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Three Podcasts for the Dreaded 2020 Back-to-Work Season

Ottawa, September 2020
Ottawa, September 2020

It’s been three weeks since I last checked the news.

I’m mostly taking a break from daily COVID updates and our neighbours’ upcoming presidential elections.

Last time I read headlines, analysis and articles, COVID was still around, Canada’s chief medical officer has advised people to wear face masks while having sex, and Trump was a dangerous moron. I don’t think much has changed since. If something interesting and relevant happens, I’m sure I’ll hear about it somehow.

I got it—we’re screwed. I don’t need a daily reminder. However, for the sake of my mental health, I do need to escape reality for a little while. So I’ve been looking for new rabbit holes to tumble down, the kind that doesn’t mention viruses or the myriad of economic and social issues we’re all facing right now.

Feeling the same? Try these free podcasts.

Test your detective skills with Solve

If you enjoy listening to interviews, paying attention to details and piecing together a case, then Solve is for you. At the beginning of the show, you’ll hear “the moment,” i.e. the crime being committed and the victim being discovered. Then you will follow investigators as they interview a handful of suspects and witnesses. By the end of the thirty-minute episode, you should have an idea of who did it, why and how. If not, don’t worry—the podcast pauses for a minute or two, then the case is solved and explained.

Each immersive episode loosely based on true-crime stories grip you right from the beginning.

There are ten episodes available for now and I’m hoping for a season 2.

Start with: Admissions – “High school senior, Hazel Blackwell, was applying to her dream college when she uncovered an underground ring of admissions fraud. Who found out about Hazel’s intentions to tell, and killed her before she could blow the whistle?”

Fall into the Delphi murders rabbit hole with Down the Hill

I’m not into the gory aspects of true crime and I couldn’t care less about serial killers, but there are a number of unsolved mysteries I connect with and I’d really like to see solved.

The puzzling and frustrating cold case featured in Down the Hill is one of them.  

On February 14, 2017, the bodies of Abigail Williams and Liberty German, 13 and 14 years old, were discovered near the Monon High Bridge Trail, in Delphi, Indiana. The teens had disappeared from the same trail the previous day. The suspect is an unidentified male seen walking on the bridge and interacting with them. How do we know that? Because these smart girls captured some audio and video of him, later found by the police.

That’s right. The police released a very short video of the main suspect and you can hear him say three words—“down the hill,” hence the name of the podcast.

The nine episodes don’t solve the crime but they offer fascinating insights into the dynamics of an investigation in a small town and the shockwave that rippled through it. I also found it interesting from a cultural perspective—accents, religious references, law enforcement strategies, etc.

Start with: Episode 1, A Walk on the Bridge – “When Abigail Williams, 13 and Liberty German, 14 go for a walk in the woods of Delphi, Indiana a series of events are kicked off that, over the next 20 hours, will set off a massive search and send families into panic.”

Re(discover) Internet stories everybody is talking about with Distortion (in French)

From their Montreal studio, Émile Gauthier and Sébastien Lévesque analyze strange stories you’ve probably heard about if you use YouTube, Reddit or just spend time online. From the rise and fall of the Silk Road website to the Anonymous activist movement, each thoroughly researched one-hour-long episode of Distorsion will provide answers to questions you didn’t know you had.

Émile and Sébastien are fun, engaging and open-minded—they’re always factual or acknowledge their personal beliefs when analyzing conspiracy theories, ghost stories and urban legends.

Start with: Adnan Syed et le phénomène Serial – « En janvier 1999, un crime sordide va secouer toute la municipalité de Baltimore dans le Maryland. La jeune Hae Min Lee, âgée de 18 ans, au futur très prometteur, est retrouvée morte, assassinée et enterrée dans un parc. Les soupçons se tournent vers son ex-copain, Adnan Syed, qui est rapidement accusé suite au témoignage d’un de ses amis. Mais l’histoire ne s’arrête pas là… 15 ans plus tard, le podcast Serial (Sarah Koenig) va connaître un immense succès, et va remettre dans l’actualité ce procès controversé. Est-ce qu’un podcast pourrait remettre en doute la décision du jury? Suivez-nous dans ce périple complexe qui nous amène aux frontières du doute raisonnable. »

What you listening to? Anything to recommend?

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French woman in English Canada.

Exploring the world with my camera since 1999, translating sentences for a living, writing stories that may or may not get attention.

Firm believer that nobody is normal... and it’s better this way.

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