True crime series and documentaries are truly having their moment in the spotlight. Netflix shows in particular have captured audiences and gripped them into the true crime genre. Everything from The Ted Bundy Tapes to Making a Murderer have increased the demand for more and more from the world of true crime. Luckily, there is another way to get your daily fix of criminality through the true crime podcast.
Podcasts can be very off-putting and seem uninteresting. They are frequently quite long, rambling discussions, often between men who may not know exactly what they are talking about. True crime podcast does not follow this format. They are audio documentaries broken down into 40 or 50 minute pieces and crafted in an interesting and engaging way. They grip the listener and tell the story of a murder or other crime in a way that other media simply cannot manage as effectively.
They are truly a work of investigative journalism more than anything else. Podcasts like The Teacher’s Pet and In the Dark delved deeper into their respective cases than any previous police officer, journalist or lawyer ever did. In the case of The Teacher’s Pet, a podcast investigating the sudden disappearance of Australian woman Lynette Dawson in 1982, further analysis was made by police after the podcast was made which lead to the arrest of Lynette’s husband Chris Dawson.
A lot of The Teacher’s Pet is told through phone conversations and letters from the time read out by voice actors. Although these could also be portrayed through television, it would be a lot more difficult to get every single person to agree to be on camera and the visuals would not be engaging enough for a true crime series because the incident happened so long ago.
Conversations are another huge aspect of the true crime podcast. They often feature discussions between reporters and editors covering the case. The journalists casually discuss the case and decide their next moves. This really involves the listener in a way that television or print never could.
These in-depth podcasts have been quietly making moves in the background for years with a core listener base but have in no way the same reach as the serial killer documentaries hitting the headlines every other week.
This is not to say that true crime TV series and documentaries should be replaced by podcasts. High profile cases such as those in the 2016 Amanda Knox documentary may suit television best due to the abundance of TV news footage available from the time. However, particularly for smaller cases that occurred many years ago, podcasts are the perfect medium.
Closer to home, West Cork drew listeners into Audible last year with its 13-episode podcast about the murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier. The unsolved murder from 1996 gripped audiences and the podcast featured countless interviews with locals who lived there at the time and people who were involved with the case. It is the perfect example of a stunning audio documentary split into podcast form and is a great stepping stone into the true crime podcast.
For fans of true crime, it’s time to get rid of the notion that podcasts are restricted to the pretentious. It is easy to knock them off in favour of Youtube or Spotify when stuck on public transport, but the true crime podcast is an excellent way to pass time and get a bite-sized dose of a gripping story without asking Netflix for help.
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