Podcasts make stories more mobile

I love stories.
Funny stories, shocking stories. Apocalyptic stories, survivalist stories. Short stories. Long, winding tales of family secrets, tragedy and murder.
Especially long, winding tales of family secrets, tragedy and murder.
Trouble is, I can’t always be lying in bed with a book. As much as I would love it, stupid adulthood means that bed is, in fact, where I get to spend the least amount of my time.
Instead, I’m most often at work, and when I’m not, I’m either in my car or cleaning. Or cleaning my car.
None of which are particularly conducive to reading.
Thankfully, there exist such a thing as audiobooks, which allow you to read with your ears instead of your eyeballs. I’ve used them on long trips for years.
But for the stop-and-start stuff of life — running from room to room with a duster, or from Target to Kroger to the co-op for errands — my go-to these days is podcasts.
They’re engaging enough to make the time pass, but edited into episodes, making it easier to tailor your listening to the task at hand.
And given that I’ve done little else than run from room to room with a duster or from Target to Kroger to the co-op on errands lately, I figured I’d share a few of the good ones I’ve found recently.
I mean, it’s not like I have my own exciting stories to share.
Anyway, here are a handful worth checking out.
“Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia,” eight episodes, about 45 minutes each. You don’t have to be a murder buff to be familiar with the 1947 Black Dahlia murder. It’s one of America’s most brutal and famous unsolved crimes. This podcast makes the case that the killer was a surgeon named George Hodel, who had famous friends, ties to the surrealist movement, and a mean streak a mile long. While the evidence against him is compelling — unearthed by none other than his own son, Steve Hodel, a retired LAPD homicide detective — the real draw is the story of the family, and how Hodel’s darkness spread through generations.
“Blackout,” eight episodes, about 30 minutes each. Certainly influenced by “War of the Worlds,” one of the most famous broadcasts in history, “Blackout” stars Oscar-winning actor Rami Malek, in a new take on the end of days. Six episodes are available now, new episodes are released on Tuesdays.
“Crimtetown Presents: The Ballad of Billy Balls,” 26 episodes total, five available so far. New episodes released on Thursdays. Narrated by iO Tillett Wright — a sometimes fill-in host on MTV’s “Catfish” (and you know I love my “Catfish”) — “The Ballad of Billy Balls” is another unsolved-crime-on-the-surface, family-saga-underneath series aka my favorite kind. It begins with the 1982 murder of New York City punk musician Billy Balls, and progresses by delving into both the crime itself, and its lifelong effects on Billy’s love, Rebecca — who happens to be Tillett Wright’s mom. I’ve only had time to listen to one of these so far, but I’m hooked. So much so that I’m actually looking forward to my chores this weekend. A feat so impressive, they should probably make it their new tagline.

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