Alternative Title: How True Crime Podcasts Saved My Life
Ok ok. They didn’t actually save my life but, to be quite honest, they may have saved the lives of some pedestrians or jeepney drivers in Manila back in the day.
I started listening to podcasts fairly religiously back in 2013. I had just arrived in the Philippines for a 3-year post with the State Department and I quickly learned that a 3 mile commute could take 1.5 hours (one way). I won’t go into how deeply this affected my sanity but I will say that, on more than one occasion, podcasts saved me from throwing something at a nearby driver. If you ever lived in Manila and had to drive, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you know, you know.
And my podcasts of choice? True Crime. It really started with Serial (but doesn’t it always). Then it segued to Last Podcast on the Left (don’t judge me). I occasionally listened to audiobooks but podcasts, it seemed, were just the right amount of digestible content that I needed not to end up on the evening news in the Philippines for assaulting a construction worker who peed on my car while I was in standstill traffic (true story…that happened).
While I don’t have the same traffic issues anymore, I am still always on the hunt for a juicy true crime podcast. There are a million out there and, like everything else, it’s difficult to find original content. I mean, how many times can you listen to a funny duo recount the story of Ted Bundy, the Golden State Killer, or John Wayne Gacy? If you’re asking me, it’s a lot. A whole whole lot. But I’m a bit of an odd duck. I’ve loved true crime since I was a kid. I blame my mom, wholeheartedly. Or I give her credit. Whichever makes more sense to you.
My love of true crime almost segued into a career with the FBI or law enforcement. Detective Lindsey at your service. But, I chose another path. I’ve always had the drive to investigate though – I am a nosy nelly at heart. And I sure do love hearing about how bad guys (and gals) get caught. I’ve even considered writing a book about a relatively recent set of murders and I participate in Reddit crime groups. I’m a real peach, you can tell.
And the vast array of content out there tells me I am not alone. So, in case it’s of any use to you, here are my current(ish) top ten true crime podcasts which I am in love with for a variety of reasons. If this post doesn’t get too out of hand, maybe I’ll throw in some honorable mentions. In the meantime, forgive my wonky formatting – I am still learning WordPress (sigh…but also..yay!). Also, I apologize if I am not consistent in the details about each podcast – this was a real labor of love (in other words, it took me FOREVER to pull all this together).
What are your favorites??? Leave a comment and let me know. Please tell. Tell me now! Tell me now or else!!
In no particular order (duh):
Host(s): Ashley Flowers and co-host Brit Prawat
Description: Long-time friends, Ashely Flowers and Brit Prawat started Crime Junkie in 2017 and the podcast has about 150 episodes as of July 2020. The podcast itself is generally (I say that loosely) a more serious and in depth review of crimes that you have likely already heard of. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this podcast for those of you looking for a good laugh but the episodes are well-researched and easy to listen to. Ashley Flowers is on the board of directors for Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana, giving her a bit more legitimacy as a true crime aficionado. Brit Prawat serves as kind of a “live audience” in the podcast, breaking up what might otherwise be a bit of a monotonous recounting of crimes. While the show’s popularity has lagged a bit – perhaps due to stiff competition and maybe a little as a result of some recent bad press due to alleged plagiarism – you can still find Crime Junkie in the top five podcasts in the U.S.
Tag Lines/Quotes: “Be weird. Be rude. Stay alive.” “Full.body.chills.” “Wait, what?”
Average Length: One hour
Notable Episode(s): Monster in Fort Wayne, by far (see below)
Host(s): An LA Times podcast and production of LA Times Studios and Herzog and Company. Hosted by Nicki Weisensee Egan.
Description: Wow. How the mighty have fallen! Chasing Cosby is a six-episode podcast that recounts first person stories from women who say they were drugged and assaulted by Bill Cosby. I binge-listened to this one on a recent road trip and man, what an intense and disturbing story. It is not your typical true crime podcast but it is most definitely informative , well-produced, and many times shocking. Talk about an unraveling of the (Cosby) sweater!
Tag Lines/Quotes: “The Downfall of America’s Dad”
Average Length: 35 minutes
Notable Episode(s): All of them
TRUE CRIME OBSESSED
Host(s): Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle
Description: True Crime Obsessed offers a unique approach to the genre. It’s half true crime podcast, half documentary review. All that, with a huge helping of humor and chemistry that is hard to beat. Patrick Hinds and Gillian Pensavalle use every bit of their wit and theater muscle to watch, review, recount, and occasionally (ok, a lot) poke fun at the crazy cast of characters that typically makes up a true crime documentary. From Joe Exotic to Abducted in Plain Sight, they manage to cover it all. If you feel like you’ve heard all there is to say about the Zodiac Killer or Jodi Arias, True Crime Obsessed will give you a shot of true crime fever – all over again. I’ve listened, read, and watched true crime stories for so long but this format is something truly different. Give it a try!
Tag Lines/Quotes: “Girl” – when referring to any gender, of course. Also, while not a quote, their apt use of the garbage and hero bells is pretty great.
Average Length: One hour
Notable Episode(s): Grizzly Man, Fyre Fraud, Wrinkles the Clown
GURU: THE DARK SIDE OF ENLIGHTENMENT
Host(s): From Wondery (Dirty John, Dr. Death) and hosted by Matt Stroud.
Description: Best described as a self-help nightmare, realized. This six-part podcast explores the captivating and tragic events leading up to the deaths of three individuals (Kirby Brown, James Shore, and Liz Neuman) who attended the five-day “Spiritual Warrior” seminar led by self-help guru James Arthur Ray in October 2009. As I was listening, I thought back to my many bikram/hot yoga experiences over the years. I remember, on one occasion, the room was just too hot. I felt my heart rate increase and my body was just saying, no, this isn’t right. Unlike the unfortunate souls in the sweat lodge described in this podcast, however, I felt confident in my free will and was able to leave the room. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to be basically trapped in a rapidly heating structure, while your body was shutting down. Typical Bikram classes range around 105 degrees Fahrenheit at 40 percent humidity – there are some reports that indicate this particular sweat lodge reached temperatures near 200 degrees. Sounds more like torture than cleansing to me.
Tag Lines/Quotes: It’s not that kinda podcast, what can I say?
Average Length: 40 minutes
Notable Episode(s): All
Host(s): From Audiochuck and hosted by Delia D’Ambra (Counterclock).
Description: Fresh meat for your crime-loving soul! The first two episodes of Park Predators were released on 7 July 2020 and there are 12 episodes scheduled so put on your binge hat or start listening weekly (new releases every Tuesday). Park Predators was started by Crime Junkie host Ashley Flowers (see above, Crime Junkies) and will focus on missing person(s) or homicide cases taking place in national parks. The first episode covers the horrific crimes of Gary Michael Hilton and will have you packing a shot gun and a German Shephard on your next mountain adventure. None of this is for the faint of heart but, if you’ve read this far, I’m guessing you’re not that squeamish anyway. The stories are reported with a calm demeanor and with more of an investigative journalist slant so if you’re looking for strictly entertainment value, this may not be the podcast for you. Jury is still out for me on whether this will be a favorite but the topic is one that hasn’t been heavily covered so there may be some new material here – even for the weathered true crime aficionado.
Tag Lines/Quotes: TBD
Average Length: varies so far from 25 to 45 minutes
Notable Episode(s): The Hunter – Gary Michael Hilton
IT WAS SIMPLE: THE BETTY BRODERICK MURDERS
Host(s): Written and hosted by LA Times columnist Patt Morrison.
Description: Chalk up another winner for LA Times! This four-part podcast revisits the double homicide committed by Betty Broderick in November 1989. On the surface, this is a story about a woman scorned who lost all ability to manage her anger and killed ex-husband Daniel Broderick III and his new wife Linda Kolkena in a fit of rage. But as the narrator dives deeper, you’ll find yourself engrossed in a tangled web of love gone wrong and a curiosity about how (and whether) this case has anything to do with women’s rights.
Tag Lines/Quotes: “You got me…” (This is kind of a cheat since it is a title of one of the episodes but, this is my blog, I’ll do what I want! ha!)
Average Length: 30 to 45 minutes
Notable Episode(s): Just listen to all of them, sheesh. 😉
TRUE CRIME GARAGE
Host(s): Nic and “the Captain”
Description: Beers and crime, ’nuff said. These two, who are rumored to be brothers, bring both an element of seriousness and comic relief to the retelling of true crime stories. The podcast has been around since 2015 and has hundreds of episodes so binge to your heart’s content. Nic is a fairly straightforward and earnest fella while the Captain inserts a quip here and there, often in the form of a poorly timed and slightly juvenile joke, that lightens the mood. Look, is the humor worthy of stand up in NYC? No. But they make a good team and remind us that you just can’t take yourself too seriously. The information provided is well-researched and impartial (for the most part) and I’m definitely a fan of their weekly beer recommendations. All in all a good balance of entertainment and information. Check it out.
Tag Lines/Quotes: “It’s good to be seen and it’s good to see you.” – The Captain. There are many other quotes…and they’re usually phallic. Enjoy.
Average Length: One hour.
Notable Episode(s): Boys on the Tracks (4 parts – uff…take a listen, please), Mitrice Richardson (2 parts), Austin Yogurt Shop Murders (2 parts)
Host(s): A Wondery podcast hosted by Laura Beil.
Description: Whoa! WHOA! Horrifying. I don’t know why but this one really gave me the heebie jeebies. Maybe because my brother in law had spinal surgery around the time this guy was still in practice and in the same area of Texas!! Or maybe because, what the hell, how does this happen?!?!? This horrible excuse for a human (“doctor” Christopher Duntsch) injured 33 of the 38 people he operated on. Let me say that again – this doctor injured 33 of the 38 people who were in his care! And we’re not talking minor mistakes on “extraneous” body parts – this man was working on people’s SPINES! All that, and we haven’t even gotten to the part where he KILLED two others during shockingly botched surgeries. There are seven episodes if you count the update and I’m not kidding when I say this will send chills up your spine. Ok ok. I mean…that’s a wee pun but give a girl a break ok? Anyway, it’s worth your time and for me, it literally hit close to home. Proceed with care – this one is cringeworthy!
Tag Lines/Quotes: Yeah – this ain’t a thing here.
Average Length: 40 minutes
Notable Episode(s): Um…you can’t just listen to one so don’t make me pick one! Link to the first episode is below.
ALL CRIME, NO CATTLE
Host(s): Texas natives, Erin and Shea
Description: True crime, Texas style. All Crime No Cattle has been around since 2017 and has around 75 episodes – all focused on crimes in the Lone Star State. It’s a conversational podcast that isn’t over the top from an entertainment perspective but the stories are well-researched and, if you’re from Texas, it’s a fascinating ride on the crazy crime train. Heck, even if you aren’t from Texas, it’s still worth your time. You should at least check out Episode 7: Death at Hotel Elegante – it’s a doozy!
Tag Lines/Quotes: “Crime is bigger in Texas, y’all”
Average Length: One hour
Notable Episode(s): Death at Hotel Elegante
Host(s): Anonymous (Australian) – but you can find out who he is if you’re so inclined
Description: First aired in January 2016, Casefile covers mostly Australian cases but has dipped its podcast toe into the waters of notable crimes from the United Kingdom and the United States. Something about the host’s voice makes the podcasts particularly eery but also oddly soothing – you’ll see what I mean. I’d describe the episodes as narrative and scripted – there’s no chatting off the cuff in this one. Just the facts ma’am. I found it a good diversion when I was looking for stories I had either never heard or hadn’t heard much about. As always, it’s hard to find original content out there but perhaps you’re not a master of Australian true crime? I wasn’t. In any case, this might be one you should check out for some “new” content.
Tag Lines/Quotes: hmmmm….nah
Average Length: One hour++
Notable Episode(s): Katherine Knight (yikes!), Sherri Rasmussen