Hostage By Parcast Debuts 2-Part John McCain P.O.W. Special


Parcast has rapidly established themselves as a creative force and major player in the ever-expanding world of podcasting.  

One of the many things I appreciate about Parcast is that each show they put out has a similar style and brand, giving the entirety of their network a familiar feel stemming from their approach towards storytelling.

We all know by now that the true crime genre has essentially taken over the podcast-sphere with what feels like an infinitesimal amount of true crime shows. What makes the shows on Parcast unique is the network’s perfected proprietary blend, akin to Reeses melding peanut butter and chocolate, of professional narration coupled with the psychological, almost clinical, approach to covering the granular details of investigative sagas.

It is a creative formula that works tremendously for both entertaining and informing their listeners.

Parcast was founded in 2016 by Max Cutler and has not looked back. I stumbled across Unsolved Murders right around that time and I remember getting immersed in the “Axeman of New Orleans” episode. I appreciated the style of the dramatic voice reenactments, the pleasant approach of the narrator, and the eclectic take and review of each case.  

As Parcast has continued to crank out different podcast shows they have amassed a staggering 100 million plus downloads as a network in 2018. Their catalog is stacked with heavy hitters like Serial Killers, Conspiracy Theories, and Unexplained Mysteries. Their shows have also garnered acclaimed spots on the Apple Podcast charts with Cults having debuted at #1.

Hostage by Parcast

Parcast has parsed out many different aspects of the true crime and investigative genres and they are back at it again right now with their latest offering Hostage. Hostage is a weekly series that debuts episodes every Thursday.

The cool and comforting Carter Roy narrates Hostage and the studied co-host Irma Blanco interjects with the disturbing, yet wildly fascinating aspects of the relationship between the hostage and their captors.

They take a unique deep dive into the psychological dynamics of a hostage or kidnapping crisis, takeaways on how the survivors coped with the ordeal, and what we can learn from these cases, which are all packaged and delivered to the listener in a heightened, dramatic fashion.

Few podcasts out there take this kind of holistic approach between a story driven recounting that also honors the investigative aspects of the tale. It is this signature Parcast style that I keep referencing and praising that makes their latest offering, Hostage, another home run for the network.

The very first case they tackle on Hostage is the infamous Patty Hearst case. Patty Hearst is the granddaughter of the notorious media mogul William Randolph Hearst and was kidnapped by the 1960’s radical group the Symbionese Liberation Army.

In addition to the Patty Hearst saga, they tackle other nefarious cases such as The Dos Palmas Kidnappings, The Moscow Theatre Hostage Crisis, and The Somali Pirate Hijackings.

There is much more to chew on with these episodes besides the depravity of the hostage act itself, especially how so many psychological dynamics emerge between the victims and their captors. Hostage explores each unique case and pulls at all the threads of the tale.


John McCain P.O.W.

The most recent addition to the Hostage series also happens to be my favorite thus far, which is John McCain’s harrowing tale as a P.O.W. during the Vietnam war.  

The special two-part episode on the late Senator coincides with the 46-year anniversary of his release from capture. “Maverick”, as he became affectionately known, succumbed to being a prisoner of war as an air force pilot who was shot down over North Vietnam.

Episode #1

Parcast succinctly states on their show description:

“On October 26, 1967, young, audacious Naval Lieutenant John Sidney McCain III prepared for his 23rd mission over North Vietnam. This area was normally off-limits to fighter jets, but they had a mission to destroy a power plant in central Hanoi. Nobody thought the mission would result in McCain being held captive for close to 6 years.”

Hostage takes us through the daring mission, McCain’s plane being shot down, and the subsequent five years of being held by the North Vietnamese. McCain was badly injured from the plane crash and was routinely subjected to beatings, botched medical procedures, solitary confinement, and psychological abuse during his captivity.

I think many of us had a cursory awareness that McCain was a P.O.W. for an extended period of time and heard of some of the hardships he had encountered as a result but Hostage shines an extensive light onto McCain’s plight. They delve into granular detail with an exhausting accounting of the suffering he endured and the heroics he displayed during his capture.  

McCain had broken bones from his airplane crash, was regularly tortured and beaten by his captors, and was on his deathbed. Yet, somehow, he still managed to protect his fellow soldiers and serve as a prisoner with dignity all the while in horrific, unimaginable conditions. McCain put his military code first and foremost, far above his basic instincts of self-preservation, and was still able to survive with his honor fully intact.

Episode #2

Set to debut on Thursday, March 7th, Parcast sets the stage for us:

“After only a year in captivity, John McCain had lost all hope of ever returning home. Then, in 1968, a new commander took control of the prison, and asked McCain to teach him English. McCain used his proximity to power to manipulate his North Vietnamese captors into special privileges, and established a network of secret communication throughout the Hoa Loa prison.”

Do Subscribe

I must acknowledge that I started to get emotional during these episodes on McCain. I even felt anger and disgust arise through me as I contemplated how humanity can devolve during times of war.

Forget what your politics are, what you thought of the Vietnam War, or what you thought of John McCain the Senator. This is a universal tale of resolve and triumph that cuts far across political leanings.

If you are a true crime fan, a fan of history that’s “hardcore”, wink-wink, or just a fan of premium podcasts, Parcast’s Hostage is a must subscribe show on your feed. It is now added to mine. Enjoy!