While I share Wil Williams‘ passion for highlighting indie podcasts, I’m new in town and feel a sample of what my core must-listens are (at the time of writing, these change every few months or so). Over the next ten days I’ll be sharing a mini-post per day highlighting one of my favorite mainstream podcasts.
There are few non-fiction podcasts good and tightly-edited enough to keep me so invested I regularly re-listen to old episodes. Criminal is so damn good I keep four or five personal favorites on my phone at all times just in case I want to listen to something. To call Criminal a true crime podcast feels almost dismissive in a way, given the format true crime has gravitated towards. This isn’t a couple of friends with a serial killer obsession dishing over Wikipedia articles, Criminal is, in the brilliant words of Vulture’s review:
A true crime podcast that understands crime as something sociological, historical, even anthropological — that crime is a function of people, time, and place.
Nicholas Quah – Vulture
If something is at least tangentially related to a crime and interesting as hell, host Phoebe Judge and her tight-knit crew are there to cover it. In addition to the occasional murder with an interesting twist Criminal also has and entire episode about Venus fly trap poachers, the true origin of “420”, and the first time anyone was prosecuted for “knowingly causing a catastrophe.”
That said, there is one episode in particular you must listen to: A Bump in the Night. If I ever do a “favorite podcast episodes” discussion sometime this episode will be right up at the top. It’s atypical of Criminal as it is more of a guided interview with judicious editing than the show’s usual NPR-style editing format. Just look at this episode description:
Amber Dawn was 20 when she moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Enumclaw, Washington. On her very first night, she began to notice strange sounds. And they didn’t stop.
The ending is absolutely chilling.
If Amber Dawn isn’t a familiar name, don’t look it up. Knowing anything about this story beforehand does it a disservice. Trust me, you’ll figure out what’s up a few minutes into the episode. That’s when the “what if this happened to me“ dread kicks in.
Find Criminal on iTunes, their website, or on Twitter.