Texas Podcast Round Up

The next post in The Hunting Grounds will be up later this week, but in the meantime, I wanted to share what keeps me going during my long commute. I haven’t reviewed a podcast in a while because life is busy and it’s messy and it’s summer in Texas. Summer means BBQ, lemonade, and tubing down the river. It also means lots of time sitting in the air conditioning listening to podcasts. So for this Monday, I want to shout out my top five favorite members of the Texas True Crime Posse.

ACNCI reviewed this podcast way back when they were shiny and new. Since then they have rapidly grown to dominate the Texas podcast scene, but in a good way. Husband and wife team Shea and Erin present cases in a conversational manner that still manages not to lose the narrative thread. Check out episode 22 which features an interview with yours truly. Extra thanks to Shea for working sound magic with my squeaky voice.

 

Gone ColdIf you love a serious deep dive, this is the podcast for you. Also produced by a husband and wife team, Vince and Erica have crafted a single narrator podcast that stands out for the depth of their research and sensitive interviews with family and friends of victims. I reviewed them here last November. They’ve been on a hiatus, but are about to drop new episodes which makes this the perfect time to binge their list.

 

Texas 10 31

Texas 10-31 is the Houston PD code for a crime in progress. Texans Hannah and Cassie host a very conversational podcast mostly focused on the Houston area, but they move freely about the state when they feel like it. Because they cover two cases per episode, that’s a lot of territory. What they bring to the table is an unmatched level of passion for their topic. I reviewed them here and they returned the favor in a special minisode on March 14th.

Lone StarThis podcast is still in single digits, but host Krista has already made her mark on the podcast scene. She does an exceptional job of explaining what the law is and how the system works due in no small part to her career as an investigator. This podcast includes interviews  placed seamlessly into the narrative. I highly recommend 10-4 Little Lady for an episode that will punch you in the gut. I haven’t reviewed this podcast yet, but you can be sure I’ll correct that soon.

Murder City

New kid on the block is Murder City, True Crime of Houston. The hosts offer a glimpse of the diverse communities that make up the fourth largest city in the nation. This is a dual host with a conversational style. I’m looking forward to seeing where this podcast goes and I will definitely review them when they get a few more episodes under their belt.

 

BONUS! I said I was giving you a top five, but this is Texas and we always do things bigger.

tx files

The above podcasts are all dedicated to true crime. Tx Files covers everything from crime to ghost stories, weird history, and aliens. Hosted by two men named Michael, this humorous podcast is a wild, weird ride. Definitely worth a listen as are all the podcasts on this list.

 

 

 

 

 

The Cult of Domesticity: A Podcast Review

icon_domesticAccording to Wikipedia, “The culture of domesticity (often shortened to “cult of domesticity”) or cult of true womanhood was a prevailing value system among the upper and middle classes during the nineteenth century in the United States and Great Britain. This value system emphasized new ideas of femininity, the woman’s role within the home and the dynamics of work and family.”

 

But also? The Cult of Domesticity is a super fun podcast. From their Facebook page,

“Two best friends, one podcast. Join us as we share discussions from 725 miles apart. Not an actual call-your-dad cult. Ashley and Courtney take turns telling each other true crime, history, or current events stories. However Ashley is in New Hampshire and Courtney is in Ohio. Check out our social media for the recipe of the week and additional information on our topics! We are on Itunes, Soundcloud, Google Play, Podbean, and Chorus.”

I first became aware of this podcast via Instagram where they are very active (@thecultofdomesticity) and decided to give it a try. I was instantly hooked. After true crime, history is my jam. This is a conversational podcast where the two hosts, Ashley and Courtney tell each other a story, just like the description says. It’s informal and chatty, definitely in the banter category. My one complaint with so many of these style podcasts is that they are culturally unaware. By that I mean that they don’t recognize history and literary references. They don’t recognize movie or television references older than ten years. It’s limiting. Not these ladies. Although they are young, they are still very aware of the world at large, particularly history. It’s like you put Wine and Crime and Stuff You Missed in History Class in a big blender with dash of the Food Network and it works.

There are occasional tech issues. Sometimes  you get funky noises from the microphones but not so much as to put me off. I’m not one to sneer about production values. There is some awkward laughing and inside jokes, all of which lend to the charm. Simply put, the hosts are engaging. Their lengthy friendship is comfortable to hear and soon you feel like you’re part of the club.

You don’t have to start at the first, although the first episode. I jumped around as I binged earlier episodes and I didn’t find it disconcerting at all.

Ashley and Courtney were gracious enough to answer some interview questions for me.

Tell me how y’all named your podcast. When I first saw “Cult of Domesticity” I expected something more along the line of knitting or cooking, not crime and history.

Courtney: We actually called our dorm room the Cult of Domesticity as a joke. Ashley and I both enjoy cooking, baking, crafting, and all the domestic arts but that part of our friendship was folded into watching true crime documentaries, paranormal shows, and me telling Ashley about the weird history I had read about. So I think we are challenging the perception of domesticity where yes we can still do everything a 1950s house wife did but we choose to do it while watching dateline or a documentary.

Ashley: Also, it was something our mutual friends could identify with us pretty quickly, and they were the original target audience, because we are so awkward with people we don’t know.

I’d love to know about your process. How do you decided what topic to cover and how do you divide up the work?

Courtney: The topic process is easier for us to divide up because we tend not to tell each other what we are discussing, so the response is genuine. Personally, I have a giant spreadsheet divided into several topics so I won’t go down into a serial killer black hole or bore everyone with my abstract historical loves.

Ashley: I really like that Courtney is so organized with the spreadsheets and whatnot, because I do not usually operate that way. But it does help to keep us from focusing on any one thing too long, especially since we do tend to cover darker topics and that can be hard to listen to for weeks on end, let alone to research constantly.

Courtney: Dividing up the work has changed as we go along in the process. Initially, Ashley did all the editing which was a god send to me because I hate the sound of my voice. We have come up with a system where we edit our own episodes and if someone cannot edit that week then it is no difficulty for the other to do it. I tend to be the person posting on our social media and responding to emails right now because I have more time. However Ashley does all our amazing Instagram art and designed our logo.

What’s the most surprising thing you’ve learned as a podcaster?

Ashley: I learned that I sniffle SO MUCH! Also, that podcasting is a lot more time-consuming than I originally thought it would be. But the community we’ve found, especially on Twitter, is so amazing, and it’s nice to have people who started around the same time we did to compare notes with.

Courtney: I love how supportive the podcasting community is. They have definitely helped us learn how to improve and grow our own podcast. Additionally, I have learned all of my vocal ticks and how allergic to my cats I am editing them out.

Tell me a little about yourselves away from podcasting.

Courtney: I just graduated with my masters in history where I studied the eighteenth-century British Empire. This is basically why I am the long winded one! So I am currently job hunting. When I am not podcasting or job hunting, I am often crafting, baking, or taking care of the many animals in my house. My favorite type of craft right now is knitting but I am learning to quilt and make candles.

Ashley: I always feel like I’m such a boring person now, because it feels like all I do is work. I finished my associate’s degree in paralegal studies last year, and the day after graduation I moved halfway across the country. Now I’m working in a pharmacy and it’s a huge difference but in a good way! When I’m not at work or doing podcast stuff, I’m either sleeping or reading. So there’s that.

Finally, which episode is your favorite and why?

Ashley: My favorite episode so far is probably Episode 7, our Halloween episode about the Salem Witch Trials. It’s a topic I’ve always been interested in, and the episode has a special place in my heart. There’s so much more I wish I had thought to include in that episode though, and so much more still to learn about what really happened. Also, Courtney’s reactions to my telling of the story make me laugh every time I think of them.

Courtney: Episode 16, the Kirtland Cult Murders, or Episode 20, Snake in the Bed, because they were interesting for very different reasons. The Kirtland cult murders has such a personal connection to me because I live ten minutes from the site and it impacted so many around me. Of course after we recorded my mom informed me that she went to school with the property owner’s daughter… things you wish you knew growing up. As for snake in the bed, I love the amazing story of Alexander the Great but Ashley and I had so much fun laughing over the ridiculous nature of his life.

So if you’re like me and love all things crime, history, and culinary, this podcast is definitely for you.

Cowtown Crime Verdict: A delicious treat

 

True Crime Story Time: A Review

I have a marked fondness for podcasts that don’t tell me stories I already know and lately I’ve been binging on non-American podcasts like this gem from down under. I haven’t known any of the crimes they have presented. . They don’t have a website, but they do have previous experience. Casey and Samantha previously hosted Just Another Murder Podcast which had a completely different format that was more humorous.

True Crime Story Time plays it straight. Unlike most podcasts with dual hosts, there is no banter. It’s a scripted show, but where this podcast shines is in the rich detail and exceptional narrative. They really do their research and both women have a gift for storytelling. They may be serious, but they aren’t boring. They trade off on the script, going back and forth without break. Because they are pros, the production quality is top notch.

Although the themes are mature, there is no strong language and I love the accents which help remind me that I’m not in Texas anymore. There is no padding which keeps the podcasts down around the thirty minute mark which is perfect for a lunch hour listen.

In particular, Darcey’s Story, Bonus Episode 3 really got to me. The story was horrifying and compelling. I might have cried a little and I am not a crier unless there is a dog involved, but that one really got me.

So, if you like serious, scripted true crime like Casefile or Minds of Madness, this is a great, shorter-length podcast.

Cowtown Crime Verdict: The perfect lunchtime bite

I Got the Hell Out: A Podcast Review

First, Happy Valentines Day. Nothing says love like an Old Testament, Polygamist, Doomsday Cult, right?

From their website:

I spent 10 years in an Old Testament, Polygamist, Dooms Day Cult. If you want to learn more about the time I spent there, listen to the damn podcast! It was one hell of a ride and I soooooo look forward to telling all the grizzly details! Jump onboard, I promise you won’t be disappointed!!!!

That’s how Debby, one of the main hosts of “I Got the Hell Out” introduces herself and she does not lie. If you’re as fascinated with cults as I am, you won’t be disappointed at all. Her co-host is Laura. By day, Laura is a pharmacist, and by night, she’s a badass interviewer.

Laura leads Debby through aspects of her life in a doomsday cult. The unnamed cult is intriguing as the leader gradually twists recognizable fundamentalism into something more bizarre and oppressive. I learned about this podcast via Instagram before the first episode dropped and was immediately interested in the insider perspective of a cult.

Debby is flat out funny. She is like that one friend we all have who is irreverent, borderline crude, but so straightforward and honest that you simply must laugh with her. Laura does a great job of steering Debby back to topic and teasing out new facts. This could be a monologue, but Laura shapes it into a story. It’s hard to compare IGTHO to other podcasts because I can’t think of anyone else who has this sort of first person knowledge of their subject matter. Debby isn’t telling us about doomsday cults. She’s telling us about her life and it’s compelling.

The themes are mature and so is the language. This isn’t a podcast to put on with tender ears around, but that’s why God gave us headphones, right? Production values are good. There’s no distracting echo or background noises. There is some banter, but it’s minimal and related to the topic.

As a fun aspect, they invite listeners to send in their favorite alcoholic Kool-Aid beverage recipes and pick one to share each week so you can “drink the Kool-Aid” along with them.

If you want to give them a try, start at the beginning, because there is a story there. You will learn how Debby ended up in a cult, what kept her there, and just how she managed to get out. She’s one strong lady! You can find them all over social medial. Just go to the website igotthehellout.com and check out the links. You can email questions and Debby does her best to incorporate those into the show. They also have links to multiple interviews so have a listen and get to know Laura and Debby a bit better.

Cowtown Crime Verdict: Drink the Kool-Aid. It’s good for you.

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All Crime No Cattle: A Review

All Crime No Cattle is a “conversational true crime podcast hosted by Texas natives Erin and Shea.”  New episodes drop every Wednesday. Crime is bigger in Texas, y’all.

Ain’t that the truth? I’ve really enjoyed watching the evolution of this podcast. I met Shea and Erin through a MFM fan group. They were launching their podcast just as I was launching my blog. I only review podcasts that I really like, but I knew after episode 3 that this podcast was going to be a winner.

The banter works great because they are a real life couple and you just can’t fake the chemistry of two people who live together. Their style is Texas with just the right amount of twang. I don’t notice any accent at all to their voices, which naturally means they sound authentically Texan. For a new podcast, I haven’t noticed the technical struggles I hear with many start ups.

This podcast is in the same realm as My Favorite Murder, but a little more serious than say, It’s About Damn Crime Crime or Wine and Crime. It’s less serious than Casefile or Murderous Minors. I especially love the fact that I am learning about cases I don’t know well, or even at all. I’m pretty steeped in Texas crime, but I had never heard about the lynching of Allen Brooks in episode 3. If you are looking for a place to start, that’s an excellent episode to try out.  I also enjoyed the recent Matamoras episode. I was a college student during the 80s Satanic Panic and the name “Matamoras” has long conjured images of murder and ritual but I’d never really heard the story.

I reached out to Shea and Erin for a brief interview.

1. First, tell me a bit about how you became interested in true crime. I love to hear about the genesis of a murderino.

E: I’ve been interested in true crime since I was a little kid watching Unsolved Mysteries and Dateline with my mom. In high school I admittedly became a little obsessed, reading any book I could get my hands on about serial killers or forensics. It became such a deep interest that in my first year of college I majored in psychology with the intent on becoming a criminal profiler for the FBI! I ended up going into anthropology but I never lost my true crime roots.

S: I’ve always had a casual interest in true crime, but I was a little overwhelmed at first after meeting Erin and realizing her deep fascination with the genre. Although I didn’t quite understand at first, her love of true crime rubbed off on me, especially after binging and discussing podcasts and tv shows like Serial, Making a Murderer, and Forensic Files. It fascinated me how much more there was to know and talk about.

2. When did you decided to start your own podcast? How did you go about making the idea a reality?

E: When we first really started listening to true crime podcasts we jokingly threw around the idea of making our own, as I think a lot of listeners do. After months of talking about it we started getting more serious about the idea, but it always seemed like a far-fetched goal. For me, the technical aspect of recording and figuring out the equipment that we needed was daunting so I assumed that our own podcast was just wishful thinking. But Shea really spent time learning and researching all about the behind-the-scenes aspects of podcasting and one day announced to me he had picked out all of our equipment and we were ready to go! That made everything a stark reality, and it was a bit scary. Yet everything else fell into place surprisingly easily.

S: I think we had been throwing the idea around for about a year. I kept going back to the idea of doing something creative with Erin that we were both passionate about and would bring out each of our talents. A podcast seemed like a natural fit. For months I did research on equipment, podcast hosting sites, and the do’s and don’ts of podcasting. I have previous experience as an audio technician and a musician and that knowledge really helped on the recording side of things. I knew Erin was an amazing writer and researcher and I could handle the technical end, but the clincher was we are best friends in real life who love talking about true crime. That’s what really made me believe we could make it work.

3. What do you think has been the biggest challenge? What’s your favorite part of podcasting?

E: We knew we wanted to do a conversational-style podcast with a bit of banter. We also knew that it would be intrinsically more difficult to cover serious cases while still maintaining any sort of witty repartee. That balance between covering these soul-crushing, devastating cases while still throwing a few jokes around has been delicate but I think we’re getting better with each episode. We also wanted to make a concentrated effort to present cases about people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and other minorities, but the clear difference in media coverage and attention these types of cases have in our culture make many of these hard to research. Still, we’re continually trying our best to present diverse stories. My favorite part of our podcasting is the weeks where Shea presents the case he’s been working on so I get to lay back and listen to a story I don’t know much, or anything, about! It’s like being a part of the audience and it’s been a fun experience.

S: For me, it’s the editing. Since our podcast is about an hour long per episode, we have to edit out a lot of breaths, word fumbles, and other stupid mouth sounds. I also have to complete several steps to process the audio to make it sound as good as I can. It has turned into a second job, but one that I actually enjoy. What I have found to be the most helpful is designing a post-recording workflow to help with the consistency of the audio quality as well as save time. My favorite part of the podcasting experience is when we delve into interesting discussions which bring out details about a case that neither of us individually had considered. It’s neat to hear that kind of discussion happen organically with a case you’ve worked so hard to research.

4. Describe your creative process. How do you choose your subject and how do you divide up the work?

E: We each decide independently what cases we are going to cover. We try to find cases in a different part of Texas or a different time period in order to represent our state and our history as holistically as possible. We also have to make sure any subject we choose has enough information on the crime, investigation, prosecution, or other details in order to fill the hour time limit we have.

S: Like we say in the intro episode, it’s a weekly podcast where one of us is telling the other about a specific true crime case. We work pretty much independently from each other as far as the research and writing goes. This helps to get genuine reactions and conversations about the cases we cover. It also gives us each about a two week research period per episode. Additionally, we have the Lone Star Lunatic series episodes, which are much bigger or complicated cases involving serial killers or other major crimes. We research, write, and present those cases working together throughout the process because generally they are too much for one person to handle alone.

5. How have you found the podcast community? They seem like a pretty supportive group. Have you had people who helped?

E: The true crime podcast community has been so wonderfully supportive! We have made so many friends just on Twitter and Facebook with independent podcasters just like ourselves who are doing great work. I consider the community an awesome bonus to this entire experience.

S: We have had a great experience with the podcast community so far. Several podcasts larger than us promoted our show since the beginning, which has really helped our audience to steadily grow. We are always happy to do promotional support for other podcasts that we believe in.

6. What is your favorite episode so far and why?

E: My favorite episode so far was episode 3, the Lynching of Allen Brooks. The history and social issues at the turn of the 20th century were incredibly interesting to research in order to give context to the case. It is still so fascinating to me that a mass spectacle lynching in downtown Dallas has nearly been forgotten and I hope that we did a small part in helping tell Allen Brooks’ story.

S: My favorite episodes have been parts one and two of Robert Ben Rhoades, the
Truck Stop Killer. There are not many resources out there, if any, that fully tell the story of this serial killer from beginning to end. I’m so proud of the work we did in compiling this massive amount of information from multiple sources together into a cohesive story.

7. Tell me a little more about yourselves away from podcasting.

E: I love arts and crafts, board games, video games, and bad movies. We are really big nerds at heart. I have a master’s degree in anthropology and I focused on zooarcheology and bioarchaeology (the study of animal and human bones in archaeological contexts). Because of my studies I have a strong interest in bones and a passion for osteology. I actually collect and process animal bones that I find while out hiking to add to a comparative collection I’ve been amassing over the past couple of years. I know that might be a major red flag to those of us in the true crime community, but my love stems from a purely academic interest in bones and the information you can glean from them about an individual’s life. It’s actually pretty helpful in studying true crime since I know a decent amount about pathology, trauma, and the identification of human remains. We also have amazingly supportive friends and family and the two best dogs in the world.

S: I love being outdoors. You’ll often find me fishing, camping, or playing disc golf. We both are members of the archaeology societies in our county and state and we try to make it to as many archaeological field schools as we can every summer. If you follow us at all on social media it’s probably not surprising that our lives also revolve around our dogs, Nelson and Brienne.

I appreciate Shea and Erin’s empathy for victims and sensitivity in not sensationalizing cases.  They don’t doctor the stories up with dramatic music. The best banter style podcasts are the ones that make you feel as if you’re sitting in a room listening to your friends chat and that’s exactly how All Crime No Cattle makes me feel. So if you like your crime with a Texas flair, this is a great podcast for you to try.

Cowtown Crime Verdict: A Rising Texas Star

Something’s Not Right: A Review

From their Website:

Something’s Not Right was born in early 2017, when Thashana and Olivia started discussing the possibility of doing a long form podcast to explore a mysterious death. Finding information on that case proved more daunting than they thought, so they decided to set it aside and begin telling other stories.

The podcast premiered on March 6, 2017, and featured the story of the unsolved 1967 murder of 12-year-old Nashvillian, Kathy Jones. Thashana and Olivia were both able to quickly find information on a lot of murders both solved and unsolved in Nashville and other cities in Tennessee, but they knew that wouldn’t be the only topic they would cover.

Something’s Not Right has a heavy focus on true crime, but the show features other stories that are in some way strange, disturbing, or creepy. While the hosts favor stories in their home state of Tennessee, they are also branching out to tell listeners stories from other locations as well.

My Take: This podcast is firmly in the crime-comedy category with bantering hosts telling stories about true crime and ghosts. They also have “Little Somethings” which are minisodes where they answer fan questions about everything from movies to the paranormal. The hosts, Olivia Lind and Thashana McQuiston are a large part of the charm. Lind plays straight man to McQuiston’s comic foil, a part McQuiston is suited for with her husky, Southern twang.

Make no mistake, these ladies are performers and I’m not gonna lie, they make me laugh at inappropriate things on a regular basis. The show is very much in the vein of My Favorite Murder or Wine and Crime. There is a lot of profanity, so if the F-bomb bothers you, this is not the podcast for you. Their catch phrase is “Boners happen.” You were warned.

The production quality is decent. Sometimes McQuiston is participating over the phone and you can tell by the hollow sound. Fortunately, they don’t suffer a loss of chemistry, and remain audible even when not in the same room.

I’ve developed a fondness for regional crime podcasts. Too many of the national podcasts tend to tread the same soil. While I love a good serial killer discussion,  some variety is a welcome change.  Being based in Tennessee, the hosts are covering crimes which I’m not familiar with. Some of these cases are a wild ride in the way only redneck and hillbilly murders can make be. I say that as a proud redneck.

This isn’t one of those podcasts where you have to listen in any sort of order. If you want a taste, dive right in with episode 33, Paul Farrar to hear about an insane murder you’ll never forget.  You can’t make that stuff up. From rednecks to  blue bloods, this podcast covers it all. If you like your crime with a heavy dose of WTF, this is the podcast for you.

Cowtown Crime Verdict: Guilty Pleasure

 

 

 

The Cleaning of John Doe: A Review

From the website:

Welcome to The Cleaning of John Doe. This is a true crime podcast where your host Vanessa Phearson, takes you on a journey of her experiences cleaning up the aftermath of some of the grisliest, most heartbreaking and most intense cleanups a crime scene cleaner can face.

She shares some of the internal conflicts she wards off, in an effort to keep her head in the game. Vanessa and her husband started their company in 2007 and have set out on a mission of raising the bar in their industry. Together they have 4 young children and are doing their best to manage the home life and business while being there for other families in their darkest hours.

Although the deceased was someone to family and friends, they are just a John Doe to us – well until we spend some time in their homes and lives.

The Cleaning of John Doe is a unique entry in the field of true crime podcasts, in that it’s not really about crime. It’s about the messy aftermath of death. Literally. As the blurb states, the podcasters own a crime scene clean up business. The first episode takes you into the roots of the business, answering the question How do you get started in something like that? Vanessa Phearson answers that question and so many more. If you have ever wanted to peek behind that yellow crime scene tape, this is your chance. The podcast is a mix of anecdotes, science, and philosophy and I’m absolutely hooked.

Start at the beginning, because there is a long story arc of their life in this business. The podcast production values are good. No amateur struggles there. Vanessa’s voice is nasal, not the voice of a performer, but there is an authenticity there. She is telling stories from her life, not reading a research paper. There isn’t banter or excessive advertising which is a refreshing change. I looked for a podcast comparison to give you an idea of the tone, but honestly? This is a unique podcast and one worthy of your subscription.

The Cowtown Crime Verdict: fascinating.