True Crime Podcasts
The Explosive Genre
True crime is as much an American pastime as baseball and apple pie, thanks to the 2014 hit podcast Serial. But a lot has changed since then. In five short years, the true crime genre has exploded to include a huge variety of podcasts, ranging from narrative pieces like Serial to “murder comedies.”
What makes murder so fascinating for so many people? Maybe it is facing the limits of human cruelty, or the deliciously morbid details, or a failing justice system that gets your blood going. But what can not be denied is that true crime is thriving and here to stay.
The genre is dominating the podcast charts with no signs of stopping anytime soon. Today, we are living in the golden age of true crime because there are literally hundreds of new podcasts to choose from.
If you are looking for a new podcast show that is dark, compelling or just plain entertaining we got you covered.
Here are the 5 Best New True Crime Podcasts For You:
1. The Clearing
“The Clearing is a show about crime, and the trauma that can result from crime,” recites journalist and host John Dean at the start of each episode. Currently one of the top true crime podcasts on iTunes, The Clearing from Pineapple Street and Gimlet Media demystifies the story of one of America’s most prolific serial killers, Edward Wayne Edwards.
If the name sounds new to you, you are not alone. Most of what we know about Edwards’ murderous, secret life has come out after his 2011 death, and The Clearing lays it all out there with the help of Edwards’ own daughter, April Balascio.
Balascio famously called in the tip that led to Edwards’ arrest in 2009. However, she has kept her memories to herself until recently, when the caricaturing of her father finally compelled her to tell her story. For internet sleuths, Edwards’ background is irresistible to pick apart and analyze, and that has led to some wild theories tying him to a number of famous cold cases.
Edwards is accused of being responsible for the Zodiac killings, the death of JonBenet Ramsey, and even Teresa Halbach, the victim at the center of Netflix’s Making a Murderer. According to Balascio, those accusations are “bulls**t.” But that does not mean her father is innocent. In The Clearing, she shares her own theories about Edwards’ murders...including his possible role in an unsolved case, which is covered in episode 5.
The show follows a narrative format. Dean narrates the majority of the show, interjecting his thoughts into the story as he and Balascio investigate Edwards' past together. With the help of clips from radio shows, police interviews, and Edwards’ own audio journal, the host meticulously builds a greater picture of Ed Edwards beyond the cartoon-like figure that he has become.
Most of these clips are from the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, so the audio quality is relatively poor. Those who can get past it will still find a rewarding, gripping story to scratch their true crime itch, making this one of the best new true crime podcasts of 2019.
2. Root of Evil
The full title of this podcast is Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and the Black Dahlia. How can anyone resist a show with a title like that? This new podcast is hosted by sisters Yvette Gentile and Rasha Pecoraro. Their mother, Fauna Hodel, embarked on a journey to find her birth family, only to discover that they may hold the secret to one of America’s most infamous and gruesome crimes.
Root of Evil is the companion podcast to the TNT show I Am the Night, starring India Eisley as Fauna Hodel. In the television show, Fauna discovers that she was adopted. With the help of journalist Jay Singletary (Chris Pine), she follows a trail of clues to discover that she is the granddaughter of George Hodel, one of the prime suspects in the Black Dahlia murder case.
While the show is dramatized, the Root of Evil podcast is not. George Hodel passed in 1999, leaving behind a tangled legacy for his great-grandchildren. Because of this, Root of Evil is not a podcast about the murder itself, but a study on the disturbed, powerful man who may have committed it.
In this podcast, the hosts interview the remaining Hodels, including Fauna’s birth mother, to make sense of Fauna’s origins and why she was given away. Incredibly, her family’s role in the Black Dahlia case is just part of the story.
This podcast explores many universal human themes like the idea of nature vs. nurture, overcoming generational trauma, and even racial identity. What sets it apart is the fact that the hosts are personally connected to the case through their mother, which is rare and refreshing for a true crime podcast.
Sensitive listeners might want to avoid this podcast, especially if they are offended by child abuse, neglect, sexual assault, and gore. It is a disturbing podcast because it based on a disturbing story that begs the question, “Is it possible to be born evil?” In short, you may think you know the Black Dahlia case until you listen to this podcast.
In Culpable, investigative reporter Dennis Cooper dives into the 2014 death of Christian Andreacchio, which was ruled a suicide after a 45-minute investigation by police. However, Christian’s family believes he was murdered, and listening to the podcast might convince you of the same.
The show opens with testimonies from Christian’s family and friends, who remember him as funny, generous, happy...and someone who would never die by suicide. While this might strike you as a grieving family in denial, the Andreacchios and Dennis Cooper present evidence that suggests there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Christian was found with a single gunshot wound to the head with the gun in his non-dominant hand, without the presence of gunshot residue. Sound fishy yet? There is more. An indifferent police force, small-town politics, and a cheating girlfriend are some of the factors that contributed to the mishandling of this case, and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
At 12 episodes and counting, Cooper continues to find more information about the circumstances surrounding Christian’s death, and listeners can follow along in real-time. With a new episode each week, Culpable is currently ongoing, and you will not want to miss how the story ends.
The theme of culpability is at the heart of this podcast. Just before his death, Christian had made some new, suspicious friends. His girlfriend was cheating on him. Police mishandled the investigation into his death. So it is not only a question of whether or not Christian died by suicide but who is at fault for his death?
His family has kept every scrap of evidence in the hope of discovering the truth, but their motivation is also questioned. Obviously, it is a very complicated case built around a tragic event.
This case has a number of moving parts, such as mismatched witness testimonies and unusual forensics, that makes it slightly confusing. However, the podcast episodes are organized in a logical way. This makes it easy to follow along as a listener.
The pacing of the story is slow as a consequence, and certain episodes seem unnecessarily long-winded. But overall, Culpable provides an absorbing story that explores who should bear the most responsibility when a tragedy occurs.
4. I Said God Damn!
For fans who like their murders with a side of comedy, I Said God Damn! is a sassy, fast-talking true crime podcast that recounts famous cases in a digestible format. BFFs and podcast hosts Stacy and Erin take turns telling each other their favorite murder stories, with two stories per episode.
They provide a fresh perspective on old favorites like the murder of Travis Alexander and the BLT killer, along with some obscure cases that I have never heard of, such as the story of the “Tourist from Hell,” and the suspicious death of Charles Morgan, a Tucson man with possible mob ties.
While well-researched, ISGD is not a journalistic or investigative show. Hardcore true crime fans might be disappointed by the lack of details or new information in some familiar cases. There is also occasional, off-topic chitchat that gets in the way of the story.
The overall tone is lighthearted and casual, resulting in an experience, not unlike a conversation between two close friends. Because of this, ISGD is perfect for easy listening, true crime newbies, and fans of cussing and day drinking (the show has plenty of both).
Another true crime comedy podcast, Sinisterhood is hosted by millennials Christie Wallace and Heather McKinney. Like ISGD, this show follows a conversational format. However, the subject matter is open to true crime as well as cults, supernatural phenomenon, and conspiracy theories.
The show seems to focus especially on cases that have received a lot of media attention, like the Menendez brothers and Amanda Knox, both old and famous cases. The recent episode on the Canadian road trip murders is ripped from current headlines, so there is plenty of newer content as well.
Based in Dallas, the show is delivered with spice, volume, and passion, and each of the hosts has a personality as big as the state of Texas. The show is surprisingly scripted, especially the parts that cover the details of the case. Both hosts have a distinct "reading voice" that makes it obvious when they are reading from a script. It is slightly annoying but easy to get over once you get into the story.
With less than 70 episodes, Sinisterhood is barely getting started. Once the hosts refine their show's format and become more seasoned broadcasters, this popular show will enjoy a position among the top true crime podcasts.
True Crime Podcast In 2019
Today's podcasts offer a variety for every taste, from immersive storytelling like Root of Evil and Culpable to humorous, laugh-out-loud shows like Sinisterhood. The legion of bloodthirsty true crime fans means there's a seemingly endless stream of content. Who knows why podcasting is the perfect medium for true crime? All I know is that I'm totally here for it.
The older I get, the scarier the world becomes. You would think that it would turn me away from stories of crime and murder, but I only want more. Can you relate? In your opinion, what is your best new true crime podcast of 2019?