Charles Manson: what made him a criminal? – podcasts of the week


The Hollywood & Crime podcast uses painstaking research to retell the Manson story, while other choices include a celebration of marriage equality in Australia

Pick of the week: Young Charlie

There has been much noise about Charles Manson in the wake of his death, and Young Charlie (Wondery/iTunes), the new podcast from Hollywood & Crime, is a timely look at what made him such a dangerous man.

It is a comprehensive retelling of Mansons story, and absorbing from the start. Regular listeners to the intriguing Hollywood & Crime will be familiar with its skill at putting listeners in the moment and providing grisly but non-sensational details about brutal killings. (If you are yet to listen to the series on the Black Dahlia murders in 1940s Hollywood, start at the beginning.)

Narrator Tracy Pattin sounds strangely thrilled to be telling Mansons story, but hits the right note when it comes to respecting the seriousness of her subject and responsibly delivers the painstakingly researched facts. Co-host Stephen Lang fills in Mansons past and makes it painfully clear that the seeds of his crimes were sown in his horrific childhood. In 1939, Mansons mother Kathleen was jailed for robbery. Charlie was just five, a runt of a kid, all big eyes and matted hair who liked to be the centre of attention. And, oh, hes got a way with words, notes Lang. Even at five he always seems to know just what to say.

Manson appears a disturbed boy, crying on the way home from his first day at school, getting picked on by the big kids, then getting his own gun at 13. He would only concentrate in music class and knew how to charm his fellow pupils, as well as psychiatrists, later blaming his mental state on years of incarceration. Lang reveals the extent to which he manipulated to survive. With the incentive of a wife and fatherhood he may be able to straighten himself out, was one psychiatric assessment.

Young Charlie pinpoints Mansons hypnotic power over his followers and the way the murder of Sharon Tate and four others sent Hollywood stars into hiding, convinced they would be next.

Your picks: The truth about trends, how it feels to be a single parent and ragtime made fun

Understand before you judge … Spencer and Heidi Pratt talk about fame and misfortune on the Why Im Not podcast Photograph: Christian Bladt

Why Im Not

Why Im Not is a light-hearted weekly podcast in which presenter Brant Pinvidic explores topics that he doesnt fully understand by interviewing the people who do. Fads, trends or addictions are examined from all sides, with Brant always reminding you … before you judge it, try to understand it. My favourite episode was when Brant pulled back the curtains on the nations billion-dollar weight-loss industry by bringing in guests JD Roth, creator of US show The Biggest Loser, and hypnotist and author Paul McKenna. I feel that by listening each week, I stay one step ahead of the topics and issues that matter in a fun and inventive way. Recommended by David Basulto

Heartening stories … grandmother Jo Whiu from the Flying Solo podcast Photograph: RNZ

Flying Solo

The break up of any relationship is painful, but when kids are involved you cant just move on and heal in the usual ways. Theres a great deal of guilt, shame and worry that comes with it. Fathers, especially when hard-pressed with work and financial burdens, can rapidly become isolated from their children. Thats why I was heartened to listen to the Flying Solo series in which parents of both genders unselfconsciously discussed their new lives and how theyd adjusted. In particular, Warrens story left me renewed and determined to stay as involved with my kids as time allows. Recommended by Duncan Gray

Come for the piano, stay for the jokes … Ethan and Kate Uslan from the Carolina Shout Podcast Photograph: LunahZon Photography

The Carolina Shout

My family are big fans of the Carolina Shout podcast. Presenter Ethan tricks his listeners into learning something new, when they think they are just having fun listening to a cheerful old-timey piano guy – very clever of him! My eight-year-old son loves the humorous approach to piano music and cant wait to get skilled enough to play some ragtime himself. Ethans music choices are fun and accessible for anyone whos curious about styles of music popular from the late 1800s to the early 1930s. We loved the episodes where Ethan played a Scott Joplin march with fiery train crashes written right into the music (episode 25) and when he sang a cheese-themed parody of Cole Porters Youre the Top (episode 7). I appreciate the exposition and fun historical tidbits given before the songs. Everyone should listen: come for the piano, stay for the jokes and learn something, too! Recommended by Liane Weber

Guardian pick: Same-sex marriage turning the vote of the Australian people into law

Australians gather to hear the results of the marriage equality survey.
Photograph: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

Australian Politics Live

In this edition of Australian Politics Live, the Guardian Australias political editor, Katharine Murphy, discusses the profound result of the postal survey with Labor senator Penny Wong and Liberal senators Dean Smith and James Paterson. three parliamentary players set to shape the law that will bring about marriage equality.

Its a truly historic moment for Australia, and human rights in general, which makes this a podcast not to miss. Recommended by Rowan Slaney

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