NEW YORK (AP) — The top 10 podcasts of the year picked by The Associated Press.
1. “To Live and Die in LA,” Tenderfoot TV & Cadence 13. What makes this podcast from journalist Neil Strauss so riveting is how organically it all came together. Strauss was asked to help out in the search of a missing woman in LA named Adea Shabani because he worked in media and could maybe help call attention to the case. He quickly established a trust with people involved who agreed to speak with him and share information. Some parts of the podcast air in almost real time. He even received tips from listeners that altered the nature of the investigation. The podcast is No. 1 because of Strauss’ authenticity. He’s devoted to finding out what happened, even when it gets uncomfortable and frankly scary.
2. “22 Hours: An American Nightmare,” WTOP/PodcastOne. Journalists Megan Cloherty and Jack Moore do an excellent job at reconstructing the 2015 case of Savvas and Amy Savopoulos, their 10-year-old son and housekeeper who were taken hostage and then killed in their home. Another local station in Washington did their own podcast on the case as it was unfolding, but “22 Hours” didn’t air until after a man named Daron Wint was convicted of the murders. “22 Hours” is superior and makes this list because it is carefully, respectfully and responsibly reported about a horrific crime and sets an example for how true crime should be handled. Cloherty and Moore should do more podcasts.
3. “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend,” Team Coco & Earwolf. You could say that celebrity podcasts are the new celebrity perfume because everybody has one and that number seems to grow by the day. O’Brien’s podcast is a standout because he has longer conversations that go beyond bits and talking points. Noteworthy episodes include a deep conversation with Howard Stern and a recent interview with Hillary and Chelsea Clinton. He helps humanize Chelsea in particular as she recalls being a kid in the White House, just trying to get her homework done with a State Dinner happening downstairs.
4. “Confronting: O.J. Simpson with Kim Goldman,” GLASS/Wondery. This podcast is an emotional roller coaster. Listening to Goldman, her father and friends remembering their son and brother Ron, who was killed with Nicole Brown Simpson in 1994, will make you cry. The reading of a letter Kim received from judge Lance Ito in response to a request for an interview will make you gasp, and taped portions of a phone call between O.J. Simpson’s attorney and journalist Nancy Glass are incredulous.
5. “Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez & Football Inc.,” The Boston Globe/Wondery. This podcast takes a fascinating look at the rise and fall of football star Aaron Hernandez who was convicted of murder and took his own life in prison. It also brings up issues of head injuries in football and toxic masculinity.
6. “1619,” The New York Times. Nikole-Hannah-Jones hosts this podcast on the beginning of slavery in America in 1619. It’s not only important to listen to this piece of integral black history but beautifully put together.
7. “Believed,” NPR. This podcast reveals how Olympic gymnast doctor Larry Nassar was able to get away with sexual assault for more than 20 years. It also asks the question of why so often women aren’t believed.
8. “The Viall Files,” Nick Viall. If you’re a “Bachelor” fan, you know Nick Viall. He’s the guy who was rejected on “The Bachelorette” twice before he was given the titular role as ABC’s Bachelor (but that resulting relationship didn’t work out either). While his podcast does address the show — and a recent episode with former Bachelorette Kaitlyn Bristowe is a must-listen for fans — the podcast has helped Nick to become less of a caricature and more of cool dude offering a guy’s perspective. It’s like he’s got his own column in Cosmopolitan magazine but in podcast form.
9. “Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard,” Armchair Umbrella. Dax Shepard’s podcast has been out for more than a year but the guy gives good chat. Some recent compelling interviews have been with Monica Lewinsky, Kate and Oliver Hudson, and Emilia Clarke. His shows are always entertaining.
10. “Office Ladies,” Earwolf. This podcast from former cast members of “The Office,” Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey, is a recent release and so fun. They’re starting from the beginning and devoting each podcast to an episode of the series. It’s very exciting to think they’ve essentially committed to 201 tapings. Fischer and Kinsey offer commentary and behind-the-scenes detail from the comedy. The real-life best friends also sometimes go on amusing tangents. They’ve already had Rainn Wilson on as a guest and they’ve got 194 weeks to get Steve Carell, John Krasinski, Mindy Kaling and BJ Novak. The odds look good.