You can call it on the Golden Age of Podcasting™: it’s over, it’s done. What started, sort of, with Serial has come to an end—and not just because Adnan finally got out. After a blossoming of studios and projects over the last decade, things hit a plateau when the services all rolled up into a handful of dominant players, and we are now going through an inevitable and depressing dip as the dominance turns into a shakeout. It’s obvious to anyone with eyes that the good days are done.
But to anyone with ears? There are great moments out there.
Listen: Avery Trufelman’s podcast about clothes, Articles of Interest, is back. It’s got a different flavor this time around: a long-burning interrogation of a single topic—America’s never-ending fascination with the preppy look (AKA “American Ivy”) rather than changing subject episode-by-episode. I never thought I’d be intrigued by the history of popped collars and khaki pants, but she’s such an engaging storyteller and ties the influences and interconnections together in an intriguing way that I’m all in.
Listen: Audrey Gillan’s Bible John, which is partly about the unsolved case of a serial killer who terrorized Glasgow in the late 60s, but is really about rebuilding the past, changing attitudes, and how the deaths echoed through from a particular place, a particular time, and reached into the future. It’s got a lot of potential to be yet-another-true-crime story, but she deals with the material so sensitively and puts so much humanity into the victims—poorly served by misogynistic police—that it turns the series into something else. It shouldn’t be a surprise, one of her previous series, Tara and George, is a fantastic, human depiction of a pair of rough sleepers in London.
Maybe the golden days are still here after all. You just have to listen out for them.
(Previously: Spotify’s podcasting struggle | My 2021 podcast recommendations)