Podcasts & Books

10 Of The Best Podcasts You Should Have Plugged Into This Year

By Morgan Reardon
20th Dec 2020

a collage of images featuring podcasts on phones, a jacket and a woman eating a cake.

2020 was the year we needed podcasts more than ever. From giving us the chance to virtually armchair travel around the world, to listening to groundbreaking investigative journalism firsthand—there’s been a shedload of incredible podcasts hitting the airwaves this year.

If you’re in need of some solid recommendations for summer, you’re in luck because we’re here to tell you what to plug into as you hide from your extended family this holiday season.

From true crime to inspiring stories, here are the best new podcasts of 2020.

The Night Driver

While we don’t like to play favourites, The Teacher’s Pet has to be one of the greatest podcasts of all time. So we were pretty pumped when Hedley Thomas, the Walkley Award-winning investigative journalist whose podcasts have been downloaded over 50 million times around the world teamed up once again with The Australian to bring us The Night Driver. The chilling, true crime podcast dives into the cold case of Janine Vaughan who was abducted one rain-soaked night in Bathurst nearly 20 years ago and was never seen again. To this day, her disappearence and suspected murder has not been solved and her family are desperate for answers. Thomas once again turns detective, exploring the flawed police investigation and potential suspects (including a former cop). 

Always Was, Always Will Be Our Stories

Hosted by Tiddas 4 Tiddas co-founder Marlee Silva this podcast is a must-listen. After a game-changing year that saw Australia begin to acknowledge our seriously flawed history and treatment of First Nations people, Silva wanted to produce a podcast that celebrated Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their tradition of storytelling. In each ep, Silva sits down with inspiring Indigenous leaders from all walks of life to hear their stories and experiences. The first episode features Butchella and Gawara man Isaiah Dawe who, after growing up in foster care and suffering unthinkable abuse went on to build his own non-profit organisation ID Know Yourself where he’s supporting kids that were just like him, in the care system. Keep the tissues close for this one.

The Dating Game Killer

From the team that brought us Dirty John in 2019, we knew this true crime podcast was going to be seriously binge-worthy. The story goes like this: In 1987 Rodney Alcala won a date on a reality TV show, The Dating Game. While he charmed everyone, including his potential date, what no one knew was that he was a prolific serial killer in the middle of cross country murder spree. In this six-part series, co-hosts Tracy Pattin and Stephen Lang take listeners on Alcala’s chilling journey, chronicling his crimes and how he managed to fool everyone around him—from his employers to prison psychiatrists and parole boards. 

Unapologetically Blak

We can’t get enough of this podcast from Gomeroi, Gamilaraay woman Ginny (who is also the founder and designer of the amazing Ginny’s Girl Gang) and her awesome mate AJ, a proud Barkindji, Latje Latje, Wakka Wakka woman. Unapologetically Blak seeks to place Indigenous voices at the front and centre of tough conversations to show Australia a new narrative of First Nations experiences in contemporary society. The duo will laugh and cry as they discuss topics that for too long have been placed into the “too hard basket” such as exploring black identity, mental health and heartbreak. In their first ep, they talk all things NAIDOC, including the current political climate and the impact of the pandemic on this year's celebration. 

WeCrashed: The Rise And Fall Of WeWork

In 2019, Adam Neumann thought he was on the brink of making history. His company, WeWork, took a regular office space and added high-tech amenities, kombucha, and a cool, modern co-working space for young entrepreneurs—it was the place every startup worth their salt wanted to be seen at. Valued at $47 billion, you’d be hard pressed to go to a city and not find one of their epic spots. WeWork was supposed to completely reinvent office life...so how did it all crash down? This six-part investigative series will deep dive into the rise and shocking fall of WeWork. And yes, it’s incredibly addictive.

I Weigh With Jameela Jamil

If you’re a fan of The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil, you’re probably familiar with her social media movement, I Weigh, where she challenges people of all different shapes, sizes and backgrounds to celebrate the things they love about themselves instead of focusing on the negatives. The movement spawned an epic new podcast in 2020 and it’s just the tonic you need. In her debut ep, Jamil chats with Hollywood’s current it girl Beanie Feldstein (Ladybird, Booksmart) where they chat about everything from body confidence to the time Feldstein accidently came out as queer. Other superstar guests include Gloria Steinem, Munroe Bergdorf and Billy Porter. 

Trace

Investigative journalist Rachel Brown returned in 2020 for the latest season of hugely popular podcast Trace, this time unpacking the infamous story of Nicola Gobbo (AKA Lawyer X), the criminal lawyer and recently ousted police informer who’s currently in hiding.The podcast unfurls via Gobbo’s only media interview since she fled Australia several years ago. Before meeting with Gobbo at an undisclosed location, Brown travelled to multiple countries in an effort to throw any tails that may have been trying to locate the ex-criminal lawyer. What follows is a story that involves murder, mafia, corruption, drugs and deceit—the key words any discerning true crime fan looks for.

Staying In With Emily And Kumail

Hollywood actors and adorable couple Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani have a seriously special love story. In fact, their romance was the inspiration for their Oscar-nominated rom-com The Big Sick. In their debut podcast, created as a response to the Coronavirus, the duo did their best to put a smile on everyone’s faces with entertainment recommendations, LOLs and chats with their famous mates—honestly, the Ike Barinholtz ep is all time! Even better, all the profits of this podcast go to charities helping those affected by Coronavirus.

I Can’t Stop

We’ve big fans of the realness that boss babe Tanya Henessey serves on the daily and now everyone can get their fix with her new podcast I Can’t Stop (legit, you won’t want her to stop). The comedian, author, radio presenter, and social media sensation has teamed up with BFF and Ydinji woman Steph Tisdell who will give listeners a behind-the-scenes look at the realities of Insta, television, and radio. Through laughs (and maybe a tear or two) they’ll cover a bunch of trending topics and will even answer your questions. Simply DM the podcast and see if Tayna and Steph can help out. 

Vacay

One of the best things about going on holiday (apart from some seriously solid content for the ‘gram) is all the amazing, LOL-worthy memories that come from it. But seeing as 2020 turned out to be the year that stole our vacays, we’ve been in short supply of holiday yarns. Thankfully, you can virtually travel and laugh along with some of Australia’s faves, including actors, comedians and journos who reveal their best (and worst) vacation stories with hilarious host Lisa Hamilton. Jam packed full of wanderlust vibes, you’ll cry legit tears from the very first ep when the queen that is Flex Mami regales us with her truly messed up experience trying to enter Ghana for a holiday. Devour this epic new series here.

When you've burnt through these, check out Netflix's best new shows.

Design Credit: Kate Mason

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