I’m not the kind of person to casually dip my toe into something.
When I find something I enjoy, I tend to go overboard a bit, almost to the point of obsession. I go all in on something to the point that most of my life revolves around it until eventually I burn myself out on it and move onto the next thing. I think it’s the reason I became a journalist, because this job allows you to focus really intently on a topic for a period of time, and then you have to move onto the next thing.
My latest obsession is true crime, and mostly it comes in the form of podcasts.
This is not my first foray into finding entertainment in crime stories. There was once a time before I went to college where I thought becoming a detective was a possible career path. I read just about every Encyclopedia Brown, Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew book that was ever written.
Several years ago I also became hooked on the Serial podcast, which detailed the conviction of Adnan Syed in the murder of Hae Min Lee. I listened to the podcast religiously, episode to episode.
I then got hooked on Netflix’s Making a Murderer, and watched the first season of that series religiously.
But that was it. The second season of Serial wasn’t that good, and when Netflix brought out the second season of Making a Murderer, I couldn’t get through the first episode.
But lately I’ve been driving a lot. Generally I get a couple hours in the car each day, and since I’m by myself most of the time, I need to find a way to pass the time while I am in the car.
At first I subscribed to every news podcast I could find, from The Daily to NPR to ABC News to Vox. But with the impeachment of the president and all the stories around the upcoming Senate trial dominating the news cycle, I got tired of listening to it. So it was time to find something new.
Slate created a podcast a couple of years ago called Slow Burn. The original season focused on the story behind the near impeachment and resignation of President Richard Nixon, and was designed to look at his story in context with what was happening with President Trump. The second season focused on the impeachment of President Clinton.
Both seasons were excellent. But after that, I figured the series was over, because they were basically out of impeachments. I don’t think the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson would rate really high in the podcast world. But I stayed subscribed to the podcast anyway.
Last year I noticed that Slow Burn had new episodes. and when I looked into it further, I discovered that Slate had completely changed direction and was looking at the murders of rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. I’ve never been a rap fan, nor a fan of these two in particular, but it sounded interesting and the previous Slate podcasts had been good, so I decided to give it a go.
And thus started my new obsession. Not in the Tupac case — though I did watch a ton of videos and read a ton of articles on it — but on true crime in general. And once I ran out of episodes, it was time to find a new podcast, so I searched for true crime.
And that’s where I stumbled across the Crime Junkie Podcast, which has been my obsession for the last couple of months. Each week, these two girls from Indiana break down another murder, missing person, mysterious death or missing person case. And I can’t stop listening. The podcast had been airing each week since 2017, and I have since binged them all to the point that I only have a couple new episodes left. Then I’ll have to wait for each new episode every week like a heathen.
Slow Burn and the Crime Junkie Podcast have both renewed my interest in true crime. However, listening to more than 100 episodes about murders and disappearances in a period of a month can make you a little paranoid. I’m now suspicious of everyone and everything. When I take my dog out for a walk late at night, I’m wondering who is lurking in the shadows. I can’t let my 7-year-old boys out of my sight in public.
It also has likely made my internet search history slightly more suspicious than it used to be.
I don’t know what the obsession is, why I’m so interested, but based on the true crime shows and podcasts out there, it seems it’s not something that just affects me. Maybe it’s the mystery of it all, or the complete inability to understand how someone can do something like that to another human being. I don’t know. It’s not like I enjoy hearing about these crimes. It’s more like I just can’t stop hearing about them.
Most importantly though, maybe it’s my career as a journalist that helps me understand that these stories need to be told, and the fact that they are popular means more people will watch and listen and it might help more of these unsolved crimes be solved. Crime isn’t like in the movies, where a murder can be solved in the course of an hour-long episode with commercials. In reality, it’s a lot harder to solve a case, and many go unsolved for years or even forever.
So if you’re like me and looking for your true crime fix, I recommend the third season of Slow Burn and the Crime Junkie Podcast. And if you’ve got any recommendations, I’ll take them. Because by Monday I’ll be out of episodes.
Eric Young is the editor of the Huron Daily Tribune. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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