Unlike film, television or music, there’s a low barrier to entry in the podcasting world: All you need is a microphone and someone to speak into it. Perhaps the ease and intimacy of podcasting is what drives so many people use the medium to ask uncomfortable questions. For many, 2018 was a year of conflict and upheaval, a year that left us wondering: How did we get here? Several shows tried to whisper the answers in our earbuds: Slow Burn and The Wilderness looked to presidents past in order to explain our current political divisions. Several years into the true crime boom, investigators on Serial and In the Dark focused on local cases to trace historic, systemic problems in our criminal justice system.
Even in the cultural realm, Binge Mode: Harry Potter mined an iconic story about teens fighting the magical equivalent of Nazis to explore the nature of the resistance, while Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness brought an unabashed eagerness to his interviews, asking questions others were too afraid to vocalize.
Point being: If you want answers, podcasts have them. Or at least, the best shows are trying.