywood's most notorious madam: Heidi Fleiss. I love any story that digs into the gritty debauchery of Hollywood and this show is completely engaging and fascinating. It's deeply researched and the main story is of course super juicy and gossip-y. But, I love how host Molly Lambert weaves larger themes into the story: police corruption, the rights of sex workers and the hypocrisy of the justice system.
I also loved Annie Hamilton as the voice of Heidi. She made me feel personally connected to Fleiss and her story. You'll also hear cameos from Jamie Loftus, Hunter Harris, Karina Longworth, Rian Johnson, Brace Belden(!), Paul F. Tomkins … and more.
Dead Eyes (Headgum)
The third and final season of this strange and wonderful show came out earlier this year. I was a latecomer — when we had Adam Conover on the show this fall, he recommended Dead Eyes and gave one of the most impassioned recommendations for a podcast I've ever heard. Intrigued, I started listening and soon wasn't able to stop.
In 2001, actor Connor Ratliff was cast in a small role in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. But before he could film his scene, he was fired by producer Tom Hanks. The reason, Ratliffe was told, was that after seeing his audition, Hanks thought he had "dead eyes."
Twenty years later, this podcast seeks to uncover the truth: Did Tom Hanks really use those words? Why didn't they tell Connor in a nicer way? And what are "dead eyes" anyway?
This is not a hit job and Ratliff is not out for revenge. And believe it or not, the concept really can sustain a podcast for 31 episodes. Because this is not just a show about Connor Ratliff — it's about Hollywood, acting, rejection and perseverance. It's extraordinarily smart, funny and heartfelt. And the series ending delivers one of the best payoffs in the history of investigative podcasts.
If it's hard keeping up with the news, it's even harder keeping up with all things online. Slate's ICYMI has you covered for staying savvy about the latest memes, viral videos and pop culture phenomena.
Host Rachelle Hampton is super smart, engaging and funny. Her guests never disappoint. Even when the algorithm or my For You Page haven't introduced me to the trend up for discussion on ICYMI, I find myself engrossed, often smiling while listening.
As easy as it is to dismiss what's trending as meaningless ephemera, this podcast demonstrates what we can learn about ourselves and society if we engage with pop culture on a more critical level. 10/10, I highly recommend it.
Rachelle Hampton joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
The Prince (The Economist)
Xi Jinping is arguably one of the most powerful people in the world. At China's 20th Communist Party congress in October he secured a third term as party chief and may rule China for the rest of his life.
But the real story of China's leader remains a mystery. The Economist's Sue-Lin Wong finds out how he rose to the top in this eight-part podcast series.
Learning about how and why Xi Jinping rose to power helps me, as a Westerner, to understand more about the current political climate in China and how it represents itself on the world stage. I'm impressed by the access this team was able to get and the podcast is so strong because of it.
Vibe Check (Stitcher)
Keeping up with the headlines can leave you feeling jaded. The way Vibe Check tackles news and culture feels like the antidote to that.
Sam, Saeed and Zach bring empathy to every discussion and demonstrate how seemingly unconnected events all really stem from the same societal issues. For instance, one episode looks at the monkeypox crisis paired with queerbaiting in Hollywood. Another looks at Elon Musk's Twitter acquisition and how it sparked conversations among Black Twitter about leaving the app. With the way that most news and pop culture is covered it's easy to forget that they're not separate spaces, but all culture exists in tandem.
What I love the most about the podcast is their person-first approach. Off the top of each episode they'll quite literally do a "vibe check" with each other. Listening to the show feels like gabbing with your own friends about the nonsense that comes out of the news. Rather than telling you what's happening, the podcast offers the space to engage with the news in a meaningful way. Vibe Check shows that it's possible to talk about nuanced, difficult topics with an uplifting and welcoming tone and I'm interested to see if more news and culture shows will follow suit.
I really appreciated how host and producer Kristi Lee (and her team) methodically broke down this case for me. Before listening to the five-part series, I had only seen headlines here and there about the allegations against Hedley frontman Jacob Hoggard.
I didn't know the full story or its significance in Canada. Helpfully, the podcast clearly explains Hoggard's rise to fame — and the power and attention that came with it. But, the series also delves into how to navigate consent — both in a legal sense and in our personal lives. It challenges misconceptions that have surrounded rape culture for centuries and it confronts damaging myths about groupie and fan culture.
Canadian True Crime is consistently at the top of the podcast charts for a reason — it is an anthology podcast with a dedication to excellent research and sources. But this series goes beyond their typical format to produce original reporting and interviews. The Rise and Fall of Jacob Hoggard should be required listening for Canadians — there's so much information I'm taking with me from the series.
Who Killed Avril Lavigne? (Supernormal Media)
This is a fictional, sci-fi, pop-punk musical podcast about a teenager who has to travel back in time to the 2005 Warped Tour and stop Avril Lavigne from being kidnapped by aliens.
I am the exact target audience for this show: I was in high school in the 2000s, I played guitar in bands, I was obsessed with pop-punk and ska music and going to Warped Tour was like the holy grail of music fandom for me. (I went in '08 and '09).
So when I learned about this podcast I knew immediately, I had to hear it. And it's so great! It's silly and campy and hilarious and listening to this takes me straight back to high school. But the best part about it is that the music is actually really good on its own merits — even though the songs are satirical, they were clearly written by someone with a deep knowledge of, and love for, that glorious period of musical history. If you ever dreamed about shredding on the main stage at Warped Tour, do yourself a favour and check out this show.
If Books Could Kill (Indie)
I've always been a bit skeptical of these supposedly cast-iron rules that have seeped into culture. Seriously, how many times have you heard someone quote Malcolm Gladwell's "10,000 hours" rule — that anyone can become an expert in anything with at least 10,000 hours of practice — without question?
But, Michael Hobbes of You're Wrong About fame and Michael Shamshiri have teamed up for the new podcast If Books Could Kill, to not only question concepts like these, but to completely annihilate them.
Under their microscopes are all kinds of popular "airport" books from the mid-2000s — including Freakonomics and The Game, the latter being a problematic work depicting the tools of pick-up artists. For anyone interested in thinking about flawed ideas and why they are so pervasive, this podcast is for you. Also, it's just really, really funny.
Off Leash (Freakonomics)
Is your camera roll full of photos of your dog? Are you longing for the day you live in a building that allows pets? Do you follow @WeRateDogs on Twitter?
If you said yes to any of those questions, you'll want to add Freakonomics' limited series Off Leash to your playlist.
In each episode, dog-cognition expert and author Alexandra Horowitz and her dogs are joined for a walk by a special guest — from actor Isabella Rossellini to broadcast journalist Soledad O'Brien to writer Susan Orlean — and their dog. From there, Horowitz explores a different question: Is there any truth to the Lassie archetype? Do stray dogs want to be rescued? What do dogs think of the names we give them?
This six-part series is an auditory delight. It's well-produced and immersive, it's fascinating and fun and you're likely to learn something new about humanity's best friend. It's a shame the show is limited, because I can't get enough of these episodes.
The Antidote (APM Studios)
The world is on fire and this podcast provides a welcome antidote (just as the title suggests). This podcast is not about rehashing more bad news. In fact, each episode shares advice on how to make things better. It could be self-care tips, it could be some laughs. I love the premise and the hosts Amy Aniobi and Grace Edwards (both are writers on Insecure) are just really loveable and good conversationalists.
Pressure Cooker (CBC Podcasts)
Pressure Cooker is a five-part series about how John Nuttall and Amanda Korody ended up at the centre of an elaborate plot to bomb a national holiday celebration.
Not only is the podcast an interesting look into a case of criminal entrapment in Canada, but as you listen, you are right there as the story unfolds. You're in the police car as John speaks to officers. You're in John and Amanda's hideout as they reckon with their morals. The show draws on hundreds of hours of police surveillance tape and intimate interviews with John and Amanda, which I haven't heard at this level from any other podcast before. And host Dan Pierce guides us through the rest as he speaks with prosecutors and lawyers who worked on the case, along with the people closest to the couple.
The production on this series is top notch and the story itself is a wild tale that you couldn't possibly make up. Whichever way you look at it, the podcast demonstrates that no good can come from evil and it makes you reconsider how far we should go for justice.
Bone Valley (Lava for Good Podcasts and Signal Co. No1.)
I consumed this nine-part series in two days. To start it's a bit of a slow burn, but once the story gets going you might (like me) just not be able to stop.
It's hosted by Pulitzer Prize winning author Gilbert King and producer Kelsey Decker. From the outset the premise of the show is certainly intriguing. The man at the centre of the story is Leo Schofield. He's been serving a life sentence for the 1987 murder of his wife, Michelle. But King and Decker uncover new evidence that points to Leo's innocence.
There are many themes in this show that have become all too common in investigative podcasts: unethical prosecutors, police missteps and miscarriage of justice. But, this podcast is not simply a procedural.
King and Decker bring so much humanity and empathy to this story. The fact that they were able to track down so many of the people central to this story and get them to talk on the record speaks volumes about their journalistic skills. But, I think it also says a lot about their trustworthiness and approach. You can tell they pay a lot of respect to the folks in this story and understand the weight and consequences of putting the worst day of someone's life on display. I can't recommend this show enough.
Let's Make A Sci-Fi (CBC Podcasts)
This show is so good I listened to the whole thing twice — I'm not sure I can say that about any other podcast. It's hosted by three comedians: Ryan Beil, Maddy Kelly and Mark Chavez. And together, they set out to write a serious, non-comedy script for a science fiction TV pilot.
We listen as they develop characters, build the world and dream up storylines, and along the way they interview different experts like scientist Neil DeGrasse Tyson and sci-fi filmmaker Neil Blomkamp.
The final episode is a fully produced audio drama version of their script, complete with voice actors and great sound design. And it's really good! If this were a real TV show, I would be hooked.
The writing team isn't limited to sci-fi, either. Coming Feb. 14, 2023, the same three comedians will host Let's Make a Rom-Com. I can only imagine the hilarity they have in store ... Julia Roberts, eat your heart out.
Everything is Emo (BBC Sounds)
As a person in my late twenties, I was the perfect candidate to be embroiled in the golden age of emo music. Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance and, indeed, every band whose members were adorned with floppy fringes of hair held my attention.
Now emo-god Hayley Williams — yes, from Paramore — has a podcast with the BBC exploring the subculture in which she played such an important role. Everything is Emo is fundamentally a music show — as Williams curates iconic tunes from the mid-2000s and beyond.
At the same time, for the music nerds out there, Williams also talks about the history of emo music, its origins and where it's going. I love this show and it's really comforting to my inner adolescent.
Nothing is Foreign (CBC Podcasts)
I've had a hard time keeping up with the news this year. There's so much going on here at home that I often find my understanding of international news is limited. That doesn't mean I don't care, but I'm more likely to click or tap on the headlines of stories I'm already invested in or somewhat knowledgeable about.
Enter CBC's Nothing Is Foreign: a weekly podcast that truly transports the listener around the world. Out weekly on Thursdays, each episode gives you an in-depth look at an issue in another country.
My favourite thing about this podcast is the immersive production. You'll find yourself on the ground in China under zero-COVID measures, inside Ukraine under siege or in flooded Pakistan, witnessing the enormity of global climate crises. It's like IMAX for your ears.
On Celebrity Memoir Book Club, Claire Parker and Ashley Hamilton read through celebrity memoirs so you don't have to.
I was first put on to this podcast after Brittany Luse recommended it on our show. Pretty soon after, CMBC began to make its way into my TikTok algorithm. It's become a comfort podcast for me this year.
Whether they're covering a vanity piece like Christine Quinn's How to Be a Boss B*tch, or a child star's heart wrenching personal memoir like Jennette McCurdy's I'm Glad My Mom Died, Claire and Ashley distill these books down to their core, highlight the most important parts and offer their takes. Any trace of insincerity will be called out, while honesty, self reflection, accountability and growth are celebrated.
The podcast is light and all in good fun, while also keeping in mind the nuance that comes with leading a celebrity life. Regardless of how out of touch someone may be, it's a good reminder that celebrities are people too. At the end of the day we're all just trying our best and it's important to be able to laugh about it.
To start, I really admire a tight three-part series. Especially with a story like this. The cast of characters is so rich (and weird), there are many tangents that hosts Jesse Brown and Cherise Seucharan could have gone on while reporting this wild story.
At the centre of Ratf*cker is political fixer David Wallace (he is a self described "ratf*cker", hence the title). After a long career of avoiding attention, he's become a whistleblower. Wallace leaked thousands of pages of documents now referred to as the Klondike Papers. The information within the papers sparked conspiracy theories that thrived on Tik Tok and led to a lot of speculation and misinformation online about Canada's Conservative Party.
I loved listening to Seucharan and Brown together - they make a great team. The show is entertaining and extremely helpful in making sense of the Klondike Papers.
The show also led me to reflect on politics in Canada and how we sometimes have a habit of shrugging off and forgetting our politicians' missteps. I get the sense that here in Canada we sometimes think that we are immune to the corruption and controversy that plagues other democracies (or at least that we're more immune than our pals south of the border, for example). In sorting through the Klondike Papers, it's clear there is a lot happening behind the scenes of Canadian politics that the public needs to be aware of.
The Trojan Horse Affair (The New York Times and Serial Productions)
This eight-part series from the team behind Serial and S-Town explores how an unfounded Islamophobic conspiracy theory ignited a full-blown moral panic in the UK in 2014.
The story begins with a mysterious letter circulating in Birmingham, England. It appears to be written by an Islamic extremist sending instructions to a co-conspirator on how to secretly infiltrate local schools (a plan they called "Operation Trojan Horse"). It leads to internal investigations and ultimately strengths counterterrorism policies. People lose their jobs and some are banned from ever working in education again. But through all of this, no one ever answers one basic question: Who wrote the letter?
So that is the mystery hosts Brian Reed and Hamza Syed set out to reveal. Reed and Syed bring really different points of view to the reporting. They have very different backgrounds — Reed is an experienced and dispassionate investigative reporter, while this is Syed's first-ever story as a journalist — and their dynamic can be rocky at times, as Syed struggles to separate his personal feelings as a British Muslim from the story they're trying to tell. But this central tension between the co-hosts is one of the things that makes this story stand out from all the other investigative podcasts out there. In a way, the show is as much about the process of investigative journalism itself as it is about the Trojan Horse letter. It displays a degree of transparency that is often lacking from investigations like these. And it's that much better for it.
How Not to Raise a Serial Killer (Cloud10 and iHeart Podcasts)
My obsession with true crime often leaves me wondering, "what am I getting out of these podcasts?" They're morbid, a bit intrusive — but, it seems like a good majority of podcast listeners still keep wanting these stories.
How Not to Raise a Serial Killer is different from your typical crime show. It explores our fascination with serial killers, criminals and people with violent tendencies through a psychoanalytic and factual lens. It feels more ethical in that respect and it tries to understand why we are so invested in these dark stories.
Criminal psychologist Dr. Michelle Ward is an expert host, who also has a darkly funny streak — and it's a great listen if you want to know more about the culture of the true crime boom.
In our information overload era, it strikes me that it's never been more important to have transparency around how news is produced. For that reason, I've really enjoyed listening to Killed this year.
For every story that gets published, countless others don't make it to print. The industry term for what happens to those stories: they're "killed." In Killed the podcast, host and journalist Justine Harman interviews some of the biggest names in journalism about the stories they fought for — successfully or not.
At first glance, you might think this subject would be dry and overly procedural. The opposite is true. Each episode is like a mini true crime case that uncovers something decision-makers at legendary outlets like Vanity Fair, This American Life, New York Times, GQ and Esquire didn't want published. These episodes will keep you on the edge of your seat and give you insight into how publishing decisions are made.
Lovers and Friends with Shan Boodram (Audioboom)
I've learned most of what I know about sex ed from the internet. To clarify, not through porn (fortunately), but through Shan Boodram's YouTube videos. Shan is a sexologist and relationship expert whose work centres around demystifying the taboos about sex and empowering people with tools for healthy relationships.
I've been a fan of Shan's for a long time so when I learned that she'd be releasing a podcast, I knew we had to get her on our show (and her appearance just so happened to line up with Valentine's Day).
On her podcast she speaks to people from all walks of life about their experiences with sex, love and romance. To name a few, her show explores topics like dating with mental illness, open relationships, toxic masculinity or how kids can impact your love life.
Shan creates space for conversations about sex and dating to feel fun and approachable. Listening to her is like talking to your cool, trusted older sister. The show is thoughtful, playful, open-minded and offers great insight on how we can mindfully navigate relationships with lovers, friends and ourselves.
Normal Gossip (Audioboom)
What an absolutely genius concept for a show. Each week, host Kelsey McKinney shares a piece of listener submitted "normal gossip" to the show. It turns out, normal people gossip is often just as wild as the celebrity kind.
McKinney is always joined by a special guest who helps her make sense of the week's drama. My favourite episode involved an orchid hustler who wore someone else's house slippers. Just trust me on this one.
As a soon-to-be father, this year I found myself looking up "Parenting Content" for the first time in my life. Confronting parenthood can be a daunting prospect, but Dear Old Dads makes me feel a lot better about (or at least, less anxious about) the trials to come.
Each week hosts Thomas Smith, Tom Curry and Eli Bosnick tackle a different parenting-related quandary (episode titles include "How Much Privacy Should Our Kids have?" and "What's the Line Between Advocating for Your Kid and Being an A**hole?") with thoughtfulness, nuance and a great deal of humour.
The thing I think I appreciate most about this show is that the hosts will openly talk about their feelings and mental health in a constructive way — not something we get to hear very often from father figures in the media. The three hosts all have different approaches to parenting and they often disagree on the best way to raise a child (it's a running gag that Bosnick's ideal life for his son is for him to lie in hammocks all day eating figs). But whether they're taking down toxic macho dad tropes or debating the merits of giving your kid an allowance, they always have something interesting to say.
Sorry About the Kid (CBC Podcasts)
I think it was the deeply personal nature of this show that resonated with me most. In 1990, host Alex McKinnon's older brother Paul was killed by a speeding police cruiser.
In the podcast, Alex talks to family, friends and a therapist to help him remember his brother's life and death. The show is a combination of two of my favourite genres: memoir and investigation. It's a short series at only four episodes, but it has really stayed with me due to its haunting revelations about grief.
The Outlaw Ocean (CBC Podcasts)
CBC's co-production with the L.A. Times, the Outlaw Ocean is truly a fascinating series. It follows journalist Ian Urbina's years-long reporting into the sordid crimes that occur on the world's oceans.
Each episode follows a different thread and the stories that emerge are equal parts harrowing and intriguing. The investigations and stories are top notch and Urbina guides us through a world that isn't anything you've heard about before.
It's boundary breaking reporting and anyone who's interested in journalism should take a listen.
Bad Women: Blackout Ripper (Pushkin Industries)
Bad Women is back and this time host and historian Hallie Rubenhold is joined by a new co-host, criminologist Alice Fiennes. This season, we go back in time to the Blitz. When the streets of wartime London were pitch black, making it the perfect environment to commit crime.
What I loved about season one of this series was the respect, dignity and historical context Rubenhold brought to the victims of Jack the Ripper. This series has the same approach. We learn about the victims of The Blackout Ripper: their names, their loves and tragedies and ultimately what led them to their untimely ends. Rubenhold and Fiennes's approach is the gold standard for true crime.
Hot Money (Financial Times and Pushkin Industries)
In the world of online entertainment, pornography is an anomaly: It's widely consumed, but seldom discussed. And although it's a multi-billion dollar industry, little is known about the people who run it and how exactly they make their money.
That's what Financial Times journalists Patricia Nilsson and Alex Barker set out to learn in Hot Money. While others have documented the ways porn can exploit performers and workers, much less journalistic attention has been paid to the business of porn, making this perhaps the most detailed financial investigation ever conducted of the industry as it exists today.
Nilsson and Barker follow the money, uncovering secret identities and illuminating surprising connections between the porn world and major financial companies. Turns out, when you start digging into a topic that others have been too afraid to touch, there's a lot of dirt to uncover.
Patricia Nilsson joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
Things Fell Apart (BBC Sounds)
The supposed culture wars seem to perpetually loom over our heads. But, we can count on Jon Ronson to provide a perfect antidote to what sometimes seems like an endless cycle of negativity.
Things Fell Apart charts various contemporary culture wars to find the root of how these discussions came to be. It provides a nuanced and interesting exploration of the ills in our society at present.
This podcast is definitely good to listen to for anyone who is disillusioned with the noise that constantly occurs online. And it's a must-listen for any Jon Ronson fan.
Fed Up (Wondery)
If you told me I'd be hooked on a podcast about someone who built a million dollar empire on a concept as humble as eating enough fibre, I never would have believed it. But, here we are.
This podcast has a lot of trendy elements: influencers who experience a fall from grace, the downfalls of diet culture and accusations of fraud on the internet. But, the series may not go in the direction you think. There were lots of twists and turns and the show is brought to life beautifully by actress Casey Wilson. This show really found the most effective way to feature a celebrity host. Plus, Casey is hilarious! Her humour and style were such a perfect match for the subject matter. This show is a hoot.
The Best of CBC Podcasts in 2022:
It was a banner year for our colleagues at CBC Podcasts. They partnered with Canadian and international journalists alike to create intriguing, illuminating and entertaining new series. We're so proud of their work, we'd like to highlight some of the excellent shows they produced this year. Here are some we recommend you add to your rotation:
Secret Life Of Canada Season 4: A podcast about the country you know and the stories you don't. Join hosts Leah-Simone Bowen and Falen Johnson as they reveal the beautiful, terrible and weird histories of this land.
The Next Call: The case of Nadia Atwi: From David Ridgen, the creator of Someone Knows Something, comes the investigative podcast The Next Call. Ridgen works with victims' family members, police and eye-witnesses to find answers. From investigators to potential suspects, the investigation unfolds.
True Dating Stories: Who doesn't love a great dating story? Whether it's true romance or a night gone horribly wrong, this series offers real dating stories — told by the people who lived them. These jaw-dropping stories, accompanied by comedic re-enactments, will make you laugh, cry and, quite possibly, swear off dating altogether.
Welcome to Paradise: Love, marriage… and a secret history of trauma. Anna Maria Tremonti has been keeping her past a secret for over 40 years. As one of Canada's most respected journalists, she has a reputation for being fearless and hard-hitting. She's reported from some of the world's most dangerous conflict zones. But none were as immediately threatening as life at home. Working with her therapist, she reveals the intimate details of a past she's kept to herself for most of her life. The result is a profoundly intimate portrait of a powerful woman confronting the source of tremendous pain and trauma and, remarkably, freeing herself from a life-long sense of shame.
Tai Asks Why: Final season: Fifteen-year-old Tai Poole won't rest until he's uncovered the mysteries of the universe, one probing question at a time. In Season 4 of his Webby-winning podcast, Tai talks to everyone from NASA scientists to stand-up comedians to his equally curious little brother Kien. If you've ever wondered why nothing feels as good as a deep belly laugh or why it's impossible not to finish a bag of Doritos, Tai has you covered.
Someone Knows Something: Abortion Wars: Host David Ridgen and investigative journalist Amanda Robb dig into the 1998 murder of her uncle, a New York doctor killed for performing abortions. They uncover a network of anti-abortion movements linked to violence in North America and Europe. Twenty years later, debates about reproductive rights are heating up in the U.S. What can we learn from the past?
The Village: The Montreal Murders: In the early 1990s, as AIDS tightens its grip on major cities around the world, the relative safety of Montreal's nightlife becomes a magnet for gay men. But when they start turning up dead in hotel rooms, beaten lifeless in city parks and violently murdered in their own homes, the queer community has more to fear than the disease. While the city's police force dithers over the presence of a serial killer, a group of queer activists starts making connections and rises up to start a movement that would end up changing thousands of lives.
Buffy: Buffy Sainte-Marie is one of the most prolific singer-songwriters of the past century. For 60 years her music has quietly reverberated throughout pop culture and provided a touchstone for Indigenous resistance. In this five-part series, Mohawk and Tuscarora writer Falen Johnson explores how Buffy's life and legacy is essential to understanding Indigenous resilience.
The Kill List: When human rights activist Karima Baloch is found drowned off the shores of Toronto, an investigation into her mysterious death leads all the way back to Pakistan, the country she had recently fled. In this six-part series, host Mary Lynk explores the rampant abductions and killings of dissidents in Pakistan, the dangers that follow those who flee to the West and a terrifying intelligence agency with tentacles around the globe. How did Karima die? And would Pakistan really carry out an assassination far beyond its borders? This is a story that a powerful state doesn't want you to know.
Host Mary Lynk joined Podcast Playlist for an interview earlier this year, which you can find here.
Controlled Damage: A drama about civil rights icon Viola Desmond by Andrea Scott.
Buffoon: A heartbreaking, hilarious tale about a clown looking for love at the circus by Anosh Irani.
Selfie: A drama about three teens figuring out the complexities of relationships, community and the nature of consent by Christine Quintana.
Sexy Laundry: A touching comedy about a middle-aged couple trying to reignite their sex life after 25 years of marriage by Michele Riml.
Pop Chat: Hosts Elamin Abdelmahmoud, Kevin Fallon and Amil Niazi help you make sense of the cultural drama blowing up the internet by dissecting and debating the biggest pop culture stories of the week.
Run, Hide, Repeat: Pauline Dakin's childhood was marked by unexplained events, a sense of unseen menace and secretive moves to new cities with no warning. When Pauline was a young adult, her mother finally told her what they were running from — organized crime, secret police and double lives. It was a story so mind-bending, so disturbing, Pauline's entire world was turned upside down.