A live event from perhaps the most compelling true-crime podcast out there. Info/tix
In a sea of true-crime podcasts, Radiotopia's Criminal has consistently stood out for its determination to dig into the messy humanity and societal factors tangled up in what we think of as crime. On any given episode, host Phoebe Judge and co-creator Lauren Spohrer are less concerned with unpacking the grisly details of individual crimes and investigations, and more concerned with giving us an intimate view of the people wrapped up in it all. It's also, refreshingly, not a show where each episode is pinned to a particular case or transgression. Since 2014, Judge's gentle yet commandingly erudite voice has drawn us into deeper stories that offer myriad ways of looking at crime and its impact on society. One of my favorite episodes delved into the 80-year run of a St. Louis newspaper called The Evening Whirl, which is both a crime story and a compelling part of the story of the black press in America. A more recent episode, "The Tunnel," unpacked the horrific drowning of a group of convict laborers in North Carolina in 1882.
Judge and crew are currently taking Criminal on an extended tour, on which the show promises fresh stories and some surprise guests. Judge's patient, empathetic touch as an interviewer should translate well to the stage, and apparently the show's producers do some live mixing and manipulation at these events. Criminal also takes more care than most podcasts with its visuals, using original illustrations to round out the show's contemplative atmosphere, so it'll be interesting to see how that factors into this live event as well. —Scott Gordon