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  • Writer's pictureSneha Rao

Why are True Crime Podcasts Popular?

November 11, 2022

By: Sneha Rao

One thing pop culture seems to never get enough of is its obsession with true crime. Audiences love hit crime TV shows like "Criminal Minds" and "Breaking Bad", or true crime podcasts like "Serial". So what is the appeal of true crime? True crime podcasts, which made their debut in 2014, have since been climbing up the charts. Top podcasters such as “Crime Junkie” and “My Favorite Murder” play in listeners’ ears every week debuting a new case. But what spurred the uprising of these podcasts, and what continues to make them so popular?

Boo- Did I Scare You?

If we take a look into why listeners continue to come back to these podcasts about violent murders and horrific crime scenes as opposed to podcasts about, say, self-help, we can actually find studies that show audiences are attracted to the element of danger proposed by such podcasts, while knowing they are in the safety of their homes. True crime podcasts will often tell the tale of a very frightening, dangerous scene to audiences who are not being affected by the real consequences of the danger. It has also been researched that women, who are often targets of many crimes, interestingly appear to be the majority of podcast listeners.

Courtesy of Netflix

This concept can also be connected to different media outside of solely crime podcasts. Popular thrillers such as "Get Out", directed by Jordan Peele, or Netflix’s new original series, “The Watcher” captivate audiences and introduce an element of fear while audiences stay in the comfort of their own home. Directors often market their films based on aspects that viewers will be able to relate to, in order to further take advantage of the psychological effects of horror/crime on the audience. Additionally, horror/crime media marketers consider how to generate the most emotional arousal in audiences, because the feeling of being scared, or the "shock factor" is what eventually brings viewers back and wanting more.

Crime Podcasts Creating Change

Going back to crime podcasts, it can be easy to assume that such podcasts are just amateurs trying to solve a murder case. On the contrary, there have been substantial changes to what crime podcasts bring to the table. For example, Kim Kardashian's newest podcast release, “The System”, covers the wrongful murder case of Kevin Keith. Prior to the case of Kevin Keith, Kim has also worked on other wrongfully convicted or punished cases; she had made a large effort to gain a presidential pardon for Alice Johnson who received a life sentence for a first-time drug offense in 2018. Celebrities such as Kardashian, who have now taken up the hobby of podcasting show how crime podcasts are becoming more mainstream and becoming a more powerful tool of communication in mass media.

Courtesy of Vulture

True crime podcasts and the genre overall have incited public discussions and challenged the status quo of justice as they provide increased awareness of the fallacies in the justice system, along with alerting residents in areas where talked-about crimes have occurred. Something so simple as a podcast has had the power to impact listeners worldwide and changed the podcast industry forever. So, what true crime podcast are you listening to?


Hello! My name is Sneha Rao and I’m a freshman at Stern studying Management and Organizations and pursuing a minor in creative writing. One of my passions is writing, so I’m super excited to explore more topics intertwined with business through the blog! Keep an eye out for more content from the Content Committee!

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