Criminal is a podcast about crime. Stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle. The live version of the podcast opened the Hot Docs Podcast Festival.
Host Phoebe Judge and producer Lauren Spohrer took us on an auditory journey of quirky, bizarre and oddly hunourous stories related to real crimes. They completed 6 very interesting stories / episodes with a very captive audience.
Some of the stories shared with us included:
A story about The Evening Whirl of St Louis, Missouri — a weekly paper that has been in publication since the 1930s. It claims to be a ‘crime fighting’ paper hence pro-Police. The paper has been controversial since its inception. It was also one of the only papers to cover crimes on Black neighbourhoods; as well as hiring African American journalists. But its critics claim it exploits certain stereotypes of African Americans but its editor says otherwise. Criticism aside, The Whirl remains popular with the community; selling as comparably as The Post.
There was a brief story that was funny and memorable was the one about a former MTV VJ who got a call from a so-called IRS officer demanding he withdraw $4500 USD and deposit them into a given account to avoid arrest. At first he panicked. After some thought, he decided to play along with this scam. You’ll have to listen to that episode to see how it was resolved.
A bit gruesome, another very intriguing story was the one about Francisca Rojas; a woman from Argentina who is believed to be the first criminal found guilty through fingerprint evidence in the world. This story took place in 1892. It turns out that Francisca tried to simulate an attack by cutting her own throat, killing her two children, and then blaming the murders on a former boyfriend.
The fact they recorded and shared 6 stories in one evening was impressive. All stories were super interesting. They included visual aids, interviews with people involved in the stories, and even a criminal science expert. Phoebe Judge not only is very engaging; she has a very a soothing voice. I even overheard someone say, “I can listen to her forever”. I’d have to agree!
Excellenty researched, good sense of humour, and great flow in their storytelling really made this a memorable live event. Criminal has now found a new fan in yours truly.
*Image courtesy of Hot Docs Ted Rogers Cinema