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WBUR’s Most Downloaded Podcast Episodes Of 2018

WBUR has a suggestion for your New Year’s resolution: Listen to more podcasts.

This year alone, Boston’s largest radio newsroom worked on numerous podcasts — with more on the way. Though we said goodbye to Season Ticket and Freak Out and Carry On, we welcomed new voices with podcasts like Endless Thread and Last Seen. From this investigation into the largest unsolved art heist in history, to relatable, everyday stories about love and kindness, 2018 made us laugh, cry and question everything — and we hope our podcasts made you do the same.

Here’s a breakdown of our most downloaded episodes of 2018 (by podcast) to help you kick off your resolution just right.

Endless Thread

In partnership with Reddit, this podcast falls down the rabbit holes of the web to explore the most compelling stories the internet has to offer.

  1. The Vault: This episode takes us to a Norwegian archipelago called Svalbard where there is a vault that holds seeds for almost every variety of edible plant you can think of. Why? It exists so any nation can protect its food supply in case of disaster, natural or man-made.
  2. Call Of The Void: When you're in a high place, peering over a ledge or a drop off, do you ever get that super weird feeling that you should just ... jump? This episode explores this scientific phenomenon and the commonality of "intrusive thoughts." Warning: this episode contains some mentions of suicide.
  3. Two True Stories Of Adventure On Reddit: From helping someone get back a passport they left in Japan, to uniting two fitness fanatics that decided to run from England to Italy, this episode shows how Reddit brings people together in the best — and strangest — of ways.

Kind World

A show about how acts of kindness — big or small — can have great impact on our lives and help us better understand each other.

  1. New Ink: A tattoo is forever, but for one tattoo artist, hatred behind an image doesn’t have to be. Dave Ente of Brooklyn’s Southside Tattoo began offering anyone with a gang-related or racist tattoo the opportunity to come and have it covered for free. The response was greater than he ever expected.
  2. The Betrayal: A woman’s fiance is killed in a freak accident during a trip to Thailand. In the days following his death, two strangers become the pillars of strength as she processes her grief.
  3. Aubree’s Song: Baby Aubree was born nearly three months early with a rare chromosomal disorder that kept her from going home. To help deal with the separation, one of her therapists helped her mother record songs to play to Aubree when her parents were away.

Last Seen

In partnership with The Boston Globe, this is an in-depth investigation into the largest unsolved art heist in history.

  1. 81 Minutes: The kick-off episode to the series sets the scene and looks into what we know about what happened the night of the heist.
  2. Inside Job?: On the night of the heist, the security guard Rick Abath let the thieves into the museum. Now there are questions about whether it was a mistake or if he was in on the crime.
  3. Not A Bunch Of Jamokes: The reporters investigate whether the heist was conceived in an auto body shop in Dorchester that acted as the hub of Boston’s criminal leaders.

Modern Love

A podcast in collaboration with the The New York Times. Celebrities narrate the Times's popular series of weekly reader-submitted essays, then we take a look at where the writers are now.

  1. A Life Plan For Two: Actress Olivia Munn reads an essay about what happens when your all-encompassing crush is also your best friend.
  2. Escaping From A Dire Diagnosis On Match.com: Creating a Match.com profile started as a game to distract a childhood best friend battling cancer for the third time. The result ended up being positive for both friends involved. Actress and singer Rita Wilson reads this essay.
  3. R We D8ting?: In this episode, we hear the cringe-worthy story of a woman trying to date in this world where texting is a crucial form of communication. Miscommunication and mixed signals obviously follow.

Circle Round

An interactive storytelling podcast with coloring book pages for kids ages 4-7.

  1. Two-Hour Road Trip Reel: Car rides with kids can be a test of any parent’s patience. This two-hour long episode of stories is a perfect way to survive holiday travel. You can also check out Circle Round’s most recent Road Trip Reel, which is all about food.
  2. A Taste of Honey: New Girl’s Hannah Simone and her father pair up to tell a South-Asian tale of self-reliance.
  3. The Perfect Partnership: Every relationship is filled with give and take, but some are more giving (or greedy) with their time and energy than others. This episode helps to highlight off-balanced relationships and teach kids how to navigate them with this Ghanian story.

Edge Of Fame

A collaboration with WBUR and The Washington Post, this podcast looks into “the life that happens before, behind and beyond the spotlight.”

  1. Jimmy Kimmel Hates Crying: Ever wonder how late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel comes up with his set of highly political jokes? This episode takes you right into the writer’s room.
  2. R. Kelly Vs. The Savages: R&B singer R. Kelly has been accused of manipulating young women and teens for a number of years, keeping them hostage in a cult-like atmosphere in his home. This five-month investigation looks into the relationship between R. Kelly and Joycelyn Savage, who was coerced into a sexual relationship with the singer three years ago when she was 19.
  3. David Letterman Is Properly Medicated: After retiring from his 30-year career in late-night, David Letterman is still trying to figure out what will be his next project. In this episode, Letterman reflects on the ups and downs of his career and his personal life.

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Meagan McGinnes Twitter Newsletter Editor
Meagan is WBUR's newsletter editor.

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