A Review of Criminal (Podcast)

*I am currently working my way through my fifth and final semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This post is a rewrite of an assignment for INTE: 5680 Producing Media for Learning.

“There are several podcast directories available on the Internet. Feel free to do a search or go through the directories listed below and listen to some audio podcasts that interest you. Choose one, then describe it and explain what you like about it as well as how you would improve it.”

Podcast Name: Criminal

Podcast Homepage url: http://thisiscriminal.com

Brief Description: From Criminal’s website: “Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.”  In my own words: Criminal is a bi-weekly podcast that uses interviews, music, and unique storytelling techniques to explore real life criminal stories of all types – humorous, serious, strange, unbelievable, historical, scary, heartwarming (if there is such a thing!), etc.

What you liked about it?:
Each and every single episode that I’ve listened to has been incredibly intriguing, well-researched, and very creatively executed.  I’ve only listened to maybe a half dozen podcasts by this point and this one is my favorite by far.  Being more of a comedic or dramatic story lover, it’s actually quite surprising that I like this podcast as much as I do!  The stories are so interesting and surprising and not what most people would expect when they hear that the podcast is “about crime”.  For example, the most recent episode, The Editor, is about an incarcerated man who found mistakes in Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia.  He wrote a letter to the encyclopedia’s editor that then evolved into a very long and intricate friendship that changed both of their lives.

On the flip side, my favorite episode is actually a bit more dark and morbid!  It’s called Jolly Jane and it tells the story of an American serial killer from the late 1800s.  It’s not my favorite because of the story of the serial killer, but because of the interview with the librarian who has been researching Jane for the last decade.  This episode is a great example of how creative the interviews can get and I really appreciate and envy the host’s ability to talk to anyone about pretty much anything.  I also really appreciate the length of each episode…about 30 minutes or less, perfect for my 28 minute commute!

What you would do to improve it?: I’m honestly struggling to come up with how I would improve this podcast.  I learn something new with every episode I listen to (although everything I learn from a podcast like this one is quite strange – it’s still something new!) and the stories are so engrossing.  If I had to pick at least one thing though, I guess I could file a minor complaint about the music.  It truly does set the mood but I feel that some segments go on for too long.  Sometimes I find myself thinking,Okay I get it.  It’s eerie.  Start talking again please.  And then I check my back seat to make sure nothing scary is creeping up behind me.

Check out the Criminal website for a list of their podcasts and original artwork made for the podcast by Julienne Alexander.