True Crime Podcasts (Part 1)
It seems strange that I would enjoy true crime given that I avoid the news because it's too distressing. I'm sure there are many complex reasons for this but among them is the fact that most true crime stories are told years after the fact. It feels less immediate and less threatening. True crime podcasts offer a story, which is different to a news report. They way they are formatted for the audience means there's more of a beginning, middle and end. There is also no visual with podcasts, which takes away the potential for distressing images which can stay etched on my mind forever. Watching the news feels so unpredictable to me and is often designed to scare. The podcasts I choose to listen to (and there are others out there that are very different) focus on storytelling, not scare-mongering. Even details like the host's tone of voice are important to me when choosing a podcast.
Over the last few years (since Serial, of course) I've become interested in true crime, mainly in podcast form. It was Serial that was my gateway into the podcast world. Since I spend so much time listening to podcasts, I thought I'd share some of my subscriptions with you and at the bottom of each one, a summary and a couple of suggested episodes. At a later date I'll cover other genres of pocasts, but true crime is my current obsession so here we go with four of my favourites.
If you haven't heard of it by now, 1. Where have you been? and 2. LISTEN NOW. Seriously.
Serial, hosted by Sarah Koenig, was released in 2014. The whole of Season 1 (Season 2 is also interesting, but different) is dedicated to investigating the murder of Hae Min Lee in 1999. Adnan Syed, her ex-boyfriend, was tried and convicted of the murder and is currently still serving time. But many are absolutely convinced of Adnan's innocence. I won't say much more because Serial is basically the mother of true crime podcasts, but I will say that Rabia Chaudry, Adnan's family friend who was the instigator of Serial in the first place, since created her own podcast, Undisclosed, taking a (much) closer look at the legal aspects of the case. While Undisclosed gets very heavy on legal details and is harder listening than Serial, the first three episodes are an absolute MUST for Serial fans. Episode 12 where convicts comment on the podcast is also fascinating. But those first three episodes 100% made up my mind on whether Adnan is guilty or innocent...
In a sentence: It's still number 2 in the most popular podcast charts and it came out 3 years ago.
Listen to: All of it. From the beginning. And then Undisclosed episodes 1-3 at least.
Ah, Casefile. This podcast holds a special place in my heart because after Serial ended I thought that my days of listening to true crime were over. I hadn't been interested beforehand and I assumed it was a one off. Then I found Casefile. It's hosted by an Australian man. That's all I can tell you because his identity is kept a secret. In an interview he says he started the podcast as a fun project while he was off sick and it unexpectedly took off. So that's intriguing. He (with the help of his research team) usually covers one case per episode and they are all well told. There's not too many scary music interludes which I appreciate; it's all about the story. Use of audio recordings are rare and there's no independent investigation. It's a collation of lots of information put together by the team and told by Mr. Casefile.
In a sentence: Reliably good storytelling.
Listen to: Case 2 (The Somerton Man) and Case 7 (Julian Buchwald and Carolynne Watson)
In Sight has been a fairly new find of mine and although I love it now, I wasn't convinced at first because I'd previously only listened to true crime podcasts with a single host. It's hosted by Ali and Charlie (and, for the first few episodes, Tim) and because they give their own opinions on the case it feels like you're part of a discussion rather than simply listening to a story . This makes for less intense listening than a monologue format such as Casefile. Ali and Charlie (and it's nice hearing women's voices for a change!) talk about the facts of the crime and then give information on possible suspects and their own opinions on the case. As a side note, I always find it funny when the intense, moody intro music comes on and Ali and Charlie are chatting about what they've been up to that week. It makes me like them!
In a sentence: Two of your friends chatting (knowledgeably) about a crime.
Listen to: Episode 27 (The Indiana Sand Dunes Three) and Episode 34 (The Arizona Sweatlodge Deaths)
This one's new and is the only one I've been with (almost) since the beginning. The others I've had to go back and catch up on, but thanks to already subscribing to other Panoply podcasts, I found the Family Ghosts pilot episode shortly before Season 1 aired. Episode 6 was released a few days ago and I listened to it that evening. Sam Dingman is an immensely likeable host and while not every episode would be considered 'true crime' per se, most of them are stories that involve crime. Each episode features a person who wants to delve in to a secret in their family, such as a missing body or a suspicious house fire. Dingman is more or less of a presence in each episode depending on the guest. Each episode covers a different family and a different story and features the guest as well as, in some cases, investigation of their own, interviews with members of the family, and new discoveries.
In a sentence: Good stories and friendly true crime.
Listen to: 'No Brown Spots' (15 Nov) and 'That You Should Be Happy' (13 Dec)
That's it for today. I'll have another blog post up next Monday (Christmas Day for those who celebrate!) and True Crime Podcasts (Part 2) will come shortly.