clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

7 addictive podcasts that aren't Serial

Libby Nelson is Vox's policy editor, leading coverage of how government action and inaction shape American life. Libby has more than a decade of policy journalism experience, including at Inside Higher Ed and Politico. She joined Vox in 2014.

Everything good — including the first season of Serial — must come to an end.

The good news is there are hundreds of great, interesting podcasts out there that aren't Serial. Many of them are nothing like Serial. But they're still fun, fascinating, and entertaining.

Here are seven recommendations from podcast-listeners at Vox Media. (We're not recommending This American Life, Planet Money, or RadioLab because they're so well-known, but if you liked Serial, you'd probably like those too. If you want a bigger guide to all the podcasts out there, Chris Hall's Unplayed Zero is excellent, and has recommendations just for Serial fans too.)

1) 99% Invisible

99% Invisible is a podcast about design, told in a medium with no pictures. It's been getting attention for a couple of years for the innovative ways it tells fascinating stories. There is an episode about the musical groans emitting from Metro escalators, and about "hacking" IKEA furniture, and about Wonder Bread — all kinds of everyday things you've never thought twice about.

The basics: Hosted by Roman Mars. Episodes come out weekly on Wednesdays and tend to be pretty short, less than 10 minutes. You can start anywhere. Listen online or in a podcast app.

2) The Memory Palace

The Memory Palace tells stories from the past that you've never heard — the history of eating lobsters, or the riots that started in 1964, or about the fear of being buried alive that people had in the past. (The last one, full of real-life ghost stories, will haunt you for a long time.) They're beautifully written and elegaic, read in a relaxing voice, sort of like bedtime stories from the world's most fascinating history book.

The basics: Hosted by Nate DiMeo. Episodes come out infrequently (monthly at best) and are short, but there's a vast archive if you're a newcomer. You can start anywhere.

3) StartUp

Like Serial, StartUp is a tell-it-as-we-go-along podcast: a former producer for This American Life and Planet Money, is starting a podcasting company and telling the story along the way. His company, Gimlet Media, has now launched a second podcast, Reply All, about the Internet. (Bonus: You find out what MailChimp, alias Mail Kimp, actually does.)

The basics: Hosted by Alex Blumberg. New episodes released every other week Nine episodes so far, around half an hour apiece. It's best to start at the beginning: How Not to Pitch a Billionaire.

4) Welcome to Night Vale

Welcome to Night Vale is a scripted, fictional podcast about the weird goings-on in Night Vale — a sort of creepy, fictional parody of small-town community radio. Like Serial, there's really nothing else out there like Welcome to Night Vale. And it comes highly recommended by culture editor Todd VanDerWerff.

The basics: New episodes released (about 20 to 25 minutes long) released twice a month. Start from the beginning.

5) My Brother, My Brother, and Me

My Brother, My Brother, and Me is a comedy advice podcast starring three brothers that couldn't be less like Serial. But it's highly recommended by several Vox staffers as one of the funniest podcasts out there.

The basics: New episodes (around an hour) released Mondays. Hosted by Justin, Travis, and Griffin McElroy. (Griffin and Justin both work at Polygon, a Vox Media company.)

6) Love + Radio

Love+Radio features long interviews, many with people you've never heard of — an at-home strip club manager, a black man who befriended the KKK — produced into long audio stories. The production values are amazing, and the result is an incredibly intimate look at other people's lives. Like other popular podcasts, there really isn't anything else like it.

The basics: Episodes are around half an hour, released about twice a month.

7) Criminal

Criminal is the most direct analogue to Serial — a true-crime, although not serialized, podcast. Episodes explore everything from famous murder cases (including the murder featured in The Staircase) to little-known true crime (a Venus Flytrap theft ring).

The basics: Episodes are between 15 and 20 minutes long and have been produced about once a month so far.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.