How do you describe that feeling when you finish a really good, emotionally investing book or television series? Grief seems a bit heavy, but it's something close.

Whatever the word, it's a feeling a lot of people will be experiencing this week upon reaching the end of S-Town, the latest podcast sensation from the makers of 2014's big podcast sensation Serial.

If you haven't listened to S-Town yet, the less you know about it going in the better. It's rich and mysterious, beautifully produced, and the way the story unravels over the course of seven episodes - around seven hours in total - is hypnotising. It lives up to the hype.


If you have already listened, and finished it, then you might be like me this week - desperately searching for your next podcast hit, something to fill the S-Town-shaped hole you suddenly have in your life.

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The good news: there is no shortage of podcasts out there. Nor is there a shortage of 'best of' lists. Time's 'The 50 Best Podcasts Right Now' or The Guardian's 'The 50 best podcasts of 2016' are good places to start, but they all seem to cover more or less the same ones.

There are the old reliables, public radio mainstays like This American Life and Radiolab, popular new arrivals which span just about every niche topic under the sun and emerging podcast genres like serialised fiction. The bad news: none of them are S-Town.

But that's not to say there's nothing that can fill that gap. In fact, there are plenty of podcasts that are similar in style and spirit.

One is the true crime series Criminal. Like S-Town, Criminal takes a wider, less-ghoulish view of what that 'true crime' label can encompass. It shows that with good reporting, things like identity theft (episode 51) or Venus flytrap poaching (episode 5) can be just as compelling as cold-blooded murder investigations.

While most episodes are only around half an hour in length, they still have the capacity to send you reeling with unexpected twists and turns, all skilfully narrated by the incredibly soothing voice of host Phoebe Judge. Criminal is part of a network called Radiotopia, which also includes the popular and highly-acclaimed 99% Invisible.

Another I discovered this week is Heavyweight, an 8-part series which came out last year. Each episode involves host Jonathan Goldstein encouraging a friend or family member, or sometimes himself, to revisit and attempt to make right a moment from their past that they have never quite got over.

It sounds like a recorded therapy session, but - thanks mainly to the wit and precision of Goldstein's narration - the episodes end up more like funny, bittersweet, David Sedaris-y memoirs. Episode 2, about how his friend Gregor lent Moby the Folkways compilation he ended up sampling on his breakthrough album Play, is a highlight.

Heavyweight is produced by Gimlet Media, a company whose roster of podcasts also includes Reply All. Ostensibly 'a podcast about the internet,' its episodes also frequently end up unravelling weirdly fascinating mysteries. Episode 79, Boy in Photo, is one such example.

There's a whole wide world of narrative podcasts outside S-Town. If you're suffering withdrawals, these are just a few proven alternatives.