The Podcast Explosion
The true crime genre for podcasts has hit the internet like a storm. This new wave of gripping productions seems to be serving a morbid curiosity that is encoded deep in the DNA of human beings.
Society has always had an interest in the macabre. Whether it is Dateline, 20/20, Cops, or even Dr. Phil in certain moments, true crime has always had major traction on television and through other media like books and films.
There is an entire television network dedicated to the genre, so this recent explosion in podcast shows makes total sense. The long-form audio format of a podcast allows the listener to not only get lost in the depth of the story but to also become privy to real audio clips from 911 calls and actual confessions recorded by the police.
If you are already a fan of true crime or if you are looking to get indoctrinated into this thrilling new wave of investigative entertainment, we have compiled the ultimate true crime feature for you.
Here are The 13 Best True Crime Podcasts:
This is the podcast show that is “proving that the worst monsters are very real.” Creator Mike Boudet masterfully produces the best true crime podcast out there to date. Boudet artfully uses real audio clips from 911 tapes, police confessions, and news sources to tell the tales from some of the most horrifying crimes our society has endured.
Boudet narrates and gives his commentary from time to time but as a great documentarian does, he allows the interviews to do the bulk of the storytelling. This show is not for the faint of heart. If you are sensitive to explicit content involving murder and violence you may want to skip this show.
From Gimlet Media and the creators of the HBO’s series The Jinx, Zac Stuart Pontier and Marc Smerling dive deep into the underworld of Providence Rhode Island and its notorious mayor Buddy Cianci.
Crimetown gets interviews from real wise guys for a “tell it like it is” account of organized crime. Pontier and Smerling take their brilliance as television documentarians and transform their high-quality storytelling into the audio format. Stay tuned for season 2, coming soon, along with a pending announcement on the next city they will be featuring.
Nic & the Captain get in the garage and talk true crime and drink beer. Just a bunch of bros who happen to be true crime enthusiast giving their takes on notorious high-profile crimes each week. The key for the listener here, though, is that Nic & The Captain are well prepared, informed, and give thoughtful opinions presented in an entertaining fashion. While Nic presents the story in a stoic manner, The Captain interjects with his well-timed and witty commentary.
From the Parcast Network hosted by Greg Polcyn & Vanessa Richardson, Serial Killers takes a deep dive into the minds, methods, and madness of the world’s most notorious serial killers. The Parcast stuff is always well produced and presented in a cohesive fashion. The Serial Killers podcast combines actual recordings along with voice actors to give the listener a fascinating psychological perspective on some of the most depraved minds in human history.
Parcast and Greg and Vanessa do it again with Cults. From Charles Manson to Scientology, people find it hard to fathom how others get swept away into a cult.
Cults takes a closer look at what goes on in the minds of people who join cults and the leaders who start them. As the 25th anniversary of the Waco tragedy approaches, Cults and the "Branch Davidian" episodes are very salient today.
Join former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, criminal behavioral analyst Laura Richards, and casting director of the CBS series Criminal Minds, Lisa Zambetti, as they profile real behavior from actual criminal cases.
Typically, they expound upon some of the hottest true crime television series such as Making a Murderer and Mindhunters and give their takes based on their experiences and expertise. If you are a fan of any of the shows they talk about, this podcast is a great way to supplement and enhance your favorite television viewing.
As you can tell, I am a huge fan of what Parcast is doing. Hosted by Carter Roy and Wenndy Mackenzie, Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories uses voice actors to recreate and delve into the mystery of notorious cold cases and unsolved murders.
Breakdown is brought to you by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, hosted and narrated by editor in chief Kevin Riley. Breakdown takes a different look at fascinating murder cases.
One case takes us into the murder of Cooper Harris, the 22 month-old boy who was left in the car all afternoon in the sweltering 100-degree summer heat of Atlanta. All the while, his father Ross Harris was a 100 feet away in his office sexting with women who were not his wife. Was this a tragic accident or a calculated and cold-blooded murder?
Criminal is one of many cutting-edge podcasts from Radiotopia. While most true crime podcasts take a straightforward approach to their storytelling, the Criminal podcast gives the listener a unique perspective on the many elements surrounding crime.
There is a layering of people affected by crime in our society and Criminal gives us the multidimensional perspective of the victims, the bystanders caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the complexity of the characters who perpetrate crimes. Crime is not just a black and white phenomenon and the Criminal podcast goes deep in the gray.
The Black Dahlia case is one of most notorious unsolved murder cases that persists in hearts and minds of true crime genre enthusiasts. Presented by Wondery, Hollywood & Crime takes us back to Los Angeles in 1947, using voice actors and narration by Tracy Patton, in an attempt to find out who killed Elizabeth Short.
The podcast takes us through an almost chronological account from the perspective of investigative police officers. Follow along where each lead takes you in a storytelling fashion similar to the hit television show Law and Order.
The Wondery podcast team is back with another gripping limited-run podcast series which is a hard-hitting, investigative look at the rise and shocking fall of NFL star Aaron Hernandez from the New England Patriots.
The Boston Globe spotlight team, known for their investigation into the Catholic Priest abuse scandal, head up the investigation and look long at hard at football as a whole and the looming crisis surrounding traumatic brain injuries.
12. Monstruo (Dark Topic and The Westside Fairytales)
I know there are three podcasts mentioned here, but I think it is fitting to mention these shows in a package deal. Produced by Mike Boudet from Sword & Scale, Monstruo features the dark and twisted minds of Jack Luna from Dark Topic and Tyler Bell from The Westside Fairytales.
Monstruo takes some of the most perverse and deviant killers in the history of criminality and produces a podcast from a first, second, and third-person perspective in a prose style that is tailor-made for the true crime obsessed.
This show has come under much criticism for being “murder porn” but in my opinion, it gives us a rare glimpse into the psyche of the most deranged beings that live amongst us. It could even be argued that this stark examination of depravity gives us a better understanding of how some of these horrors happen and hopefully how they could be avoided in the future.
From the creators of Up and Vanished and Atlanta Monster comes Monster Presents: Insomniac. Insomniac takes us into the world of a true crime obsessed man, Scott Benjamin, whose fascination with the genre is causing him to have disturbing dreams and severe bouts of sleep deprivation.
Benjamin is compelled to tell some of the tales of the many cases he has followed in the past almost as a therapeutic means to help him cope with his compromised emotional states. He displays his knowledge through incredible accounts of some of the most prolific serial killers in recent history. However, is this “insomniac” merely a guy who can not sleep and suffers from nightmares or is he a person with a guilty conscience and darker secrets that he is slowly divulging through this podcast platform?
Are you a fan of the true crime genre? What is your favorite show at the moment? Please leave a comment.
For any history buffs out there be sure to check out our 11 Best History Podcasts feature.