Ok, so I get that 2020 has been shocking enough as it is in it’s own right, without me going on the hunt for more shocking tales to add into the mix. But, there is something about a fascinating, almost unbelievable, and totally gripping true tale told exceptionally well that offers somewhat of an escape for the real world. Grabbing our attention with their intriguing premise, and sucking us in with a stellar mix of story-telling and expert journalism, these gripping podcasts will have you at the edge of your seat as you hang on every word to discover what happened next. So if you’re looking for a completely addictive new podcast to listen to, have we got a great line up for you! Trust me. These are some very true, totally gripping tales that you won’t be able to stop listening to.
1. The Dropout
Winner of iHeartRadio Podcast of the Year Award in 2019, The Dropout tells the flabbergasting story of Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos Scandal. Each episode features a different employee of Theranos, a medical company headed by Holmes, with grand ambitions of changing the world. There was just one teeny-tiny problem…the technology they claimed to have and built the company on for 15 years, didn’t work. This podcast is a great example of investigative journalism at its finest. It gives you all the facts, but it also sparks some introspective consideration of aspects such as the human condition and the elements that made it possible for a scam of this magnitude to continue for so long. This podcast differs from the others in the true-crime genre due to its focus on straight-forward reporting – rather than relying on interwoven narrative from the host. But don’t think it’s without flair and flavor! The narrative has no need for any story-telling flourishes as it is so full of detail and interest all on its own. The Dropout is about the unraveling of a truly shocking scandal, but it also makes us seriously consider our own human condition and what it takes to drive a person to perpetuate such a massive lie. If you haven’t given this one a go yet, line it up for your next listen.
2. Dr. Death
Our next unbelievably true and totally gripping tale is Dr. Death. Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away. But all was certainly not as it seemed! Soon his patients started to experience complications, and the system failed to protect them. Which begs the question: who – or what – is that system meant to protect? This story is so unbelievable, and so shocking it’s hard to believe it’s true. I think what makes this podcast even more unsettling is the fact that doctors are meant to be someone you trust – you are literally putting your life in their hands – and to hear how these patients were completely taken advantage of is part of what makes this show so gripping! It’s eye-opening, completely terrifying, and the podcast is so well-executed and so rich with detail that it makes this horrific tale all the more riveting.
3. The Shrink Next Door
How much do we really know about our neighbors? The truth may be shocking! And that’s exactly what happened in our next podcast, The Shrink Next Door. Journalist Joe Nocera uncovers the strange relationship between his neighbor, therapist Ike Herschkopf, and Marty Markowitz. At the onset, Marty is assumed to be Ike’s gardener but is soon revealed as one of his patients. And then it gets stranger! From the discovery that the house Ike lavishly lived in like his own – complete with a wall full of pictures of Ike and his celebrity patients – was in fact, Marty’s, to the unveiling of the true extent of his breach of the doctor-patient relationship, the story is wild, unbelievable, and true. Throughout the podcast, you hear from Marty himself, as well as a number of Ike’s other patients, all of whom were betrayed by someone they had turned to for help. It definitely earned its stripes as one of the most riveting-yet-unbelievable podcasts. It really is a fascinating tale told really well!
4. Hunting Warhead
How do you take down a criminal network that’s hidden in the shadows? How do you rescue child abuse victims who could be anywhere in the world? All these questions and more are answered on Hunting Warhead. Hosted by Daemon Fairless, this podcast follows the journalists and police on a global mission to expose the darkest corners of the internet. And as Daemon Fairless tracks down the investigators, survivors, and criminals themselves, what he uncovers will shock you! As a word of warning, this podcast does cover an extremely difficult topic, but through professional reporting and excellent writing and production, there is no sensationalism around the telling of the story, and the topic is dealt with with a great deal of sensitivity. That being said, it’s still a really gut-wrenching, difficult listen, but it is incredibly important for all of those reasons. It’s the kind of story that stays with you, breaks your heart, but also makes you so aware of all those heroes doing so much to protect our children from the devastating evil in the world. And so while a serious amount of caution should be taken if you decide to listen to Hunting Warhead, it’s a truly gripping podcast shedding light on one of the world’s most terrifying issues.
5. In The Dark
Those who enjoy a great true-crime podcast are most likely very familiar with In The Dark from APM Reports. But just in case you’re still “in the dark”, this podcast, hosted by Madeleine Baran with the support of a team of excellent reports focuses on a murder case but looks at it from the standpoint of justice, rather than the crime. Season one examined the serious mishandling by the police in the abduction of Jacob Wetterling and the ripple effect this had across America. Season two is even more gripping as it examines the heartbreaking case of Curtis Flowers, a man who was tried six times for the same crime. The shocking tales are brought to life courtesy of excellent writing and reporting as well as excellent editing. Particularly in season 2, this podcast will take you through a whole range of emotions, from intrigue and anger to frustration and fascination. It’s got all the suspense of a great thriller, while still keeping the integrity of the story in tack through thorough research and outstanding delivery. You’ll be hooked for sure!
6. The Assassination
The Assassination is the award-winning inside story exploring the investigation into the death of Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. This is another example of a gripping tale that has been thoroughly researched and expertly presented. It’s a well-balanced piece of excellent journalism, even including interviews with those accused of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s murder. Layer by layer, the truth starts to unfold, and what it reveals is a very tangled web, weaved together by threads of corruption, greed, revenge, and the abuse of power that is both shocking and sadly all-too-familiar. The care and thoroughness that has been put into bringing this story to light by journalist and podcast host Owen Bennet Jones deserves high recognition and makes for a truly engrossing podcast experience.
7. Who The Hell is Hamish?
Who The Hell is Hamish? is a thoroughly fascinating listen! It follows the extraordinary life of a man born Hamish Watson, a surfer dude from Sydney – but who could morph into whatever you needed him to be. Hamish was sentenced to jail in early 2019 for swindling a handful of victims out of more than $7m. But these crimes are just the final pages in a an astounding large resume of misdeeds. For decades, Hamish duped victims in the US, Canada, Britain, Hong Kong, and Australia, reportedly stealing tens of millions of dollars, and this thoroughly fascinating podcast seeks to figure out how he did it. How he was able to evade authorities around the world for so long and what became of all that money that he stole? The story is well-researched, balanced, and the result is an engaging example of excellent journalism. A thoroughly gripping tale through and through.
8. The Missing Cryptoqueen
Another scandalous podcast from 2019 was The Missing Cryptoqueen. Hosted by Jamie Bartlett and Georgia Cat, this podcast details the meteoric rise of Dr. Ruja Ignatova and the pseudo-cryptocurrency, OneCoin. Dr. Ruja took the world by storm, hosting huge events all over the globe, and promoting her new cryptocurrency that was dubbed “The Bitcoin Killer.” With her intelligence and charm, decked out in silk gowns, diamonds, and red lipstick, Dr. Ruja convinced thousands of people from all over the world to invest massive amounts of money into OneCoin, with the promise of making them millionaires, if not billionaires! And then Dr. Ruja disappeared… never to be seen again! The podcast covers the twists and turns of trying to unravel the hype behind OneCoin. Jamie and Georgia speak to people who worked for Dr. Ruja, private investigators, as well as the people who parted with their money in order to buy OneCoin. It was fascinating hearing how she conned so many people, but also heartbreaking realizing how much some people have lost. While the first eight episodes were all released last year, there’s a brand new episode from August of 2020 that adds even more intrigue to an already-gripping tale.
9. Bed of Lies
What happens when you discover that the person you loved most in the world has been lying to you? That they have been lying right from the very beginning? And what if this lie has got to do with something much bigger? Something so big, in fact, it would become one of biggest scandals in recent British history. This is the premise of our last gripping tale, Bed of Lies. This podcast follows Cara McGoogan as she uncovers the mysteries surrounding a group of women who all seemed to have had the perfect relationship, until one day, their partner just vanishes. What begins as love stories quickly becomes a tale that is so engrossing, shocking and so brilliantly told, that you’ll be desperate to find out what on earth is going on! And what’s the deal with that van!? This podcast is different from the others on the list in that it is brand new! Currently, there are only two episodes available, and they are so full of shocking revelations that you will be chomping at the bit to find out more! I can’t wait to see how this one plays out! And if the trailer is anything to go by, it’s going to be big!
And there you have it. 9 seriously addictive and totally gripping tales that are shockingly true and unbelievably real! These shows may all cover vastly different stories, but what they do have in common is that they are all told exceptionally well through the medium of podcasting, and make excellent choices when you’re looking for your next show to binge-listen. These podcasts will take you on a whirlwind of emotion as you’re sucked into some of the most crazy, yet unbelievably true tales the world has ever heard! There’s no doubt about it! Once you start any one of these totally gripping podcasts, you won’t be able to stop listening!