True Crime Podcasts
Monster Presents: Insomniac is a brand new podcast offering stemming from the explosive genre of true crime. Brought to us by iHeartRadio, Insomniac is not just a straight forward investigative format or a narration of past crimes. There is a unique twist in the presentation of Insomniac and it may be just as bone-chilling as any recounting of a harrowing, murderous tale.
While Insomniac certainly delivers the goods on spotlighting and dramatizing notorious true crimes from the past, the host Scott Benjamin is using the platform of Insomniac to bare his soul in the hopes of shedding some of his own personal demons.
Scott Benjamin is obsessed with true crime. He is constantly immersed in graphic true crime content. He has uncontrollable urges to stare listlessly at crime scene photos for hours on end. His compulsions towards the true crime genre are far beyond a hobby or passion at this point and the diminishing returns from his investment of time into true crime are beginning to take a toll on his personal life.
Benjamin is incapable of sleeping at night. He lays awake for hours on end and if and when he finally does drift off to sleep it is into a torturous state that is ravaged by nightmares. Benjamin has vivid and detailed dreams of he himself committing horrific acts. He confesses during the podcast that the details of his nightmares are so stark and so ingrained in his psyche that he often spends the immediate waking hours trying to decipher if the events from his nightmares had actually just occurred.
Is Scott Benjamin For Real?
I cannot decide in my mind if Benjamin is truly this inflicted emotionally from an obsession over the true crime genre or if this is just a creative, artistic twist to enhance Insomniac as an even more intriguing listen for the audience.
Either way, it works for the atmosphere of Insomniac making it a more darker and personal production. Unfortunately for Benjamin’s sake, though, I think the guy is truly attempting to be vulnerable with the hopes of restoring normalcy in his life, through the vehicle of artistic expression.
The part of the podcast that solidified my belief that Benjamin was being serious in the divulgence of his own personal demons was some home audio recordings that Benjamin played during one of the earlier episodes.
It was Benjamin recording himself during a bout of insomnia and then again shortly after a workday had ended. Benjamin was clearly in desperate emotional states over his inability to sleep at night and the subsequent toll it was taking on his day job.
Those recordings seemed authentic, lacked any sort of dramatization, and were without any affected tonality or speech patterns attempting to play the role of a distressed individual. It felt like it was just Benjamin being distraught for no intended audience at the time.
Scott Benjamins Introduction To True Crime
Scott Benjamin credits his interest in true crime to his father. Benjamin details how his father was engrossed in the true crime genre and was constantly reading true crime books, which his mother dubbed as his “murder books”.
Through the modeling of his father in their home, Benjamin himself grew a rabid obsession with all things true crime.
The Emotional Toll From True Crime Content
What amounts to spending “too much time” reading, viewing, and listening to true crime content? What is the net result of spending countless hours immersed in storylines draped with gore and horror or getting lost in the thought patterns or horrific murderers?
I would imagine like most things in life the answers to the questions posed above are varying and specific to the circumstances of individuals. For Scott Benjamin, if his professed pangs of despair are genuine and not at all being trumped up for the sake of creating art through the vehicle of the podcast Insomniac, then what is the ultimate toll he is bringing about for himself?
Can he truly shed the emotional damage, the correlating bouts of sleeplessness, and the horrific nightmares by doubling down on his commitment to and time spent amongst true crime stories?
The I-70 Strangler
The first story that Insomniac takes on is a heavyweight of horrors that became known as the I-70 Strangler. Scott Benjamin dutifully details how a seemingly upright citizen, family man, and thriving local businessman could be leading a secret double life filled with psychopathic behavior and unthinkable acts of violence and murder.
Herb Baumeister lived a double life. By day he was a husband, father, and businessman, and by night he was a deviant, manipulative killer. Episodes 1+2: The I-70 Strangler.— Monster Presents: Insomniac (@InsomniacPod) July 12, 2019
-#trurecrime #podcast #serialkiller #herbbaumeister foxhollowfarm pic.twitter.com/bIvgO3AoD3
It is the perfect story to kick off the series and indoctrinate the listeners into the type of depraved acts that Insomniac intends to recount with painstaking background, context, and detail. Herb Baumeister, the I-70 strangler himself, is a nightmarish figure that far exceeds any ghastly image that Hollywood could ever conjure up. The thought of this type of individual living amongst an everyday community is all too much to bear.
Victims were being found along I-70 in Indiana and Ohio for several years, all strangled and connected to the gay community. The killer somehow eluded everyone, including his family for years. Episodes 1+2: The I-70 Strangler.#serialkillers #podcast #truecrime #foxhollowfarm pic.twitter.com/7lPohgbCdg— Monster Presents: Insomniac (@InsomniacPod) July 6, 2019
A Conflicted Listener
I am torn in my listening to Insomniac. For a podcast to stir so many emotions inside of me and to make me feel conflicted in even listening are all clear indicators of a brilliant piece of art. But what is the cost here for both our troubled host Scott Benjamin and ultimately ourselves as the listeners as well?
Are we compounding and contributing to the emotional demise of a wayward soul in our host and narrator Scott Benjamin? Are we exposing ourselves to possible self-inflicted trauma by continuing to swim in the true crime waters that Benjamin is so clearly serving as a warning sign against?
I do believe the true crime genre serves a purpose. I do believe there is something to gain from true crime content and that true crime podcasts are not just about cheap thrills through shock and horror.
There are real monsters amongst us in our community and we need to face these certain truths with our eyes wide open. In stating such, I also do not want to discount or naively downplay the artistic elements of being entertained that are clearly at play as well in most true crime shows.
For the first time, however, I am truly torn about the net benefit of a show for both the creator and the listener. One thing is certain, though, I will continue to be drawn and compelled to listen to Insomniac.
What do you think of the host Scott Benjamin’s professed troubles relating to his obsession with true crime? Leave a comment. We want to hear from you.