Currently, true crime podcasts are all the rage…at least, in my corner of the Twitterverse they are. Many mistakenly believe that Serial was the forerunner of true crime podcasts, but just look at the backlog of Sword and Scale, Generation Why, and Criminal, and you will see the creators of Serial piggybacked on an already popular genre. There are currently hundreds of true crime podcasts available across the various podcast players, so it’s hard to decide which ones to choose.
You can start with the obvious “Big Three.” My Big Three differs a little from those mentioned above. I have never really been able to “get into” Serial, and do not listen to Criminal regularly, so my Big Three are: Generation Why, Sword and Scale, and True Crime Garage.
Generation Why is hosted by Justin and Aaron, two friends who like talking about true crime. As of the writing of this blog, they have 229 episodes available, not shabby for a weekly podcast. Justin and Aaron have tackled some “big” cases (Michael Peterson, Ryan Ferguson, Ted Bundy, the Zodiac Killer). A few of my favorite episodes by these guys are “The Deaths at Spreckels Mansion – 136,” “Lululemon Murder – 157,” and “White House Farm Murders – 141.” I enjoy the friendship between these two and how they are honest about how difficult some of these cases are to relate. I burned through the entire backlog in about two weeks.
Sword and Scale is hosted by a single host, Mike Boudet. Mike uses a lot of news clips and interviews to support his material, and tells his stories very concisely. He also ends the episodes with relevant true crime stories from around the globe. My favorites here are Episodes 11 and 12, the sad story of Morgan Ingram, who died at a young age. Although ruled suicide, her mother has kept up an online campaign pointing the finger to two people from their neighborhood, claiming murder. A very compelling listen, I definitely recommend these two episodes. Another favorite is Episode 15, which is the story of Peter Keller. This one is just too bizarre to describe here, so you will have to listen to it.
True Crime Garage is the relatively new kid on the block. Hosted by long-time friends, Nic and “The Captain,” part of its charm is the mystique surrounding The Captain’s real name. Another weekly podcast, they just hit the 100 episode mark. However, if you want to go all the way pack, you have to go to the iTunes store – which you will want to do for their superior coverage of the West Memphis Three. Obviously, the episodes on the West Memphis Three are among my favorites, along with the four-part run about the Boys on the Tracks (another Arkansas mystery). Brandon Lawson, episodes 85 and 86, demonstrate the dedication these men have to their craft, as they manipulate the audio repeatedly in order to try to determine what Brandon’s last known words were.
It’s too hard for me to pick “favorites” among all the other podcasts that exist, but I will hit the high points of ones that I try to never miss. A lot of these are very new, but no less worthy of mention. These are in no particular order, except maybe the order which I started listening.
Casefile was actually the one that got me started. I was really listening to “paranormal” podcasts such as Lore, Astonishing Legends, and Unexplained, when for some reason, I clicked on Casefile. This is, hands down, one of the best offerings available in the world of true crime pods. The Australian host is “anonymous,” which like The Captain above, makes it a little mysterious in itself. Casefile does not cover just Aussie crimes, and in fact, one of the best ones they did was “Case 28: Lindsay Buziak” from Canada. A more recent favorite was “Case 50: Jennifer Pan.”
True Crime Fan Club is actually quite creepy. The reason is because the host has this very calm voice that is disconcerting against the backdrop of the horror she relates. The first episode she starts with was Albert Fish, who was a perfectly awful man. The host is genuinely nice as well.
And That’s Why We Drink is always at the top of my playlist. It’s a hybrid of true crime and paranormal, with nothing to connect the two – and that’s okay! These two ladies are hilarious and irreverent in the right places, but respectful of the victims and their families. They have a wonderful presence on Twitter as well. Go to episode: 10 – “Annabelle the Doll-y Parton Impersonator and the Tap Water Scammer.”
Wine and Crime is hosted by three friends, who get together (loosely) to discuss crime and drink wine. For the record, Amanda is one of my spirit animals and I’m working on an in-depth drinking game for their podcast. They do their shows around a theme, to include their wine. So far, I’m pretty sure I have learned more about wine than anywhere else, and I also am fast on my way to becoming a vegetarian. Along that line, episode recs: S1E9 – “Lucky Bastards.” Also, hit episode 12 – “Exorcisms Gone Wrong.” And wait for it – these ladies have somehow convinced Dr. Nandi to join their show, so that episode should be live soon. (I’m so excited!)
Canadian True Crime Podcast is really new, and the host Kristi is actually Australian. The first time I hit play, I looked at my phone in confusion, but it didn’t take long for me to settle in and really begin to enjoy the show. Go to episode: “Douglas Garland” which is just a terrible, terrible story, but one that Kristi tells extremely well.
UK True Crime Podcast is a British weekly podcast that has 23 episodes as of this writing. The narrator does not shy away from difficult subjects, but they are done tastefully and respectfully. A recent one that was very moving and almost difficult to hear was “Episode 20: A Deadly Obsession.”
They Walk Among Us is another British weekly podcast that’s been out for about four months. They do great work, and I enjoy listening. One of my favorites here was the story of John Darwin, Season 1, Episode 4.
Court Junkie is an informative look inside the American court system. I love how she goes in depth regarding the court cases themselves. Without a doubt, the best case for me was Episode 17 “Confronting Her Attacker – Christy Mack and War Machine.” This was such an emotional episode, but so well done.
Bone Palace Ballet really appeals to the academic in me. These ladies do such great research and they are so engaging. Go to episode here: the very first one. You MUST listen to this one, it’s so personal and explains, in part, why they are doing a true crime podcast.
Pajama Crimes is hosted by two cousins (and I swear I always think of that “Cousins, Identical cousins” theme song from the old Patti Duke show). Its still relatively new, but they did a really good job of promoting it before it ever hit the airwaves. They have a themed drink for each episode, and recently helped me with my own drink-related question. Episode I recommend “Let’s LARP the day away!”
36 Times is another Canadian podcast imbued with humor, hosted by two females. I love the premise (“did you know that the average person will pass a murderer 36 times in their lives?” I have really only just started listening to this one recently, but have gone through several of the backlog. However, I would recommend Episode 2: “The Richardson Family Murders.”
The Minds of Madness is another podcast I have only recently discovered, but I sure am glad I have! They are still a fairly new show as well, and his voice is the male version of True Crime Fan Club – just so calm. Go to episode here: Episode 6 “Rohinie Bisesar.”
Twisted Philly is another hybrid, not always a true crime, sometimes just other odd things about Philadelphia. I consider the host another spirit animal, because she is witty, snappy, funny, and tells a great story (I’m snappy, at least). I am still working on her back catalog, just because I am cautious about burning through them now. Recommendation though, Episode 6: “The Day I Drove Past a Crime Scene.” Very touching and very personal.
Felon is another Australian podcast that I have recently discovered. These episodes are interesting and intriguing. I think for me, being here in the South, there’s something about hearing a true crime story told by someone from Australia or the UK. Go to episode: S1E13 – “The Gonzales Family/The De Gruchy Family.” Chilling.
Okay, last and definitely not least, especially if you follow me on Twitter and see how often I tweet about these guys: Small Town Murder. Disclaimer: They are two COMEDIANS doing a true crime podcast, there are some jokes. They never joke about the victim and are always respectful of the victim. However, the small town and the perpetrator are fair game. I just enjoy the statistics they provide at the beginning of each episode, and appreciate how much work goes into just pinpointing the median cost of a house in a town of 1,000 in a small town in the south. Go to episode: any of them. Seriously, start at Episode 1 – “A Quadruple Murder in Mississippi.”
And, before I go, I’d like to plug my own podcast: Crime Girls Pod. It’s not “mine” alone – it’s an effort with my daughter, and the effort is mostly hers. We have two episodes available on iTunes currently. She’s doing all the editing and uploading, and is trying to get the shows on different platforms. It’d be great if you could give us a listen. We’re still trying to work out the audio kinks, so hopefully by the fourth episode (we recorded 2 and 3 together), we will have those ironed out.
Happy armchair sleuthing!