My Top 12 Podcast Picks for February 2021!
Lots of great new Podcasts coming up that I hope will keep you captivated while you are held captive (by Covid-19) for another month!
1. POWER: The Maxwells - By Tara Palmeri - A Somethin’ Else Production.
This first Podcast is a Somethin’ Else production, the same producers that brought us the excellent Immaculate Deception Podcast are back with another enthralling Podcast for you to get stuck into.
Investigative journalist Tara Palmeri is the host of this Podcast which looks at the rise and fall of Robert Maxwell, father of Ghislaine Maxwell:
“Everyone’s heard of Ghislaine Maxwell (Jeffrey Epstein’s alleged partner in crime). But there’s a shadowy figure who hangs above her who you likely don’t know: her father, media tycoon Robert Maxwell. His rise from nothing to fall… from the deck of his super yacht under mysterious circumstances is straight out of a crime novel. His favorite daughter Ghislaine’s theory: her father was murdered.” (Source here).
Knowing very little about Robert Maxwell prior to this Podcast, I am really enjoying hearing this story from various perspectives. Three of the seven episodes are now available.
Since listening to the above Podcast, I have found and listened to Hunting Ghislaine with John Sweeney for LBC. In this Podcast:
“… reporter John Sweeney investigates a fairy story which happens the wrong way round, of how a princess ends up accused of being the monster and no-one at all ends up happily ever after.” (Source here).
In the final episode of this Podcast John Sweeney actually recommends listening to POWER: The Maxwells next so it looks like I did it backwards! Regardless, I thought it was really good and definitely compliments Power: The Maxwells.
2. Evil By Design - Hosted By Host Timothy Sawa - CBC Podcasts.
There are only a couple of episodes of this Podcast released so far but I am already hooked! Evil By Design is an investigative Podcast looking into the life of “Canada’s Jeffrey Epstein” aka Peter Nygard:
“More than 80 women from around the world have accused the fast-fashion mogul Peter Nygard of rape, sexual assault and human trafficking in incidents across four decades and at least four countries. He denies it all, and claims his accusers are lying as part of a vast conspiracy. The Winnipegger had built a sprawling international retail empire over the past 50 years — but now, Nygard’s professional achievements are being overshadowed by a sinister personal life, earning him the moniker, ‘Canada’s Jeffrey Epstein’.” (Source here).
Investigative journalist and host of this Podcast Timothy Sawa has been researching and scrutinizing this story for almost 10 years, prior to any FBI or other official investigations taking place. In the so far aired episodes we hear directly from some of the victims of Peter Nygard as well as from people who worked closely with or for him, all of this really draws you in and has certainly left me wanting to know more.
3. Where is George Gibney? - Hosted By Mark Horgan & Produced By Ciaran Cassidy - Second Captains Production for BBC Sounds.
George Gibney was a well respected famous Irish Olympic swimming coach during the 1980s and 1990s until:
“… a slew of allegations against him from former male and female swimmers forced him out of the sport in Ireland.” (Source here).
Although Gibney was subsequently charged with child sexual abuse, he quickly vanished and because of this he never stood trial.
In the Podcast Where is George Gibney? show host and reporter Mark Horgan:
“… travels across Ireland, the UK and the US on his trail.” (Source here).
Giving a voice to the victims of Gibney, this is a Podcast with purpose; to get justice for the victims and see Gibney prosecuted and jailed for his crimes. Click here for the latest news on this case.
4. The Orgasm Cult - By Nastaran Tavakoli-Far for BBC Radio 4.
If you have been keeping an eye on my past Podcast blogs then you will definitely have noticed that I love a cult related Podcasts and The Orgasm Cult does not disappoint ;-). This Podcast was released in November 2020 so you can now binge all the episodes if you wish!
In this Podcast Nastaran Tavakoli-Far investigates the story of a “wellness” company called One Taste and its co-founder Nicole Daedone and asks the crucial question “In the search for wellness, how far would you go?”:
“Nicole Daedone, the charismatic co-founder of wellness company One Taste believed that orgasm would one day sit alongside yoga and meditation as the self-care practice for the modern empowered women.” (Source here).
Promoted as a wellness company One Taste is now being investigated by the FBI due to allegations including:
“… sex trafficking, prostitution and violations of labour law.” (Source here).
Nastaran Tavakoli-Far asks the following important questions:
“How did Orgasmic Meditation go from hippy beginnings to a sleek, million-dollar operation? - How did this wellness practise – touted as the next big thing everywhere from Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop to the New York Times – lead to isolation, debt and abuse? - Why is women’s health and pain still not taken seriously by conventional medicine?.” (Source here).
In short, The Orgasm Cult is:
“… a story about people desperate for connection and how far they would go to find it.” (Source here).
The episodes are packed full of interviews with former employees/members of One Taste as well as their families, their friends and experts in the wellness industry. This is one hell of a crazy story!
5. Death of a Starlet - Hosted By Tracy Pattin & Josh Lucas for Wondery.
I don’t think there will ever be a Podcast recommendations list on the blog that does not include at least one Podcast from Wondery. This is the fifth that I have recommended that has been hosted by Tracy Pattin.
Death of a Starlet is a six-part series about the life and death of Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten:
“In August of 1980, Playboy Playmate Dorothy Stratten was found dead at just 20 years old. She was the girl next door with the shy smile and whispery voice who didn’t know her own beauty. To Hugh Hefner, she was his next Marilyn Monroe. To famed director Peter Bogdonovich, she was his muse. And to her husband, Paul Snider, she was his ticket to fame and fortune. All three ambitious men adored her. Only one of them murdered her. How did Dorothy’s Hollywood dreams lead to her death?” (Source here).
The story of Dorothy and her death via murder-suicide by her husband Paul Snider is a very sad one. The final (sixth) episode aired in mid-January 2021. A seventh bonus episode was released a week later. I loved the bonus episode, an interview with Playboy’s veteran photo editor Marilyn ‘Mo’ Grabowski. Mo was a close friend of Dorothy’s and worked for Hugh Heffner at Playboy for 40 years. Now in her 80’s Mo has some great stories and memories to share, I wish she would write a book about her life!
6. American Coyote - From Imperative Entertainment & Pegalo Pictures.
American Coyote is the story of Elden Kidd:
“… a legendary coyote and unlikely hero, who helped over 1000 migrants come to the United States from Mexico.” (Source here).
There are 10 episodes in this Podcast series and we hear a lot from Elden himself. More about this Podcast:
“Between 1987 and 2001, one American crossed over 1000 migrants from Mexico into the United States, using a variety of wild, comical and harrowing schemes to outwit authorities on both sides of the border. This is the story of a legendary man and unlikely hero, Elden Kidd, who supported his family of five as a Coyoté and gave countless others a chance at a better life.” (Source here).
Some of the ways that Elden successfully smuggled people across the border are ingenious and/or downright crazy!
7. Do No Harm - Reported & Hosted By Mike Hixenbaug for NBC News & Wondery.
Do No Harm is another insightful Podcast from Wondery in conjunction with NBC News. It is hosted by NBC News National Investigative Reporter Mike Hixenbaug and is a deep delve into the US child welfare services:
“… a system that is designed to protect children, but sometimes tears innocent families apart.” (Source here).
Some more about this Podcast, taken from here:
“Melissa Bright thinks she’s living every parent’s worst nightmare when her five-month-old baby tumbles from a lawn chair and hits his head on the driveway. But after she rushes him to the hospital, a new nightmare begins. The Brights are thrust into a medical and legal system so focused on protecting children from abuse, it has targeted innocent parents. With exclusive audio captured as the events unfolded, this harrowing six-episode series takes you inside the Brights’ fight to hold their family together, against a system that can sometimes do more harm than good.”
There is a lot more to this story/podcast than just the experiences of the Brights. We hear from other families whom were similarly wrongfully torn apart due to failings in the US child welfare system.
8. Scientology: Fair Game - Leah Remini & Mike Rinder.
In this Podcast Scientology: Fair Game Leah Remini and Mike Rinder:
“… take you behind the facade and expose the terrible truth about scientology’s Fair Game doctrine. It’s been used for 5 decades to destroy anyone they label an enemy – former scientologists, media, government officials – anyone they think is impeding their objectives. Leah and Mike are covering new ground, digging deeper than ever into the shocking documents, facts and stories that will make you wonder how any of this is going on in America today.” (Source here).
The first episode is a deep dive into Scientology, its history, its operations and:
“… the consequences of Scientology’s Fair Game policy. These abusive practices have been employed by scientology for decades to try to intimidate and destroy anyone perceived as enemies.” (Source here).
While this Podcast first aired in July 2020, new episodes are still being released weekly. There are 25 episodes so far and each episode is about one hour long so there is a lot to get through but I find the experiences and opinions expressed and discussed really interesting.
9. I’m Not A Monster - Hosted By Josh Baker for FRONTLINE & BBC Panorama.
In I’m Not A Monster journalist, film-maker, co-writer and host Josh Baker attempts to:
“… uncover the truth about an American family’s journey from Indiana to the Islamic State group’s caliphate and back.” (Source here).
Sam Sally (aka Sam Elhassani) became:
“… an American mother living in the heart of the ISIS caliphate. Her husband an ISIS sniper. Her 10-year-old son forced to threaten the U.S. president in a propaganda video shown around the world. She claims she was tricked into taking her young children to war-torn Syria, but where does her account end and the truth begin?”. (Source here).
Josh Baker became interested in this case after he:
“… narrowly survived an ISIS suicide bombing while making a documentary in Iraq in 2016. While recovering, he received a tip about Sam Sally’s story and has been pursuing it ever since.” (Source here).
For four years Josh Baker has been investigating this story:
“From the depths of Raqqa’s infamous torture prison to an elk hunt in Idaho, he uncovers secrets, lies and the lasting consequences.” (Source here).
In the latest episode (number nine) it seems the case against Sam Sally has come to a conclusion - is it the result you are expecting?
10. Little Girl Lost: The Case of Erica Parsons - Hosted By Dr. Phil.
I was a little sceptical about listening to a Podcast hosted by Dr. Phil but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised and quickly drawn into the story.
Little Lost Girl tells the story of a girl named Erica Parsons. Erica was adopted at birth by Sandy and Casey Parsons (relatives of her biological mother). Sadly, Erica went missing at the age of 13. However, her disappearance only came to light two years after she first disappeared when her brother Jamie (and not her adoptive parents) reported her missing:
“Casey and Sandy Parsons insisted their 13-year-old niece, Erica Parsons, whom they were raising, was living with Erica’s biological grandmother. But police say that woman didn’t exist. For nearly two years, the Parsons allegedly hid the fact that Erica had been missing. Where had she gone?.” (Source here).
There are four episodes, all of which are available now. A very sad story but there is some relief at the end when the truth is finally uncovered.
11. Even the Rich: Paris Hilton - Hosted By Brooke Siffrinn & Aricia Skidmore-Williams for Wondery.
I have been a big fan of the Even the Rich Podcast since they began. Their latest series looks back at “the rise of America’s first influencer” aka Paris Hilton.
“How did the wild child, hard-partying heiress who was “famous for being famous” end up netting more than $300 million on her own? … We’ll dig into the fascinating story of how a woman with stars in her eyes and an iron will helped create the 2000s scene queen people loved to hate, but couldn’t get enough of… for good reason. Paris Hilton is hot.” (Source here).
I really enjoy this Podcast (all series) probably because I really love the presenters, they have a great rapport and this makes for easy relaxing listening. For more information on their past series check out my October 2020 Podcast Recommendations.
12. Once Upon a Time… In the Valley - Hosted By Lili Anolik & Ashley West - C13Originals Studios.
If you read the online reviews of this Podcast, you will quickly realise that it is nearly a 50/50 love/hate. As you have guessed, it made it on my list so that means I definitely enjoyed it. Once again it is about a topic/person that I knew nothing about and I enjoyed hearing the different perspectives and versions of this story.
There are thirteen episodes of Once Upon a Time… In the Valley available now. Here is what it is all about:
“Before there were sex tapes, there were sex tapes. Before there were stars who became bigger stars when their private porn went public, there were porn stars. Traci Lords. The first, the best, the O.G. Hardcore since ’84.- In the roaring 1980s X world, Traci Lords reigned supreme. No one questioned her right to sovereignty. Only, it turned out, the biggest star in Adult, wasn’t one. As America would discover in July 1986, when the FBI busted down her door. Traci Lords was really Nora Kuzma, who entered the industry as a 15-year-old high school sophomore. Traci, the victim, was saved. And the industry, the villain, was very nearly destroyed. But what if the victim here was also the villain; the villain, also the victim?” (Source here).
Lots of crazy stories are told throughout this Podcast. It clearly shows that there are “two sides to every story” or in this case more like four or five! Love it or hate it - let me know what you think!
If you are looking for more Podcasts recommendations, check out My Complete Podcast Top List. There are now over 150 Podcasts featured on this list so lots to choose from!