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Podfather Reviews: 'Fiction' podcasts are the new books

The world isn’t being invaded by aliens. At least, it wasn’t in 1938, when Orson Welles’ broadcast of The War of the Worlds fictional radio drama across the U.S., inciting panic that was being invaded by aliens.

Even though there was actually a lot less panic and public hysteria caused by the broadcast than what’s been reported in the past, many podcasts take inspiration from fictional radio dramas like The War of the Worlds.

Radio dramas are essentially fictional stories played out on air with sound effects and music to create realism. These dramas have found a new home in podcasts like “Welcome to Nightvale,” on which complex stories are weaved in with compelling characters over the course of several episodes.

It’s a unique take on podcasting that calls back to the ways of traditional radio, and some of them out there are amazing listens to as well. Here’s a few I took a look a this week:


This podcast drops the listener into the 1940s in the Chicago borough of Bronzeville, where a black kid escaping the prejudice of rural Arkansas gets involved in organized crime. 

The voice acting for this show has an incredible lineup, including the likes of Laurence Fishburne and Omari Hardwick. The show is well-produced and has soulful intro music at the beginning of each episode. 

Some of the sound effects throughout the show can sound a bit contrived at times, but, overall, the show creates a realism that puts the listener straight on the streets of Chicago. This podcast is almost like watching a movie (if a movie had no visuals at all).

Rating: 4 out of 5 earbuds


This scripted series is Gimlet Media’s first foray into fictional audio, telling the story about a soldier rehabilitation program that reveals its true nature over the course of several episodes.

The most compelling thing about this show is how it almost makes each episode seem like a hidden, confidential audio tape that one has discovered out of the blue. The actors and actresses do a fantastic job at conveying the complex emotion throughout the series, and it’s hard not to binge-listen. 

If you have a free afternoon or five, definitely give this series a try.

Rating: 5 out of 5 earbuds


For fans of shows like House of Cards, this is the political thriller podcast that’s a must-listen.

The story follows a fictional two-term president of the U.S. who is trying to do everything in his power to stop a populist president-elect who won a controversial electoral college election from taking office.

The music is this podcast is particularly well-timed, as it all adds to the building tension that leads up to the inauguration of the president-elect. The episodes can seem a bit long for amount of dialogue that is crammed into each episode; otherwise, it’s a great listen.

Rating: 4 out of 5 earbuds

Liam Niemeyer is a senior studying journalism in Ohio University’s Honors Tutorial College. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Will you give these a listen? Let Liam know by tweeting him @liamniemeyer.

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