Criminal is another podcast I binge listened to, on a Greyhound from Chicago to Minneapolis. The show, which is a member of Radiotopia and hosted by Phoebe Judge, explores real-life crimes in bite-sized episodes—25 minutes at most. The crimes range from plant-stealing to murder, though on the whole they are not so gruesome. As I’ve mentioned before, brief episodes can be hard for me, both because they’re too short for my commute, and because as soon as I get emotionally attached, they’re over. For this reason, I prefer to go a few weeks without listening to Criminal and then listen to several episodes in a row. Each episode explores a single crime or a single person, often interviewing the perpetrator or victim. Though the show’s subject is crime, its approach feels a little santized—like crime TV. For easy listening, that’s not such a bad thing, but hearing from those involved is always my favorite part as the dialogue is most authentic. My main issue with Criminal is the narrator voice. I’m not only referring to Judge’s voice, though that’s part of it. (Criticizing a host’s voice feels like a cheap shot, but I’m not a fan of voices that sound overly radioified—sanitized, non-conversational, The “NPR voice”—and Criminal is definitely guilty of that (pun intended).) The structure itself is less adventurous than some other other podcasts, which is, I think, what keeps it a back burner podcast for me. But I’m a sucker for crime shows, and the stories are interesting, so I always come back.

If you have a favorite podcast I haven’t mentioned yet or host/produce a podcast of your own, leave a comment below. I’m always looking for new shows to listen to, and as an added bonus I rate and review every podcast I write about here on iTunes.

Style: Narrative

If You Like: Serial, 99% Invisible, This American Life, Reply All

Favorite Episode: Episode 20, “Gil from London”


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