This week’s best podcasts: Serial’s impact, Vox Tablet ends, FOUND begins

Thousands will perhaps listen to Syeds new trial; one of the longest running podcasts stops at 500 episodes; scraps of paper inspire heartfelt stories

If the growing influence of podcasts has somehow escaped your notice, look no further for evidence than Serial, whose outsized popularity helped draw attention to the legal plight of its central character, Adnan Syed, who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. The court has now granted Syed a new trial on the grounds that there wasnt enough evidence for his former conviction to stand, largely based on doubts over the cellphone evidence that helped convict him. Legally, Syed is no longer considered to be guilty of the crime of killing Lee, but he will undoubtedly be tried again for the crime. This time, however, if he is convicted, at least it will be with a fair trial, ensured by the thousands of eyes watching and, perhaps, listening to his story.

One of the longest-running shows in podcasting history has just closed up shop. After 500 episodes, Vox Tablet, the Tablet Magazine-affiliated show hosted by Sarah Ivry, signed off for good last week, closing an era in podcasting. Fans old and new can still go through the shows extensive back catalogue, though, listening to tales of life and culture, Jewish and otherwise, from around the world.

First Day Back, the documentary podcast that follows the film-maker Tally Abecassis as she learns the ropes of balancing family, work and getting back into a career after an extended maternity leave, was picked up from The Heard by Scripps, which should give the show an even bigger platform. Catch up on the first season, and keep an ear out for new episodes soon.

While Hillary Clinton continues her campaign to the White House, Radio Diaries took a look back at other women who ran for the presidency of the United States. First Look and Slates podcast network Panoply have teamed up for a new project: Politically Re-Active, a political comedy podcast co-hosted by W Kamau Bell and Hari Kondabolu. As fans of the late, great Totally Biased television show know, Bell and Kondabolu are two of the sharpest, funniest political minds around, and based on the first episode, Politically Re-Active will be a great addition to the podcast roster.

American Public Media has announced that in November it will be releasing a new show called Terrible, Thanks For Asking. The show comes from the author Nora McInerny Purmort, who refers to herself as a notable widow after writing a book, Its Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too), about packing a full life into her short marriage with her terminally ill husband. The funny/sad/uncomfortable podcast will probably cover the same territory, all delivered in Purmots dry, droll style that serves to remind listeners that while laughter isnt a medicine for lifes woes, it certainly can help.

Ungeniused is a new show that focuses on mining through Wikipedia for the weirdest articles and then discussing them in detail. Criminal told the fascinating tragi-comic tale of a tiger who lives at a Louisiana truck stop.

If youre a Gen Xer or a millennial (AKA a member of Gen Y), you may want to check out The Baby-Sitters Club Club, where two friends, Jack Shepherd and Tanner Greenring, read their way through the adventures of Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne and Stacy as written in the The Baby-Sitters Club. Last week, they boldly tackled the first installment of The Baby-Sitters Club spin-off series, Little Sister. If youre unsure whether you qualify as Gen X or Gen Y, The Allusionist will answer all your millennial v Gen X questions in a forthcoming episode, due out on 8 July, with an entire episode dedicated to those strange generational names.

WTFs Marc Maron, Comedy Bang! Bang!s Scott Aukerman, With Special Guests Lauren Lapkus and How Did This Get Made? host Paul Scheer have all signed on to appear at the annual Now Hear This podcast festival. The show, which is organized by Midroll Media, will take place in Anaheim, California over the weekend of October 28-30, during which time it will manage to host over 30 live podcast tapings so dedicated podcast fans can try to hear themselves laugh in the audiences of many of their favorite shows.

The author and film-maker Davy Rothbart started collecting artifacts back in 2000, releasing the first issue of FOUND magazine in 2001, finding a new appreciative audience for the worlds written detritus, from lost love letters to scraps of homework to misplaced to-do lists and mysterious photographs. Now, several years, books and one off-Broadway musical into the continuing project, Rothbart is trying his hand at podcasting, with the first episode slated to release on 13 July. The idea of the FOUND Podcast is to take a look at our all-time favorite finds, explore the mysteries within them, said Rothbart.

To transform the tales from visual scraps into audio pieces, Rothbart tapped into some of the skills he learned as a contributor on This American Life, tracking down the people behind the papers to get the stories straight from the source. After wondering about the mysteries behind my favorite finds, talking to the real people who wrote them has always been kind of magical, said Rothbart.

While someones to-do list may not seem like a great mystery, Rothbart promises the stories make great listening. These are raw, personal stories, sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking. Stories about love, loss, hope, transformation and aspiration, said Rothbart. Well try to track down a man who wrote a letter 20 years ago about his dream of being a TV host, to see how he is faring now. Well visit with a former NBA star whose revealing note was found in the late 1990s. And well try to reconnect a soulful man who wrote a beautiful letter years ago to a waitress hed fallen in love with. The idea is not only to find the authors of these incredible finds, but also to reflect more broadly on the themes within them, and the insights they give us about ourselves.

In addition to sending out the episodes via iTunes and other platforms, Rothbart is also releasing an app, which will include ways for listeners to track episodes on a global map, pin finds to a timeline, and upload any interesting finds of their own for possible inclusion in future episodes and add to the mystery that makes FOUND such a fun concept. Subscribe to the podcast now, so you dont forget.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2016/jul/05/this-weeks-best-podcasts-serial-vox-tablet-found