Thursday, July 09, 2015

In praise of the Criminal podcast

There's this podcast called Criminal. Each episode is devoted to a true-life first-person account of some brush with criminality or the law. They're the kind of odd tales that would cause a hush to descend if they were personal stories being shared at a dinner party.

I listened to three this afternoon while on various errands. There was one about romance scams, in which Nigerian fraudsters pose as retired English professors in order to work their way into the confidence (and then the bank account) of recently widowed women. Another concerned a young woman of twenty-five who had wanted to be a coroner ever since she was a kid. The last one was all about a guy who scammed most of the antiquarian book stores on the West Coast in order to build up a collection that might advertise him as a man of quality.

None of these stories would have quite made a radio programme. Radio programmes need a neat moral or an obvious twist. Instead these stories have the strange, unfinished quality that announces them as profoundly true. Nothing's more human than crime. You might like it.


  1. It has that "Serial" or "Death, Sex & Money" vibe, which is a good thing. However, I fear it might become fixed style and then you get loads of similar shows...

  2. Anonymous12:40 pm

    An interesting tip, and an interesting thought from Mother.

    As an editor, I would normally ask of this sort of idea: "are there at least six of them?"

    As a listener, I'm less bothered, because I don't have a schedule: I'll subscribe to the podcast and listen to it when (or if) I like.

  3. Thanks for this recommendation, David. I’ve subscribed and listened to five so far, each very different from the others. May I recommend a Radiotopia show to you? It’s Helen Zaltzman’s The Allusionist.