Five Podcasts about Secrets that Take You Down the Rabbit Hole

Dear Sugar Radio: Family Secrets, Parts 1 and 2: Unspeakable Truths*

Fans of author Cheryl Strayed’s tiny beautiful things: Advice on love and life from Dear Sugar will know that Dear Sugar Radio is not your typical advice podcast. Cheryl is compassionate but honest, and her own vulnerability emerges as she weaves in personal stories reminiscent of her bestselling memoir, Wild.

The Family Secrets two-part episode aired in 2016 and it came at the right time. I had just unearthed a family secret of my own, and I wasn’t sure what to ‘do’ with it: keep it a secret or come to terms with a past that changed everything I thought I knew about my childhood.

In Family Secrets, podcast hosts Cheryl Stayed and Steve Almond read a letter from a woman who has a ‘dark and powerful secret’ she kept hidden from her mother about her stepfather since her teens. What are the implications of keeping secrets versus the risk of losing everything to expose them? This two-part episode digs deep, and it’s exactly Cheryl’s style.

*This two-part episode discusses sexual abuse.

The Nod Podcast from Gimlet Media: Best of the Nod: YouTube Conspiracy Theories

Secrets don’t always have to be dark. In The Nod, podcast hosts Brittany Luse and Eric Edding (pictured above) ‘gleefully explore all the beautiful, complicated dimensions of Black life.’ In this episode, Luse and Edding unpack YouTube conspiracy theorist Shawn Blazington’s musings that ‘Beyonce is hiding a secret from the world.’

This episode is incredibly funny – and refreshing. Spoiler alert: Blazington asserts that the ‘Illuminati forced her [Solange Knowles] to have her [Beyonce’s] baby [Blue Ivy].’ He also claims to have the ‘secret tape’ from that elevator scene with Solange and Jay-Z. Hosts Luse and Edding call on a ‘Beyonce expert’ to dispel Blazington’s so-called theories. In a podcast culture saturated with true crime stories, this episode is a breath of fresh air. Check out The Nod’s other episodes, ranging from ‘an explanation of purple drink’s association with Black culture to the story of an interracial drag troupe that traveled the nation in the 1940s.’

Another Round: I Got Indian In My Family

About the podcast: ‘Heben Nigatu and Tracy Clayton cover everything from race, gender and pop culture to squirrels, mangoes, and bad jokes, all in one boozy podcast.’

It’s a distinct white privilege to trace my family history and immigration to the U.S. in the 1880s using historical records and a written family biography. But most black Americans whose ancestors were stolen from their families and homeland and sold into slavery face incredible odds in tracing their genealogical roots in the same way. In this episode, Tracy Clayton partners with WNYC’s Only Human podcast to find her roots using DNA testing.

I won’t spoil the outcome, but it’s a story everyone should hear, from both the hosts’ fears and how DNA tests are changing the conversation around family heritage.

Fresh Air from NPR: The CIA’s Secret Quest for Mind Control: Torture, LSD And A ‘Poisoner in Chief’

In this episode, NPR host Terry Gross interviews journalist Stephen Kinzer, who spent several years investigating MK-ULTRA, the top-secret CIA program created and run from the 1950s to 1960s to ‘search for a mind control drug that could be weaponized against enemies.’

MK-ULTRA was born from a deep-rooted fear that communists had discovered a drug that would allow them to control the human mind. It’s easy to see the storyline of Stranger Things in Kinzer’s research here. The most shocking secret, though, emerges in minute 12 and connects the CIA to Nazi doctors, a history that interviewer Terry Gross finds ‘pretty hard to understand.’

Other noteworthy podcasts about secrets: Family Secrets with Dani Shapiro, The Secret Room, Secrets by Radiotopia, and Secrets, Crimes, & Audiotape by Wondery.

Listen to more diverse podcasts: and

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s